help finding the "better" acrylic and cast iron tubs?

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by chrisntine, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. chrisntine

    chrisntine New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    california
    First, thanks for such a helpful forum. I'm avidly researching for our bathroom updates and have already selected a Toto Soirée thanks in large part to these Terry Love sites. :)

    Now I need help with the tub for an upstairs alcove tub/shower combo. I understand cast iron is the gold standard and folks have ranked everything else behind it in various orders. I would love to get cast iron except we have very narrow stairs, a tiny bathroom, and I don't know if the floors can hold the load.

    If we can do the cast iron, are all cast iron tubs equal? I've been looking at Kohler, but only 2 models fit our small space (60"x30"). I'd like to look at other brands but don't know where to start. We don't want super high end (this is the kids' bath), but are willing to pay for better quality. Any brands to try (or steer clear of)?

    If we can't do cast iron, I've read that the "better" acrylic tub finishes hold up well to scratches etc. But I've never seen a list of those "better" tubs. So far I've seen John Whipple recommend the Acri-Tec, but I don't know if that's available in the U.S. Are there other acrylic tubs that have stood the test of time? Is Kohler acrylic and/or Exocrylic good enough?

    (I'd prefer to not try the Americast and Vikrell tubs. I think Terry Love and others have given some positive feedback, but there are so many bad reviews I'd prefer to avoid them if possible. Hoping to find brands/materials that get consistently good marks, like the Totos :)).

    Thank you so much for your advice,
    christine
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
  2. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

    Messages:
    3,816
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    Christine - the Kohler tubs in Acrylic are nice and as good as any Acri-Tec tub I've help install.

    Have you seen the floating tub install I got going in right now?
  3. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

    Messages:
    3,816
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    Think about what you just wrote. Remember that Terry Love is a plumber first and forum owner second.

    Christine we live in a world where men and women pretend to be builders and contractors. Look at the "Big Red Shoe" right here on Terry's forum. He is no one but a promoter for Schluter Systems and the John Bridge Forum. Careful what you take from online reviews.

    The person you listen too should be a trades person active in the industry. Like me. Like Terry. The person should be able to be reached by phone. Like me. Like Terry. The person should have a business that is searchable outside the forum. Like me. Like Terry.

    You take these basics out of the equation and you are left with a bunch of old men with opinions, with loyalties and those opinions mixed with paid promoters working the key pad every day.

    Last year this guy come into here promoting a new waterproofing product. Slamming Hydro Ban and talking smack. I googled the product to find out that the new guy on Terry's site was in fact the man who profits from any US sales. I posted once. I blasted him hard. He went away. Now the "Big Red Shoe" is here for the long run - that's what you get when you don't plan for retirement....

    The point is take the messages with a grain of salt. And find out as well who is posting this info.
  4. jm66208

    jm66208 New Member

    Messages:
    97
    Location:
    KC
    Hi Christine, I too have been a "cast iron" guy for all of my career, but am considering the switch to acrylic tubs. Without geting into the "cast vs. acrylic" debate, I'll say that my research has found that "acrylic is acrylic". It comes in sheets made by Dupont, is vacuum formed over a mold, and fiberglass & chip board is applied to it to make it stiff & strong. The more fiberglass & reinforcement applied to the back side, the stiffer the tub, but the acrylic surface is still pretty much the same. Although I've never seen it done, acrylic can be repaired if damaged. Scratches can be polished out. A little common sense, and you should be fine. No metal tonka trucks in the tub...no sand castles...wash the dog outside...etc.
    If you are looking for a basic tub, Hydro systems in in CA, and they have a good selection. I just looked at their tubs, and they look pretty well made.
    MTI is out of Atlanta. They are a great company & make really nice stuff!
    The Kohler Archer is a nice deep basic tub.

    PS: I will be pulling a cast iron kohler villager tub soon to replace with a deeper/wider tub. The kids have grown up, and that tub is just too small. Something to think about...
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
  5. DougB

    DougB Member

    We have installed a Kohler Expanse acrylic tub. The tub is installed over mortar - and 'squished' into place. Once the mortar sets - the tub feels as good as any cast iron tub.
  6. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,790
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I'm liking a good acrylic more and more as I get older.
    Installed properly, they can be very nice. Kohler makes some good ones.
  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,817
    Location:
    New England
    If you use any forum, you have to take some of the good advice and sort it out from the bad. You do not have to be a professional to have valid life experience. FWIW, I promote www.johnbridge.com forum for tiling issues, and www.terrylove.com for plumbing, electrical, and HVAC issues...Terry is a (very good) plumber, and has dealt with other areas, but still primarily a plumber. John Bridge spent a good portion of his life in tile, and there are a lot of professional and DIY'er tiling people there. That John Whipple disses anyone that is associated with them, is kind of irrelevant...he was banned from that site and at least one other for his constant character assassinations...in his view, he is the only one that knows anything. John Whipple likes to support John Whipple. And, I regularly catch him using products incorrectly...he hates that.

