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What are the Pros and Cons of Using a Tin Bathtub?

By I. Ong
Updated May 16, 2024
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Few people use tin bathtubs, primarily because they are not readily available in most retail stores. Such bathtubs tend to be available only from antique or specialty stores, or are made to order. Tin bathtubs are relatively light and easy to install, absorb heat quickly, and are often available in interesting shapes. Unfortunately, a tin bathtub is prone to rust, loses heat quickly, and can be very noisy.

Tin bathtubs are relatively light and can be easily installed. The lack of weight ensures that no undue stress is placed on the bathroom floor, making it unlikely that any damage will be caused during installation. This also keeps the floor from needing to be braced or altered to handle the bathtub's weight.

Another advantage of a tin bathtub is that it's quick to absorb heat when filled with hot water. The homeowner needs only to fill it with heated water, and the tub warms quickly. She can then immediately step into the tub without having to wait for the metal surface to heat up.

Many tin bathtubs come in unusual shapes, which is an attraction of its own. Many antique tin bathtubs are shaped uniquely, such as in the shape of a cowboy boot or a coffin. The more usual shape tends to be an oval with a wider top than bottom. The material the tub is made of lends it an appealing color and texture.

The primary disadvantage to the tin bathtub is that it is prone to rust. Without the proper maintenance, tin bathtubs can quickly develop rust stains, which, aside from being unsightly, also stain the water. This can be prevented in many cases if a protective coating is used and maintained. Once a tub has rusted, the rust must first be removed before new anti-rust protection can be added.

While the tin bathtub is relatively light, it is also unwieldy. This is especially the case with unusually shaped antique tubs, which may not be well balanced. Tin bathtubs require more than the usual mounting and must also have additional fastenings for stability. They are also prone to denting during installation if not handled with care.

Although the absorb heat quickly, tin bathtubs are also quick to lose it. Once water cools, the tin bathtub then grows much colder than its ceramic or enamel counterparts. This can be uncomfortable for bathers who prefer to linger in the bath.

Most notably, as water hits the bottom of the tin bathtub when it is being filled, the noise tends to be very loud. This is a common complaint among tin bathtub users. The sound is generally limited to the first few minutes, however, until the water level in the tub rises and the falling water no longer hits the bottom of the tub.

Tin bathtubs are more difficult to obtain, compared to their mass manufactured counterparts. Those that have fallen into disrepair, especially those that have rusted, tend to be relatively inexpensive, however. Tin bathtubs are not for everyone, but homeowners with a taste for quirky fixtures and who are willing to take the time to refurbish their find may be well-satisfied with such an unusual bathtub.

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