Problems With Copper Bathtubs: 7 Things To Know Before Buying


Copper bathtubs are certainly a show-stopping addition to the bathroom! Their aesthetically-pleasing appearance has made them quite trendy in recent years. Still, you might wonder what types of problems come with bathtubs made of copper.

Problems with copper bathtubs usually only arise with tubs made from high-gauge and recycled copper. Downsides of copper tubs include their high price, heaviness, sensitivity to bath salts and abrasive cleaners, and need for regular maintenance. However, pure copper bathtubs have many benefits, including antibacterial properties, resistance to rust, excellent heat retention, and a long lifespan. 

In this article, you’ll discover the pros and cons of using a copper bathtub. We’ll also cover how to take care of copper tubs, whether they’ll turn green, and how long they last. Ready to dive in?

7 Common Copper Bathtub Problems

Even though there are many advantages to having a copper bathtub, there are a few potential downsides that could break the deal. Here’s what to check before buying.

1. Susceptibility To Rust

Many of the copper bathtubs on the market today are not made from pure copper, but use recycled copper instead. This type of bathtub mixes copper with other alloys. Unfortunately, this means you miss out on many of the benefits a pure copper tub would bring.

Tubs that aren’t made of pure copper are more susceptible to rust, don’t have the same natural appearance, and tend to age poorly. They also require more maintenance and have a shorter lifespan.

If you want to reap the benefits of a copper tub, be sure to look for one made from pure copper and not recycled copper.

2. Some Gauges Can’t Handle Daily Use

You’ll want to choose a tub that is 14- or 16-gauge. Some tubs are made from 20-gauge copper, which is much thinner and often not strong enough for daily use.

Although copper is very durable, it’s still quite soft and supple. Bathtubs made with thicker copper have much higher quality.

3. Cost

When comparing the prices of various bathtub materials, copper is definitely one of the most expensive. Prices range from $2,000 to over $30,000. Costs vary depending on the brand, size, features, and finish.

4. Weight

Copper bathtubs often weigh between 100 and 200 pounds when empty. With water and a bather inside, they can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds! Before buying a copper tub, ensure your floors can handle this kind of weight.

5. Sensitive To Some Cleaning Products

Abrasive materials and acidic cleaners can ruin the finish of a copper bathtub. Be sure to steer clear of these cleaning products to maintain your tub’s appearance.

6. Maintenance

Pure copper does an excellent job of taking care of itself, but it does require some maintenance. After use, it’s important to rinse the tub with water and dry it fully.

If you want to preserve your tub’s patina, you’ll need to wax it regularly and apply clear lacquer.

But if you’d prefer to strip off the patina, use a copper polishing cream up to twice yearly.

7. Bath Salts Can’t Be Used

If you’re a fan of bath salts or Epsom salts, a copper tub probably won’t be the best option for you. Salt can ruin copper’s finish and shouldn’t be used in a copper bathtub.

What Are The Pros Of Using A Copper Bathtub?

Copper bathtubs may have some cons, but they have a lot more pros. Here are some of the benefits you’ll enjoy.

Visually Appealing

Copper tubs have a beautiful, elegant appearance that adds to your bathroom’s visual appeal. 

Wide Range Of Styles

When shopping for copper tubs, you’ll be able to choose from various styles and colors. Many copper bathtubs have an antique look. These include clawfoot tubs, double slipper tubs, soaking tubs, and freestanding baths.

You’ll also see copper bathtubs with pedestals, extra detailing, and rolled rims.

If you don’t like the look of pure copper, you can choose a copper tub lined with acrylic or nickel. You can also choose between hammered or smooth copper.

Copper bathtubs can be found in shades reminiscent of new pennies as well as deep brown and everything in between. Note that all copper tubs will develop a patina over time.

Antibacterial, Antimicrobial, And Mold-Resistant

Microorganisms like viruses and bacteria won’t be able to live on the surface of your copper bathtub for long. In fact, copper eliminates 99.9% of pathogenic bacteria within two hours. Other bathtub materials can harbor bacteria for as long as a month if they’re not properly cleaned!

Not only are copper bathtubs antibacterial and antimicrobial, but they’re also highly mold-resistant. That’s a great asset in moist environments like the bathroom.

