12 Best Alternatives to Shower Wall Tiles
There is nothing like the durability and moisture resistance of tiles, and when it comes to showering these two things are key. Your shower is going to see a lot of use over its lifespan so it’s crucial that you choose the right material. Tiles are hard-wearing, easy to clean, resistant to mold, and can look elegant in the proper applications.
Acrylic panels, PVC panels, marble, stone resin panels, and stainless steel decorative panels are the best alternatives to shower wall tires. For a modern, luxury look, you can install wood shower walls or natural stone instead. For cheaper options, use fiberglass or use bathroom-ready wall paints. Acrylic panels are the most common option as its less likely to crack or harvest mold.
While tile may be the first choice that comes to mind, many folks consider it to be either too expensive or simply outdated. So, if you’re searching for an alternative to shower tiles, you’re not alone. Tile is considered the most popular material for shower walls, but it is far from the only option.
Top 12 Shower Tile Alternatives
Some shower tile alternatives include acrylic panels, marble, PVC panels, stone resin, stainless steel, wood, and even paint. Let’s take a look at each of these options to help you decide which alternative to shower tile works best for your individual situation.
1. Acrylic Panels
Made from sheets of acrylics that are reinforced with glass fibers, acrylic panels provide an excellent alternative to traditional shower tiles. They are also hard wearing and entirely seamless, which reduces the risk of leakage and water damage along the shower’s seams. Additionally, with acrylic panels, there is a very limited possibility that mold will form behind the panels.
The seamless nature of this alternative can also create a statement wall in your bathroom. You also have a variety of colors to choose from in order to achieve the desired aesthetic – from a bright red for a pop of color or a white shade to yield a basic shower design.
Acrylic panels also do a good job at resisting stains, denting, cracks, and scratches. As a non-porous material, acrylic is entirely water-resistant which will ensure that your shower looks great for a longer period of time. These panels are comparable to shower tiles when it comes to durability. Though they tend to be more expensive, the extended lifespan makes up for it in the long run.
Materials cost an average of $650 for acrylic panel shower walls, but they can cost over $1,000. Acrylic panels last over 10 years, but they don’t always last the average 20 years that standard shower tiles last. You can make an acrylic panel shower last for 20 years or more if you use efficient ventilation and reduce mold and mildew conditions.
If you’re looking for a custom option for waterproofing your shower, consider marble. Although marble is a lot pricier than alternate materials, it can be easily milled into whatever shape or size your project requires. Custom-made so that each individual design is completely unique, marble can transform your bathroom.
When marble is properly maintained and cared for, it will last in your shower for years without showing any visible wear. It is resistant to chipping, scratching, fading, scuffing, and mold. Despite the high price tag, marble is an incredibly desirable material that will immediately increase the value of your home. This allows to regain on your original investment, and then some!
Homeowners spend an average of $1,800 in material costs for marble shower walls, but it can cost more with professional help. However, it is worth the cost to hire a professional because marble is expensive and difficult to install. Luckily, the density of marble shower walls is what makes them so energy efficient, durable, warm, and comfortable.
Slab Shower: Pros And Cons
On the lower end of the price spectrum, fiberglass is one of the most cost-effective alternatives to shower tiles on the market. It is often the ideal choice for homeowners that are looking to give their bathroom a quick upgrade before listing or for someone who enjoys renovating on a regular basis.
Like acrylic panels, fiberglass is seamless so there is never any worry about leaking behind the unit or mold. As an added benefit, if fiberglass gets damaged it is much less costly to repair or replace than many other alternatives. Though, it’s worth mentioning that when damage does occur, it can cause staining and cracking – which will lead to mold growth. Once the surface does experience any sort of wear, it will chip and crack until repaired.
While fiberglass is easy to repair, it is highly susceptible to damages and scratches. The surface also loses its shine and luster over time and the color can also fade easily. Finally, due to the heavy and bulky nature of the design, it can be difficult to transport without damage.
