When people think about a bathtub, they usually visualize soaking in a cast iron claw foot tub. The great thing about a cast iron tub is how solid and strong it is. The problem with cast iron, like a steel tub, is that it is ferrous (contains iron) and therefore will rust. That is why all cast iron and steel tubs are coated with porcelain; so they don’t rust!
When new, the porcelain is shiny and bright, but over the years the only part of the bathtub that glistens is the front skirt of the tub. The interior, that part that comes in contact with your skin, becomes dull and dirty. With the passage of time, the porcelain becomes porous and hard to clean, just like the grout between the ceramic tiles on the bathroom wall. In the past, when your tub became only a shower, your only option was to remove the old tub and replace it with a new one. This also meant a complete tear out of the bath walls, part of the floor and having a plumber re-do your waste and supply plumbing. Don’t forget someone has to carry out that cast iron tub. They weigh several hundred pounds. This whole process is time consuming and costly. The entire job may take a full week and cost $10,000 or more.
Acrylic: The New Alternative
There is a new product on the market for bathtubs. The material has been around for years. It has mainly been used in upper end housing. The product is acrylic and all the leading manufacturers have been using acrylic in their top-of-the-line garden tubs and spas. The best thing about acrylic is that it is extremely hard and non-porous by nature. So, unlike old porcelain that becomes porous, dirt and germs can’t penetrate it! The new best thing about acrylic is that now it can be used as a liner over your old cast iron or steel bathtub and over your old outdated ceramic tile.
Acrylic is fabricated by an extrusion process that allows for a consistent and exacting standards. To give acrylic more strength it is co-extruded with ABS. The polymer resin is heated to a molten state as it is fed into the extrusion tooling. The heated mass is molded into huge sheets of varying thicknesses. After the extrudate is cooled and solidified, it is shipped to the factory to be molded into bathtub liners, shower base liners and bath/shower walls.
Acrylic: A Great Alternative!
Acrylic is easy to clean, colorfast so it won’t fade and retains heat much longer than cast iron or steel. It holds its beauty and keeps it’s high gloss shine and, in the unlikely chance of a scratch, the damage can be buffed out. To top this all off, acrylic tub and wall liners can usually be installed in one day at a fraction of the cost of a complete tear-out.