Property tip – The Bath Surgeon visits Liner Luxe; steel versus acrylic

No building work ever goes without a hitch, no matter how great the builder, but sometimes things happen which really try your patience, and you just think, why me?! When we were fitting the Liner Luxe bathroom featured in Ideal Home Feb 2010, the client specified a steel bath rather than acrylic. Who’d have thought there was so much to consider!:

  • Steel is a better conductor of heat than acrylic, so the latter will hold the bath water heat for longer. Bear in mind that you’re unlikely to be in the bath for anywhere near long enough for this to be an issue, unless you’re a mermaid and then you’d probably have run a cold one.
  • Steel is colder than the touch than acrylic so if you like sitting on the side of the bath naked, steel will give you a chilly bum.
  • Acrylic scratches more easily than steel and loses it’s gloss faster. The experts recommend using washing -up liquid or Stardrops ONLY on a steel bath to ensure it keeps glossy looking, NEVER use bleach, Cif or any of the super strong spray cleaners out now.
  • Steel baths will chip if you drop something in hard and heavy them but as most of us don’t juggle bricks in the shower, this is rarely an issue. Your builder must be careful once he’s fitted the bath as a dropped chisel may cause a lovely gouge in the enamel surface.
  • Price-wise, you get what you pay for, steel baths were traditionally much more costly, but have reduced in price, however the cheap steel ones are thin, say 1.6mm instead of the regular 3.5mm. non-standard steel baths, e.g. not 1700mm long and 750mm wide, tend to be most expensive than acrylic.
  • Steel baths are heavier than acrylic and this can be an issue on some sites.
  • Acrylic baths have been accused of ‘creaking’ and are not as rigid as steel, often needing extra support underneath.
  • Steel baths are noisier than acrylic, some people like the sound, others don’t. Your call.
  • Steel baths can be a bit slippery inside for older clients, maybe specify a steel one with ridges to the base, or simply opt for acrylic.
  • You’ll need to earth a steel bath for safety: metal + water + electric = a bath which relaxes you permanently.
  • Acrylic baths come in a variety of colours. So if you really want an avacado bath, you can have one 🙂
  • This one’s for the ladies: we had an acrylic bath which had obviously been zealously cleaned with cif etc, taking the top surface off, I used a Lush bath ballistic in it and the orange staining never came off. I was not popular.

Phwef, that went on longer than I planned, where was I?! Oh yes, so the steel bath arrived at Liner Luxe and looked just perfect.

Shashi's outfit perfectly complimenting the design scheme!

It was fitted, photographed and forgotten about, until Mrs P (above) rang and told me the bath had a chip in it. Did you accidentally drop something in it, I gently enquired. No, said  Mrs P, I just ran the bath for the first time, and when I emptied it, there was a round chip near the tap end. Bit odd, I thought, so popped round to have a look. There was indeed a black chip kind of like a bullet hole, not on the bottom of the bath, where you’d expect if something was dropped, but on the side. Curiouser and curiouser. So I called Bette, the manufacturer, to speak to one of their rep’s, described the chip and learned something new. Because the chip was bullet shaped with feathery edges and on the bath wall, he said that it must have been given a knock or bang to the underside either during transit or at the builders merchants. The bang hadn’t been enough to crack the internal enamel at the time, but when the first bath of hot water was run, that’s when the enamel pops off! Client totally off the hook but what now?

Bette said it wasn’t their fault as they bring their steel baths into the UK in cradles to protect them and they aren’t taken out of the baby bette cots until they are delivered to the builders merchants, the merchants say they didn’t bash it and I know we didn’t. Stalemate! Bette graciously said they would provide a new bath f.o.c. but that still left me having to remove, re-tile and re-fit with none of it my doing 😦  Luckily for me, the client decided on a repair rather than a replacement, so out came Gerry the Bath Surgeon yesterday to save the day.

Handy man to know, he repairs all steel baths, plus re-enamels cast iron ones for around £200! I feel an Ebay scout coming on, I fancy a sexy cast iron bath in my bedroom 🙂

4 thoughts on “Property tip – The Bath Surgeon visits Liner Luxe; steel versus acrylic

Add yours

  1. Our company actually started 25 years ago just selling steel baths. We have grown to be one of the largest bathroom distributors in the north of England and some years ago stopped selling Steel baths altogether.

    The main reason for why we stopped selling them was the number of returns /complaints that we would get from customers.

    Most bathroom specialists will now recommend acrylic over steel. Attitudes to Acrylic V’s steel have changed a lot and I supose if popularity for steel baths was still as high as it was 25 years ago, we may still be selling them.

    The enamel on steel baths is fragile therefore often damaged as in your story. There are many points down the distribution chain, where the bath can be dinked, chipped or subject to damage that only shows up later. If you can imagine this chain…manufacturer to distributor – distributor to retailer – retailer to plumber – plus the many times in storage, where the bath could get knocked. In many cases the bath is installed prior to the problem being seen leaving the customer not able to get anyone to admit to the problem and having to shell out themselves.

    There are many reasons why bathroom specialists now favour acrylic as outlined in the story.
    Acrylic holds it shine and colour longer as the colour is held throughout the acrylic so even if you scratch or drop something on it you still see the colour, rather then the steel underneath. Scratches can also be polished out on acrylic.

    One of the major benefits of acrylic is hygiene as the surface of a steel bath has tiny lumps and bumps, which cant be seen, but trap dirt and germs, which are not allways washed away.

    Either way i guess its down to personal taste. Get some expert advice from a good bathroom shop and find out exactly what suits you.

  2. I had a Bette bath for a year. It then started rusting and the enamel cracked in three places. Bette were not very helpful. They asked for pictures to send to the experts in Germany. The response was that I had dropped the bath during installation. I’m a seasoned bathroom fitter. luckily this was in my own house and not a clients. No one came to inspect the bath. In my opinion the 25 year warranty isn’t worth the paper it’s written on and I’d advise people to steer clear. At the end of the day, if I bought a new car and the engine went bang, then the garage asked me to send a picture of the engine and then told me there wasn’t enough oil in the gearbox I wouldn’t be impressed. The same with Bette

  3. Thank you for all your information. I was going to buy a Bette, now I think I will get acrylic. But how do I get one of the better thicker acrylic baths as bath shops and manufacturers are vague in their information and unhelpful ? Which is the best acrylic brand ?

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