Fiberglass vs. Acrylics

What is the difference between acrylic and fiberglass shells?

Opinions regarding acrylic versus fiberglass walk-in tubs vary throughout the industry. Many companies offer walk-in tubs manufactured of either or both materials. So, as a consumer you must ask yourself? What are the differences and how to make a decision that best fits your bathing needs and budget?

Acrylic Walk-in bathtubs are constructed using a large sheet of solid colored acrylic plastic.  The acrylic is heated; then vacuum pressure is used to stretch the heated acrylic over the walk-in tub mold to achieve the desired shape. The acrylic is then reinforced with a composite material, such as fiberglass on the back side to strengthen the acrylic shell for structural support

Fiberglass Walk-in bathtubs are manufactured with composite materials, the same materials that are used to make automobiles and yachts. The fiberglass manufacturing process is critical, after the mold is formed, the liquid gel-coat must be applied evenly on the molds at the correct temperature. Many companies use a special polyurethane blend in there gel-coating process to protect the fiberglass from UV rays.

When it comes to repairs, many consumers have a misconception that acrylic walk-in tubs cannot be repaired. This is NOT true! However, fiberglass is easier to repair in the field, but both acrylic and fiberglass tubs have successfully been repaired. Repairs performed correctly are permanent and virtually invisible.

Although there are differences between acrylic and fiberglass tubs, it’s important for consumers know that both the fiberglass and the acrylic tubs come with manufacturer warranties that range from 30 days to 10 plus years on the shell and a lifetime warranty on the seal of the door. Most units are built using a stainless steel or powder coated frame with adjustable leveling feet. Options and accessories also vary from manufacturer to manufacture, to meet the demands and needs of today’s customer.