Are you renovating your bathroom and hoping for something a little more exciting than the same old, same old? Maybe you’re looking for a particular style, but the costs of installation are too high?
Shower walls need to be water-tight, stylish, and easy to clean. If you’re considering your shower wall options, don’t decide until you’ve weighed up all of the possibilities.
If you’re looking to beautify your bathroom walls but are unsure as to the most appropriate approach for your pocket, you’ve come to the right place.
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The Best Shower Wall Options
Before you start – remodeling your own bathroom is tough work. Get a free quote first – it might be cheaper than you think!
Acrylic And Fiberglass
Wall tiles can take an age to install. You’re endlessly cutting the tiles and fitting them around pipes and awkward corners. And then there’s the grouting!
A more modern and straightforward approach to waterproofing your shower wall is to use prefabricated acrylic and fiberglass panels. They attach to the wall in a single sheet, and if you’re looking for inexpensive shower wall options, these sheets instantly introduce a stylish aesthetic from a relatively modest budget.
Installation is relatively painless – requiring a heavy duty construction adhesive, the entire sheet adheres to the wall in one go. Much simpler than tiling!
However, this is likely to be a two-person job, so if you’re a lone-tiler, you may need an assistant.
You can purchase multi-part kits, including shower pans or bathtubs and watertight seals for corners. Alternatively, they’re available as single wall kits; without the shower pan, bathtub or doors. These prefabricated wall sheets make for super-simple installations that anyone with a confident grasp of DIY should manage to install.
There’s a wide array of design options available, from plain white in gloss or matte (the most common choice) to textured, stone-effects. The sheets are also available in adventurous colors and patterns, so do shop around because you can really create an impact.
Fiberglass and acrylic look almost identical, but they are a couple of differences to take into account when considering your shower wall options. Acrylic usually has a high-gloss finish and is more durable than fiberglass, which is more prone to scratching and fading. Fiberglass is the cheaper of the two options, but if care is taken to maintain it, it can provide an attractive patina for several years.
Cleaning a sheet shower wall is really easy, with few crevices for mold to infiltrate. However, it’s important to pay particular attention to corners and edges as mold can still flourish here.
The main drawback with wall sheets is that they don’t age as well as more conventional wall tiles. They are prone to yellowing and scratching; they show their age more quickly. Holes and cracks can be patched up, but they’re unlikely to be invisible.
But if cheap and easy are your priorities, you can’t go wrong with shower wall sheets.
Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles
Ceramic and porcelain tiles offer a water-tight surface with endurance and are often the choice if you’re looking for a higher-end finish. Available in a vast array of styles and designs, the trickiest part is choosing from such a wide range.
Ceramic is usually a little cheaper than porcelain which is denser, more water-resistant, and more durable. However, both ceramic and porcelain wall tiles are there for the long-haul, with a normal life-expectancy of several decades. They’re more likely to go out of style before they degrade.
This category of tile is significantly resistant to water and staining. The grout that’s applied between the tiles to complete the water-tight surface is easy to clean and relatively simple to replace when it becomes discolored over time. Grout attracts mold, so it’s important to keep it clean and for your bathroom to have decent ventilation to extract excess moisture from the air.
It’s relatively straight-forward to replace a single tile if one gets cracked, broken, or falls off.
It’s advisable to keep a few tiles when the job is complete, because new batches may differ slightly in color (or they may be discontinued).
Installation is more complex than acrylic wall sheeting. Tiling is a particularly messy job, with a fair amount of tile cutting to accommodate awkward corners. Achieving a perfectly flat surface takes some mastering, but most simple tiling projects are achievable by confident DIYers.
Glass tiles have become particularly popular over the past decade or so. With a wide array of colors, shapes, and designs, there are a plethora of choices to make your shower wall really spring to life. And, for glass shower enclosures, glass tiles look amazingly stylish.
Glass reflects the light, giving your shower wall a feeling of greater expanse, making them the perfect choice for the smaller bathroom. Glass tiles have a fascinating translucency that lends depth as well as color.
Installation can be a little tricky with glass tiles. Glass is more brittle than porcelain or ceramic, so it’s generally recommended that you have them professionally installed if there’s going to be a lot of cutting required during your fitting. A great option, if you’re aiming for more inexpensive shower wall options, is to integrate some select glass tiles into your porcelain or ceramic tiles for an exciting accent.
Glass tiles are really easy to clean – just a spray of a glass cleaner and a soft cloth will do the job, so you can keep your tiling pristine for longer. However, glass doesn’t hide soap buildup at all well, so it’s some relief that it’s easy to clean.
The surface is particularly tough, so it’s unlikely to blemish or scratch – but if it does, it’s very visible and likely to ruin the finish. It’s never advised to use anything more abrasive than a soft cloth to clean your glass tiles, therefore.
Glass is slippery, so it’s not the best choice for shower floors. Mosaic glass may provide a little more traction, as you grip the grouting more than the glass, but this is still a major safety consideration, and definitely not to be considered if installing for someone who is unsteady on their feet.
Glass tiles are more expensive than ceramic or porcelain and, because they’re more of a challenge to install, it’s usually recommended to get a professional to do the job for you; further adding to the cost. But they look fantastic – if your budget can stretch, go for it.
Stone tiles are a celebration of nature’s diversity and look fantastic in bathrooms whether the home is modern or more traditional. There’s a wide range of stone tiles available these days – from slate, marble, travertine, onyx, and granite.
Stone tiles lack the uniformity of glazed tiles, but this is part of the attraction – each one is completely individual, and brings a real sense of luxury to your walls or floors.
Stone tiles contribute texture as well as natural marbling and variation in tone and color. Travertine, particularly, is rough to the touch, adding a real sense of luxurious, textural interest to your shower wall.
Natural stone is more porous than the other types of wall covering, so stone tiles require sealing to prevent grime getting into the grain of the stone. The sealant requires fairly regular re-application – every three years is quite common; so stone needs a little more maintenance than other styles of tile.
Each stone type certainly looks fantastic, but there are downsides – marble may look super-opulent, but can stain; slate is robust and durable but is particularly tricky to install due to the natural variation in thickness; travertine is beautiful on the wall, but susceptible to stain and scratches.
Although stone looks fantastic, it’s expensive and not always as durable as the other types of wall coverings. Bathroom renovations are generally not cheap, so carefully consider if you want the additional cost of natural stone added to the final price.
Other Items To Consider
If you are making changes to your bathroom, then there are a few other items you should consider installing at the same time. This will save you time and money in the long run.
Consider Your Shower Wall Materials Carefully
If you’re looking at your shower wall options, then consider the day-to-day use that your bathroom is likely to endure. If you work in a coal-mine, for example, avoid stone tiles, because they’ll stain (and do you really want to be surrounded by more stone when you’re relaxing in the shower!?).
Consider the ease of cleaning, the durability, and your budget. If you’re looking for a quick installation with a small budget, go for fiberglass. If you want something with a little more “wow” factor, and you have a larger budget, consider glass, porcelain or stone.
And of course, it can’t hurt to get a professional to quote your bathroom remodel – it might not cost as much as you think!
7 thoughts on “4 Shower Wall Options For Your Next Bathroom Renovation”
I recently removed shower walls and pan in order to replace pan and leaky drain assembly. When re installing walls there was a piece if wall that was 5 inches wide x 72 inches tall x 1/2 inch thick.
It had a 1/4 inch deep by 1 inch wide routered bevel on one edge so it could overlap the next wall piece. This piece I described was glued and screwed to the bathrooms sheet rock walI , then the
glass shower door was screwed to it with larger screws.
I do not know exactly what material the piece is made of but its white in color and could be quartz or some type of composite. in either case it is brittle and shattered when i tried tapping it into place with a hammer .
my question is where can I buy a a small piece of material? Thus far every company I have gone to says I must buy entire shower
unit which usual starting price is 3 to 5 hundred dollars. Someone please help, if you have such a piece laying around the shop or even one kinda close [lease email me and we can discuss further me red dollars
Hello, I have question: where can I buy the porcelain tiles blue gray from the above picture. I appreciate your help.
Are there sheets or panels with glass or ceramic tiles already glued and covered the joints with grout
You can get those in normal tile size but joined together in mini squares to create your floor, and grout inbetween the pre-joined tiny squares.
I want to use glass tiles for my shower walls but I’m looking for and can’t find large ones for less grout. I do not like the subway tiles largest being 4X12″ which is all I can find. I think subway tiles will look dated in a few years.
Is there anything else out there?
Hi Donna, large glass tiles can be difficult to find. I would suggest looking for speciality tile retailers and see what they can find for you.
I’m getting a custom shower for my new bathroom renovation, and I want to have a shower wall with some kind of tile. You broke down the pros and cons of each type very well, and I’m especially interested in the glass tile you mentioned. My old shower had lots of soap build up in the tile, so the fact that glass tile is resistant to that makes it very appealing for my needs.