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Your Freestanding Bath: Acrylic, Steel, Composite or Natural Stone?

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Freestanding baths were once the norm, but went out of fashion after built-in baths and bath-shower combinations came into vogue. Thanks to revolutionary new designs and materials, they are back in vogue and are taking Australia by storm. Here's what you need to know about the four most popular freestanding bath materials.

Acrylic

Acrylic freestanding baths are extremely popular for a variety of reasons:

They tend to be less expensive than others They come in an enormous range of styles Acrylic is warmer than other materials Lightweight acrylic is easier and often less expensive to install

The downside to an acrylic bath is that care has to be taken when cleaning the tub. Abrasives can rub off the sheen, but if you follow the manufacturer's directions, an acrylic bath can last for years.

Steel

Steel has replaced the classic cast iron freestanding bath tub as the material of choice in Europe. Like cast iron, steel baths have an enamel coating which can be prone to chipping.However, also like a cast iron tub, a steel tub can last for decades if you take suitable precautions to avoid chipping. The enamel coating is scratch-resistant and easy to clean.

Composite

Composite freestanding baths are made from a mixture of resin and ground granite or quartz. This gives them a beautiful natural stone appearance without the natural stone price tag. Composite baths are very durable, but not entirely scratch or stain resistant. With reasonable care, though, a composite bath can retain its beautiful appearance for as long as you own your home.

Stone

Some homeowners won't settle for less than natural stone. A natural stone bath tub will definitely be an eye-catching feature of your bathroom, but because it can't be moulded like stone composite, has seams that must be sealed. A stone tub can start to leak over time or become discolored at the seams. They can be resealed, though, so if you choose stone, you will have one of the longest lasting baths available. A compromise solution may be a "stonecast"bath, which is basically a composite bath made to mimic the appearance of marble, granite, travertine and other natural stones.

If you take quick baths, an acrylic tub may be a good choice because acrylic is warmer to the touch than other materials. At the other end of the comfort scale, a stone tub will absorb up to 50% of the heat from the water. You may have to top up the water, but once it's warm, stone remains warm longer than other materials.

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