(206) 949-5683, Top Rated Plumber, Seattle
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 28

Thread: Steel, Fiberglass or Cast/Tub Replacement Questions

  1. #1

    Default Steel, Fiberglass or Cast/Tub Replacement Questions

    Hey Guys,

    This is my first post on this forum. I have lurked in the past when I was replacing a sink. Since it has been almost two years since I started the bathroom, I am getting sick and tired of my wife complaining that it isn't done and need to finish it.

    This is our first house and the bathroom my first remodel experience. I gutted the bathroom and had to replace the subfloor due to rotting and damage when I pulled up the Linoleum. I laid a new tile floor and built a new tile counter.

    The house is about 40 some years old and the bathtub is a fiberglass tub. The previous owners were old and had handrails everywhere, even in the tub. When I removed the handrails there were three large holes left in the tub surround. We patched them with a fiberglass cloth and resin and had bought a special paint to resurface the surround. Since the surround and tub are a weird shape, getting a replacement surround seemed out of the question.

    One of the several problems that I have with this tub is that it gives too much under me (I am 6'-4" and 285lbs). I also am a night owl and my wife isn't. Since the tub surround shares a wall with the bedroom, the noise of the water often wakes her up when I take a late shower. The third issue that I have is that the tub is starting to dull and just needs replaced.

    Here is my problem. Since I have no idea about this stuff I need help deciding what to replace it with. I have visited Lowe's and Home Depot's and the most I can get out of them when I ask what the difference is between the three materials is that steel makes more noise. I have to tell ya, being a home onwer has really opened my eyes to how LITTLE those places really know about anything on home construction. That is another story for a different day.

    I am a bit of a perfectionist and I like to buy the best. My wife is the opposite so I have to find a good balance here. I think that I want a cast iron tub but I know it will be heavy and harder to install. What is your suggestions/comments as to which material I should use? Can anyone shed some light on the pros and cons of each? I talked to a girl at one bath place and she told me that the cast iron of today is not like the cast iron tubs of years ago and that it will break more easily. Is this true?

    I appreciate any help you can give me.

    P.S. The sink that I installed was a Decolav sink and the drain was also made by them. The dumb thing did not even come with a rubber gasket to seal the drain to the sink that had like a 3-3 1/2" opening. It only came with two fiber gaskets. I called and they said I wasn't missing anything. I ended up going to a Lowe's and they pulled out a big box of mismatch rubber gaskets that they had and I grabbed one that was coned shaped. It did the trick but I can safely say that I won't be buying anymore Decolav products anytime soon. Bad customer service and the product isn't all that good either especailly considering the cost.
    Last edited by joshjens; 01-01-2007 at 08:56 PM. Reason: Addition of Info

  2. #2
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    200 miles south of Little Rock
    Posts
    2,474

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by joshjens
    One of the several problems that I have with this tub is that it gives too much ... the tub surround shares a wall with the bedroom ... the tub is starting to dull and just needs replaced.

    I think that I want a cast iron tub but I know it will be heavy and harder to install. What is your suggestions/comments as to which material I should use? Can anyone shed some light on the pros and cons of each?
    My own preference is fiberglass. It is light in weight and does not feel so cold on the cheeks when you first crawl in for a soak. But, and since fiberglass does have a tendency to flex and eventually break, guys our size need to be sure the bottoms are well supported to keep our own off the floor.

    Also, I would suspect you can reduce the shower noise going through to the bedroom by insulating that wall.

  3. #3
    Homeowner geniescience's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    humid summers hot, humid winters cold
    Posts
    2,152

    Default NO to steel. Insulate for sound, and support mechanically.

    josh

    sounds like you are doing well. Tile floor and tile counter top too, wow!

    An acrylic tub (fiberglass with an acrylic coating) is a good choice, assuming the base is supprted by plywood or OSB. Could be good to embed it in foam or cement. Cast iron is good too. In a bed of cement or foam.

    Steel is the cheapest. Even your wife will think it is cheap.

    Expanding foam can insulate the sound. Put it in aferwards. The softest foam is open-cel, and it makes the best sound absorber. Some rigid closed cell foams don't insulate acoustically very much.

    Cast iron being denser mass will absorb sound the most, but not by a big factor in my opinion.

    david

  4. #4
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    1,423

    Default

    In my home, it definitely would be cast iron with a real ceramic tile job.

  5. #5

    Default

    I just returned from a 3 hour drive to R&R a fiberglass tub. The house is 20 years old. This was a first for me.. the old tub was one that looked like it was from the "Jetsons"...completely enclosed fiberglass alcove, even the ceiling was part of the tub! The man is very tall and about 350# busted the bottom out of it. When I left there I went to a neighbor who has a more or less standard tub...also fiberglass...looks like the gelcoat cracked and rotted a hole just in front of the drain below the overflow. This house is also about 15-20 years old. I will be making that long drive and replacing that tub next week. I'm using the Aquaglass Eleganza which was my 1st time to work with and I found it very difficult as compared to the Sterling Performa made of Vikrell... the Aquaglass is like just cheap plastic. If I had checked it real good before purchasing I would not have gotten it for the big guy... thanks to this forum I was prepared to put it in a bed of mortar... The corners of the shower surround were held together with plastic push pins/rivets which did not hold so I ended up making a trip to the hardware store to buy nuts & bolts to hold it together....then it had to be caulked unlike the Sterling Performa which is constructed to be water proof by design. The reason I ended up working in this area so far away is that I was first called there to replace steel tubs which the glazed coating had worn away and looked like the porcelin was rubbed thru to show black beneath. As for cast iron tubs... I think I have a slipped disc from having to move one by myself because it had a crack that was rusted (and I had no help...just got it up on a pipe and rolled it out). That tub was over 50 years old.
    Last edited by Randyj; 01-04-2007 at 08:05 PM.

