Acrylic or Cast Iron?
Choosing the Freestanding Tub That’s Best for You

Having a free-standing tub gives you two great benefits:  a luxurious, relaxing soaking experience, and a beautifully crafted sculptural piece in your bathroom space. If you’re thinking about adding a free-standing tub to your bathroom design, here are some practical questions to ask that will affect your choice in materials.

Will my floor be able to support my tub?

Before you settle upon the bathtub of your dreams, have a professional check the stability of your flooring and house structure to ensure it can withstand the total weight which = the tub + water + bather.  This is especially important in older New England homes.  For example, water weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon,  so if an average free-standing bathtub holds approximately 55-gallons of water, then that is about 459 pounds of water.  Next, add in the weight of the tub which will vary depending upon size and material.

For example, cast iron bathtubs typically weigh between 240 and 500 pounds, while an empty acrylic tub’s average weight is about 70 to 100 pounds – that’s a big difference!  Now, add in the weight of the person most likely to use the tub and a cast iron tub could add over 1,000 pounds to your floor joists when being used.  Be sure that your house can handle it!  Or choose an acrylic tub.

Will my bath stay warm?

Prior to running a warm bath, a cast iron bathtub will likely be very cold to the touch which could prevent you from wanting to take a bath.  But the great thing about cast iron is that it will heat up slowly over time and then retain that warmth for a long time.  While you will have to practice some patience while waiting for a cast iron bathtub to heat up, it will be worth it in the end.

Acrylic bathtubs are warm to the touch and much more relaxing to jump into right away.  Although acrylic offers good heat retention, it doesn’t have the heat-transfer properties that cast iron does and so your hot bath water may start to feel cooler a little more quickly, especially on a cold day.  However, if you take short baths or intend the tub for bathing children, acrylic is a great choice.

How durable will my bathtub be?

Made by pouring molten iron into a mold and covering that with thick, enameled porcelain, a cast iron tub is going to last a long, long time.

Acrylic is a tough, crack- and chip-resistant thermoplastic which is also very durable.  Many free-standing acrylic tubs are made as a single, solid, one-piece unit, but some are composed of two thinner sheets of acrylic where its well (or tub) fits into its skirt (or shell) – see the below illustration.  One, solid unit is more durable if you can afford it. 

Ready to Choose?

During stressful times, a soak in the tub can help relax both mind and body.  A free-standing tub is a beautiful way to experience a bath’s calming effects. Knowing about the two most popular materials will put you in a better position to choose the tub that’s right for you.

The following tubs are either floor models or in stock at our Showroom at great discounts, ready to go home with you! Don’t wait, these quality sale items are available on a first-come basis. Stop by today.

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Julie Brady
Julie Brady

Julie Brady owns Portsmouth Bath Company with her husband, John. They launched the business in 1996. Always interested in home design, Julie was lucky to find industry professionals ready and willing to bring her into the world of decorative plumbing. Born in the Midwest and raised in California, Julie now lives in the beautiful Seacoast region of New Hampshire with John and their three dogs: Rosalie, Emma, and Jasmine.

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