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handsindirt
Advise on buying new tub?

We're remodeling our bathroom and I thought I'd ask you experts about the tub.

What tub material would you recommend that keeps the water warmest longest and what material would look the wear the best over the long term?

We'd also like to have an undermount tub with a granite deck surround. What should we know when in comes to monitoring the installation/fabricating the surround to prevent overflow leaks?

HoustonRemodeler
Re: Advise on buying new tub?

Acrylic / fiberglass tubs are wonderful for keeping water from losing much heat. Bain Ultra has a line of tubs that will heat the water with warm air so there is no need to add more hot water.

Setting the tub in foam instead of a ceement bed will help, but some tub manufacturers will not specify that mode of installation.

As far as the undermount situation, if there is no shower involved, waterproofing will be much easier. The fine folks at the John Bridge Tile Forum can help you with that portion of the project.

A. Spruce
Re: Advise on buying new tub?

You will get the best wear out of a steel or cast iron tub. An acrylic or fiberglass tub will be warmer and not wick heat out of bath water as readily. Steel/cast iron is virtually maintenance free, while A/F tubs will require regular polishing/sealing to keep them clean and the surface sealed to prevent staining.

dj1
Re: Advise on buying new tub?

Cast iron and Acrylic tubs hold heat pretty well. Keep in mind that you have a lot of heat loss from the surface of the water in the tub. That's why, for long baths, you need to add hot water from time to time.

If I had to choose, I'd go with Cast Iron. Heavier than Acrylic, Cast Iron will last longer barring unfortunate accidents, and be a little pricier to install.

Mastercarpentry
Re: Advise on buying new tub?

If heavy steel or cast iron doesn't suit you, then go with the best acrylic or fiberglass you can afford. The cheap stuff these days is just that- cheap and not durable.

My solution to cold metal tubs isn't energy efficient but it works. Run the water too hot, let it sit and warm the metal tub, then when the water temp settles down to what you want jump in and the metal will be warm too.

Phil

Fencepost
Re: Advise on buying new tub?

Cast iron is definitely the most durable, but if the porcelain enamel is chipped repair is more difficult than for acrylic fiberglass.

(By the way, "acrylic" and "fiberglass" are generally the same thing; the glass fibers are bonded together with acrylic resin and covered with an acrylic "gel coat". Acrylic by itself probably wouldn't be strong enough.)

If you do go with acrylic fiberglass, consider the thickness of both the fiberglass and the gel coat -- the thicker the better. A high-quality unit will weigh nearly as much as cast iron. Gel coat that is at least 1/8" thick will be less likely to chip and crack. Thicker fiberglass will yield a stiffer unit. The base of the unit must be set in mortar or concrete to prevent flexing from the weight of water and users. Some people use rigid expanding foam (spray foam) instead of concrete with reasonably good results, though not all manufacturers will warranty this method.

A. Spruce
Re: Advise on buying new tub?
Fencepost wrote:

(By the way, "acrylic" and "fiberglass" are generally the same thing; the glass fibers are bonded together with acrylic resin and covered with an acrylic "gel coat". Acrylic by itself probably wouldn't be strong enough.)

Yes and no. Fiberglass uses a gel coat surface backed by fiberglass, where acrylic tubs are generally full thickness acrylic resin. IMHO, if you go with acrylic, go to a company that specializes in making showers and tubs in this material and buy directly from them, you'll get a much higher quality product than you will shopping at Evil Orange or any other big box. Similarly with a fiberglass unit, go with a plumbing supplier over a big box for better quality. Same goes for purchasing plumbing fixtures.

Fencepost wrote:

If you do go with acrylic fiberglass, consider the thickness of both the fiberglass and the gel coat -- the thicker the better. A high-quality unit will weigh nearly as much as cast iron. Gel coat that is at least 1/8" thick will be less likely to chip and crack. Thicker fiberglass will yield a stiffer unit. The base of the unit must be set in mortar or concrete to prevent flexing from the weight of water and users. Some people use rigid expanding foam (spray foam) instead of concrete with reasonably good results, though not all manufacturers will warranty this method.

Correct, the thicker the gel coat on fiberglass, the better, as it is the wear layer and it does wear off with time and use, which is why the bottoms of fiberglass tubs and showers become "stained", the pores of the fiberglass become exposed for dirt and body oils to collect.

handsindirt
Re: Advise on buying new tub?

Thank you, everyone, for your thoughts and suggestions. I was just going to post a follow-on question to ask if there are different thicknesses of acrylic/fiber tubs and see that the last two posts provide that answer! I'm heading out today to start looking at options and feel better armed with your comments!

Rootoo
Re: Advise on buying new tub?
A. Spruce wrote:

You will get the best wear out of a steel or cast iron tub. An acrylic or fiberglass tub will be warmer and not wick heat out of bath water as readily. Steel/cast iron is virtually maintenance free, while A/F tubs will require regular polishing/sealing to keep them clean and the surface sealed to prevent staining.

Are the cast iron tubs similar, or the same, as the tubs from way back in my grandfather's day? The ones with the claw feet and the white enamel that sometimes chipped if you dropped something heavy into it? I loved the old tub my grandfather had and wished we had taken it out, and replaced it with a new one, when we sold the house. I would have kept it for my house.

HoustonRemodeler
Re: Advise on buying new tub?

Yes they are made the same way with porcelain over cast iron. Some have feet, some have aprons, some are drop in and come with a guide on how to adjust your truss after install.

A. Spruce
Re: Advise on buying new tub?
Rootoo wrote:

Are the cast iron tubs similar, or the same, as the tubs from way back in my grandfather's day? The ones with the claw feet and the white enamel that sometimes chipped if you dropped something heavy into it? I loved the old tub my grandfather had and wished we had taken it out, and replaced it with a new one, when we sold the house. I would have kept it for my house.

Yes, they are made the same way as olden days, but likely with time and financial scrutiny, not as good as your grandfather's tub. That is not to say that today's enameled tubs are bad, only that maybe the cast iron or steel isn't quite as thick, and the enamel isn't quite as thick, which makes it a little more susceptible to thermal dynamics. Still, enamel is a far more durable surface than acrylic or fiberglass gel coat.

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