Not really a tile question; acrylic or enameled tub in a rental unit? [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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03-09-2007, 07:42 AM
Hi there,
I own a triplex and one of my tenants is going to move out shortly. I'm going to take the opertunity to do some work on the unit including replacing the tub and surround. My question is; Which is the more durable tub- enameled steel or acrylic? I'm aware that acrylic is more prone to scratching if abrasive cleaners are used and this concerns me. Obviously a steel tub can be re-enameled but it's not that durable and costs around $200-$300- double the price of a new cheap tub! Any suggestions would be appreciated!

PS: Thanks to many people here, my previous bathroom and kitchen tile job turned out great! I still drool whenever I walk in to my kitchen! Thanks again!

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03-09-2007, 08:39 AM

Got a first name, or is it Delta? :D

I understand the need to keep costs under control on a rental unit. That said, cast iron will last the longest and has the most durable finish. Yes, the enamel could chip off if hit hard enough, but the tub is rock solid and chips can be touched up. The only time I have ever chipped enamel off cast iron was when I did something stupid - using a chipping hammer to remove tiles from a floor sent a piece airborne and...well, I already told you.

With acrylic there are good ones and bad ones. The Kohler line seems to be OK, there are others but I can't give you a breakdown on the brands because I don't have a lot of experience with them. I don't like how hollow they all sound, even when laid in mortar (the sides still sould hollow) and I don't like how the flanges can flex. I know they are popular, I know many people here have them and have made them work very well with some planning. They are a good choice, just not for me. You do have to be very careful when cleaning, I believe the typical recommendation is a non-abrasive, neutral pH cleaner like washing detergent. If you wear off the finish on acrylic dirt will collect in the grooves and as far as I know is impossible to get out (if you know how, tell me!)

Steel enamel also has a durable finish, but is more prone to rust and also sounds hollow. Given the choice I would probably go with a good acrylic before steel, but I think the steel will have a more durable finish. I ripped out a 40 year old steel tub still going strong, but there were rust spots on the apron that were a bit unsightly.

Here's a very brief snippet on tubs from the expert:

You can get a Kohler Villager cast iron tub at Homer's - it runs about $1 a pound. No kidding, about $320 for a 320lb tub. Acrylic is probably about 80lb so that might be an important consideration. I put a Villager in a second floor bathroom, that was fun. The nice thing about cast iron is that you put it in place, level it and you're done - no nailing flange to worry about.

If you're tiling the walls I would pick a tub that you don't ever want to remove. If you're putting up one-piece surrounds, then maybe that is less of a consideration.

Good luck!

03-09-2007, 08:47 AM
Also, I would only have a steel/cast iron tub reenameled as a last resort and only if you find a good company to do it. I would say that there are more companies that do a poor job vs those that get it right, and either way it will not be as durable as the original finish. The same is true for the bathtub liners, only the ratio of bad to good is even worse.

I've probably ruffled some feathers with these posts. I can take it. :devil2:

03-11-2007, 04:14 PM
Thanks for the reply;
I'm thinking that due to time and budget constraints, I'm going to go with a steel tub and an acrylic surround. That'll let me spend the time I will have on the kitchen and bathroom floors and perhaps some nice wall tile in the bathroom. I definitly don't want to refinish the existing one as I've not been terribly impressed with the qualitty of jobs I've seen in the past.
Thanks again!