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Acrylic vs. Steel Bathtubs

Acrylic vs steel tub

Both acrylic and steel are popular materials when it comes to bathtub replacements, but are steel baths better than acrylic or vice versa?

When comparing steel vs. acrylic baths in terms of variety in style, weight, and ease of installation, acrylic bathtubs take a clear lead; when it comes to durability, however, steel bathtubs leave acrylic tubs far behind. 

Is there a clear winner when it comes to acrylic vs. steel tubs? In the end, the material you choose will depend on how you prioritize factors such as budget, ease of installation, etc. 

Manufacturing Method

Acrylic and steel tubs are made very differently. Acrylic tubs are made from sheets of plastic that are reinforced with fiberglass which makes them lightweight and flexible, therefore available in a variety of shapes, styles, and designs.

Steel tubs are made from a single sheet of steel that is pressed into a mold, sprayed with an enamel coating, and then furnace-treated to help create a strong, durable, non-porous surface.

Heat Retention

You can’t compare acrylic vs. steel tubs without looking at heat retention. Acrylic bathtubs do fairly well at retaining heat so you don’t have to continuously refill the tub to keep the water warm.

Steel tubs, however, work as a conductor, allowing heat to dissipate and cooling the water faster. While the tub itself heats up quickly when hot water is added, it also loses that heat relatively quickly. 

Corrosion

In the steel bath vs. acrylic bath debate, steel baths take a huge hit when it comes to corrosion. Acrylic doesn’t corrode, and it also doesn’t allow mold, bacteria, and other germs to damage the surface of the bathtub.

While steel tubs also don’t allow damage from bacteria and mold, they are prone to rusting, especially in areas where there is water leakage or chipping of the enamel coating. 

Scratch Resistance

Since steel tubs are reinforced with a hard-wearing enamel, they are very resistant to scratching—definitely more so than acrylic tubs. That being said, damage to steel tubs is harder to repair than in the case of acrylic tubs. While acrylic tubs may damage more easily, these surface scratches can often be fixed with ease. 

Maintenance

Both acrylic and steel tubs are fairly easy to maintain, though acrylic tubs require regular cleaning to prevent staining and bacteria growth. 

Durability

Acrylic tubs are incredibly durable when compared to many similarly priced materials like fiberglass, but they can’t compare against metals like steel or cast iron. Both acrylic and steel tubs are a good choice if you’re looking for a tub that will last a while, though a steel tub will likely last a lot longer. 

Weight

Acrylic is one of the most lightweight materials on the market, making these tubs very easy to install. Steel tubs, however, are usually over 300 pounds—some weigh as much as 500.

This makes installation more labor-intensive and time-consuming. Installing a steel tub on upper levels of the home is especially tricky and requires reinforcements to ensure safety

Cost

Comparing steel vs. acrylic baths in terms of price can be difficult since the cost difference largely depends on the specific model you want. Both are relatively inexpensive options compared to tub materials like cast iron, marble, and stone. 

Steel vs. Acrylic Bath: Which is Better?

Long Baths

Long Baths™ acrylic bathtubs offer a variety of benefits like customization, heat retention, easy installation, and more that you just can’t get with a steel tub.

If you’re looking to upgrade your bathtub, call 844-308-9135 or visit us online today to get a quote or schedule a free, in-home consultation!

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