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Thread: Acrylic vs Enameled Steel bathtub

  1. #1
    DIY Member piezomot's Avatar
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    Default Acrylic vs Enameled Steel bathtub

    My old Enameled Steel bathtub is very shallow 17 inches and is only 60 inches long. It looks like I have more space for new 66x32 inches Acrylic bathtub.

    I am looking currently into this inexpensive product-
    http://www.homedepot.ca/product/pro-...32-inch/812455


    But I am just wondering if there is any guide how to select proper bathtub. There are such types: Acrylic, Cast Polymer, Cast Iron and Enameled Steel bathtubs.

    Could it be that Acrylic bathtub is less durable then Cast Iron bathtub I currently have? Аlso what is the lifetime of a typical Acrylic bathtub? Some people would say steel lasts forever while acrylic gets scratched very easy ...

    Also I am just wondering what is the material this bathtub is made from, they say - Americast is our proprietary, revolutionary alternative to cast iron:

    http://www.americanstandard-us.com/b...-foot-bathtub/

    Thank you!
    Last edited by Terry; 03-03-2013 at 12:58 PM.

  2. #2
    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Americast is a good product for bathtubs.

    I haven't seen the HD tub before.

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    In the Trades mtcummins's Avatar
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    I think the choice between the two is primarily preference. The enameled steel, if properly taken care of, will almost certainly outlast the acrylic. But its also more rust prone, heavy and difficult to install, etc.

    Personally, I tend to stick with acrylic, but its mostly a handling consideration. They're also not as cold when you lay in them, which is kind of nice.

    The most important thing to longevity of an acrylic is that you have a proper solid subfloor (3/4" plywood is good), and that you set the entire bottom of the tub into some sort of support. I tend to use thinset, but there are many different opinions on this. Set it into something like that, then stay out of the tub for a few days to ensure a nice solid support. If you stand in the tub right after install, you'll overcompress the bedding, and create a weaker point.
    -mike-

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    DIY Member piezomot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    Americast is a good product for bathtubs.

    I haven't seen the HD tub before.
    Thank you Terry, but what is the difference in quality between these two made from Acrylic material:

    KOHLER Mariposa 5.5 ft. Bathtub with Right-Hand Drain in Biscuit
    http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1...5#.UTP06yB9XFg

    American Standard Colony 5 Feet Right Drain Bathtub in White
    http://www.homedepot.ca/product/colo...n-white/954070

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Americast is a layered product...resin substrate with a thin steel layer sandwiched in...and the ultimate finish is a porcelain enamel, just like a cast iron tub. Porcelain...whether on cast iron, a pressed steel tub, or the Americast type....is a very long lasting finish. Overall durability, cast iron will outlast pressed steel by as much 10 to 20 years. Americast has been around for only about 12ish years...so who knows.
    With all the tubs, there is a lot of variability depending on how is is cared for.

  6. #6
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    A CI tub will normally last the longest since the structure is stronger. A steel tub isn't anywhere near as thick (the metal part) as a CI tub, so it is more prone to cracking the finish if you drop something on it or if it isn't supported properly and flexes. Once you crack the finish on a steel tub, it rusts and fails fairly quickly. Cracking the finish on a CI tub can happen too, but while it may not look great, could still last a very long time.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; .and the ultimate finish is a porcelain enamel, just like a cast iron tub

    Not really. It is a "matte" material. It will get scuff marks and if it is damaged, it takes a different procedure to repair the finish. But, even given that, it would be my second choice for a tub, cast iron being the first one. Enameled steel tubs are so far down on my order of preference that they do not even show up.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIY Senior Member asktom's Avatar
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    Cast iron is the best. Pressed steel is one step below a galvanized steel stock tank. All else is inbetween, in my opinion.

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    DIY Member piezomot's Avatar
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    I just have found these interesting notes:



    Tub types:
    CAST IRON - Best quality.
    Pros: Durable, easy to clean, quiet, no flex (mortar-bed not needed).
    Cons: Most expensive, Heavy-weight (not an easy install for one person), absorbs heat until warmed, generally shallow depth.

    STEEL - 2nd best quality
    Pros: Durable, Least expensive, Light-weight, easy to clean, no flex (mortar-bed not needed), generally the deepest, appearance is same as cast-iron.
    Cons: A bit tinny-sounding and dosen't hold heat well.....but, here's a tip to fix both issues: Turn the tub upside-down. Cut pieces of 1/2 inch thick foam-board to fit the bottom, sides and ends of the tub. Glue it to the tub with foam board adhesive, fill odd-spots with spray-foam. No, it won't look pretty, but it will be quieter than cast iron and hold heat better than fiberglass. DO NOT try to short-cut by using fiberglass insulation. Any future water leakage will trap moisture and cause mold. Foam board will not. If you do this tip, then there are NO cons to a steel tub.

    FIBERGLASS - 3rd best quality
    Pros: Durable if installed with mortar bed, moderate cost, light-weight, moderate cleanability. Note: cleanability improves if you spend more to get an acrylic-skinned fiberglass tub. Available as one, two or three-piece tub-shower units that allow you to skip the tile process if it's going to be used as a shower.
    Cons: Typically priced between cast iron and steel. Cracking near drain is common if bedding step is skipped, generally shallow depth.

    VARIANTS:
    Kohler Sterling - made of Vikrell plastic. It's tough, has a nice finish and doesn't require bedding, tub can be purchased with or without walls.
    American Standard Americast - a plastic backed steel tub with reduced tinniness and improved heat retention. (The steel tub tip above will yield a final product as good or better at lower cost).

