Bathtub Material Types, Pros and Cons

May 2nd, 2017

As your go-to plumbers in Utah, we at Expert Services- Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical are experienced with numerous different bathroom materials. In particular, bathtubs and showers have a number of different materials that might be used in their creation, each with different benefits and drawbacks.

What are some of these benefits and drawbacks? Let’s take a quick look for each of the most popular materials.


Acrylic is a solid sheet of material, molded into a bathtub shape and creating a waterproof membrane. Benefits include:

  • Doesn’t absorb water
  • Retains heat from bath, improving efficiency
  • Stays glossy, stands up to extensive cleaning and regular use
  • Easy to install and repair
  • Material won’t mildew

There are also a couple minor drawbacks:

  • Price is moderate to high
  • Material may flex, which can create unstable feelings while standing for some people


Fiberglass is a resin type that’s sprayed into a bathroom shape. Pros include:

  • Low cost
  • Can be repaired relatively easily (though acrylic is easier)
  • Lightweight and easy to install

Cons of fiberglass include:

  • Porous – will absorb water
  • Relatively brittle, cracking is common
  • Cleaning can cause dulling of colors
  • Material can flex

Enamel on Steel

This is basically porcelain laid on top of steel. Advantages include:

  • Long lasting and easy to clean
  • Relatively inexpensive

Cons include:

  • Heavier weight
  • More prone to rusting and chipping if hit
  • Limited number of designs available

Cast Iron

Molten iron is poured directly into a bathtub shape, then smoothed out and covered in a layer of enamel. Pros of cast iron include:

  • Strong material, resistant to scratches and chips of all kinds
  • Retain water heat well
  • Come in a wide variety of colors

Cons may include:

  • Extremely heavy – installing one can be more difficult
  • Bathroom may need additional supports for the weight
  • Most expensive type

Cultured Marble

Cultured marble is a mixture of crushed limestone and resin, covered with a gelcoat. Some of the benefits include:

  • Numerous size, color and style options
  • More long-lasting than fiberglass

Disadvantages include:

  • Expensive
  • Less commonly used


Custom-order wood tubs offer a “wow” factor that few others do, given their unique nature. They are also more expensive, though, and can take more work for maintenance.

Interested in this or any of our other plumbing services? Speak to the pros at Expert Services- Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical today.