Walk-in tubs are currently available in acrylic and gel-coat fibreglass material, and it is up to you to choose the one that will best enhance your bathing experience and meet your budget needs.
* Acrylic is an extremely durable bath and shower material. With its strong acrylic surface and composite backing material, it is resistant to the rigours of everyday life — no cracks, no chips.
* Depending on use, acrylic may require less maintenance than other bath materials. Its non-porous surface makes cleaning with a non-abrasive cleanser simple and easy.
* Acrylic retains its colour, luster and showroom condition longer. Because its color goes through the thickness of the material, it is resistant to dulling and fading.
* Acrylic warms and cools faster than other tub materials, so in a warm room, an acrylic tub is warm to the touch. During a bath, an acrylic tub will keep water warmer for a longer amount of time.
* Producing tubs using acrylic – particularly tubs with formed seats and other molding details – requires a more complex manufacturing process than producing the same tub with fibreglass, so acrylic tubs will generally cost a little more than fibreglass tubs.
* Gelcoat is short for “gel-coat fibreglass reinforced polyester,” more popularly known as “fibreglass.” The “gel-coating” is a layer of smooth, shiny material that lays on top of the fibreglass. It is what gives the material its smooth finish and its colour. The fibreglass reinforced polyester lies beneath, and it is what gives the material its strength.
* Gelcoat bathing material is lightweight and easy to maneuver. For it’s weight, it is extremely strong, flexible and durable.
* With proper cleaning and upkeep, gelcoat tubs will keep their colour and luster for a long time. Because gelcoat surfaces are slightly more porous than Acrylic surfaces, they can stain over time if not properly cleaned and maintained.
* Gelcoat is easier to work with as a material than acrylic in the manufacturing process, so gelcoat tubs will cost less than acrylic tubs.
The big plus with acrylic is that it is solid surface, meaning it has a very high filler content and does not have a gel coat. If you have Corian or similar countertops in your home, then you know what solid surface material is. No mildew, mold or bacteria can penetrate because it is non-porous. Acrylic, being a solid surface, is easier to clean, has a glossy finish and will last for many years. It will not fade over time as the colour is all the way through the material, not just on the surface. Whereas, with gel coat fibreglass the gel coat rubs off and then the pores/fibres of the fibreglass are exposed. Once the pores and fibres are exposed they can harbour bacteria, mold and mildew and grime and soap scum get imbedded into the surface which begins the breaking down of the product. Using a gel-coat is like having a paint sprayed onto the fibreglass to “seal” it. It wears off over time which is why it fades and wears and becomes even harder to keep clean. While fibreglass may cost less, it will never last longer or as long as acrylic therefore in the long run it is probably well worth any added expense to get a walk in tub made with a surface material that is more durable and that will last for many years.