In this article, we’ll consider the various advantages of the 2 main bath materials—acrylic and steel—to help you make the right choice when buying for your bathroom.
When it comes to bathing, as a nation we’ve come a long way since the tin baths our grandparents used to use.
These days, you’ll discover a wide variety of baths, from the common straight bath to more luxurious freestanding tubs. However, picking out your perfect bath isn’t as straightforward as you might think. In addition to the general design, style and size, you’ll also need to consider the material it’s made from.
What materials are baths made from?
Most modern baths are made from just one of 2 main materials:
- Acrylic—a synthetic plastic
- Steel—a hardwearing metal alloy
If you search hard enough, you may also find baths made from tin, cast iron, stone and even wood, but these are very few and far between!
Before choosing which type of bath you want, it is worth considering the merits of acrylic baths v steel baths.
The benefits of acrylic baths
By far and away the more popular of the 2 bath materials, at Victoria Plum, we stock and sell more acrylic baths than steel baths.
Acrylic baths typically cost less than steel baths to produce, meaning they’re great if you’re on a budget.
Choice of designs
Acrylic is easier to form into shapes than steel, meaning a much wider variety of different designs. So, whether you’re seeking a conventional straight bath, multi-functional shower bath or a designer freestanding tub, it’ll be far easier to find the exact bath you want.
Strength and durability
One popular myth is that steel baths are simply stronger than acrylic baths. Whilst steel does provide a highly sturdy construction, an acrylic bath is just as tough, and usually comes with glass fibre reinforcement and a wood baseboard for added rigidity. With modern manufacturing techniques, gone are the bad old days of acrylic baths flexing in the middle.
Acrylic is also highly resistant to scratches and staining, making it the perfect choice for a family bathroom where your bath is used on a daily basis.
Warm to the touch
Unlike steel baths, acrylic is warm to the touch, ensuring you don’t get any nasty shocks when you climb into your bath during those cold winter months.
The Orchard square edge single ended bath is one of our most popular acrylic baths
The benefits of steel baths
Despite not being as popular as acrylic baths, we still stock and sell a selection of steel baths, which have the following benefits.
As a more traditional material, steel baths look absolutely stunning and feel solid to the touch. As steel is pressed into shape, it can be formed into clean, crisp lines to create striking designs.
Whilst steel baths are initially cold to the touch, they do warm up once you have filled your bath with hot water and actually retain heat much longer than their acrylic counterparts. This is especially good if you like a really long soak and means you won’t need to top up the hot water quite as quickly.
Steel baths are coated with enamel, which gives you a perfectly white finish but also means it’s less resistant to chips or scratches, so more care needs to be taken. But much like a car, with one careful owner, your steel bath will provide you with years of joyful bathing.
Ready to accessorise
Most steel baths come with tap holes pre-drilled, so all you need to do is choose your perfect set of bath taps.
For those who are keen to be green, steel can be recycled once it comes to the end of its life, meaning you’re doing your bit for the environment.
The Orchard single ended steel bath comes with handle grips, making it ideal for those who need a little extra help getting in and out of the tub
Now we’ve taken an in-depth look at the various merits of both acrylic baths and steel baths, here’s a quick and easy summary to help you choose the perfect material for your needs.
- Great for families and everyday use
- Lower price
- Durable and resistant to scratches and stains
- Warm to the touch
- Wider variety of shapes and models
- Ideal for designer bathrooms and careful owners
- Clean, crisp lines and edges
- Solid construction and beautiful bright white enamel coating
- Cold to touch but retains warmth well
- Usually come with pre-drilled tap holes
Your frequently asked questions
Below, you’ll find a selection of FAQs, complete with answers, about both acrylic baths and steel baths.
Are metal tubs better than acrylic
Metal bathtubs have certain advantages over acrylic models, but this completely depends on your own personal requirements. For example, if you are working to a budget or buying for a busy family bathroom, acrylic has clear advantages over steel.
What is the best material for a bath?
Judging by the number of baths we sell, acrylic is by far and away the most popular material for a bath. It is hardwearing, economical and comes in a variety of different designs. Whether it is the best material for you purely comes down to personal preference. A steel bath could offer more in the way of style and complement your bathroom better.
Acrylic can be easily moulded into different shapes, giving you a great choice of tubs, like the Harrison freestanding bath (pictured above)
Do acrylic tubs turn yellow?
With modern manufacturing techniques, good quality acrylic bathtubs (like those available at Victoria Plum) will maintain their white colouring over time. As they are highly resistant to stains and scratches, they’re ideal for daily use.
How long does an acrylic bath last?
With care, an acrylic bath could last you a decade or even more. However, many homeowners replace their baths before this time.
Which bathtub is easiest to maintain?
Both acrylic and steel bathtubs are relatively easy to maintain, needing just a wash with a sponge and a non-abrasive household cleaner. However, acrylic is tougher, providing more resistance to stains and scratches.
Whichever material you choose, you’ll find a wide range of superb quality baths at Victoria Plum.
More advice on baths
At Victoria Plum, you'll discover loads of expert advice on baths, including buying guides and installation tips. Head to our bathroom advice section or click on any of the links below: