What are the Pros and Cons of Using a Fiberglass Bathtub?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A fiberglass bathtub is likely to be less expensive than other types of tubs because fiberglass is easy to work with during manufacturing, making it generally inexpensive for companies to sell. It can also be highly customizable, allowing for extra features in the tub such as shelves, soap holders, handles, and even seats. These advantages make a fiberglass bathtub a great choice for a budget-conscious homeowner. Some of the downsides of the fiberglass bathtub, however, may encourage homeowners to choose another material. Fiberglass tends to scratch easily, for example, and the color can fade quickly after repeated use and prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Despite the long-term issues with a fiberglass bathtub, the appearance of the tub is likely to be appealing, and many styles are available for customization of a bathroom. These tubs are inexpensive to make, so manufacturers are more likely to offer several designs rather than just one or two. The extra features are beneficial, especially to elderly people who may need a built in seat, handle, or other safety feature for stability and comfort. Shelves can be molded easily into the structure of the tub to hold soaps and shampoos, and the specific shape of the tub itself can be modified easily upon construction. The look of the tub will be appealing, though after time, the tub surface can fade. Fiberglass can also be damaged fairly easily should something heavy impact the fiberglass bathtub directly, and repairing the tub unit may be difficult or impossible, meaning full replacement will be necessary.

Ease of installation is another advantage of a fiberglass bathtub. Cast iron bathtubs are very heavy and bulky, meaning they will be difficult to install; some acrylic tubs are unwieldy and large enough that they may not fit through a bathroom doorway. Fiberglass tubs are lightweight and can usually be packaged very compact, making them a good choice for the do-it-yourself homeowner who wants to remodel the bathroom. Little or no floor and wall reinforcements will be necessary, contrary to a cast iron tub that is heavy enough to require such reinforcements.

Water damage is likely to occur in and beneath a fiberglass bathtub over time, which means this type of tub has a very short life span. The coating used on the fiberglass will resist water for several years, but after time, the coating can peel off, allowing water to seep through the fiberglass and potentially damage the floor beneath the tub. It is important to monitor such damage and replace or repair the tub when the damage occurs.

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