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Thread: Budget tub shopping questions.

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member ndog's Avatar
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    Default Budget tub shopping questions.

    backstory: I'm in the middle of doing a bath facelift and after tearing down the tile surround I managed to scratch the porcelain coating in my tub that I was planning on keep despite the drop-cloths and plywood; first problem in 25 years of daily use in that tub.

    I was going to just get another american standard porcelain steel tub since this one held up perfectly, but decided to search here first and found the many many threads saying don't buy one. I'm wondering did I get lucky or were 1987 american standard steel tubs a lot better then they are now?

    Since I wasn't planning on replacing the tub and don't really have the budget for it; I'm shopping low end. Is a lyon's acrylic better then an AS or crane steel? Does anyone have any real info on lyon's? A search only turned up one problem thread but it sounded like an install error caused the issue. I've seen several threads saying buy acrylic if you can't afford cast iron/composite but are all acrylic tubs ok?

    I've seen the suggestions of setting it in mud if allowed by the instructions; is there a particular brand/product that I should buy? Or if they're all the same can I have a name of one that would work properly?

    Finally the scratches are down to the metal my fingernail gets caught in them if I rub at them. The best course of action here is a new tub right?

    Thanks again everyone.

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    DIY Member TWEAK's Avatar
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    Personally I ONLY like cast iron tubs... I know acrylic is very popular but after years of use (or if someone uses comet cleanser a time or two) it's more likely to show its age. Cast iron IMO holds up much better.

    Here in the states Home Depot has the Kohler Villager cast iron in white for something like US$300. Volume speaks! That's a great deal if you need a 5 foot alcove tub with an apron. They have left and right drain.

    If you can't spring for the iron tub, as I said I personally wouldn't screw with an acrylic... there are places that can come to your house and repair those enamel tubs. I had it done once on a rental I owned... worked real well... no one would ever notice the repair.

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    DIY Junior Member ndog's Avatar
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    Cast iron would be nice unfortunately we pay more for some things for really no reason; I'll have to check out hd but the list price on that tub is $688 here (usd and cad are 1=1.) If it was a matter of $300 I'd get cast iron and lug it in. I'm going out tomorrow to hit the box stores and plumbing supply places, unless the retail prices are way way under list, I can't afford $700 for a new tub and just a regular 5' with apron tub at that. I've been reading a lot about the refinishing and I'm just worried about spending what amounts to the same price as a basic tub for a repair that might not last. Are the inexpensive products really that bad?

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Many plumbers use cast iron or Americast.
    Americast is made by American Standard.

    I like some of the acrylic tubs too.

    Plumbers don't care much for steel tubs.
    They chip easily.

    I would never refinish a tub unless it is a tub left in place and you aren't changing the tile.
    If you are changing tile, then the tub would be replaced.

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    DIY Junior Member Nornee's Avatar
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    I'm in Canada too.
    Rona is having a 15% off anything sale tomorrow only (Sat Apr 24)...you might get something fairly inexpensivie. I managed to pick up a tub at Home Depot last week (during their 10% off bath stuff). An Eleganceplus acrylic soaker tub cost me $240, regular almost $300. I got more than 10% off! I've had 2 plumbers look at and say it's pretty decent.

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    DIY Junior Member ndog's Avatar
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    I went to look today: home depot, lowes, rona, a local hardware store and a plumbing supply. Not a single one stocks cast iron or americast(brand or type) all are special order and astronomically high. It looks like my options are sterling vykril, lyons acrylic, maax acrylic, mirolin fibreglass, american standard enamelled steel or crane enamelled steel. Not super happy about my prospects at this point.
    Last edited by ndog; 04-23-2010 at 10:48 PM.

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Steel tubs can give years of reliable service, as you have seen. Your 25 years is on the outer edge of what you can expect from a steel tub, since chipping and rusting are a problem which can come up. Acrylic tubs are a little harder to preserve the finish long term. If you were thinking that your current remodel is for the next 25 years, I would recommend cast iron or the americast. If you are wanting to do a budget remodel, with perhaps a 10 year horizon, I go with steel.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    My opinion of a steel tub, is that they are worthless the day they are installed, and go downhill from there. Be prepared to take it back once you open the box, because MANY are chipped or damaged in transit. The last one I installed, the customer had to get three before he got one which was acceptable. NOT perfect, but usable.

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    DIY Member TWEAK's Avatar
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    From the American Standard website:

    What is Americast?
    American Standard improved traditional cast iron by developing Americast...a remarkable alternative that's more durable, weighs half as much, and is easier to install. It's insulation properties allow it to retain heat longer and emits less sound. Americast is American Standard's patented process that bonds high-quality porcelain enamels surface with an enameling grade metal and a molded reinforcement material backing.

    From this description, I'm getting the impresion that Americast is an enameled steel tub with some sort of fiberglass/polymer applied to the backside, which insulates and quiets it down. When I looked at them they looked better than the cheap enameled steel tubs. I would guess the enamel is better quality. But from the AS description, I'm thinking it's still basically enameled steel.

    The Garden Web forum has some negative comments about Americast, but there tend to be some real complainers there... and sometimes they don't seem completely credible.

    Considering how long a tub should last, I would still go cast iron. HD online shows the Villager at just over $400 now, so I was wrong in my earlier post - guess the price went up. But if you figure, what $200, for Americast? The cast iron for $200 more is not a bad buy.

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