By and large, tubs are usually placed in a corner and therefore single-sided fiberglass tub enclosures are quite popular. A rule of thumb to follow in case of tub enclosure is that the less complicated they are, the more efficiently they will prevent leakage and the lower the cost they will be. Tub enclosures are available in a variety of designs. Three common types are:
Standard bypass enclosures:
These include two sliding doors that are suspended on rollers and run on a metal rail. The doors are framed and held in place by a lower rail. It is good for control shower spray and is quite popular.
Frameless glass doors:
Removing the frames makes the enclosure look elegant and modern.
Three panel doors:
By sliding two panels over the remaining one, you get greater access to the tub.
The enclosures are usually tiled, solid surface, glass, or fiberglass. The benefits and drawbacks of each are given below.
Solid Surface: A solid surface enclosure offers the advantage of being resistant to scratches, impact, and stains. Being non-porous, it is not easily attacked by fungus and bacteria, which is a big plus in the warm and moist bathroom environments. It also retains its color and does not get yellow with age.
Fiberglass: These tub enclosures do not get moldy and are therefore an attractive alternative to tile. Since they are prefabricated, they are also easy to install. They are leak proof and can be customized to enclose your tub so that you can utilize the space to the best possible advantage.
Glass: Has for long been a traditional favorite, it is available in a variety of designs. Recently, three panel and four panel glass tub enclosures have become popular because they facilitate movement for elderly persons.
Tubs can be made of enameled cast iron, enameled steel, acrylic, or fiberglass. Each material has its own benefits.
Enameled Cast Iron: Long lasting material, still popular. The enamel is to prevent staining and scratching. The material is heavy as well as expensive and is therefore rarely used for large tubs.
Fiberglass: An inexpensive option, fiberglass tubs are lightweight and easy to install. Fiberglass does not have the durability or color finish of acrylic. It shows signs of wear after 15 to 20 years. However, it is easy to repair.
Acrylic: Acrylic, reinforced with fiberglass, is more durable and more expensive than fiberglass. It is a preferred choice as a material for large tubs and whirlpools because it is lightweight, easy to install, and can be shaped without much trouble. It has good insulating properties and keeps water warm for longer periods.
Porcelain on Steel: Porcelain enamel is fused onto the surface of a single unit steel shell. It has good stain and abrasion resistance, is relatively light in weight and moderately priced. Its resistance to acids and chemicals makes it easy to clean with household chemicals. However, if the porcelain enamel is broken or chipped, the steel may rust.
Cultured Marble: It is a synthetic product manufactured from crushed limestone and a resin. It is given a gel coat finish, which increases the resistance to wear and provides durability. It can be repaired if it chips. However, it cannot withstand high temperatures and is quite brittle. If exposed to a temperature above 150 Fahrenheit, the material may crack. It is more expensive than acrylic but cheaper than cast iron.