Cast Iron VS Acrylic Tub. Which One Should You Buy

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Our bathtubs are some of the most relaxing places in our homes. They provide us with a place to unwind after a long day and relax our muscles in hot, soapy water. But have you ever stopped to think about what your tub is made of? Learn which is better, cast iron vs acrylic tub.

There are two main types of bathtubs available today: cast iron and acrylic. Both have their own unique benefits and drawbacks that you should consider before making a purchase.

Cast iron tubs are the heavier and more durable option. They cost more than their acrylic counterparts. However, they tend to retain heat better, so your baths will stay nice and warm for longer periods of time.

Acrylic tubs, contrastingly, are lighter-weight and easier to install. They’re also less expensive than cast iron tubs. But they don’t retain heat either, so your baths may cool off more quickly.

So, which type of tub is right for you? It really depends on your needs and preferences. If you’re looking for a durable tub that will retain heat well, then a cast iron tub is a good choice. But if you’re trying to save money and you don’t mind your baths cooling off more quickly, then an acrylic tub might be the better option.

In this article, we’ll compare cast iron and acrylic tubs in more detail so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for your home.

Side-by-Side Features of Acrylic and Cast Iron Tubs

47'' Acrylic Freestanding Japanese Soaking Bathtub with Built-in Seat Gray
Photo by Giving Tree

The following provides a side-by-side look of the features for cast iron and acrylic tubs:

Material

Acrylic bathtubs have been strengthened with fiberglass

Cast Iron bathtubs have an iron base with an enamel or porcelain coating to give it the shiny colorful exterior

Maintenance

Requires more maintenance Requires less maintenance

Installation

Lighter and easier to install Heavier and more difficult to install

Cost

Less expensive More expensive

Durability

Less durable More durable

Heat Retention

Does not retain heat as well. Retains heat better

Weight

Lighter Heavier

Availability

More widely available Less widely available

Also Read: How To Choose a Bathtub: The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Bathtub

What is a Cast Iron Bathtub?

Photo by Plank & Pillow

Popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries, cast iron bathtubs are making a comeback in recent years. These tubs are made of iron that has been melted and poured into a mold to create the desired shape. Once the iron has cooled and hardened, it is coated with enamel or porcelain for protection.

Invented in 1857, cast iron tubs were originally used for washing clothes. It wasn’t until the late 19th century that they became popular for bathing. This is because running water and indoor plumbing was not yet common in most homes. They have a vintage look and feel that many homeowners find appealing and require floor supports to keep them level.

Famous for their durability, cast iron tubs can last for generations with proper care. They’re also very good at retaining heat, so your baths will stay nice and warm for longer periods of time. On the downside, cast iron tubs are much heavier than their acrylic counterparts.

This makes them more difficult to install and transport. And because they’re made of metal, they tend to be more expensive than other types of tubs.

What is an Acrylic Bathtub?

KINGSTON BRASS VTDE603122L 60-Inch Contemporary Alcove Acrylic Bathtub with Left Hand Drain and Overflow Holes, White

Acrylic bathtubs became popular in the mid-20th century as an alternative to cast iron tubs. These tubs are made of a plastic material that is reinforced with fiberglass for added strength. Acrylic is a lightweight and easy-to-mold material that it can be formed into a variety of shapes and sizes.

Invented in the 1930s, acrylic is a relatively new material that is often used in the construction of bathtubs, showers, and other bathroom fixtures. 

As it’s lighter than cast iron, acrylic tubs are much easier to transport and install. Often considered the standard in bathtub construction, acrylic tubs are available in a wide range of styles. They can be made to look like more traditional tubs made of materials like cast iron or marble. Or they can be designed with a more modern look.

Acrylic tubs are less durable than cast iron tubs but they’re also much lighter in weight. This makes them easier to install and transport. And because acrylic is a non-porous material, it’s resistant to mold and mildew.

On the downside, acrylic doesn’t keep the heat like other materials, so your baths may cool off more quickly. It’s praised for its durability, ease of installation, and low cost. 

Also Read: Types of Bathtub Materials: Choose the Right Material for Your Needs

Comparisons of Cast Iron and Acrylic Tubs

In this section, we’ll compare cast iron and acrylic tubs in more detail.

Materials

The key aspect that sets these tubs apart is the material they’re made from. Cast iron tubs are made of, you guessed it, cast iron. This metal is melted and poured into a mold to create the desired shape.

Once it has cooled and hardened, it’s coated with enamel or porcelain for protection. Enamel is a type of glass that’s fused to the metal surface. Porcelain is a white clay that’s fired at a high temperature and then glazed. 

Acrylic tubs, on the other hand, are made of a plastic material that’s reinforced with fiberglass for added strength. Acrylic is a lightweight and easy-to-mold material that can be formed into a variety of shapes and sizes.

This allows for a bathtub with a seat, steps, shower combo, headrest, armrests, underwater lighting, or even cup holders should you want it. Fiberglass is a type of glass that’s made into a fine mesh and then used as reinforcement.

Winner:

Acrylic tubs (Material allows for the ability to have more Features)

Durability and Maintenance

Cast iron tubs are famous for their durability and can last for generations with proper care. You take care of these tubs by regularly cleaning them and avoiding harsh chemicals. It’s also important to protect the tub from chips and cracks. You can do this by using a soft cloth when cleaning and avoiding abrasive materials. 

Acrylic tubs are less durable than cast iron, but they’re still very strong and resistant to damage. They’re easy to care for as well. You can clean them with most household cleaners without worrying about damaging the surface. Because acrylic is non-porous, it’s also resistant to mold and mildew. 

Winner:

Cast Iron tubs (Longer durability and less Maintenance)

Weight and Installation

Cast iron tubs are much heavier than their acrylic counterparts. This is due to the fact that they’re made of metal. As a result, these tubs can be difficult to transport and install. They often require two or more people to carry and install them. 

Acrylic tubs are much lighter in weight, making them easier to transport and install. Often considered the standard in bathtub construction, these tubs are available in a wide range of styles. They can be made to look like more traditional tubs made of materials like cast iron or marble. Or they can be designed with a more modern look.

Winner:

Acrylic tubs (Lighter and Easier to Install)

Cost

Cast iron tubs cost considerably more than acrylic tubs. This is due to the fact that they’re made of metal and need a lot of work to get the finished product. However, their durability often makes them a wise investment in the long run. 

Acrylic tubs are not as expensive as cast iron tubs, but they’re still a major investment. They offer a wide range of features and designs that make them worth the cost. And because they’re easy to care for, you won’t have to spend much money on maintenance over the years.

Winner:

Acrylic tubs (Cheaper yet Durable)

Heat Retention

Simple physics dictates that cast iron tubs will preserve heat more efficiently than acrylic tubs. This is because metal is a better conductor of heat than plastic. As a result, your baths will stay hot for longer when you use a cast iron tub. 

Acrylic tubs don’t retain heat quite like cast iron or other materials. So, if you like long, hot baths and want to save on water, electricity, or gas bills, an acrylic tub may not be the best choice for you.

Winner:

Cast Iron tubs (Retain heat better)

Also Read: Everything You Need To Know About the Different Types of Bathtubs

Cast Iron vs. Acrylic Tub: Which One Should I Buy? 

There’s no clear winner when comparing cast iron vs acrylic tubs. It really depends on your personal preferences and needs. Both types of tubs offer a wide range of styles and features that are sure to meet your needs.

However, Acrylic tubs are a bit cheaper, and installation is also more simple compared to cast iron tubs. If you’re looking for a tub that’s easy to care for and offers a wide range of design options, an acrylic tub might be the right choice for you.

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