Appliances: Plumbing Ware

Bathtubs: the focal point of every bathroom

As bathrooms have evolved, bathtubs have evolved with them. But they are still the focal point in every bathroom: beautiful, functional and durable. Especially if they are coated with vitreous enamel.

Adopting an evocative image, the bathtub has been described as the centre piece of every bathroom. Quite simply, a bathroom would not be a bathroom without a bathtub, which has always played a focal role in the bathroom – and also in the history of the bathroom. With its changing styles and, above all, materials, the bathtub has always kept pace with that history, evolving from a status symbol to a typical and then an indispensable feature.
Nowadays, the bathroom has probably reached the peak in its evolution: gone are the times when its door was always kept closed, sealed off from the rest of the house, as it has now become a showcase venue where we pamper ourselves with fitness and bodycare, a place we exhibit to our guests with pride.
Evolving trends in furnishings and fittings (shower cabins, hydromassage tubs, cabins with gym equipment and even radio, TV and computer links…) that enable individuals to express their personal tastes have also affected the bathtub. Not by making it go away, but by persuading it to defend the focal position it has always occupied in the bathroom: those same demanding individuals can now choose from all sorts of new shapes and colours and a wide range of new functions that are constantly adding the qualities and services we have always enjoyed in a vitreous enamelled bathtub.
A bathtub needs to be more than just beautiful: beauty alone is of no use if the tub is not hygienic, easy to clean and durable. These are qualities that enamelled bathtubs can boast to a significantly higher degree than those with other coatings and materials, although consumers may not always be aware of the difference and may even end up buying without being fully and clearly informed. Vitreous enamel is a glassy substance and, like glass, it is hard, resistant to water, heat and sudden changes in temperature, to chemical agents (both acid and alkaline) and to abrasion. So you don’t need to worry: you can use any liquid or cream detergent to clean it, abuse it with all the shampoos, perfumes and soaps you like… Unlike bathtubs made of plastic or methacrylate, enamelled tubs will not fade yellow, adopt that stubborn, unsightly bathtub ring or change their colour as time goes by: on the contrary, they will last and last, as unchanging as the sanitary fittings they were designed to match.
Enamelled bathtubs may be made of steel or cast iron. Plus, there are new technologies available today that mean that you can change your tub without having to break all the tiles on your floor and walls.
To tell the truth, a great deal has changed in the bathroom in the last few decades. But – as we have seen – bathtubs are determined to defend the position they have occupied for such a long time, their status as the bathroom’s umbilical central feature.

Enamel coatings for bathtubs and shower trays: functional characteristics
Characteristic Properties References
Hygiene Does not allow bacteria to proliferate or fungus and mould to take hold. Bacteriological study undertaken by the Modena Hospital Institutes
Cleaning Enamel is very easy to clean and resistant to both liquid and cream detergents. ISO 4533, ISO 4535
Test duration: 2.5 hours; max weight loss 20 g/m2
Chemical and physical
Properties References
Resistance to water As enamel is a vitreous coating, it has the same chemical properties as glass and is not corroded by water, even hot water. N. A.
Resistance to acids Enamels used in bathtubs and shower trays must be at least class A. EN 14483 - 1
ISO 2722
Resistance to organic solvents As enamel is a vitreous coating, it has the same chemical properties as glass and is not damaged or stained by alcohol, perfumes, bath foams etc.  
Mechanical resistance Properties References
Adherence The coating must adhere to the steel support. UNI 8883
EN 10209 Annex D
Hardness The enamel coating is hard and is not chipped easily. 5-7 Mohs Scale
Abrasion As enamel is a vitreous coating, it hardly wears at all. UNI 7233
Shock resistance Accidental knocks of a certain intensity may chip the enamel coating. This does not normally make the bathtub less functional, as the metal support is still protected against rusting by the base enamel. As a general rule, a good quality enamel coating should not have any more than a 2 mm Ø chip 24 hours after suffering a knock of 20 N. ISO 4532

 

 

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