The main benefit of fiberglass showers is that they are a budget option at $750 on average for installation and materials, but they don’t suffer quality. Prefabricated fiberglass shower stalls are an easy-to-install shower tile alternative, and you can expect it to last over 10 years.
4. PVC Panels
Similar to fiberglass, PVC panels are among the most affordable shower materials on the market. PVC is more flexible than fiberglass, but not as strong. The panels are incredibly durable and entirely seamless, which doesn’t allow for mold to form behind the unit or on the panels themselves.
PVC panels are inexpensive to buy and install, serving as a great solution for adding a new look and feel to your bathroom without breaking the bank. Though, like fiberglass, they are susceptible to damage, it is both easy and inexpensive to repair or replace PVC shower panels. Due to the low weight, this material also performs well on ceilings in addition to walls.
One major benefit of PVC panel shower walls is that they don’t require grout so you won’t have to worry about redoing it every 8 years or so. You can save hundreds or thousands of dollars on installation with PVC panels if you install it yourself. The average homeowner can expect their PVC panel shower walls to last for up to 25 years, and that is a big selling point.
5. Stone Resin
Stone resin is another great alternative to shower tile as it is durable, sleek, and incredibly strong. It can be used on both the shower floor and walls as an effective water-proofing material. A stone resin shower can withstand a lot of abuse without chipping, cracking, or experience any damage.
Stone resin shower walls are generally made of a mixture that includes acrylic resin, stone dust, and epoxy. The density and non-porous nature of stone resin reduces the risk of mold, mildew, and erosion from prolonged moisture. Consider a stone resin shower wall or pan if you want a safe, durable, and timeless shower wall alternative.
You can expect your stone resin shower to last a lifetime and since you’ll never have to redo your shower, it is well worth the investment. The surface of this material tends to be slightly warmer to the touch than other options. This feature is great for those who run a bit cold, live in colder climates, or, like me, enjoy an especially hot shower. To prevent slips and injury, the tray usually comes textured – a feature that can be incredibly beneficial for individuals with kids.
6. Stainless Steel
While not your traditional look or feel for a shower, stainless steel can provide a very modern, unconventional design. 28-gauge stainless steel sheets are the ideal choice for shower coverings. To install these properly, they must be mounted on top of the concrete board. The intricacy of installing a stainless steel shower may require the help of a professional.
Stainless steel is an incredibly versatile material, allowing the flexibility to be cut and shaped to fit any type of shower. It’s also very durable and serves as a long-lasting alternative to shower tiles.
The only downside to stainless steel showers is that they can be difficult to seal unless you use a strong silicone caulk. Stainless steel can last over 100 years, and stainless steel shower walls can easily last over 25 years. Re-caulk stainless steel shower walls every 5 years to prevent mold growth or water damage and you may never need to redo your shower.
Natural wood is aesthetically pleasing in nearly any application and can also look great in your shower. However, this material is highly susceptible to warping and mold growth. To prevent either from occurring, you’ll want to install a fan for ventilation. It’s also recommended that the wood be sealed with some type of sealant, such as urethane and/or boiled linseed oil for further protection.
Maintenance is key with natural wood showers because they are more prone to deterioration than materials like granite or stainless steel. However, your wood shower walls will last over 10 years if you use proper ventilation and air out the space after a shower to prevent moisture damage. Cedar is the best type of wood that you can use for a shower wall due to its durability.
8. Back Painted Glass
Instead of traditional shower tiles, you can opt for back painted glass tiles. This material reflects light and is very bright, which can make your shower appear much larger than it actually is. Also, since it’s translucent, the color is visible through the glass, adding dimension and depth to the space.
With a wide array of colors to choose from, it’s very easy to find glass tiles that look great and work well in your shower. Glass tiles tend to be more expensive than other alternatives. Though, if the material is out of your budget, you can still use it as an accent and still achieve much of the same effect. The average homeowner spends $43 per square foot on back painted glass shower walls with professional help, and it’s worth the cost.
