Opinions on bathtub material

katmuMarch 14, 2014

I've only ever had cast iron (or at my mom's house one of the old steel tubs) bathtubs. My new house will have a shower in the master and a tub in bath 2. I was really thinking I wanted cast iron but I'm not finding a lot of deeper cast iron tubs that will fit in a standard 5' alcove. For the cast iron tubs, my 1st choice would be the Kohler Memoirs but it's 34" wide. My back-up choice was the Kohler Bellwether, but I feel like it's a little contemporary for the look I'm going for. I've also looked at Toto (not deep enough) and Sunrise Specialty (liked but can't find somewhere local that has one to see). The 5' Tea for Two is nice but does adding tile to the front increase the width?

So I'm wondering if I should consider other materials? Can someone compare AS Americast to Cast Iron? And for a house I plan to stay in, would you absolutely rule out? I do like the looks of the Kohler 5' Bancroft tub, and like the idea of the Bask heated surface but I have no experience with acrylic tubs.

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If you want a deep tub for bathing you may have to go acrylic. And then you really need to shop for the right fit - basin length and width.

If you are just going to use the 2nd bath for kiddie bathing and teenager/guest showering, then you really don't need the depth. If you want cast iron, then go with the Memoirs. Since this is new construction, 2 extra inches on the width is not an issue.

The Kohler Bancroft tub is a very nice size and fits in with period design. Another Kohler tub to look at is the Devonshire - it's basin is wide for a 60 x 32 tub - but it may be too short for especially tall people. Taller people tend to like the Kohler Archer much better.

Another acrylic tub to look at is the Mirabelle Provincetown and Mirabelle Bradenton - these tubs are deeper than the Kohler tubs. They have the same armrest and back angles but the Provincetown is a little longer. I like the acrylic on the Ferguson Mirabelle (made by Clarke) tubs better than the Kohler.

American Standard Americast is similar to Bootz Bootzcast. I don't think you are going to get much deeper tubs in Americast so you might as well go with cast iron. The only disadvantage that I know with Americast/Bootzcast is that the overflow and drain openings may rust out sooner in their lifetimes. They will chip just like cast iron if you drop a hammer in them.

You can tile an apron on the tub that starts right under the lip of the tub. Make sure you get a tub that has tile flange on 3 sides for showering.

There are lots of threads on this forum of cast iron versus acrylic. Also search the forum for specific models.

Bask heating just warms up the back rest on the tub. It does not heat up the water. You can also insulation around your tub during construction.

This post was edited by Anna_in_TX on Fri, Mar 14, 14 at 16:34

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 4:10PM
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Thanks Anna. I had searched before and that was how I found some of the models I've looked at (the Toto and the Sunrise). I'm a soon-to-be empty nester with just a dog so the tub will be mostly for me, and the occasional guest. I'm only 5' 3" so it sounds like the Devonshire might work for me.

My brother lives less than an hour from Kohler in WI so I may make a side trip there, plus another visit to Ferguson before I make my final decision.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 4:33PM
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I am 4'10" and most tubs are too long for me. I have bathed in my brother's Bancroft and it is nice and deep for an alcove tub but I still slide down too much to totally relax.

Right now, I have my eye on the Kolher Devonshire and Mirabelle Bradenton. I will use a period looking Kohler sink - I keep changing my mind. I visited the Ferguson showroom and compared the two acrylics.

I'm also looking at a local manufacturer Royal Baths and liked their 60 x 36 armrest model.

It's now coming down to the wire. I'm going to start on my shower first and let things sorta settle on the tub decision.

I am turning my second bath into a wet room for my dogs and will use the Bellwether or Villager. I have several 60-70 pound Belgian Malinois that are a chore to bathe.

Ha Ha - there is a 6 foot Kohler cast iron Steeping bathtub on my local craigslist for $250. It has been sitting in someone's garage for years - white with the plastic still on it. I hate being short.