    Final notes:
    Be careful. I've seen dropped tools damage them all.
    When you install the new one, you're going to be standing on that new surface to work on the walls. Keep it vacuumed free of debris and lay a piece of clean carpet upside down in the tub to stand on. Don't use the stupid piece of cardboard that comes with the tub.
    Install the tub drain (regardless of tub type) with a high quality silicone caulk containing mildew inhibitors and NO acrylic or latex. Apply a bead heavy enough to see it squeeze out between drain ring and tub surface. Allow to cure before exposure to standing water. Do not use "plumber's putty." It makes a poor drain seal as it will dry out and shrink, fracture and start leaking.
    If you choose cast iron or steel and decide to tile, be sure to use backerboard behind the tile. Do not use drywall or greenboard. Seal the grout to prevent future mildew problems.
    No tub will look good after 5 years if it's abused, so don't use abrasive cleaners on any of them.

    Only question I have, if I purchase this product

    http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...5#.UTYc8JbZ58U

    Ok I might go with CAST IRON, but how can I find out if my floor upstairs is able to support it? Filled weight lb 870.0 vs 650 lb for Acrilic...
    Last edited by Terry; 03-05-2013 at 10:51 PM.

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    In the Trades mtcummins's Avatar
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    I haven't worked with a bathtub from the Sterling line, but I have done a number of their shower units, and they've been very nice to work with. Much heavier duty than most others I've seen. Might be worth taking a look at.

    And don't buy that you can skip the mud bed on any of these products, unless it's CI. Most of today's products aren't sturdy enough to handle the flex load of a 300 pound person standing on one heel. Something will wear out, crack, break, etc.

    CI is the most time tested, longest lasting tub. I like deeper tubs and hate how cold a CI tub feels, especially above the water line where you rest your head, so I tend to go acrylic. The idea of all the foam panels is interesting, but I can't imagine it working all that well. Tubs are just too curvy. You could get a DIY spray foam 2 part canister system though and spray the whole thing before installing it. This would give you an amazing tub in all regards. If you have an access panel, you could probably even install the tub with a coating on the whole bottom side, then stick the wand of the spray foam in through the access panel and use that to create a base for the tub. Just be sure to use closed cell foam if you do this, open cell has no structure at all to it. This method would greatly increase the strength of most tubs, on top of all the other benefits.
    -mike-

  11. #11
    DIY Member piezomot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtcummins View Post
    Most of today's products aren't sturdy enough to handle the flex load of a 300 pound person standing on one heel. Something will wear out, crack, break, etc.

    CI is the most time tested, longest lasting tub. I like deeper tubs and hate how cold a CI tub feels, especially above the water line where you rest your head, so I tend to go acrylic. The idea of all the foam panels is interesting, but I can't imagine it working all that well. Tubs are just too curvy. You could get a DIY spray foam 2 part canister system though and spray the whole thing before installing it. This would give you an amazing tub in all regards. If you have an access panel, you could probably even install the tub with a coating on the whole bottom side, then stick the wand of the spray foam in through the access panel and use that to create a base for the tub. Just be sure to use closed cell foam if you do this, open cell has no structure at all to it. This method would greatly increase the strength of most tubs, on top of all the other benefits.
    Thank you mtcummins, could you explain for me where I can get this closed cell DIY foam 2 part canister system? Also I have found this video, is this how it must be done prior to installation?



    If I go with the CI, how can I be confident that celling joists would be able to support 870 lb?
    Last edited by piezomot; 03-06-2013 at 05:17 AM.

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    DIY Member SH140's Avatar
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    I'd love to find out how to do this also. Getting ready to install new tub and have been trying to find someone who has info on this procedure. It may be overkill, but it won't hurt to do it. After you install the tub and tile the walls, it's to late to change your mind. Hope you can enlighten us Mike.

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    DIY Member piezomot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SH140 View Post
    I'd love to find out how to do this also. Getting ready to install new tub and have been trying to find someone who has info on this procedure. It may be overkill, but it won't hurt to do it. After you install the tub and tile the walls, it's to late to change your mind. Hope you can enlighten us Mike.
    This is how they do it -CAST IRON BATH was moved down from the first floor outside just by ONE MAN...

  14. #14
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If I wanted a CI tub, I wouldn't pass it up since it's heavy. It's a one-time thing. Yes, they're heavy, but make sure you're using the actual tub weight verses the shipping weight, since once you get it home, you probably would take it out of the crate to move upstairs since it may not fit through the doors, otherwise.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    In the Trades mtcummins's Avatar
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    You can get the foam product on ****, or from the individual manufacturers. They come in 2 canisters, which attach with 2 tubes to a spray wand that mixes them as it shoots them, activating the foam.

    Tiger Foam is one popular one, but there are many out there. Its not cheap. Have another project to do with any remaining foam, as it usually won't last long once you start using it. Sealing up the rim joist in your basement (if you have one) is one great use for it.

    We'll see if the site lets me post this link, have had trouble with that before... here's one example: http://www.****.com/itm/Touch-N-Seal...item5653d267f0

    That's for 110 board feet. A board foot is 1 square foot 1 inch thick. You figure out how much you need. Just be sure you get closed cell. It's typically between R-6 and R-7 per inch, so a couple inches is a VERY good insulation value.
    -mike-

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