Help choosing my bathtub and surround

JaniefulJune 6, 2012

We are currently adding on a bedroom, bathroom, and mudroom to the back of our 1920s bungalow. We are now at the point of choosing our plumbing fixtures. So far we have chosen the Kohler Memoirs pedestal and toilet and are trying to stick to the period bath look. There will be white hexagon tile on the floor and bead board on the walls.

Since we blew our budget on putting a basement on the addition, we have had to find some places to cut corners. One place where we are attempting to do this is with the bath. Initially we had talked about skipping the tile and doing a one piece fiberglass tub and surround in either acrylic or fiberglass. I personally don't mind these, and while I know it is not period, I like the ease of cleaning. Plus we were going to do a curtain instead of a glass door - a savings of over $800.

But now I am having second thoughts. We literally can't afford to tile it, but what about putting a cast iron tub on the bottom and those flexible waterproof walls as a surround? We currently have this in our upstairs bath, and while the original cast iron tub is really worn, the walls are actually super easy to clean. Someone put a nice moulding on the top, so it doesn't look terrible.

My reasoning was that we could then later upgrade to tile more easily than if we put a one-piece acrylic in. This way we have the cast iron tub already in place.

Also, any suggestions on which cast iron tub to buy? I hear good things about the Kohler Villager, but I HATE the anti-slip bottom on it. Isn't that a nightmare to clean? In fact, my biggest anxiety about this choice is finding a tub that I think will be easy to clean. We have two boys with dirty little feet in the summer. There's no way dirt isn't going to get caught in the tread.

I guess I'm just soliciting advice. Perhaps there is a solution we haven't thought of. I want a period bathroom, but there is also a budget to think of and overall maintenance.

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If you have already chosen Kohler toilet/sink, look at the Sterling tubs and surrounds, also made by Kohler.

They come in some styles that look like tile. We just put in one that I love, and so far all I do to clean it is spray on some Comet bathroom stuff, rinse, then after my shower rub it all over with a magic eraser. I do this once a week and even the floor is clean.

I'll post a pic, but you can see more in a recent thread I started a few weeks back if you are interested. They have other options too.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Thanks for the advice. I was wondering how you find the bottom of the Sterling tub. I was looking at the at Lowe's yesterday, and they looked like they would be impossible to clean. Overall my biggest worry about fiberglass is that it will crack. I know Sterling is Vikrell - I wonder what the difference between Vikrell and fiberglass is?

We have active boys who bathe in there. I was hoping to find a tub where they could actually play with any toy they want. Currently we have a refinished cast iron tub (original over 90 years old) in which I only allow them to play with soft toys. The finish is soooo sensitive - since it is really just epoxy paint.

I'm guessing a new cast iron tub will be the most durable, but like I said before, because of government regulations, they have the worst anti-slip on the bottom. But I guess if I had to choose between a tub that might crack and a tub that might look a little dirty on the bottom, I would choose the latter.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 8:28AM
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I am still a little unclear about how the material is different, other than the color goes all the way through. My GC highly recommended them, he has installed a number of them and never had a problem. Most models have a caulkless install due to the way the panels fit together and the size of the apron. Plus I was told a few times that the Kohler white might be hard to match and Sterling should be a good match.

My 24 year old builder grade fiberglass tub had the finish, not whole structure, chip/crack, leading to the remodel. I patched it easily myself. They also make vikrell patch kits. I did not need to replace the tub because of the crack, but it creaked when moving about in the shower, which I hated, and it had sliding doors, which I hated and were impossible to clean. So it was my excuse, but not necessary.

I don't think toys would be a problem. I would stick mostly to bath toys, though not exclusively soft. Bumps and such shouln't hurt it, though of course sharp objects or forceful attacks might cause some surface scratching.

I haven't had a problem with the bottom yet. The old tub was impossible to keep clean. I think most of its issue was by the time I figured out what worked, the build up was too thick and I was doomed. Plus I'm a bit lazy about cleaning. I have found the Comet bath spray works great. It doesn't smell nice, but it works. I use it once a week before I shower, then after I shower I rub it down with a magic eraser. You might find an in-between eraser use helpful with the boys, or even an extra use off the cleaner just on the floor.

The main thing is to just keep on top of the cleaning. It takes me about 10 minutes total each week, maybe less. With the old tub, the soap and mineral film got out of hand and I could not recover. Granted it took a long time for it to happen, but if I knew then what I know now I would have been much better off.

We don't have children. Do any of your friends with kids have a fiberglass tub? They could offer some insight about the toys. Our new tub doesn't creak and feels very stable. I wouldn't let the floor worry you too much, it isn't too hard to deal with.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 10:23AM
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