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MrTubz 02-28-2009 02:06 PM

Porcelain Quality on Steel and Cast Iron Tub?

I don't have a wide choice of tubs where I live. I've short-listed my tub choices to two and having trouble deciding which to go for.

The first one is an Ariston steel bathtub. A heavy gauge variety is available, which seems more durable than the regular one. The other choice is a Chinese bathtub made of cast iron. The brand is Palazzo and it's a division of New Zhong Yuan Ceramics. The shopkeeper says it's a premium Chinese brand, but I remain a little skeptical about the quality. They do produce a lot of units, but that doesn't ensure quality?

I noticed one interesting thing, though. The porcelain coating of the Chinese tub is very shiny compared to the Ariston's. Does that mean the coating quality is better/longer lasting? Do steel and cast iron tubs use different types of porcelain coating in general?

Another problem with the cast iron tub is that they only have the display model for sell, one that has been laying in the shop for a while (maybe 2 years) and have become a little dirty. They have kept boxes and fiberglass tubs over it and I'm afraid that the lack of care might have damaged it somehow. But if it's really good, maybe a good cleaning would make it as good as new? On the other hand, the Ariston sales person said they can give me a brand new unit from their warehouse.

I guess my main weakness for that Chinese tub is its glaze/luster. Another point is that it's two inches wider than the Ariston. Once I install the tub, it's likely to stay for many years and I want to make the best decision. It's funny how much I've been thinking over it for a considerable time. I probably have to make the final decision within this week. I'll be grateful if you can provide some valuable advice!

glennjanie 02-28-2009 09:39 PM

Welcome MrTubz:
One thing that should help with your decision is to go to the Chinese tub place and ask them to clean it up and let you see it under very bright light. If it is not scratched up from the dirt and traffic, I would definitely go for the cast iron model.
You didn't mention price of the tubs; cast iron is normally 3 to 5 times the price of steel tubs. I suppose you can make that decision later.

MrTubz 03-01-2009 12:38 PM

Hi Glenn,

Thanks for your reply. The price difference of the tubs is not that big. Someone elsewhere mentioned that there might be mercury on the Chinese glaze. I wouldn't be drinking off it, so perhaps that may not be a big deal?

I have seen some steel tubs rusting in stores from being kept too long. I wonder why they don't paint the other side properly with something to reduce oxidation!

glennjanie 03-02-2009 01:31 PM

Hello MrTubz:
I wouldn't worry about the mercury and, as long as it is not scratched from display, I would jump on the cast iron model.
It is amazing how lazy folks can be in making their business displays. After all, we are putting it out there to sell.

MrTubz 03-02-2009 03:29 PM

Oh, I see I said mercury. Must have been very tired when I posted. :p I meant lead. Not that it matters much (I think lead is less poisonous), just don't want to spread misinformation.

I was wondering the same about the shop. "No one's going to buy it if it looks like that!" I want to go there and clean it up myself, but a bit worried someone else would pick it up before I can make the final decision, hehe.

Anyway, do you know anything about the cause of the glaze difference? All steel bathtubs I've seen recently are dull compared to the cast iron ones. I'm just curious what's going on. I was under the impression that the glaze should be the same!

glennjanie 03-03-2009 06:50 AM

Hello MrTubz:
I wouldn't worry about the lead either. First, I don't think its there and second, lead only affects you if your drinking water is in contact with lead for an extended period and not moving.
I know that cast iron tubs have the glaze that looks like sand added immediately after they come out of the mould and are still cherry red. The glaze is melted on and then buffed.
Sorry, I don't know how they do it on a steel tub.

MrTubz 03-05-2009 04:10 PM

Hi again,

Thanks for your continued helpful feedback. I have a few more questions; I hope I am not getting annoying!

I went to inspect the Chinese tub again. It looks a bit better now that it's been cleaned. I noticed two things, not sure how serious they are with my limited knowledge. One is, on one end there is a slight dent. It's visible only when looked carefully from a certain angle. The coating over it looks fine. Bad finishing? The other is, on one small part the colour is a little greyish instead of pure white like the rest of the tub. Looks like enough "paint" didn't make it there.

Now some questions about installation. I spoke with the person who is in charge of it and it seemed while setting the tub, they put concrete mix all around it. I think that makes any tub feel very solid and also helps to retain heat. But how difficult would future removal be without breaking the tub? I am thinking of coating the tub's exterior with an oily/rubbery coat that's meant for undersides of cars to protect them from rusting. My reasoning is that it'd protect the tub and make future removal easier. But I have no experience with this process, so some expert advise will surely help!

The other issue is perhaps a bit odd. I'd like to replace the overflow outlet that normally comes with the tub with a drain like the one on the tub's floor. That way I could seal it when I want a deeper soak. My concern is water leaking through grab bars. Can it happen? If it does, the water would be trapped in the enclosed area and eventually might damage the building.

I think that should be enough for now! Please reply when it is convenient for you.

glennjanie 03-05-2009 05:14 PM

Hello MrTubz:
Your questions are welcome here; never a bother. I am a retired Master Plumber and Teacher and this is my form of entertainment while being useful to someone else.
The dent must be an irregularity in the mould. Cast iron breaks, rather than dent. The thin spot bafffels me. If it is not noticeable I would not be concerned about it.
The under-coat would be very rare on a bath tub and would not help on removal. They have to be broken up every time. The concrete will help to retain heat and make the tub quieter, although cast iron is normally quiet anyway. Be sure the building is strong enough for the weight before buying.
Plugging the overflow would not be reccomended because it could cause many problems beneath the tub.

MrTubz 03-06-2009 03:45 PM

Your replies are very much appreciated. Thank you for the assurance! The floor underneath is made of reinforced concrete, and there is a column running adjacent to where one edge of the tub would rest. I do hope there is enough support!

The problems you mentioned could happen because of water leaking through grab bar joints, right? I really would have liked to do that. :( Oh well. Anyway, I should make sure the bars are sealed properly. In the shop they are already attached to the tub. On the back the bolts don't have any washers, and on the inside there is a layer of translucent silicone paste in between the bar joints and the tub. Should I take them of and reattach them in a better way?

wcg1729 03-07-2009 02:39 PM

I just have a simple question. I am taking out a cast iron bathtub. Other than the cost difference, is there a reason I should replace it with a cast iron tub rather than steel ? What are the pros and cons?

Thank you

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