Choosing the best material for shower walls that are suitable can be tricky when decorating your bathroom. Depending on your bathroom design, budget and layout, there are many different pros and cons when choosing shower wall materials. However, for those looking to make a home improvement, the bathroom can be a great place to start. With a huge variety of options available, it can be daunting, and we have created this guide to help you choose the best shower wall materials for your needs.
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What Are The Different Types Of Shower Wall Materials?
The best shower material for walls comes in a variety of materials that will suit any bathroom. From traditional tiles, slate, glass, and marble to tile alternatives like shower panels made from PVC, stone resin or acrylic. We have pulled together a summary of each of these materials to help you decide what to do for the shower walls in your bathroom.
Ceramic Tiles – Ceramic tiles are among the most popular choice for shower walls. Ceramic is an affordable material that can be easily installed and comes in a wide range of colors, styles and designs.
Porcelain Tiles – The main difference between porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles is that they absorb less water, making them even more water resistant. They are also more hard-wearing, so the only downside is they cost a bit more.
Glass Tiles – Glass tiles come in various shapes and sizes, from much smaller mosaic-style tiles to bigger tiles. You may need professional help to install as a glass tile is harder to get right yourself.
Natural Stone Tiles – If you are looking for something more elegant and luxurious, then natural stone may be the tile for you. Natural stones come in a variety of stylish designs and price points. You can pick from the following natural shower wall materials:
Shower Wall Panels
Fiberglass Walls – Fiberglass is a reinforced plastic that can be made into large shower panels. You can get them in many attractive colors and patterns, and it is a modern alternative to tiles. Fiberglass is a long-lasting option for your shower walls.
Acrylic Panels – Acrylic is a durable plastic that has a similar look and feel to large glass panes. It is a completely non-porous material that is more scratch resistant than glass. Acrylic is slightly more expensive than fiberglass as it is more durable.
PVC Panels – PVC is a lightweight plastic that is similar to fiberglass and acrylic. They come in a huge range of colors and have a glossy finish.
10 Of The Best Materials For Shower Walls
Here is a list of our favourite shower wall options on the market to help you get your bathroom renovation started.
Probably the most cost-effective materials of all, ceramic tiles come in a vast array of designs, colors and styles. You can use ceramic tiles on your floor and walls, which are incredibly easy to install. They can get scratches and so it is important to look after them.
- Great if you have a smaller budget.
- One of the most durable materials.
- Huge range of design options.
- Easy to maintain and keep clean.
- Prone to cracking problems in colder areas.
- Grout in between tiles is prone to mold buildup.
Wood Shower Walls
If you are going for a more rustic and traditional feel that looks like it has been picked right out of nature, then wood is a great addition to any bathroom. Wood or wood look panels are readily available. It can be a more intensive cleaning schedule; it needs to be wiped down regularly to avoid soap scum and sealed thoroughly to avoid warping.
- Timeless and beautiful feature for your bathroom.
- Environmentally friendly, as it can be made out of recycled wood.
- Sleek wood options are more expensive.
- Requires professional installation to avoid warping.
- Regular sealing is needed to keep it maintained.
Porcelain also comes in various color designs to suit any bathroom style. It absorbs less moisture than ceramic making it great for bathroom flooring and shower areas.
- A durable material that will last a long time.
- Scratch-resistant surface.
- Tiles come in many different style options.
- Almost completely waterproof.
- Susceptible to cracks in the cold.
- More expensive.
- Grout in between tiles can gather mold and mildew if not kept clean.
- Slippery if it has no texture.
PVC Shower Wall Panels
PVC shower walls are a cheaper alternative to other shower wall panels. They come with a wide choice of colors and patterns. They are easy to install and clean making them a great choice for homeowners.
- Affordable and water resistant.
- Stain resistant and resistant to mold.
- Easy to install, can be done yourself.
- Can clean it by simply wiping it down with warm water.
- Prone to cracks and scratches.
Natural Stone Tile
If you are looking for an elegant look, then natural stones give a really high-end finish. Natural stone is in keeping with a more rustic bathroom design and can provide stunning finishes.
- Extremely durable, especially when used as floor tiles.
- Stone tiling looks beautiful and timeless.
- Stone comes in a variety of textures to suit your bathroom walls.
- Natural stone requires regular sealing as it is a highly porous material.
- Requires regular maintenance to keep clean.
Acrylic shower walls are one of the best materials to use in your bathroom. Easy to maintain and replace as there is no grout required. Acrylic comes in a range of thicknesses making it extremely durable. The thicker the panel, the more durable it will be.
- Acrylic is non-porous, so resistant to mold and mildew.
- Eco-friendly as it can be made with 100% recyclable materials.
- Easy to install over existing tiles.
- Easy cleaning and stain-resistant.
- Multiple colors and options are available.
- Acrylic can get scratches over time if you use abrasive cleaning materials.
- More expensive than fiberglass.
