7 Alternatives to Tile in the Shower

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Shower with tile walls

Tile is the most popular material for shower walls.  However, it’s not the only option.  There are several alternatives to tile in the shower.

This article sets out 7 viable options other than tile for your shower.  We set out detailed pros and cons of each option below.

1. Acrylic

Bright white acrylic finish shower that's an alternative to porcelain tile.Source:  Home Depot

Pros

  • Made from sheets of acrylic that have been reinforced with the addition of glass fibers, these shower panels are seamless.
  • Because they are seamless, there is a lower chance of water damage from the shower due to leaks along a seam. In addition, there is no chance of mold growing behind the panels.
  • It is very difficult to damage or scratch acrylic.
  • There are a number of different colors that you can choose from when installing an acrylic shower.
  • As a nonporous material, acrylic does a great job at resisting any stains and will continue to look great for a long time.
  • They are more expensive than other alternatives but because they will generally last for a long time, homeowners can recoup this expense over the life of the shower.

Cons

  • If there is a crack due to a weak spot during manufacturing, it is very expensive and difficult to repair.
  • Acrylic showers are generally only available in common sizes; this means that having one built for your custom shower is not only difficult but also very costly.

2. Fiberglass

Molded shower fiberglass with a glossy, white finish.Source: Home Depot

Pros

  • If the fiberglass is damaged it is a lot less expensive to repair or to replace than other options.
  • This is one of the least expensive shower unit options that is on the market. This makes it great for a homeowner looking to redo the bathroom before listing the home for sale or for someone who loves to renovate and remodel the bathroom on a regular basis.
  • With no seams, there isn’t any concern over leaking behind the unit or mold problems.

Cons

  • Fiberglass has a limited number of colors available to choose from.
  • Fiberglass is prone to scratches and damages. The color can easily fade and the whole unit will have to be replaced to address this issue.
  • Because of the bulky design and the fact that it comes in one piece, it is very hard to move the new shower through the home and into the bathroom without damaging it.
  • Damage to the surface of the fiberglass will result in it cracking, mold growing in the material, and it staining.
  • It will lose luster and shine over time, even when cared for properly. Any harsh cleaners will damage the surface and cause it to wear prematurely.
  • Once the fiberglass has been damaged, then it will easily begin to crack and chip away unless it is replaced.

3. Marble

Shower with marble wallsPros

  • This is a soft material that can easily be milled into a number of shapes and sizes, making it ideal for a custom-made shower.
  • When correctly cared for, marble can last for years in the shower without showing any damage.
  • While incredibly expensive, marble will instantly add value to your home. This means that when you do want to sell your house, you will be able to ask a higher price.
  • Marble showers are gorgeous and will instantly improve the appearance of the bathroom.

Cons

  • It’s a very expensive way to refinish your shower.
  • Marble is very absorbent and can easily stain. This is very noticeable when a homeowner dyes his or her hair in the shower as the hair dye can quickly damage the marble.
  • Certain cleaning products can etch and damage the marble. This not only affects the appearance of the shower but also the integrity of the stone.
  • Not all marble can stand up to the humidity in the bathroom. Some marble has iron in it that will rust because of the moisture in the shower.
  • Your shower may need to be resealed on a regular basis to ensure that the marble stays in great condition.

4. Solid Surface

Solid surface showerSource: Home Depot

Pros

  • These showers make remodeling very easy because the panels can quickly be glued up over the existing shower. This allows homeowners to enjoy a new shower without having to complete a full demolition of their existing bathroom, saving time, money, and frustration.
  • Available in a number of patterns and colors, it’s easy to find an option that will improve the appearance of your bathroom and match with the décor of the room.
  • The smooth surface of a solid surface shower is very easy to keep clean without having to worry about mold or mildew.
  • With no grout except around the outside of the solid surface surround, there is no worry about having to keep the grout clean and free of mold. In addition, you will never have to replace or bleach the grout to keep it looking its best.
  • This generally has a thicker surface that keeps the shower from being easily damaged or scratched.

Cons

  • The surface is very slippery when wet, which can make it dangerous for people who have problems keeping their balance. This includes small children as well as the elderly.
  • It will not add a lot of value to the home when it is time to sell. Other more expensive and beautiful options will improve the bathroom and allow you to ask for a higher price when it is time to list the home.
  • Because they are thicker than other products, this means that they are heavier and can be tricky to install.
  • It can be difficult to get the solid surface right into the corners of the shower and have it looking its best so while it can be easily glued up by the average homeowner, many opt for professional installation for the best finish. This, of course, will increase the price of the remodel.
  • Soap scum can easily build up on this surface and will need to be cleaned regularly to ensure that it looks its best.

5. Back-Painted Glass

Back-painted glass for showerSource: Home Depot

Pros

  • Glass tiles are available in a number of sizes. When smaller mosaic tiles are installed on the floor of the shower, the grout in between them will create a little extra traction. This is great because it keeps people from slipping.
  • Glass is bright and light reflecting, which will make the whole shower appear a lot larger than it really is.
  • Because it’s translucent, you will be able to see the color all the way through the glass, which will add depth to your shower.
  • With so many different colors to choose from, it’s easy to find glass tiles that you’ll love. Homeowners can create one-of-a-kind showers that will perfectly match their personality and their décor.
  • The water will never stain the glass and mold and mildew can’t grow in it.
  • It’s very easy to clean back-painted glass tiles and it only takes a little window cleaner. Because you don’t have to buy special cleaners, this will help keep your maintenance costs very low.

Cons

  • It’s best to hire a professional to install the glass in your shower because cutting the tile can be tricky. This is especially true if your shower has interesting architectural details that the installer will need to be able to work around.
  • If not kept perfectly clean at all times, then it is very easy to see the imperfections in the glass.
  • Larger pieces of glass on the floor of the shower are very slippery and can be incredibly dangerous. It’s important to consider the utility of the shower that you design.
  • Glass tiles are more expensive than some of the other available options. If it is out of budget, it can always be used as an accent in the shower but this won’t have the full effect of the whole shower being tiled in glass.
  • While glass will not stain or grow mildew, the caulking can easily grow mold if it is not kept clean. Rinsing off the caulk won’t be enough to stop mold from growing and a more dedicated care regimen may be necessary

6. Stone Resin

Stone resin shower wallsSource: Home Depot

Pros

  • Incredibly strong and durable, a stone resin shower will be able to stand up to a lot of abuse without cracking, chipping, or becoming damaged.
  • Because they will usually last a lifetime, this is the only time that you will ever have to redo your shower unless you want to improve its appearance, making it worth the cost.
  • The surface is generally a little slightly warmer to touch than other showers, which is great if you or your family members tend to be colder.
  • The tray generally comes textured so that you don’t have to worry about slipping when you are using the shower.

Cons

  • They are very heavy and can be difficult to install by yourself, making it important to have someone else you can trust to help you with the work.
  • Not all manufacturers will make very large showers in this material because of the added weight, making it difficult to find the right fit for your bathroom if it is not a typical size.
  • The weight can mean that it is difficult to correctly connect all of the pipework under the shower. Sometimes a separate platform to lift the shower up a little is necessary as this will make it much easier to work on the shower itself.

7. Wood Shower Walls

Shower with wood walls

Pro:

Gorgeous:  Natural wood is always anaesthetic winner and looks great for flooring, ceilings and walls… even shower walls.

Con:

May not last or can warp.  Unless it’s well maintained with sealant, it will deteriorate.  There’s a reason wood shower walls aren’t very common.





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