Selecting the right plumbing fixtures
Walk into any big-box store or small kitchen-bathroom boutique and the array of faucets, kitchen sinks, bathtubs, showers, bathroom bowls and countertop materials is overwhelming. It is very difficult to make a selection. So, which one is right for you?
David Viola, technical director at the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute in Schaumburg, Illinois provides this basic information to help you with your choices.
Bathtubs"There are plenty of differences in bathtubs because of the variety of materials being used," Viola says. Yet there are four basic types of bathtubs to consider:
- The old-style enameled cast-iron tub has a China glazing on top of the iron. This is a very heavy bathtub. Typically, it is not available in a variety of shapes and sizes. The home owner will find it as a standard five-foot bathtub. Because of the thickness of the tub, it is very quiet when it’s being filled. Over 90 percent of these bathtubs are white. Due to their quality, they are long-lasting, and only cost around $250.
"The drawback to this bathtub is it’s very heavy and easier to install in new construction when there is no tile on the floor, toilet or cabinets in place," Viola says. "However, if you are remodeling your bathroom almost down to the studs, it may be the bathtub for you."
- Molded plastic bathtubs are thicker and resemble cast-iron bathtubs because they are finished in a ceramic China material. They come in the same size and shape as the cast iron, but are only a third of the weight. "These bathtubs cost around the same price as a cast-iron bathtub and are marvelous bathtubs for the do-it-yourselfer," he says.
- An enameled steel bathtub is a sheet of steel that forms a bathtub. It is one quarter of the thickness of cast iron and is also finished with a ceramic glazed material. It comes in a variety of colors, including standard white. "This bathtub has more of a tinny sound to it when you’re filling it with water. If you drop a bar of soap or can of shaving cream, you can hear it in the whole house," he says. This tub can be purchased for $249.
- Fiberglass bathtubs can be set in the floor or placed on a platform. These bathtubs are made of acrylic with fiberglass reinforcement with a polished finish. They come in many shapes and sizes, and can come with or without spa features. "While being shipped, these bathtubs can get scratched or a corner could get cracked. But, these bathtubs can be repaired like automobiles. The scratch is filled, and the bathtub is polished to a high sheen," says Viola. Depending on their features and size, these bathtubs can cost in the thousands.