If you want an inexpensive way to increase the feeling of space and light in a smaller bathroom, then glass tiles are a brilliant way of doing that. Glass cleaner can be used to keep your glass tile looking fresh and clean.
- Completely waterproof material.
- Eco-friendly material that can be made from recycled glass.
- Good choice of color combinations.
- Can be very slippery if it gets water on it, so best not to use it on the floor.
- Regular cleaning is advised to keep grout lines free from mold and mildew.
Travertine Shower Walls
Travertine creates a real elegance and transports you back to the Roman baths of old. Easily maintained when you seal the tile on a regular basis, it can produce opulent results.
- Clean and simple aesthetics.
- Cheaper alternative to other natural stone material.
- Requires professional installation.
- Prone to stains.
Fiberglass Shower Wall Materials
Fiberglass is an inexpensive and durable option for shower walls. Large areas can be made waterproof easily by installing a fiberglass panel. These can be installed on walls and ceilings, making them very versatile.
- Fiberglass is lightweight.
- Good value for money.
- Extremely resistant to water once sealed.
- DIY installation is easy.
- Fiberglass is more brittle than PVC panels.
- Can discolor over time.
White Marble Shower Walls
Marble creates an appearance of high-end elegance. It is a highly polished stone that will reflect light making even the smallest of bathrooms appear larger and brighter. When you think of a marble bathroom, you usually imagine white, so it is important to create a good cleaning schedule to avoid stains.
- Marble is durable and hard-wearing.
- Adds real estate value as it is a real statement piece.
- Mold resistant.
- Marble can be quite slippery when wet.
- Costly installation.
- Can stain easily.
Shower Wall Materials FAQS
What is the best shower wall material for a Wetroom?
If you are considering a Wetroom, then you will know that a considerable amount of waterproofing takes place. The choice of wall covering is then very much dependent on your budget and personal preference. A good option if you want something easy to install and keep clean and free from stains is a shower panel; however, if you are trying to keep costs down, then a shower tile may be better.
Are shower wall panels easier to clean than tiles?
Yes, they are the best material if you are looking to avoid the dreaded mildew and mold that grout suffers from. In fact, you can avoid grouting entirely. The bathroom probably requires more cleaning than any other room, but all you need to do with these is wipe them down.
What other tile alternatives and other shower wall materials are there?
There are a few other tile alternatives like stainless steel, vinyl tiles, stone resin or specialised paint. The key considerations will be what is most moisture resistant. It is best to do your research and then base your choice on the best material that meets your costs.
What is the difference between ceramic and porcelain tiles?
Ceramic tile is one of the most popular materials used in the bathroom. Ceramic can be matte or polished and is less costly. Porcelain tile is more expensive but has higher durability and moisture resistance.
Should I use shower wall panels over tiles?
Ideally, you should install over a flat surface, but you can install over a tiled surface. So long as you ensure a tight seal, you can create a seamless look.
Can I fit a shower wall panel myself?
The best part about these is that you can complete the installation yourself following a few easy steps.
- First, you must measure the wall and work out how many you will need
- Ensure the surface is as smooth and flat as possible
- Place them over the wall using adhesive
- Use corner trims to ensure a water-tight finish
- Finish with a bathroom sealing material
Can tiles be used on walls, floors and ceilings?
The short answer is yes; in fact, using the same tile on all surfaces creates a seamless finish. You may want to do your research and choose the ones that suit the surface. Some are heavier, and so it will be trickier to have them installed on ceilings, and you may want to call in professionals to help you get the finish you want.
How much does it cost to get shower wall installation?
Price ranges for installation between $250 – $550. Opting to have it professionally installed will include labor costs that you will need to factor in.
How often do I change shower wall sealant?
To keep them watertight, you should replace the seal every 12-24 months, depending on your use. To avoid any mold and mildew, we would recommend it every year. There is a multitude of products on offer, and it pays to check the longevity of each.
What should I put behind my shower wall materials?
The good news is they can be fitted to many suitable surfaces such as cement board, drywall and MDF. You can even install over existing tile; to ensure a flush finish, you can use a batten system if needed.
How do I clean my shower walls?
The easiest way by far is to rinse down the wall and then use a wet cloth and soapy water to wash away any soap scum. For any mildew or mold, use diluted bleach to get rid of any stubborn marks. The bathroom is a breeding ground for molds, so it pays to do this regularly. Then you can use a soft cloth to dry any remaining soapy water. Prevention is better than cure, so these steps will help avoid any costly repairs.
Are shower walls moisture resistant?
In the long run, it pays to use them on your bathroom wall as they are extremely water-tight when installed correctly.
How to avoid slippery tiles?
There are a few options to ensure you don’t have the worry of a fall. Below are listed some of the best ways to avoid:
- Purchase a rug or mat that sits on the floor near your bath or shower.
- Pick a nonslip textured surface.
- Use antislip chemicals to coat the floor.
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