Steel, styrene, fiberglass or acryclic?

We have both of our baths torn down to the studs and we’re trying to decide what kind of tubs to put back. We want tub/shower combos in each bath. Most of what you find are porcelain on steel, styrene, fiberglass or acrylic tubs, in order of least expensive to most expensive? Besides cost, what are the pros and cons of each? Are there other choices we should consider?

Try this;

Pros and Cons of Bath Fixtures

Bath fixture—Enameled cast iron
**• **Chip resistant
**• **Cools rapidly
**• **Heavy
**• **Limited shapes

Bath fixture—AcrylicProsCons
**• **Good insulator
**• **Sun and scratch resistant
**• **Lightweight
**• **Needs sealant to protect finish

Bath fixture—FiberglassProsCons
**• **Inexpensive
**• **Lightweight
**• **Can be molded
**• **Easily repaired
**• **Less durable
**• **Quality varies
**• **Shows scratches after 10 to 15 years

Bath fixture—Enameled steelProsCons
**• **Inexpensive
**• **Lightweight
**• **Chips easily
**• **Noisy

Marcel :slight_smile:

Thanks for the help, Marcel.

What about styrene? We are looking at an Aqua Glass tub and separate 3-piece surround unit at Lowe’s … it looks like high gloss fiberglass but there is no identification of materials on the packaging. Their website identifies the material as styrene. Cost for the tub is a little over $200 and the surround a little more than that. Cost for an acrylic tub alone by Aqua Glass through a local plumbing retailer is over $400. We can’t find anything on the net about styrene. I know some of it can look and feel cheap, but this particular one (Eleganza) seems to be OK quality and looks very nice.


According to my Plumbing Contractor that just walked in to my office, he says that poly styrene is a good product which provides a smoother finish and is more flexible than other products.

Aqua glass makes one.

Check this out if it helps.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:


According to my Plumbing Contractor that just walked in to my office, he says that poly styrene is a good product which provides a smoother finish and is more flexible than other products.


Just when we had resigned that we were better off with fiberglass, Vikrell (Sterling), or gelcoat tubs, you come back with an endorsement of styrene.

Thanks a lot, Marcel. :smiley:

Seriously, though, we’re now kind of leaning towards Sterling Ensemble tubs with one Sterling Ensemble surround (the other tub is going to be tiled). We don’t like the look of the Sterling as well as the Aqua Glass Eleganza (styrene), but we’ve heard that the Sterling using Vikrell is stronger than the styrene, is an easier installation than the Aqua Glass Eleganza, and that the design of the tub and surround is more leak-proof than the design of the Aqua Glass.

Your thoughts? Your plumber’s thoughts?](“”)

Sorry about that. ha. ha.

If it makes you feel any better, last year I installed a new tub/shower four piece unit and that is exactly what I got. Sterling Vikrell and it is strong and has color all the way through and my wife loves it. And the bottom line is to make sure the wife likes it. :wink:

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

You are starting to make me feel better now.

Did you get the smooth finish for the surround or the tile look alike? Sterling offers both in the Ensemble line.

Also, did you set your tub in mortar to make it more sturdy?

If placed against an exterior wall, how did you insulate the wall?

Did you attach the surround directly to the studs?

As for the wife, mine is easy to please … I’m the picky one. :mrgreen:

Thanks again for your help!

Bill, my wife chose the smooth finish this time.
She says it is easier to clean, but what do I know ha. ha.

Since the tub surround has a nailing flange I removed the drywall on the exterior wall, fixed up the insulation and the vapor barrier and repaired the drywall over the nailing flange and taped.

Non- expansive foam works great to help support the bottom of the tub, but not really required by the Manufactures instructions which is what you shoul follow for a good install.

Good luck in your install and don’t forget to rabbet out your studs for the thickness of the nailing flange on the interior studs to provide a smooth transition for the drywall overlap.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

So, no drywall behind the surround?

And, what kind of insulation? Kraft sided with no plastic vapor barrier? Faced with a plastic vapor barrier? What about the encapsulated fiberglass insulation?

I like the unfaced batts. I is more controlable to make sure that it is better installed and no gaps and not fitted in to tight. R-values go down when compressed to much.
I then use a 6-mil poly for a vapor barrier and tape all the joints so no air infiltration will set in.
This method could be oppininated and therefore could be more than one method of doing things.

Works fine for me and fire ratings is not in the picture on this one.

To install a tub surround with the drywall on the walls, one would have to furr out the walls to compensate for the 1/4" thick flanges. That is almost impossible to do a good job unless you know how.

Hope this helps.

Marcel :slight_smile: