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Acrylic Vs Fiberglass Tub: Which Should You Choose?

If you’re in the market for a new tub, then chances are that you’ve considered an acrylic or fiberglass option. But which is better? Acrylic and fiberglass have pros and cons, so it’s essential to do your research before making any decisions. 

In general, acrylic tubs are lighter, more durable, and less likely to chip or crack. They are also hypoallergenic (meaning they won’t harbor mold or mildew), plus they’re easy to clean since stains don’t soak in like other materials.

However, fiberglass tubs also have some great benefits you can’t ignore. They are often cheaper than acrylic, plus they have a smoother finish and are available in more colors. Both options can be excellent for your bathroom, but it’s essential to do some research before committing to either one!  In this article, we’ll talk about some of the differences between these two materials, but most importantly, we’ll help you decide which one is right for your needs!

Are Acrylic Tubs Any Good? Everything You Should Know

Acrylic tubs are made from a mixture of plastic and other materials, meaning they can be both flexible and very durable. They are typically made from acrylic-ester or polyester resins that have been reinforced with fiberglass strands to add strength. 

Although this material is lightweight, it can stand up against denting and scratching over time because of its added reinforcement. But before you pull out your wallet, there are a few things you should know about acrylic tubs.

Do Acrylic Tubs Turn Yellow?

The last thing you need after you’ve spent the time to choose a beautiful, shiny bathtub is for it to turn that dreaded yellow color. Luckily, acrylic tubs have a solid color throughout the material. As a result, they’re not prone to color changes. This means you will enjoy your white bathtub for a long time to come. 

However, to maintain your tub’s original appearance, you must take good care of it regularly. Cleaning products can leave behind buildup on the surface that will contribute to discoloration over time.

How Long Will an Acrylic Tub Last?

Acrylic tubs have a life span of 10 to 15 years. They’re also easy to install and to keep clean. However, the longevity of your tub will depend on various factors. For starters, you need to take proper care of your tub to ensure that you can enjoy it for a long time.

It’s also crucial to make use of proper cleaning products. Cleaning your tub the wrong way will contribute to its early demise.

What Shapes and Sizes Do Acrylic Tubs Come In?

Thanks to the material’s malleability, you can get an acrylic tub in any shape and size. You can opt for a standard rectangular bathtub, an elongated oval one, or even have your tub custom-designed to match the layout of your bathroom perfectly.

What’s more, you can choose from different colors and decorative finishes that will not fade over time. Therefore, whether you’re looking for a tub with a minimalistic design or one that comes complete with additional features, an acrylic tub won’t disappoint.

Cleaning and Maintenance of Acrylic Tubs

In general, acrylic tubs are low-maintenance and easy to clean. However, proper cleaning will guarantee you a long-lasting tub. The best way to care for an acrylic tub is by using mild soap or detergent and warm water. You can also use vinegar or baking soda if there are any stains on your bathroom fixture.

Avoid using harsh cleaning supplies because they can shorten your tub’s lifespan. Furthermore, the chemicals in these products can stain the tub over time.

Pros and Cons of an Acrylic Tub

So, what are the benefits and drawbacks of an acrylic tub? Below is a list of some of the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Easily repairable
  • Lightweight
  • Resistant to cracking and chipping
  • Durable especially when it’s reinforced with fiberglass
  • Smooth, comfortable, non-porous material
  • Retains heat
  • Available in numerous colors
  • Easy to clean 
  • Low maintenance

Cons

  • Can chip if impacted by something very heavy or hard
  • Not scratch resistant, so avoid using abrasives when cleaning 
  • Because it’s lightweight and non-porous, some people feel that acrylic is not as sound as a construction material. This means you cannot drill into the tub to install fixtures like showerheads. 
  • May feel hollow

Here’s a good acrylic tub on Amazon

Are Fiberglass Bathtubs Any Good? All You Need to Know

Fiberglass is also a popular material for bathtubs. It’s similar to acrylic, but fiberglass is more durable and does not chip or scratch easily. Fiberglass is made from layers of resin-saturated fiberglass cloth. The result is a lightweight, easy to clean tub that’s also very durable and reliable.

Fiberglass bathtubs are not made with color throughout the entire material, but they can be painted or stained if desired after purchase. These tubs look like they belong in an expensive cabin because of the rugged texture of the material. However, there’s more to these tubs than meets the eye. Here’s what you should know about fiberglass tubs.

What is the Life Expectancy of a Fiberglass Tub?

A fiberglass tub can last for decades if it is properly maintained. Fiberglass material, on its own, does not deteriorate or rust when exposed to water. However, harsh chemicals in cleaners and some natural minerals may cause the surface of your bathtub to become dull over time. In general, these tubs last 10 to 15 years and sometimes longer if properly maintained.

Why Do Fiberglass Tubs Crack?

Fiberglass is highly flexible. As a result, fiberglass tubs can be easily damaged and even develop cracks over time. The cracks may result from natural wear and tear, or they may be the result of accidents.

It’s best to avoid placing heavy objects on fiberglass tubs because the material may stretch and crack over time. Also, ensure that you do not lean on the side of a fiberglass tub. This can also lead to cracking and stretching over time.

What Shapes and Sizes Do Fiberglass Tubs Come In?