    A CI tub is a longer-term item than any acrylic. Depending on how you treat the acrylic tub, it can last a very long time, but the finish on it is not, nor ever will be as hard as the porcelain on a CI tub. Now, the tub in the house I grew up with wasn't treated all that well - way back, things like Ajax cleanser were REALLY abrasive, and my mother liked to use that on the tub. It's about 60-years old, still no rust, but it now has a matt finish. I'd change it for her, but she doesn't really want it. The things that affect Acrylic are abrasives and flex. Note, though, that while the CI finish is tough, drop something hard on it and you can chip it, too. You can eliminate the critical flex by proper installation. If that is not done right, the flex can lead to spider cracks, and eventual failure. Fiberglass is worse, but the same can happen to acrylic. The better ones come with some pretty substantial support from the factory, but if not, then bedding them in something like mortar can make a huge difference in both how they feel and how long they last.

    Not all great players will make great coaches, and few great coaches were great players...
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
  8. DougB

    DougB Member

    I don't think it matters if a CI tub can last 50 yrs. I haven't seen any 50 year old bathrooms that I'd want to keep.

    Probably after 25 - 30 years the bathroom is going to look dated / worn and you'll want to replace it anyway.
  9. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

    Messages:
    3,816
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    What Doug Said.

    The feel of the tub is solid when set in mortar.

    In the past 10 + years we have installed ONE Cast Iron Tub.
  10. dhagin

    dhagin builder:anti-builder

    Messages:
    108
    Location:
    oahu
    Nothin's as solid as good 'ol cast iron. Not just the floor, but the sides, rims, skirt and all the rest. These are multi-generational type installs meant to last.

    That said, there are some very nice and solid fiberglass/acrylic units out there that, taken care of, will last a lifetime. I'm with Terry, the older I get, the more I'm likin the fiberglass units. Another quality manufacturer of fiberglass units is Maax. :)

    http://www.maax.com/

    Regarding not wanting to keep a bathroom 50 years: We've done a number of recreations of Victorian-style bathrooms - some styles never get old. ;)
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2014
  11. chrisntine

    chrisntine New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    california
    Thank you everyone for the advice (and the advice about the advice ;)).

    And thank you for allaying my fears about acrylic. I hadn't heard of Maax or MTI so will look at those in addition to the Kohlers. I'd heard of Hydro Systems but thought they only did whirlpool so I'll look into any basic tubs they might have too.

    The hard part now is finding a place that carries not just the brands, but the particular models I'm interested in so I can compare in person.

    Ha, well as much as I try, I can't control all the toys, sand, etc going in the tub. That's why I want durable. And yes, while shallow is easier for bathing the little ones now, I want it deep enough so the water stays in when they are sloppy teenagers taking showers. :)

    Thanks again, everyone!
    -christine
  12. chrisntine

    chrisntine New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    california
    Wow. Wish I had bathroom big enough to hold that. :)
  13. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,279
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Your 30" dimension is going to severely limit your choices. With Kohler you may only have the choice of the Proflex "Hourglass, (and i am not sure how I feel about a bathtub that only weighs 80 pounds", or the Villager cast iron. If the floor will not support a cast iron tub, then maybe YOU should not be walking on it either, but if that were REALLY the case, you can support it from the walls and narrow stairways or doors are immaterial.
  14. johnfrwhipple

    johnfrwhipple I love these ACO Shower Drains - Best in Class

    Messages:
    3,816
    Location:
    North Vancouver, BC
    Chritine thank you for comments - I love your line

    "Advice about Advice"

    That is an excellent line. I might have to make it my own. Do you mind? :)

    A nice long niche might make the tub feel wider!

    [​IMG]

    This is a HOME CHEAPO Tub and only 30" wide. The two LED niches really sex up the place. Been picking away at this reno for months now. This is my buddies daughter's bathroom and when she gets older sh is going to love the coloured lighting. For the time being the long niche will become a play zone for toys...

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014
  15. LucyintheSky

    LucyintheSky New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    Illinois
    My plumber says the Kohler exo-acrylic are good tubs. We looked at the Kohler Archer (nice, comfortable tub) but the sides are too high. I find a lot of these tubs give you a higher side to get depth, but that is a safety hazard getting in & out (as you age or if you have kids.) My hubby & I did not want to put this in & raise our knees up that high to get in/out, especially in the future, since he's had 2 knee replacements. We also looked at the Villager, but the sides were only 14", & water depth would not give me a decent soak depth. Our current tub is satisfactory at 11" to overflo, at least for us. I have pretty much settled on the Toto FBY1525 or FBY1515. Both are enameled cast iron. The 1525 being 59 3/4 x 32 x 16 3/4" holding 44 gal that has an 11 3/8" dept to overflow. The 1515 is 59 3/4 x 30 x 14 11/16 H holding 38 gal with depth to overflo of 9 3/8". I can't speak to whether your floors can handle them. I know the 1525 (which I am leaning toward) is 397 lbs. T, too, learned more than I wanted to know about plumbing on this great site. Good luck!
Similar Threads: help finding
Forum Title Date
Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog need help finding a small bathtub hair catcher Yesterday at 9:59 AM
Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog Need help finding replacement tub/shower handle with pushbutton diverter Jun 3, 2014
Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog Help finding product name and manufacturer for a newer "hidden" shower drain product Mar 25, 2013
Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog Need help in finding a Acrylic 60x32x15 Alacove bathtub..or do they make 15" height Apr 17, 2011
Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog Help finding replacement parts for Crane brand shower stems. Nov 12, 2010

Share This Page