Comprehensive Comparison Between Acrylic Tub and Steel Tub

Bathtubs are not just places for bathing; they are also spaces for relaxation, playing a crucial role in home decor. However, when it comes to selecting a tub, there are numerous material options available, each affecting factors such as price, reliability, and aesthetics, which can leave users feeling overwhelmed when making a choice. To assist you in purchasing the most suitable tub, this article will focus on two popular options: acrylic and steel. By comparing their characteristics in various aspects, we aim to help you make a more informed decision. Let's get started!

Distinguishing Acrylic Tub and Steel Tub

What is an Acrylic Tub

When it comes to choosing a bathtub, acrylic tubs are often the most commonly heard option. Due to their affordability and attractive appearance, they are often the preferred choice for many. However, you may not fully understand what they are. So, let's delve into what an acrylic bathtub is from a manufacturing material perspective:

Acrylic, chemically known as "PMMA" (Polymethyl methacrylate), belongs to the acrylic resin family and is commonly referred to as "specially processed organic glass." Its raw materials typically come in the form of granules, sheets, pipes, etc. Due to its pure color, smooth appearance, and long lifespan, acrylic can be found in various fields such as construction, decoration, and small products like picture frames.

Bathtubs made of acrylic material have excellent insulation properties, so even in the cold winter, direct contact with the skin won't feel "icy." Therefore, it has become one of the mainstream tub materials. Acrylic tubs can be cast in two forms: one is formed by bonding acrylic sheets, and the other is cast-formed. The acrylic tubs we commonly refer to are usually the former type.


What is a Steel Tub

A steel tub, as the name suggests, is a bathtub manufactured using steel as its raw material. In its manufacturing process, the steel sheets are typically stamped and formed to create its outer contour. However, the pure metal appearance is not only unattractive but also prone to corrosion and rust. Therefore, after forming the outer contour, a layer of enamel glaze is usually applied to its surface. Hence, steel bathtubs are also known as porcelain-enameled steel tubs or enamel steel tubs.

Small steel bathtub

Price Comparison

For most people, price is the most important indicator and often the biggest factor in deciding whether to purchase a bathtub.

Acrylic products are made from thermoplastic plastics and mainly involve techniques such as heat molding and vacuum forming. Although the material cost of acrylic is higher, its simple manufacturing process and hollow structure make acrylic tubs more cost-effective compared to bathtubs made from any other material.

In contrast, steel tubs use metal as their raw material, which comes with a relatively higher cost. The meticulous treatment of metal and the demand for a porcelain enamel coating on the surface during the manufacturing process contribute to the higher production cost of bathtubs. As a result, the price of steel tubs is typically about 30% higher than acrylic tubs.

Convenience Comparison

If you'd rather install a bathtub yourself rather than pay a renovation company, it's important to consider convenience when choosing a tub, so what makes a tub easy to install? Some relevant factors are listed below:

  • Weight: The weight of the tub significantly impacts its maneuverability and ease of installation. Heavier tubs are more challenging to carry and position.
  • Fragility: Tubs made from fragile materials require careful handling and often professional installation, as they can be difficult for the average person to install safely.
  • Shape: Tubs with slippery surfaces and lacking ergonomic features like angles or handles for leverage make installation more difficult.
  • Need for extra fixtures: Tubs that require minimal additional fixtures and preparation are easier to install. Some may need a perfectly flat surface, additional support beams, or other fixtures for safe and effective installation.

Considering these factors, acrylic tubs emerge as the easier option to install. Acrylic is lightweight, making it easy to lift and position without professional assistance. It's also less fragile and can accommodate complex shapes and supporting features that aid in the installation process.

On the other hand, steel tubs pose more challenges during installation. They are heavier, more delicate, and often require additional supporting fixtures to ensure proper alignment and safety.

Apart from material factors, if you have a greater need for easy installation, then you should consider purchasing a freestanding bathtub. This type of bathtub only requires the pipes to be inserted into the drainage outlet to be used...READ MORE

Insulation Comparison

The insulation performance is directly proportional to your soaking time. Relatively speaking, due to the higher density of steel compared to acrylic, have superior heat conduction properties. Additionally, the porcelain enamel layer wrapped around the exterior helps to more effectively trap heat, thus achieving long-lasting insulation effects.

While the insulation time of acrylic tubs may be slightly shorter compared to steel bathtubs, it does not mean that their insulation performance is inferior. In fact, acrylic itself has good insulation properties, and since its internal structure may contain insulation materials, it still provides satisfactory insulation effects.

Lifespan Comparison

Steel tubs boast superior durability due to their construction. The steel core and enamel coating on the surface make them exceptionally sturdy and long-lasting. This combination of materials ensures that the bathtub maintains its shape over an extended period while also providing resistance to stains, scratches, and chips.

In contrast, acrylic tubs do not offer the same longevity as steel ones, although they still have a reasonable lifespan considering their material. These tubs are crafted by vacuum-forming acrylic sheets under pressure and heat into a mold that mirrors the bathtub's shape.

Maintaining an steel tub involves regular cleaning with non-abrasive agents to preserve the enamel finish surface. It's essential to avoid corrosive chemicals and hard brushes during the cleaning process, as they could damage the enamel coating. This coating acts as a barrier to protect the steel core from exposure to air and potential rusting. While maintenance for steel tubs may be slightly more involved compared to acrylic counterparts, it's crucial for ensuring their longevity.

Acrylic tubs, on the other hand, require less frequent maintenance than steel ones. The cleaning process is generally similar, avoiding corrosive chemicals and utilizing non-abrasive scrubbing sponges to keep the surface clear and shiny. In case of scratches, a specialized polishing agent may be used to restore the surface.


There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to choosing between steel and acrylic bathtubs. Each type offers unique features tailored to different applications and preferences. By comparing the differences outlined above, you can make an informed decision based on your specific needs.

If you're working with a limited budget and prefer minimal maintenance, then it is recommended to purchase an acrylic tub. However, if durability is a top priority and you're looking for a long-term investment, enamel steel are unmatched.