How Much Does a Cast Iron Bathtub Cost?
There is extreme variance in the possible price for a cast iron tub. The median price is around $1500 for the tub alone. A number of factors influence the total price when all values are taken into account. The most important among these are size, style and manufacturer.
Highest average cost: $2500
Lowest average cost: $400
The size of the tub matters greatly in cost, especially for cast iron tubs. Getting a tub on the lower end of the average price range will mean getting a much smaller tub that may not be long enough to lie down in. The median price of $1500 tends to cover a standard-size luxury tub. The higher end of the price range is where tubs that are intended for more than one person can be found.
The style of the tub affects the cost greatly. This is due in part to the changes involved in who the tub is marketed to. More stylish, opulent tubs may involve inlaid metallic accents and other design points intended primarily to make the tub look richer. The more stylish and complex the design of a tub, the more expensive it is likely to be.
Finally, the manufacturer of the tub will come into question. High-end designers will exact higher costs, while more common, utilitarian companies will offer cast iron tubs on the lower end of the price range. Custom and vintage tubs are excluded from this consideration. To have an idea what the cost of any given custom project will be requires a quote. Vintage tubs do not have a consistent market from which a price range can be accurately judged.
The primary material in any cast iron tub will always be cast iron. However, bare metal is considered unpleasant to rest on, so cast iron tubs are always coated with an outer substance for comfort and visual appeal. The substance used to cover the cast iron will vary from tub to tub.
Fiberglass is the most common substance for lower-end tubs. It can be polished smoothly and provides an acceptable aesthetic look, but it is still considered a cheap material for tubs. The insulating properties of fiberglass tend to undermine the advantages that a cast iron tub can provide, making this unpopular among those interested in a serious investment.
Acrylic is another common substance for this purpose. It suffers from the same difficulties as fiberglass, but tends to be somewhat more durable.
Enamel is the standard material for high-end cast iron tubs, and it is commonly recommended that a homeowner not invest in a cast iron tub unless they can pursue an enamel coating. Enamel is considered ideal for its classic, smooth look and its ability to evenly distribute thermal energy from hot water. Sometimes, enamel will be molded into aesthetically appealing patterns along the edges or exterior of the tub. This is rarely ever seen with any other material.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Extended value and durability
Heat transfer and insulation
Cast iron tubs, particularly those coated with enamel, are considered very visually appealing. The iron used in a cast iron tub, when visible, tends to be dark and look very sturdy. It gives cast iron tubs the look of longevity, which many homeowners appreciate. As luxury items, more care is put into the overall design of a cast iron tub. Very few tubs made of cast iron are sold with function prioritized in a manner that is exclusive from form. Cast iron tubs that have been decorated with filigree and other fine elements are easier to find than lower-end bathtubs.
Tubs made of cast iron tend to be quite durable. Bath tubs as fixtures tend to be sturdy enough on their own. The most common reasons to replace standard bath tubs involve gradual wear and tear or contamination with mold, rather than structural integrity. Cast iron tubs take this a step further with their solid metal cores. They are virtually immune to internal damage, and the sturdiness of the underlying metal makes it difficult for enamel coating the service to be stressed and cracked. With cast iron cores and very few gaps in their overall construction, cast iron tubs are also greatly resistant to damage from mold and moisture. This makes them good long-term investments.
Heat transfer is the advantage that sets cast iron tubs apart. It takes some time for a cast iron tub to heat up when a bath is drawn. However, once the tub is full of hot water, it will stay hot for some time, usually far longer than a standard bathtub. The metal core absorbs and retains a lot of thermal energy. Once it gets warmed up, the water stops losing energy to the tub, which can be a major problem in standard designs among those that would like to enjoy a long soak.
Difficulty of installation
The weight of a cast iron tub is considerable. This makes it very difficult to ship and transport. This is also a major factor in their low availability. They are hard to find stocked in showrooms because they are difficult to move.
Cast iron tubs can be difficult to install due to the weight. Free-standing tubs are far simpler in this regard as long as they can be transported. However, this also calls into question the safety of installing a cast iron tub. They may not be advised or allowed on a home or apartment's upper stories due to their weight.
Finally, cast iron tubs are not energy efficient for short-term use. While they retain heat excellently after they have warmed up, they require a great deal of hot water to do that, often hotter than would be required for a standard tub. This problem grows considerably the larger a tub is, with a much wider gulf between smaller, personal tubs and more luxurious larger models. It can become costly to fill a large tub with sufficient hot water to keep it heated, and they are effectively unsuitable for quick, short baths.
Last updated on Jun 13, 2014
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