Glass tiles are also very easy to clean and only require a basic window cleaner. You won’t have to worry about water ruining the glass and mold or mildew will not be able to grow inside. Cutting this type of tile can be tricky without cracking, so it’s recommended to hire a professional to install back painted glass in your shower. It’s also important that the caulking is applied properly and kept clean, as it can grow mold.
9. Solid Surface
Although solid surface materials are most known for being used on kitchen countertops, they can also work great on shower walls. These panels simplify remodeling, as they can be easily glued over top of an existing shower. This can save you hundreds of dollars, time, and frustration on demolishing your current shower.
Solid surface materials are easy to clean, highly customizable, and offer a seamless look. The options are incredibly diverse, with a wide array of colors and patterns available and some that can even mimic the appearance of natural stone, such as marble or granite.
Solid surface shower wall installation generally requires professional help, and it costs an average of $3,900. However, you can install solid surface shower walls without help for an average of $53 per square foot in materials costs. Solid surface shower walls can last over 25 years, and solid surface materials can increase your home’s value in the shower and kitchen.
Believe it or not, paint can also be used as an alternative to traditional shower tiles. It is both an easy and cost-effective way to give your shower a much-needed refresh. However, if you intend to use paint on your shower, it’s important that you use the right kind.
Choose specialized paints that are steam resistant, moisture-resistant, and wipeable. You can use a latex enamel-based paint and, for best results, opt for a semi-gloss or high-gloss paint instead of flat or eggshell. That way, you can use paint effectively and be endlessly creative with your bathroom remodel.
Another thing worth mentioning when it comes to paint in your shower is that it really only works when you use it over existing tile. There’s very little evidence that you can use paint in a shower enclosure without some sort of durable material, like tile, already underneath it.
11. Natural Stone
Natural stone is a timeless alternative to standard shower tiles. Unlike stone resin, natural stones create a unique texture and offer the most durability of any shower tile alternative. Natural stone is expensive and can cost $22 per square foot on the low end, but it varies based on the types of stone that you choose.
The average cost for a natural stone shower is $1,575, but it can cost over $2,500. Materials such as Silestone are particularly expensive and cost $70 per square foot to install. However, natural stone showers last the longest, and many homeowners find that it’s worth the investment.
|Type of Stone||Cost Per Sq. Ft.|
Natural stone is the perfect fit for a rustic home, and you can find many varieties that are weathered. There are also many sleek varieties of natural stone such as quartz or Corian that are long-lasting and compliment a modern aesthetic. Natural stone is one of the most durable, versatile, and visually appealing shower tile alternatives.
Granite is a durable, sleek, and expensive shower tile alternative. Homeowners spend an average of $52 per square foot in material costs for granite shower walls. However, the longevity, durability, and sleek appearance of granite make it worth the cost.
Installing a granite shower costs $3,750 on average, and they generally last over 20 years. Granite is a popular shower tile material because it resists cracks and is easy to clean. The low-maintenance nature of granite is one of its main benefits, especially compared to similar materials such as marble.
Granite showers offer the ultimate comfortable experience because of how quickly the walls and floors heat up and retain heat. Installation is difficult and should be done by professionals, but it is a worthy investment. Consider granite if you want a long-lasting, durable alternative to standard shower tiles that comes in several varieties.
What is the best material to use for shower walls?
Experts suggest that acrylic is the best choice for use on shower walls. When compared to other options, acrylic is the easiest to install, requires the least amount of maintenance, and is the safest. It is also one of the most durable materials used in shower construction – for good reason too!
Shower walls or tiles?
Arguably, shower walls have a significant advantage over tiles due to the fact that they consist of fewer pieces. Consider this: When installing shower walls, you’ll only have to deal with about three panels as opposed to roughly 300 tiles. This also means that there is a lower risk of damage over the long term.
What is the easiest shower material to clean?
Anything that is seamless or has as few gaps as possible is the easiest shower material to clean and requires the least amount of maintenance. This includes fiberglass, PVC panels, acrylic panels, solid surface, and more.
Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.
More by Jessica Stone