Rust- And Corrosion-Proof

Many types of metal get rusty when exposed to oxygen, but this isn’t the case with pure copper. Since copper doesn’t contain iron, it doesn’t form rust and isn’t susceptible to corrosion.

However, remember that tubs made of recycled copper or copper alloys can be susceptible to rust. Always check the material before buying.

Conducts Heat Well

When you use a copper bathtub, you’ll notice that the water retains its hot temperature as you soak. Copper is a highly efficient heat conductor and retains heat longer than other tub materials, such as porcelain and acrylic.

Eco-Friendly

Copper bathtubs are environmentally friendly because copper is a recyclable material. Plus, copper is terrific at retaining heat, so you don’t have to add hot water throughout your bath. This reduces your water usage and can even decrease your water and energy bills over time.

Self-Healing

While copper scratches as easily as other materials, it has a “living finish” that heals itself, so scratches won’t stick around. Over time, any scratches will blend back into the tub’s patina.

Ages Gracefully

Copper’s living finish interacts with the environment and changes over time. This metal typically begins with a pinkish hue that becomes darker. It goes from the color of a new penny to tan to coffee-colored. Eventually, it develops a rich, deep brown tone.

Every copper bathtub ages slightly differently depending on its use. Overall, though, pure copper ages very gracefully and only becomes more beautiful as time goes on.

Long Lifespan

If you purchase a high-quality copper tub and keep up with regular maintenance, it will have an extremely long lifespan. Many copper bathtubs last for decades, and some are even around for centuries!

How Do You Take Care Of A Copper Bathtub?

Copper bathtubs are pretty low-maintenance, all things considered. Still, there are a few things to remember if you’d like your tub to last as long as possible.

Choose The Right Tub

Maintaining and caring for your copper bathtub starts with choosing the right tub. 

The most important feature to look for is a low gauge, which indicates a higher thickness. A higher gauge means that the metal is thinner. Copper with a 14- to 16-gauge is best.

Try to avoid purchasing a recycled copper tub. High-quality tubs contain 97% copper or more. Recycled copper tubs are mixed with zinc and other alloys, along with potentially unsafe additives like lead and mercury.

If you like the look of a tub with seams, try to find one with welded seams. Seams that are soldered rather than welded are more likely to split over time.

General Maintenance

After you use your copper tub, rinse it with clean water and pat dry. Use a soft cloth and gentle dish soap to clean the tub regularly. Avoid abrasive cleaning products and acids like vinegar and lemon juice.

Patina Preservation And Removal

If your bathtub has developed a patina that you’d like to keep, wax it regularly. You can use furniture polish, beeswax, or copper wax. Applying clear lacquer to your tub will further preserve the patina.

Maybe you’re not a fan of the patina that your tub has developed. In that case, use a copper polishing cream. You should only do this once or twice yearly; any more frequently, and you’re likely to damage the copper’s finish.

Will A Copper Bathtub Turn Green?

If you’ve been thinking about how the Statue of Liberty turned green over time, don’t worry! Your copper tub isn’t likely to do the same. 

The Statue of Liberty shifted from brown to green because it was exposed to weather changes and saltwater. It’s rare for this to happen to copper bathtubs because they’re indoor fixtures.

How Long Do Copper Tubs Last?

Copper bathtubs have a very long lifespan. In most cases, they last for decades. If the tub’s quality is especially good and you keep up with maintenance, copper bathtubs sometimes last for centuries.

Conclusion

Copper bathtubs have many advantages when made from at least 97% pure copper. They’re antibacterial and antimicrobial, rust-proof, eco-friendly, self-healing, and great at conducting heat. 

Problems typically only occur with low-quality recycled copper bathtubs that have a high gauge. Still, there are a few drawbacks to having a pure copper tub, such as not being able to use bath salts. 

Copper tubs also come at a high price and are quite heavy. You’ll need to keep up with regular maintenance to help your copper bathtub thrive throughout its entire lifespan, which can be decades or even centuries long.

Jessica Allen

Jessica is a freelance writer and editor who has years of experience writing about home improvement and interior design. When she’s not typing away in her office, you can find her doing yoga in her backyard or curling up with a good book.

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