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.
10 Beautiful Shower Tile Alternatives (with Photos)
Shower tile is beautiful and makes your bathroom look great, but many homeowners seek alternatives due to the high cost. There are 10 shower tile alternatives worth considering, and they include wood, PVC panels, and marble. Whether it be differences in style, installation, or cost, let’s take a look at the 10 best shower tile alternatives.
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.
While tile may be the first choice that comes to mind, many folks consider it to be either too expensive or simply outdated.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.
Table of Contents
- 10 Shower Tile Alternatives
- Related Questions
10 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.
Some drawbacks to keep in mind with acrylic panels is that if cracks do occur as a result of weak manufacturing, they can be difficult to repair. Also, acrylic showers typically come in only common sizes, meaning it’ll be costly and challenging to have one made for a custom shower.
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!
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.
Despite all the various downsides, fiberglass is still a great alternative to shower tiles for those on a tight budget!
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.
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.
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.
One of the main downsides to stone resin is that it is very heavy, making it nearly impossible to install by yourself. It’s important that you have someone else you trust to assist you or consider hiring it done. When it comes to finding the appropriate size, you may have some difficulty. Because of the added weight, there are very few manufacturers that make large stone resin showers.
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.
Though, when using stainless steel as a shower material, it’s crucial that all seams are properly caulked with silicon. This will help prevent any leaks and mold growth behind or between the panels.
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.
When sealing wood shower walls, make sure to cover all the end grains, even if they’re not immediately exposed. For additional protection and ventilation, experts also suggest applying a layer of tar paper before you install the wood.
While a wood shower can look beautiful and, arguably, takes the cake for aesthetics, if it’s not well-maintained it will deteriorate. In fact, there’s probably a reason why wooden shower walls aren’t all that common.
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.
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. They can also be thermoformed, meaning no matter the shape or size of your shower, a sold surface shower can be designed to adhere to your specific needs.
Despite a range of benefits, a solid surface shower is very slippery when wet which can be dangerous for children and the elderly. Also, it tends to not add much value to a home when it comes time to sell. If this is a concern for you, you may want to consider other, slightly more expensive options to enhance your shower.
Installation of solid surface materials can also be a bit tricky, especially when trying to fit them into the corners of your shower. For best results, many opt for professional installation. Of course, this is going to drive up the price of your remodel.
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.
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.
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