The Pros and Cons of Common Bathtub Materials

Choosing the shape, style, and size of your bathtub is important, but don’t forget to consider the advantages and disadvantages which come with each type of material. Your decision will impact everything from the ease of installation to how simple the tub is to keep clean, so make sure you take the time to think about your options.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is made by pouring molten iron into a bathtub mould, then coating it with a thick layer of enamel, so it should come as no surprise to learn that it’s almost certainly the most durable choice available. The finish is highly resistant to scratches, chips, and dents, and these tubs are available in a variety of colours. They also tend to retain heat extremely well. For those individuals who prefer walk in bathtubs, this material could be a viable option.

However, cast iron tubs are incredibly heavy, requiring additional labour for installation, and sometimes even the reinforcement of your floor. They also tend to be the most expensive choice.


Often referred to as FRP (fiberglass-reinforced plastic), these tubs are made from layers of fiberglass coated in resin. They are usually the cheapest material, and are very easy to install due to their light weight.

Unfortunately, they are not very durable, and the finish is susceptible to cracking, scratches, and fading over time.


Made from vacuum-formed sheets of coloured acrylic, these tubs make a good all-around choice, and use fiberglass sheets for reinforcement to ensure that they’re relatively durable. Homeowners will also have plenty of choice when it comes to size, shape, and colour.

Of course, the finish can discolour over time – though more expensive models will be less likely to do so – and they aren’t exactly high-end.

Enamelled Steel

Sometimes referred to as porcelain over steel, these are made from a thin sheet of steel covered with a layer of porcelain enamel. They are extremely durable, and also resistant to cleaning chemicals, meaning that they’re easy to keep looking their best. Overall, a happy medium between cast-iron and fiberglass or acrylic.


On the downside, they’re heavier than either fiberglass or acrylic, and the surface can rust. They also don’t come in as many shapes and sizes.

Your choice of material is one of the most important decisions you can make when choosing a new bathtub, so make sure you take this information into account.