Acrylic versus Gelcoat for Tubs and Showers

Tub and Shower UnitWhen you come into May Supply’s showroom to purchase a bathtub or shower, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is on the finish of the tub: Acrylic vs Gelcoat?

There are many differences between the two finishes, including construction, warranty, and thickness.  While the Gelcoat units have a strong, durable finish, the Acrylic units are less porous, glossier, and easier to clean.  If you’ve ever seen a tub that looks dingy after years of use, that tub, most likely, has a Gelcoat finish.  The Acrylic will look newer and cleaner, longer.

Acrylic Gelcoat
Construction Acrylic bathware is constructed of a single, continuous piece of heat-molded acrylic which resists fading, is exceptionally easy to maintain and allows sophisticated designs Gelcoat is a polyester coating applied directly to the molds and sealed with a fiberglass and resign mix, which produces a lightweight, beautiful unit.
Warranty 25 years on the acrylic 5 years on the gelcoat
Thickness 3-5 times thicker than the gelcoat layer; is a strong durable product that resists scratches, cracks, chips and spider cracks during the building construction Thinner than acrylic, although it is also lighter and allows for flexibility to adjust to uneven walls during renovation projects
Surface Non-porous and resistant to mildew, soap scum, chemical and ferrous water stains.  The color will not fade Easier to clean than ABS or polypropylene materials
Scratches Scratches can be carefully buffed out Scratches can reveal the fiberglass under the gelcoat, and can be repaired by a professional





If you read through the information above and still aren’t sure which one if right for you, just ask!  May Supply will be happy to guide you through the selection process for your new bathroom.





5 Responses to “Acrylic versus Gelcoat for Tubs and Showers”

  1. Jack October 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm //

    That was a nice comparison on Acrylic and Gel coat tubs. I feel acrylic is better than gel coat.


    • Linnette October 18, 2012 at 4:11 pm //

      Thank you. We’re glad you found the information useful.


  2. jason January 19, 2014 at 12:27 pm //

    im working with gel coat ..i applied it to the repair let it dry then sanded it with 400 paper then buffed it and can still see swirls really shinny but cant get rid of swirls any halp would be great


    • Linnette January 20, 2014 at 12:29 pm //

      Here is a link to Aker’s instructions for their patch kit.

      They include buffing instructions (that include wet-sanding with 400 and then 600 grit sandpaper), and using the buffing compound followed by polishing the area with a powered buffing wheel.

      Please let us know if those additional instructions were helpful. Thank you for contacting May Supply!


  3. Jon crill April 22, 2016 at 8:17 am //

    As an installer and part owner of a company. Diamond Gelcoat is all we will install after several issues with the acrylic showers. We have had to replace several showers under warranty because they crack out after 6 months if not during installation. Top of the line units doesn’t matter. Mortar bases, blocking behind wall to help support wall. Still issues and can not install grab bars without flexing, flexing is the enemy in acrylic world