This post was edited by Anna_in_TX on Fri, Mar 14, 14 at 16:49

    Bookmark   March 14, 2014 at 4:48PM
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I have been trying to decide between acrylic and cast iron. Anyone familiar with the KOHLER 60-in x 30.25-in Villager White Rectangular Skirted Bathtub with Left-Hand Drain
Model: 715-0? This is cast iron.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 12:42PM
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I would suggest that you look at Victoria Albert. It is a cast limestone product. We had one in our last home and just installed another during the remodel of the new to us old house. We have the Asia model with the acrylic block base.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 1:44PM
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The Kohler Villager has been around for years - it is almost a standard. It is readily available at Home Depot for a very good price. You should be able to have them lay one down for you to sit in.

If you want to order it, a 60 x 34 version with a ledge on the wall side is available too. It will give you extra elbow room when taking a shower.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 1:49PM
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We have the Villager in our new build in the main bathroom as cast iron is a must after having fibreglass or acrylic tubs the last few years. Hate them, as they are so hard to clean and look awful just days after cleaning. The Villager is low and would be a good height for smaller children for ease of them getting in or out of the tub and to bath them. I agree with Anna about trying to see one in person, when we had it installed it looks much lower than I imagined it would. These tubs are also very heavy, I think the Villager is over 300 pounds.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 2:09PM
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I like the look of the Victoria & Albert tubs but they all seem to be freestanding.

xc60- Thank you for the information about the acrylic tubs being hard to clean. I kept reading threads where people said they didn't like acrylic but some didn't indicate why they didn't like it. I was drawn to the idea of the Basc heated feature that Kohler is offering on some of the newer tubs but it sounds like it hasn't been around very long so I might worry about the longevity of it.

I heading out to Ferguson now to take another look. At this point, I'm leaning towards the Memoirs, but we'll see.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 2:43PM
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I ordered the Kohler Villager. Thanks for all of the help!!

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 2:52PM
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This is proving to be harder than I thought. The Bellwether and Expanse are both out as they are just too big for me. Ferguson didn't have the Memoirs or Devonshire so I may need to head to Kohler to see those. If I did go with acrylic, both the Bancroft and Archer were nice. The two Mirabelle tubs were both really deep. I'm having a hard time getting past the feel of acrylic in general though.

This post was edited by katmu on Sat, Mar 15, 14 at 18:51

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 6:45PM
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I will be buying a new tub soon. I rarely take a bath, but that may be due to my old uncomfortable tub with no lumbar support. Horrible. I am undecided whether to get cast iron or acrylic. I like the look of the Kohler Villager, but I'm wondering about it being "low." I'm 5'4" and would like to scootch down and soak a bit. If the water didn't cover me it would be disappointing. Should I look at something a little deeper. I'd love to not spend too much over $500, but I'm flexible.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 7:28PM
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Yes the acrylic tubs tend to collect a soap scum ring very quickly, especially if you use bar soap. The recommended cleaning products are just mild cleaners, not deep cleaning cleaners. I ruined an acrylic tub once by using scrubbing bubbles on it for the longest.

If you are really dirty, take a shower first - or use the hand shower in the tub and then fill the tub. Of course, it's better to do that than to sit in very dirty water. Like the Japanese do - bathe before soaking.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 7:40PM
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I don't want to offend, but if you are soon to be an empty nester, your coming age has to factor. The deeper the tub, the harder it is to get in and out of. I'm an empty nester and 5'2". Take my word for it, it's gets harder getting in and out. Since you are only 5'3", you can "scooch" down in a shallower tub to submerge.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 10:54PM
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No offense taken. I'm actually a pretty young empty nester at 44. The deep soaking part is important to me mostly as I have some pretty serious upper back & neck issues (muscles with scar tissue and multiple herniated discs) from a car accident about 10 years ago.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2014 at 11:33PM
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I haven't found cleaning an acrylic tub to be problematic, but I have a separate shower , so it takes a while before it needs it. I spray and wipe until the surface feels smooth all over. Tub has been in use for 12-15 years and looks like it did the day it went in.

I picked this tub and the one for the new house based on the comfort factor, which I found impossible to judge without sitting in the tub.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 7:29PM
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