What is the difference between a traditional tub and an acrylic tub?

Cast iron and Acrylic are 2 common materials that are used for bathtubs because of their premium qualities. While both are the best choices, most have their favorite based on style. Both are preferred due to their durability as well as premium feel. However, there are many differences between them which can be essential in deciding whether to get an acrylic bathtub or one made from cast iron material. To help you figure out the great tub for you, we have compared the acrylic versus cast iron.

Manufacturing Processes

Acrylic is synthetic in nature and is frequently mixed with fiberglass for strength or durability. The 2 materials are molten at higher temperatures then mixed in certain amounts. They are then poured into a mold which has the design of the bathtub. The color of the tub is added in the molten state. They then cool to the wanted tub shape.

Spacious bathroom in gray tones with heated floors
The finish includes polishing the tub to a well and glossy surface. For cast iron, the procedure is nearly the same save for the addition of color. Once the tub has cooled down, a coat of a glossy material like acrylic, porcelain, and enamel is added.

Cost and Installation Differences

Of the two, you will spend more purchasing a cast iron tub than an acrylic one. This comes about because of their differences in longevity and heat retention with cast iron being the better of the two. At the moment, the cost for a 60” tub made of acrylic goes for at least $500. A similarly-sized cast iron tub will price a minimum of $1,300. You can need to pay more since most cast iron tubs come with an unfinished exterior. Such a job can price about $50. When it comes to the installation procedure, the cast iron tub will price more owing to its weight. You will require to reinforce the floor place unto which the tub will stand since some floors aren’t meant to bear such weight in a single area. Owing to this reason, you will require expert hands to appropriately install the cast iron tub in your house. For the acrylic tub, its lightness makes it simple for installing, with the standard floor capable of withstanding its weight even when in use. For both these tubs, you have many options falling between the general categories of freestanding and fixed tubs.

Heat Retention

For bathtubs, the time you may spend in it’ll depend on how long it retains heat and, as a result, the warmth of the water. When compared, iron is a good heat conductor than acrylic or fiberglass. As such, hot water poured into the 2 kinds of tubs at a similar temperature will retain its heat for long in an iron cast tub than in an acrylic one. The difference in heat retention is not a major deciding factor since an acrylic tub will retain heat long sufficient for you to have a bath and for some minutes afterward.


Acrylic and cast-iron tubs are both fairly very low-maintenance. Acrylic tubs are slightly porous and may scratch and stain. Hair color, for instance, will stain an acrylic tub and abrasives can scratch the surface. Any potentially staining spills need to be wiped or rinsed out of the tub rapidly and utilize soft cloths and non-abrasive cleansers for cleaning the tub. If necessary, stains may be bleached out. The cast-iron tub is coated with a porcelain’s thin layer on the interior. This porcelain finish is non-porous and unlikely to stain and scratch. Therefore, it can need less maintenance long-term. You could clean the tub with any cleanser as well as cleaning materials because the finish will not scratch. In a cast-iron tub, the exterior is painted on. Over time, you can want to refresh this color with a new coat of paint. Many acrylic tubs are painted, however, a few can have a factory finish that doesn’t need maintenance or repainting to maintain on regular basis.


While cast-iron is very strong as well as long-lasting material, the porcelain finish on the interior of the tub may chip if given a tough knock. When chipped, you’ll see the cast-iron below. Because the iron is now exposed, it can start to show rust. This may be refinished, if desired, with a spray-on coat of porcelain. The cost of refinishing a tub is about $500, which is less than it will cost to replace the entire tub. Acrylic tubs contain a finish that will go straight through. Therefore, the finish will not crack and chip. It could stain and scratch, however. It can warp slightly with very long-term use. Cast-iron tubs last for longer than acrylic tubs, and this thing makes them ideal for high-traffic places.

Resale Value

Cast-iron tubs are designed to last. They’re more authentic, being made in a similar way that tubs were built 100 years ago. For that reason, they’re considered an asset to high-end bathroom designs and add value to the home. Acrylic tubs provide a similar style but don’t add value the way a cast-iron tub can do that.

Installation of A Shower Head

Owing to its heaviness, a cast iron tub is stable sufficient for holding other accessories such as a shower-head without toppling over and getting damaged. On an acrylic tub, when the same thing is installed, it warps and gets damaged from the accessories’ weight.

Available Options

Both bathtubs are available in a lot of shapes or sizes. While it is easy to make acrylic tubs, but, there are many color variations of this tub than cast iron ones.

Acrylic tub Pros

  • Less expensive
  • May be installed anywhere
  • Doesn’t need finishing
  • Needs no joist strengthening
  • Low-maintenance
  • Some styles available
  • Simple installation
  • Finger down grey

Acrylic tub Cons

  • Not as durable
  • More difficult to use with a shower
  • Can’t be refinished
  • Doesn’t add to resale value
  • Short heat retention

Cast Iron Tub Pros

  • Durable and long-lasting
  • May be painted and refinished
  • Low-maintenance
  • Some styles available
  • May support a shower
  • Adds to resale value
  • Holds heat when bathing
  • Finger down grey

Cast Iron Tub Cons

  • More expensive
  • Difficult for installing upstairs
  • May need joist support
  • Finish can chip
  • Longer, more hard installation