Fiberglass is a versatile material. The tub manufacturers can mold fiberglass into any shape and size they wish, which is why there are so many different styles of fiberglass bathtubs available today. Some shapes include traditional rectangular designs as well as oval models that have a more contemporary appearance. 

Fiberglass also comes in an array of sizes. So whether you prefer a gigantic tub for your master bedroom that can accommodate two people or a compact one for your guest bathroom, you are sure to find an ideal fit for your home.

Cleaning and Maintenance of Fiberglass Tubs

Like acrylic tubs, fiberglass tubs are relatively easy to clean and maintain. However, over time they may become water-stained or dull. If you want to restore the luster of your fiberglass tub, try cleaning it with a mild powder cleanser that is made specifically for bathtubs. First, scrub away any soap scum and mineral deposits, then rinse thoroughly with clean water before drying off the surface with towels.

Failure to do this will result in a water-stained fiberglass tub, which can be challenging to remove. You should also keep it away from harsh chemicals like solvents and drain cleaners that may slowly eat away at the surface over time. Additionally, never use steel wool pads since they will scratch the surface and leave permanent marks.

More fun methods for cleaning bathtubs here.

Pros and Cons of Fiberglass Tubs

Before you decide to purchase a fiberglass tub, it’s crucial to know what the pros and cons of owning one are. We’ve rounded up a list of benefits and drawbacks to help you make an informed decision. These include

Pros

  • More affordable than acrylic
  • Low maintenance
  • It comes in a variety of shapes
  • Easy installation
  • Repairable finish

Cons

  • Prone to cracking
  • Inconsistent surface
  • Can stain easily

Acrylic vs Fiberglass – Which is the Better Choice?

Even though both materials have their pros and cons, there are some distinct differences between fiberglass and acrylic that will help you make an informed choice when it comes to getting a new bathtub installed in your bathroom. Some of the key differences between the two materials include:

Customization Options

Acrylic is a heated plastic that’s stretched over a mold. On the other hand, fiberglass is sprayed with a gel-coated mixture over glass. As a result, acrylic produces better custom finishes compared to fiberglass, which appears too manufactured.

Therefore, if you’re looking for a custom finish you can’t find in stores, acrylic is the better choice. While fiberglass can also be customized, it’s only to a certain extent, and the final result won’t be as good.

Durability and Strength

Another area where acrylic outperforms fiberglass is durability and strength. Acrylic bathtubs are manufactured using a process that involves reinforcing the material with fiberglass. Hence,  the finished product is solid, durable, and less prone to cracking and chipping than fiberglass.

On the other hand, fiberglass can scratch or crack if a heavy object falls into it due to its low density. Besides, this material is also more likely to fade over time.

Cleaning

Both materials are low maintenance, and you can easily clean them using mild soap and water. However, you’ll need to be more careful when cleaning fiberglass as it can scratch or chip with abrasive chemicals or detergent.

Cleaning a DIRTY Bathtub with Oven Cleaner

Acrylic bathtubs are also a better option as far as cleaning is concerned because they don’t absorb dirt like their fiberglass counterparts. You won’t have any trouble wiping out grime and soap from these tubs. It’s different with fiberglass. The dirt and soap may get stuck in the material’s pores, making it difficult to remove, and it may discolor the tub over time.

Another advantage of the acrylic material is that it doesn’t hold water like fiberglass. So you can use mild soap and clean with minimal work to get rid of dirt, grime, mold, or stains. On the other hand, fiberglass tubs are porous, so they retain moisture longer than their non-porous counterparts, meaning mineral deposits and mildew may start forming inside.

Similarities Between Acrylic and Fiberglass Tubs

Though acrylic and fiberglass are different, there are some things they have in common. For example, you can use most household soap or cleaners on them without worrying about ruining the finish, but you should avoid abrasive materials that could scratch the surface of your tub. 

Another similarity is that both options are lightweight. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about double-checking the weight limit of your floor to ensure it can handle a heavy tub.

You should also know that acrylic and fiberglass are available in different colors, so you have plenty of options when deciding which color looks best with your bathroom decor.

In addition, both types of bathtubs won’t leave a dent in your wallet. Choosing an acrylic or fiberglass tub is a great way to update your bathroom without spending too much. 

Lastly, both types of tubs are made to last. Both materials can last 10 to 15 years with proper care. Therefore, whichever material you choose, you can relax knowing that your tub will last for many years. However, as we’ve mentioned, the longevity varies depending on how you maintain your tub.

So, Which Tub Is Right for You?

Acrylic is a perfect choice for homeowners looking for a durable bathtub that is easy to maintain. While these tubs may be pricier than fiberglass, they will also last longer and won’t leave behind unsightly watermarks or stains in your bathroom—something you’ll have with a fiberglass model.

If the sound of acrylic doesn’t appeal to you, though, fiberglass also offers a plethora of benefits like comfort, affordability, and a wide variety of shapes. Fiberglass tubs are also highly durable, but they tend to scratch more easily than acrylic models.

However, choosing between the two types of bathtubs comes down to personal preference and which material you are most comfortable with. Consider the factors we discussed above, and you’ll be able to make the best decision for your bathroom.

Next you can learn if bathtub faucets are universal, or you can learn more about materials for you shower here.

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