  6. #6
    DIY Member JohnD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    32

    Default

    I sell both Aqua Glass and Sterling and I find that the Sterlings products to be more durable. You can even feel the difference in quality with your hands.

    As to your question on the difference I would never use a steel tub. I find them cold, noisy, and do not maintain a quality appearance.

    American standard has a the americast tubs which have a steel core, but a resin underside, and a porcelian finish top side.

    Cast iron will maintain the heat the best, it is quieter, and built to last many years. Down side to it is it's weight when installing.

    When installing any of the lighter weight tubs you can use a morter set that will give them all stability on the bottem that you you need.

  7. #7
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    200 miles south of Little Rock
    Posts
    2,474

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Randyj
    ... about 350# busted the bottom out of it.
    I once repaired that kind of damage by cutting out the broken area in the bottom of the tub, repairing the floor below and rebuilding a well-supported fiberglass bottom for the tub. Then by using a quality coating with some sand mixed in, I ultimately managed to make it look like the tub had originally come with a slightly-darker no-slip floor! I got all of that done for less than $100.00 for materials, and I do believe the labor was about the same as for simply replacing that tub altogether.

  8. #8
    Homeowner geniescience's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    humid summers hot, humid winters cold
    Posts
    2,152

    Default wow. good to know.

    good anecdotal evidence. Thank you!

  9. #9

    Default

    Thanks for the help guys!

    Well I think I am going to go with the fiberglass tub and surround. I really wanted the solid surface surround with a cast iron tub but after talking with my uncles (who are carpenters) and some other carpenters (we had here for kitchen remodel estimates), I think I am going to go with the fiberglass tub in a mortar bed.

    They all thought I was crazy to deal with the extra cost and weight of the cast iron and surround. They ensured me that fiberglass tubs have come a long way in the past few decades. I am sure they have, but how do they really know since these tubs have not been around long enough to determine that for sure? Oh well, I will save that one for another day.

    Any other recommendations for best fiberglass tubs and faucets to buy? My wife has lots of shampoos and body washes so I will need something with lots of storage space and shelves.

  10. #10

    Default

    I sent you a PM ...check your mail... pictures of some tub swap outs.

  11. #11
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Posts
    25,633

    Default tubs

    Let's list them in the opposite order than yours, going from best to worst.
    Cast iron, (and they are not different than the old ones, she must just have had something she wanted to sell you), Americast, acyrilic, fiberglass, any other material, and finally steel. To me steel is not worth the time and effort to install it, and that is after you have finally received one that is not chipped in the box.

  12. #12
    DIY Member adrianmariano's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    79

    Default

    When I did my bathroom a couple years ago I wanted to install cast iron but couldn't find one the right size and eventually went with acrylic instead. I've regretted it ever since. The care instructions that came with the acrylic tub indicate that you can't clean it with anything stronger than water. After the job was done and the tile was up I had to have some nicks in it repaired at a cost of $100. (The manufacturer wouldn't sell the repair material to me because you need special training to use it (yeah, right), so I had to hire a professional acrylic tub repair guy.) And when I tried to install a tension pole shelf in the corner the tub started to warp a bit (not much, but enough to break the caulk seal).

    When i investigated, though, I had the impression that acrylic was definitely better than fiberglass. Doesn't fiberglass get scratched up really easily and then it always looks dirty? That's how the fiberglass tubs I've lived with (in rentals) have always been. Maybe there's "good" fiberglass out there.

  13. #13
    DIY Member lkrides's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    42

    Default

    adrianmariano, which brand of acrylic tub did you use? So we all can avoid it.

  14. #14
    Homeowner geniescience's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    humid summers hot, humid winters cold
    Posts
    2,152

    Default acrylic is a coating, on top of fiberglas

    Acrylic is only a coating, thick or thin, on top of a fiberglass tub. The tub may be strong or weak itself. The fiberglass may be thick or thin. The shape and design may be robust or not.

    AFAIK, there are only a few different grades of liquid acrylic available as coatings on fiberglas made bases. And not a big big difference between them.

    The base has to be strong for it to keep its shape.

    The coating, if high quality material, and thick, will make the tub cost more. AFAIK.

    Can somebody confirm this? That acrylic tubs are fiberglass based?

    David

  15. #15
    DIY Member adrianmariano's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    79

    Default

    The tub I installed was from Kohler. In their defense, I don't think there is anything wrong with it other than it's made of acrylic and the company has the annoying policy of not selling the repair kit. The chips were from me dropping tools in it while doing the tiling, not from normal use. The chips did not go through the acrylic into some other layer. I checked the Kohler web page and they make it sound like the tubs are solid acrylic.

Similar Threads

  1. Is the Tub Steel or Cast Iron?
    By molo in forum Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 07-20-2011, 08:55 AM
  2. Steel, styrene, fiberglass or acrylic ... which is best for replacement tub?
    By Honest Bill in forum Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 11-10-2007, 09:46 AM
  3. Cast iron vs galvanized steel.
    By duffers in forum Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Tricks
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 11-08-2007, 01:18 PM
  4. Steel Or Cast Iron?
    By BMWMK2 in forum Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: 02-10-2006, 10:56 AM
  5. fiberglass tub vs steel
    By ADRamsey in forum Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 02-21-2005, 09:11 AM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •