Selection and installation of an acrylic bathtub

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In this Article: Characteristics of Acrylic Bathtubs what materials and how are acrylic bathtubs made; how to distinguish a high-quality acrylic bathtub from imitation – selection criteria; how to make a frame for an acrylic bath yourself; operation and care of acrylic baths; prices for basic and optional acrylic bathtubs.

Selection and installation of an acrylic bathtub

The first thing that catches your eye when you see the assortment of acrylic bathtubs is their unusual shapes and various options, up to the built-in plasma panel. Compared to the monotony of cast-iron bathtubs, this plumbing looks somehow alive, which invariably attracts the attention of buyers. Many manufacturers, often a significant price difference between externally similar acrylic bathtubs – what’s the difference? How to distinguish a really good bath from a cheap imitation? Finally, how to install an acrylic bathtub in your home, how to properly operate it?

First of all – the pros and cons of an acrylic bath

Positive properties:the synthetic polymer from which the inner layer of such baths is made does not fade, it is durable and is able to withstand impacts of greater force than cast iron and steel baths. Acrylic bathtubs retain heat better than others, they can be of any color and the paint from them will not peel off, since there is none – the acrylic sheet used to create the inner layer of the bath gets its uniform color at the factory. There is no metal in them, which means they will not rust or change color during operation. Acrylic surfaces are very smooth, microbes and bacteria cannot physically hold onto them – they can be completely removed (washed off) with a simple pressure of water. Acrylic bathtubs are lightweight and come in a variety of shapes and options.

Disadvantages:A relatively short service life compared to cast-iron bathtubs, an easily damaged inner surface – for this reason, almost all salons selling acrylic bathtubs offer customers repair kits (a container with acrylic of the same color as this bathtub). Such baths are subject to deformation over time – their edges gradually move towards each other over the years of operation. Acrylic bathtubs need a rigid and durable frame – the legs at the four corners are not enough for them.

Production of acrylic baths

The main structural material for such baths is acrylic or acrylane, its scientific name is methacryl. There are two types of such material – sanitary (drinking) and industrial acrylic, the first contains special additives that prevent the vital activity of microorganisms. The production of acrylic bathtubs anywhere in the world is based on sanitary acrylic sheet, produced exclusively in the Netherlands (Holland).

The cheapest acrylic baths are ABS / PPMA (acrylonetrile butadiene styrene / polymethyl methacrylate); the two polymers are joined by the extrusion method – uniform application of the PPMA melt on ABS. The bowl of such a bath is formed by an outer layer of a cheap ABS polymer, a thin inner layer is a PPMA polymer. ABS polymers absorb moisture because have a low density, slightly rough to the touch. The inner acrylic layer, which ensures smoothness and water resistance, is extremely thin – no more than 0.5 mm, so it is easy to scratch, it quickly turns yellowish. The longest service life of ABS / PPMA baths is 3 years, in fact, they can be called acrylic only with a stretch..

The technology for the production of real acrylic bathtubs consists in the injection method: a sheet of Dutch acrylic is brought by heating to a plastic state, then superimposed on the mold-template of the future bathtub and pressed into it by vacuum. The molds themselves for such baths are not cheap and can only be used for a well-defined bath shape..

How to choose an acrylic bathtub

The resulting bath bowl is not strong enough – acrylic is flexible and ductile even at room temperature, so layers of fiberglass (usually 2 to 5) are applied to its outer outer side, connected with polyester resin. The strength of the bath depends on the number of fiberglass reinforcing layers. There is an important aspect in the process of reinforcement – the polyester resin is diluted to a liquid state with styrene, which has a pungent odor. And if the bath after the reinforcement was not kept at a certain temperature in the furnace, as required by the technological process, free (unreacted) styrene will not be removed and, when filled with hot water, it will begin to evaporate, filling the room with a chemical smell.

Some Western manufacturers have replaced the fiberglass and resin sandwich with a polyurethane composite, which is considered more environmentally friendly. By the way, the more bizarre the shape of the acrylic bathtub, the fewer reinforcing layers in its structure and the thinner the acrylic layer (its normal thickness is 5 mm) – it is difficult for this material to give a complex shape. And if the average service life of cast acrylic bathtubs is about 10 years, then for bathtubs with complex relief it will not exceed 5-6 years..

There is another method for the production of acrylic bathtubs, but the resulting initial product does not have the quality characteristics of the injection method at all. Some small manufacturers produce imitations of acrylic bathtubs: a layer of fiberglass is placed in a cardboard mold, a layer of primer is applied on top, then a layer of acrylic paint, then sanding. The bathtub obtained by this method looks very similar to a genuine acrylic bathtub, but its characteristics are inferior even to ABS / PPMA baths..

How to choose an acrylic bathtub

First of all, the size. Standard bathtubs have a length of 150 to 180 cm, a width of 70 to 85 cm, a height of 65 cm. Form: an acrylic corner bath will take up less space in the bathroom; classic oval – more familiar; round, semi-oval, triangular and polygonal bath bowls look original, but take up a lot of space. The inner width must be selected according to the owner’s build, so that when taking a bath, the distance from the body to the sides is at least 5 cm.The optimal depth of the acrylic bath is 50-60 cm, in this case the user’s head will always be above the water when immersed in it and there will be no difficulty when exiting. Another point – the larger the volume of the bath, the longer it takes to fill / drain..

Visual inspection of the acrylic bathtub

We selected suitable models – we check their quality. Carefully examine the inner surfaces of the acrylic bath bowl – it should be perfectly smooth and even, have a uniform color with a glossy sheen. If any defect is noticed, such as bumps / depressions, scratches, sometimes yellowish shades – this is a substandard product.

Now you need to figure out what is the thickness of the acrylic sheet used by the manufacturer to create this bath. As a rule, the inner surface of the bathtub is formed by 2 or 4 mm acrylic sheet, in rare cases – 6 mm sheet. The actual thickness can be found out by examining the edge of the edge of the acrylic bathtub, where you can see all the layers of which the bathtub is formed and the topmost one is the acrylic layer. Do not rely on the seller’s assurances about 4 mm acrylic coating – if the manufacturer used a 4 mm acrylic sheet, then after heating and molding under vacuum it will become almost a third thinner.

Frame-frame of acrylic bathtub

Let’s see how the bottom of the acrylic bath is arranged – ideally, it should be smooth, without any pimpled protrusions and grooved grooves. Salon managers have a ready answer to the question “why is the bottom of the bathtub uneven” – they say, such a coating prevents slipping. In reality, this is an absolute lie – the smoother the surface, the more difficult it is to slide on it. the feet will, as they say, “stick”. Multi-caliber protrusions at the bottom of the acrylic bath mask the marriage – a new layer of acrylic is superimposed on top of a poorly laid layer of acrylic, which is given a corrugated shape, which, by the way, is very conducive to sliding, since the area at the points of contact between the foot and the bottom of the bath is significantly reduced.

Sorted out with the acrylic layer – you need to find out about the fastening layers that give the acrylic bathtub rigidity. Find out how the constant shape of the bowl is maintained – by layers of fiberglass connected with polyester resin, or by polyurethane composite (fiberglass is not used in this case). Externally, these two types of coating are distinguished as follows: if the outer surface gives a ribbed feeling when touched, it is fiberglass, if the surface is smooth and has a dark color, it is a polyurethane composite. You can check the thickness of the bath rim by ear by tapping lightly on it – a dull sound means quality. Do not be too lazy to take a pocket flashlight with you to the sales area, turn it on and bring it close to the side of the bath – if you can see a weak light from the opposite side, the bath is of poor quality. Don’t be afraid to sound ridiculous – smell the outside of the acrylic bathtub. If you smell a pungent chemical smell, which means excessive styrene, refuse to buy it, do not be tempted by the low price!

Frame-frame of acrylic bathtub

Without such a frame, you will not be able to use an acrylic-coated bathroom – it will sag. The frame is a metal structure on which the bath bowl rests in each of its corners, intermediate stiffeners and several legs for optimal load distribution. The frame-frame is designed for a specific series of baths, it cannot be universal. Its legs are adjustable in height, and it itself is made of profiled steel square tube and equipped with a coating of anti-corrosion powder paint.

Standard set of acrylic bathtub

Attention!The more points of support a given frame has with the floor, the less durable the acrylic bathtub itself is – the frames of high-quality products are supported only in the corners. Some frames are all-welded, which also indicates insufficient strength of the bath bowl.

Standard set of acrylic bathtub

There are two configuration options – basic and additional. The basic one includes: the acrylic bathtub itself and the instruction manual. Additional equipment: protective and decorative panel-screen; support frame-frame; drain-overflow kit; mounting kits for fixing the bath bowl to the wall and fixing the screen panel to the bath. It is especially convenient if the fastening of the decorative panel-screen allows you to repeatedly remove / put on it. Waste-overflow siphons must be made of brass, chrome-plated and equipped with a semi-automatic system for closing / opening the drain channels.

Acrylic bath installation

The simplest installation is on a standard (factory) frame-frame, you just need to follow the installation instructions. The more bizarre the shape of the acrylic bathtub, the more complex the frame design for it, respectively, the installation itself will be more difficult.

Acrylic bath installation

Standard frames are additionally attached to the wall or installed independently and bear the entire load themselves if the bathtub is intended to be installed in the middle of the room, i.e. without touching the walls. After mounting the frame-frame, installing and fixing the bowl of the acrylic bathtub in it, it is closed with a decorative panel or a sheet of waterproof drywall, followed by gluing ceramic tiles. An important point: you cannot fix the sides of the acrylic bath bowl to the wall for the reasons described above, it will be correct to install a special skirting board along the contour of contact with the wall.

So, we are considering an option in the absence of a standard (factory) frame frame. “Home” methods of installing an acrylic bathtub: 1) on a full-fledged brickwork, completely repeating the contours of the bathroom bowl; 2) on a homemade frame made of timber and plywood. The independent execution of a brick frame according to the first method is a difficult task, it will require jewelry calculations during masonry, so it is better to entrust this option to professionals. But it is quite possible to make a wooden-plywood frame – we will consider it. However, in the execution of the installation of an acrylic bath according to the second method, you will still have to lay bricks.

Installing an acrylic bathtub

Self-installation of an acrylic bathtub on a wooden frame will require: timber with a section of 50×100 mm; 20 mm sheet of waterproof plywood (FC or FSK brand); galvanized wood screws 70-80 mm long; galvanized self-tapping screws for concrete 80-100 mm long; 1.5-2 l of drying oil.

The dimensions of each wooden frame element and their total molding are calculated according to the parameters of the acrylic bathtub. The design of the frame is as follows: the base of the frame is laid out on the floor along the perimeter of the bath bowl and is attached to the floor with self-tapping screws, in the places where the vertical posts are installed, 100 mm long bars are screwed to the base (it is easier to install the posts at the assembly site), then the upper base bar is attached to the posts … A sheet of plywood is laid and screwed on top of the wooden structure.

The length of the uprights is determined as follows: the bath bowl is placed on a flat surface and the height is measured from the floor to the bottom of the side. From the obtained size, you need to subtract twice the thickness of the timber (upper and lower bases) in our case, 50 mm each, i.e. 100 mm, plywood sheet thickness – 20 mm; add to it the height of the brick cushion (the description of its construction is below) and a layer of cement mortar or polyurethane foam necessary for a tight fit of the bathtub on the cushion (the thickness of the polyurethane foam or cement mortar layer is taken as 3 mm). Vertical racks are located at the corners of the bath bowl and along the sides with a step of no more than 500 mm.

The bottom of the bathtub will rest on a specially laid out pillow two widths of a regular brick – it is important that this condition is met, because support only on the sides will not be enough and the bath bowl may break under the bather’s weight. The brick support is laid out on the concrete base of the floor (not on the tiles!) At the calculated location of the bath bottom when it is installed.

Important:it is necessary not to make a mistake and not to brick the hole and the path of the drain-overflow system, otherwise it will not be possible to connect the bath to the sewer!

It is necessary to raise the bowl of the acrylic bathtub above the floor level to drain the used water from it and there is enough space for a standard drain pipe, bent to obtain a water lock, without which odors from the sewer pipe will penetrate into the bathroom.

Installing an acrylic bathtub – details

Before final assembly, all wooden elements must be impregnated with linseed oil to protect them from moisture, then give them a couple of days to dry completely. In a sheet of plywood, a hole is marked and cut out for an acrylic bathtub with the condition that the protruding sides do not pass through it. Special templates offered by some manufacturers of acrylic bathtubs (it comes with the bathtub itself) will greatly facilitate this task – it is very easy to mark the opening of the required dimensions using them.

We proceed to the installation – we install the lower supporting section of the frame, fix it to the floor, screw the vertical posts to it. We install the bar of the upper part of the frame on them, screwing the bars of 50×100 mm to the outer side of the racks, after which we additionally attach the vertical racks to the wall (if possible). Next, we install a plywood sheet with a hole prepared in it for a bathtub and screw it to the frame.

Important:during the laying of the brick cushion and the assembly of the frame-frame, horizontal alignment should be carefully checked using the building level!

We complete the process of installing an acrylic bath

Important:before installing the bath, you must purchase a drain-overflow kit!

Installing the bath bowl

We install the bath bowl: a layer of cement-sand mortar or polyurethane foam is applied to the brick pillow, two people carefully take the bath (it is light – usually no more than 35 kg) from both sides and put it in the frame on the brick pillow. After laying, make sure that its position is horizontal. Now the pre-installed drainage system must be connected to the sewer system, then plug the drain hole with a plug and completely fill the bath with water. This measure is necessary to settle the slurry layer and partially shape it into the bottom of the bath. Work is stopped for a day – until the solution is completely dry.

We drain the water, connect the overflow pipe. We put the screen – you need a sheet of waterproof drywall (blue cardboard) of the appropriate size, it is attached to the racks of a wooden frame with galvanized screws. Ceramic tiles are glued on top of the epoxy mastic. It will be convenient to install a door that opens access to the drain-overflow system – useful in case of possible blockages and leaks. Along the perimeter of the walls in contact with the acrylic bathroom, you need to install a special plinth, it is also a border for the bath.

The plinth is fastened like this (a decorative coating must already be applied to the wall, for example, a tile): the bathtub is filled with water, at the joints the tiles on the wall and the sides of the bathtub are thoroughly cleaned of dirt, with the help of an ordinary household hair dryer all moisture is removed from them. Then the plastic profile of the plinth is cut into the required lengths (taking into account the corner border that will connect it at the corners), applied to the installation site – to protect against contamination, masking tape is glued to the wall and the bath rim along the edges of the plinth. After making sure of the perfect fit of the skirting board, remove it and apply construction silicone or foam (preferably silicone) to the joint between the wall and the side, apply the skirting board and press it a little – after half an hour the skirting board is in place, the masking tape can be removed and the water drained.

Acrylic bathroom care

The care measures traditionally used in everyday life for enameled cast-iron bathtubs will not work here – the acrylic layer is too delicate, it is easy to scratch it even with fingernails. You cannot put stools, basins and any metal objects in an acrylic bathtub, you cannot bathe pets in it – they will scratch them with claws. However, scratches are easily removable – the painted layer of acrylic is uniform throughout its structure, you need to smooth out the scratch with No. 0 sandpaper (zero), then polish with any liquid polish applied to a soft cloth. To eliminate deep scratches / dents, you will need to fill them with liquid acrylic from the repair kit, after hardening of which, clean the top with an emery cloth-zero.

Manufacturers of acrylic bathtubs recommend washing them exclusively with special products labeled “for acrylic bathtubs”: no abrasive chips, alkalis and acids, chlorine and ammonia. But economical “home” means in the form of liquid soap or any dishwashing detergent are quite suitable – microorganisms on acrylic will not be able to develop in any case. Leaks from rusty water, which are often “pampered” by utilities, are eliminated with table vinegar or lemon juice.

Acrylic bathtubs – what is their price

The cheapest products are from Chinese manufacturers (for example, the Appollo brand) – the well-known oval-shaped bathtubs will cost the buyer more than 5,000 rubles. True, a home pond at this price will resemble a Soviet-made baby bath more than a modern bath. Russian manufacturers offer classic-shaped acrylic bathtubs at a price of 8,500 rubles, salons selling Western products ask about the same price for them – these types of acrylic bathtubs look quite attractive, you just need to figure out their quality, not paying attention to the advertising monologues of sellers.

Nuance: This price includes the so-called basic equipment – the bath bowl itself and the documentation for it. A frame-frame, front and / or side panels, drain and overflow – all this will have to be purchased separately in the same salon or made / purchased independently. Be sure to find out what is included in the basic package of the bath you like.!

For acrylic corner baths made in China, trade showrooms ask from 13,000 rubles. Again, this price does not include the “extra options” without which such a tub would be a normal two-hole container. A frame frame for corner baths is especially necessary – without it, the bath bowl will bend easily enough to either side.

A variant of the acrylic bathtub “enhanced relaxation”, i.e. equipped with hydromassage of certain areas of the body, chrome handles, a headrest, lighting for conventional and for chromotherapy, as well as a number of other technical and decorative options – prices for them start from 17,500 rubles, the upper limit is hundreds of thousands of rubles.

On average, additional options for acrylic bathtubs are offered at the following prices:

  • Frame-frame – 1 900 rubles. (corner, round and multifaceted baths are equipped with frames without fail);
  • Side handles – 2 pcs. for 1,700 rubles;
  • Headrests – 2 pcs. for 5,000 rubles;
  • Front panel (frontal) – 4,000 rubles;
  • Drain and overflow – 1,500 rubles;
  • Chromotherapy lighting (2 lamps) – 8,000 rubles;
  • Hydromassage system (nozzles, piping to them, electric pump, control system) – 15,500 rubles, together with the air massage system – 35,000 rubles.

Finally:take your time with the purchase – make a few trips to the salons selling acrylic bathtubs and be completely convinced of the correctness of your decision. Think carefully about which “additional options” will be really needed and which you can do without.

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