Are you having a hard time choosing between acrylic vs porcelain tub? When it comes to bathroom build and renovations, the bathtub is the center that ties the room together.
And there are two prominent materials used for bathtubs today, acrylic and porcelain. You might be wondering what the difference between porcelain and acrylic tubs is, and you are not alone.
The most significant difference between these two is their weight. Since porcelain is a harder material than acrylic, it is naturally heavier. Porcelain is also more scratch-resistant than acrylic. The latter is more lightweight and fitted with a robust base made from fiberglass.
Since the bathtub is a vital part of your bathroom, choosing the right one matters. It needs an educated decision.
While acrylic and porcelain bathtubs may share similarities, knowing their differences can help you choose the right one. Continue reading as we go in-depth on the distinction between these two.
Which is Better: Acrylic or Porcelain Bathtub?
Although there are many bathtub choices available in the market, porcelain and acrylic bathtubs are the most popular choices.
Now, the question is, which is better: an acrylic or porcelain bathtub? Let us take a look at each of their advantages and disadvantages.
Most porcelain bathtubs are made from cast iron or stamped steel coated with a porcelain enamel and infused with glass. Porcelain tubs are generally heavy but durable and can last for many years.
- Durable and can hold up extremely well against scratches, corrosion, and rust
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Can last for more than 20 years
- Comes in standard bathtub sizes but is open for customization too
- Comes at a high cost
- Susceptible to surface cracks, especially when heavy objects are dropped on the bathtub
- Low heat retention
- Heavy to remove and install
- Limited options for styles and colors
Acrylic bathtubs are made from a fiberglass base layered with sheets of acrylic. Like porcelain, it is also a popular bathtub because of its durability.
Although it has no solid defense against scratches, a well-maintained acrylic bathtub can also last for years. With these listed pros and cons on acrylic vs porcelain tubs, we can already see major differences between them.
- Resilient and durable
- Non-porous surface will not absorb water
- Hold well against heavy impact and will be less likely to chip and crack
- Lighter than other bathtub materials
- Affordable bathtub option
- Excellent heat-retention
- Comes with color options
- The surface can easily get scratched
- Shorter lifespan
Main Difference Between Acrylic and Porcelain Bathtub
To compare acrylic bathtub vs porcelain, we need to look at the following features:
- Heat retention
Between the two, acrylic is generally lighter than porcelain. So, when it comes to placement and installation in your bathroom, it offers greater flexibility as it is easier to install than the porcelain option.
Also, their lighter weight enables the manufacturers of acrylic bathtubs to create them in different sizes and shapes.
Porcelain bathtubs are more limited in shapes and sizes and with heavier weight than acrylic, it is also challenging to install.
Therefore, when it comes to weight, in the battle between acrylic bathtubs vs porcelain, acrylic is the winner.
You might think in an instant that porcelain bathtubs are more durable than acrylic because they are made from harder materials. But that is not the case here. Instead, it is the opposite.
Porcelain is more vulnerable to cracking and chipping when the surface is hit by a heavy object. Acrylic, on the other hand, can handle them easily but they are more prone to scratches.
3. Heat Retention
In the heat retention category in acrylic bathtub vs porcelain, the former has better heat retention than the latter.
The reason behind this is the process of how porcelain tubs are made. This tub is created by layering enamel or porcelain coating over a metal or iron base, creating a separate layer between the coating and tub, releasing the heat faster.
In cleaning and maintaining acrylic vs porcelain tubs, they both need the same amount of care to avoid damage.
However, they require different types of cleaners. For porcelain tubs, you should use natural and homemade cleaning products while commercially available cleaning products apply to acrylic tubs.
Another criterion to differentiate acrylic and porcelain tubs is their cost. Since porcelain bathtubs have more complex construction, it is more expensive than acrylic.
This cost comparison includes the maintenance and installation expenses incurred if the choice is the porcelain option. However, this does not include the size of the tub.
There is not much difference when restoring acrylic and porcelain bathtubs. Each uses a different refinishing kit, which is reapplied to the surface to remove the blemishes.
For an acrylic bathtub, you can do a DIY restoration. A porcelain bathtub, on the other hand, needs a professional for restoration.
7. Resaleability and Popularity
Both of these bathtub materials are popular and have high resale value. Acrylic bathtubs come in different shapes and sizes and fit perfectly in modern bathrooms. Porcelain bathtubs invoke a classic look and feel and command a higher resale price.
How Do I Know If My Bathtub is Enamel or Porcelain?
The thing is, both enamel and porcelain bathtubs have enamel coating, and they share many similar characteristics.
They have the same glossy appearance in white and weight. That makes it hard to tell the difference between an enamel tub and a porcelain bathtub.
To differentiate the two, you need to conduct a magnet test on the bathtub. If your bathtub attracts the magnet, it is enamel covering the iron and steel components.
Porcelain is made from different materials that are not mostly metals. There you go, now you know the difference between porcelain and enamel tubs.
Acrylic vs Porcelain Sink
Another area where acrylic and porcelain are at odds is in the bathroom or kitchen sink. Although acrylic vs porcelain sinks have a lot of similarities, they also have different advantages.
In terms of style, these two are the same and come in single or double sinks. They also come in drop-in, under-mount, and self-rimming models.
Their first difference is the materials they are made from. Porcelain is made with melted ground glass applied on a metal or iron base.
Cast acrylic sinks are made from an acrylic material that is molded into a sink with the use of a cast.
Another major difference is their cost. Acrylic sinks are cheaper compared to porcelain sinks. The latter is also more susceptible to chips and cracks than the former on impact. On the other hand, it can last longer with the right care.
Heat retention is another issue with porcelain sinks, as you need to refill them with hot water when you have plenty of dishes to wash.
How Much Does a Porcelain Tub Cost?
An average porcelain bathtub can cost between $350 to $2,000 depending on the size and including the installation cost. It also varies according to size, and style. It is generally more expensive because of its “old world” look and feels.
How Long Do Porcelain Tubs Last?
One of the most common questions that homeowners ask when choosing a bathtub is how long do porcelain bathtubs last.
A well-maintained porcelain tub can last for more than 20 years. This kind of bathtub is resistant to scratches and as long as the enamel is intact, it is also corrosion and rust-resistant.
How to tell if the bathtub is porcelain or enamel
The best way to test whether your bathtub is enamel or porcelain is to do a magnet test. If the magnet attracts, it is an enamel bathtub. Enamel is made from melted steel and iron, while porcelain is from melted glass.
What bathtub material is easiest to clean?
The most convenient bathtub material to clean is the porcelain-enameled steel type. Use only a natural homemade cleaner and non-abrasive sponge and clean it every week.
Do acrylic tubs turn yellow?
No. Unlike other bathtub materials, acrylic is non-porous and does not allow the build-up of mold and mildew. It is pretty solid so, it would not turn yellow.
Can you refinish an acrylic tub?
Yes. You can refinish an acrylic tub if it loses its gloss. You can use a buffer with a rubbing compound to bring back its sheen.
Given that acrylic vs porcelain tubs have their pros and cons. Deciding between them can be daunting.
To choose, you need to review its advantages and disadvantages. Decide which of its advantages you cannot live without and the disadvantages that you tolerate.
Hopefully, we have given you a better idea of the differences between acrylic vs porcelain tubs, and this post has helped you determine the best material for you.