Porcelainized Steel Vs. Acrylic Bathtub
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Porcelainized Steel Vs. Acrylic Bathtub

9/1/2011

Porcelainized Steel Vs. Acrylic Bathtub

With so many aspects to consider when planning a bathroom addition or remodel, choosing bathtub materials probably isn't your top priority. But you shouldn't put it off until the last minute, either. Even if you prefer showers, you'll be looking at -- and taking care of -- your new tub for a long time.

Not Just a Tub
When you go to the showroom to look at shiny new bathtubs, you'll be faced with a wide variety of styles, colors and shapes. Two standard types of bathtub construction are porcelainized steel (also known as porcelain on steel or POS) and acrylic. Although they might be available in nearly identical-looking models, the two are very different

Porcelain On Steel Enamel Bathtub
Porcelain is a very common material for bathroom fixtures, with good reason. It's attractive, tough, durable and easy to clean. Porcelain-coated cast iron tubs are an industry mainstay. If you're installing the tub yourself, however, your back will thank you for choosing porcelain on steel instead, as will your budget. POS is much lighter, less expensive and might allow you to have a larger, deeper tub in the same space. The negatives of POS are few, but important. Porcelain can chip or crack when hit with something hard, and the steel beneath will rust. Tubs with a plain steel shell don't hold heat very well. They can also be noisy beneath a shower spray.

Acrylic Bathtub
Acrylic tubs have a beautiful luster and their multilayer construction makes them strong, warm and quiet. Many whirlpool tubs are made of acrylic, as are larger, unusually-shaped tubs. Acrylic tubs often cost considerably less than other types. Basically, a cast acrylic sheet formed over reinforced fiberglass, this kind of tub can take hard knocks without damage. If it does get damaged, it can also be repaired fairly easily, although color matching might be a problem. The major drawback of acrylic deserves serious thought. Acrylic tubs have a reputation as being hard to clean. They usually require special products to do the job right, and are unforgiving of neglect.

Considerations
Porcelain on steel tubs have much to recommend them, but shop carefully. Higher-end POS tubs manufactured with an insulating, sound-deadening backing beneath the metal shell might cost more, but are worth the extra money. If you're tempted by the siren call of a luxurious acrylic whirlpool tub, make sure you know what you're getting into. That beautiful luster can turn dull in no time if it isn't cared for properly. Many manufacturers claim to have vastly improved or solved these issues, but it makes sense to demand proof of those claims.



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