What’s the Difference Between Acrylic and Fiberglass Tubs?
Trying to decide between an acrylic and fiberglass tub? At KOHLER® Walk-In Bath, we’re here to help. Acrylic and fiberglass tubs are both inexpensive options for your walk-in bath needs. However, which one is right for you? Let’s compare the two materials:
Acrylic provides strong, sturdy support and requires less maintenance than other materials. When creating acrylic tubs, manufacturers warm an acrylic sheet in the oven and place the sheet in a vacuum mold. Next, manufacturers remove air from between the acrylic and FRP (Fiberglass Reinforcement Product) layer. Afterward, the sheet morphs into the mold. Manufacturers add one more FRP layer into the mold. The last step is to add the tub features, such as grab bars and drains.
Fiberglass is also a strong material with relatively low maintenance. Fiberglass tubs start with spraying a gelcoat material on a mold. This forms the tub’s shape. Manufacturers blend the gelcoat with a fiberglass/resin mix to strengthen the tub. To prevent cracks, manufacturers smooth the fiberglass to reduce air bubbles between the FRP and gelcoat layers. After adding the final FRP layer, the manufacturers remove the tub from the mold to refine the material and add features such as drains and whirlpool jets.
Similarities Between Acrylic and Fiberglass Tubs
- You’ll find FRP layers in both acrylic and fiberglass tubs to give the final product more strength.
- Both materials are extremely flexible, which allows for more customization options.
- Both materials are extremely lightweight and are less likely to damage your floor.
- Both options are relatively inexpensive compared to other tub materials.
- Both materials are more scratch-resistant than other types of tubs.
Differences Between Acrylic and Fiberglass Tubs
- The primary difference between acrylic and fiberglass tubs is the formation process.
- Manufacturers vacuum acrylic into the final tub form. This can impact durability by sometimes forming weak, thin spots in the acrylic tub.
- In fiberglass tubs, the manufacturing process does not include a vacuum.
- You can create an acrylic liner replica of your current tub. However, that’s normally expensive.
- You can reglaze acrylic tubs for cosmetic updates. However, that’s normally a temporary fix.
- Fiberglass can lose color over time. Since fiberglass is less expensive to purchase, it’s also less expensive to repair.
Which Material Is Better for a Bathtub?
Both acrylic and fiberglass are great options for tubs. If you want a more affordable option with great flexibility, then fiberglass is the better option for you. Since most tubs include fiberglass in the final product, fiberglass is one of the most important materials in tub sustainability.
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