What is the Best Material for a Freestanding Bathtub?

Best Material for a Freestanding Bathtub

Review of Acrylic and Other Common Bathtub Materials

Freestanding tubs have become one of the most popular bathroom features. That's because freestanding tubs are attractive, comfortable, and work well in a variety of bathroom layouts. Freestanding tubs are constructed out of various types of materials and feature different finishes and designs to help you achieve the look you desire in your main or guest bathroom.


What is the best material for a freestanding bathtub?

There is really no one-size-fits all answer to the question: What is the best material for a freestanding bathtub? Popular freestanding tub materials include acrylic, cast iron, copper, and solid surface stone. Each material has its own pros and cons. The best type of freestanding tub for your bathroom will depend on which features (like durability and bacteria resistance) are the most important to you as well as the look you are trying to achieve.

While the bestmaterial for freestanding tubs may be subjective, the most popular freestanding tub material is, without a doubt, acrylic. According to the 2021 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study, “Freestanding acrylic soaking tubs are by far the most popular bathtub style, material and type.”


Acrylic Freestanding Bathtubs: Pros and Cons

Freestanding bathtubs made from acrylic material are so popular because they are lightweight and easy to maintain. Acrylic is a versatile plastic that can be molded into different shapes without losing its structural integrity. The surface of acrylic is smooth and non-porous, which provides resistance to mold, mildew, and other bacteria – and makes it easy to clean. Non-porous acrylic is also resistant to chipping, cracking, and warping. When combined with fiberglass reinforcement, acrylic freestanding tubs can be quite durable.

Many homeowners also choose acrylic freestanding tubs because they are affordable and relatively easy to install. Because they are so lightweight compared to most other bathtub materials, acrylic freestanding bathtubs can usually be installed directly on top of floor joists without additional reinforcement or subfloor work. This makes acrylic a good choice for DIYers who want to install their own bathtub.

Pros for Acrylic Tubs:

  • Acrylic is a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-maintain material, which makes it a great choice for a freestanding bathtub.
  • Acrylic tubs have an attractive sheen and are available in a variety of colors and styles, so you’re sure to find one that perfectly fits your bathroom’s décor.
  • Acrylic is also lightweight, making it easier to install than other materials like cast iron.
  • Chipping and cracking is rare and surface damage is easy to repair.
  • Acrylic also retains heat well; if you tend to take long baths, this may be an important feature.

Cons for Acrylic Tubs:

  • The downside of acrylic is that it can scratch easily if you aren’t careful about the placement of sharp objects like razors on your tub’s ledge.
  • An acrylic freestanding tub definitely provides great value for the cost but it won't last quite as long as a properly maintained copper, cast iron, or solid surface stone tub.


Cast Iron Freestanding Bathtubs: Pros and Cons

Cast iron is another extremely popular freestanding tub material, prized for its classic, luxurious look. Cast iron is by far the heaviest freestanding tub material. Cast iron freestanding tubs are made from an iron-carbon alloy coated in porcelain or enamel to prevent chipping and provide a smooth, aesthetically pleasing surface that’s easy to clean.

Pros for Cast Iron Tubs:

  • Cast iron is a beautiful, extremely durable, low-maintenance bathtub material. For traditional style bathrooms, there is really no other choice but a timeless cast iron clawfoot tub.
  • Cast iron provides excellent heat retention, so your bath will stay warm longer than if you were in an acrylic tub.

Cons for Cast Iron Tubs:

  • The main downside to cast iron is that it is a very heavy material. This means it can be more difficult to install a cast iron tub in your bathroom. If the bathroom is on the second floor of a house or apartment, extra floor support may be required.
  • Cast iron does not usually dent and it is more scratch resistant than acrylic. Nonetheless, scratches that do occur may be difficult to repair.
  • Cast iron is usually more expensive than other materials like acrylic or solid surface stone.


Copper Freestanding Bathtubs: Pros and Cons

Copper is another popular freestanding tub material because of its high-end yet rustic aesthetic. Copper has natural anti-bacterial properties and will last for decades with proper maintenance and care. The surface of a copper freestanding tub can be either smooth or hammered (which makes it easier to hide small imperfections like scratches that may accrue over time). Some copper tub designs incorporate additional materials like nickel. While copper is still a low-maintenance freestanding bathtub material, it does require more care than other materials like acrylic.

Pros for Copper Tubs:

  • Copper is an organic material that develops a lovely patina over time.
  • Copper is easy to clean and naturally bacteria resistant.
  • In addition, copper has good corrosion resistance to many chemicals.
  • Because of its durability, when properly maintained, a copper freestanding tub will last for a very long time.

Cons for Copper Tubs:

  • Copper can be expensive compared to cheaper freestanding tub materials like acrylic and solid surface stone.
  • Copper can scratch easily – so if you want a copper freestanding tub, make sure you do not use abrasive cleaning products or cleaning agents. Also avoid acidic cleaning products like vinegar as these could damage the elegant patina finish of copper.


Solid Surface Stone Freestanding Bathtubs: Pros and Cons

Another popular material for freestanding tub materials is solid surface stone. A solid surface freestanding tub is constructed out of a mix of all-natural minerals and man-made synthetic materials like epoxy or polyester resins. Easily moldable, solid surface stone tubs are available in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and styles. A non-porous and low-maintenance material, solid surface stone has an attractive, smooth finish. This non-porous surface is water-resistant and bacteria resistant. Scratching is rare and easy to repair.

Pros for Solid Surface Tubs:

  • Solid surface stone tubs have a stylish, seamless appearance and they are competitively priced.
  • These low-maintenance tubs are made from a hard material that is more durable than acrylic.
  • The non-porous surface of a solid surface freestanding tub is antibacterial as well as stain and scratch resistant; nearly waterproof, it will not develop pinholes or crack when exposed to water.
  • Like cast iron tubs, solid surface stone tubs have superior heat-retention properties.

Cons for Solid Surface Tubs:

  • Solid surface stone is somewhat more expensive than acrylic, though usually cheaper than copper.
  • Some people find the ultra-smooth, uniform surface of a solid surface stone tub can feel slippery when wet - though this can also occur with any smooth finish tub including cast iron and acrylic. Consider looking for a model with a textured slip-resistant bottom or use a non-slip bathtub mat.


The Best Material for Freestanding Bathtubs

If you are looking for the type of freestanding bathtub that will last the longest, consider a bathtub constructed from ultra-durable materials like copper, cast iron, or solid surface stone.

If you want to avoid minor imperfections like scratches accruing over time, try looking for a solid surface freestanding tub which has a highly scratch-resistant surface that can be easily repaired by sanding and polishing.

If you are looking for a great value, consider purchasing an acrylic freestanding tub which offers many features important to most homeowners like heat retention and ease of installation at an excellent price.

Or contact our Customer Service team for a one-on-one consultation to find out which type of freestanding bathtub will best fit your lifestyle and complete your bathroom remodel.

Check out our Freestanding Slipper Tub Guide

by Cassidy Carr