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How to compare grout free shower and tub wall panels

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Red rouge high gloss shower wall panels

If you’re tired of cleaning and repairing grout in your tub or shower enclosure you’re not alone! The hassle, time and expense of dealing with grout is causing many homeowners to switch from tile to various styles of grout free shower wall panels (ranging from fiberglass, acrylic, high gloss acrylic, PVC backed composites and solid surface).

The article below will provide an overview of the features of these 5 types of grout free wall panels (ranging from color, pattern, finish and pattern options as well as ease of installation and sizing) and link at the end of the article for more in depth information.

Fiberglass – Fiberglass surrounds are the largest selling type of shower and tub wall panels because they are cost effective, readily available in home center stores and made in most standard sizes. The features of this material include:

Fiberglass shower wall panels

• Colors, textures and finishes – Fiberglass is usually only available in a white color in either a smooth (or faux tile) finish with a high gloss appearance.

• Patterns – there are generally no patterns in fiberglass. They are made without a big focus on style to appeal to the widest range of bathrooms.

• DIY and sizing options – There are fiberglass systems which are easy for a DIY’er to install. Fiberglass systems are only available in standard sizes (this material is not geared toward custom projects).

• Price – low.

Acrylic – Acrylic (which is often confused with fiberglass) is more flexible, provides many more decorative patterns and styles and is generally longer lasting than fiberglass. Some of it’s features include:

Acrylic tub wall panels brecchia pattern diamond simulated tile

• Colors, textures and finishes – There are 14 different colors in solid, granite, marble and stone looking finishes. Most of the colors are variations of white and neutral color tones – all coming with a high gloss finish.

• Patterns – Acrylic is available in smooth and simulated tile patterns (sizes include 4” x 4”, 6” x 6”, 8” x 10” and 12” x 12”).

• DIY and sizing options – This product is not a DIY friendly – it is mostly available on an installed basis only. Since the panels come in various sizes it can accommodate both a standard or custom sized shower or tub area.

• Price – mid priced (but it must be professionally installed).

High gloss acrylic – This product is an “optical grade” acrylic which provides the sleek, contemporary look of back painted glass at a fraction of the price of it’s glass counterpart.

Blue high gloss shower wall panels around a glass block shower

• Colors, textures and finishes – There are 6 standard colors of high gloss acrylic including arctic white, blue attol, red rouge, mocha, carbon and glacier. This material only comes in a smooth surface (no texture) with a high gloss finish.

• Patterns – There are no patterns.

• DIY and sizing options – This material is easy to cut with standard woodworking tools. These panels come in standard sizes (including 39 x 96, 60 x 72 and 60 x 96) which can be cut for a custom or standard sized space.

• Price – higher end (but still affordable).

PVC backed composite – With advancements in digital printing technology new looks are possible which even 5 years ago would have been unthinkable. This is certainly the case of PVC backed wall panels which has patterns of real stone fused into the surface for shower and tub wall panels.

PVC backed composite tub walls golden beaches pattern

• Colors, textures and finishes – 20 multi-colored options are available on a smooth surface in a semi-gloss finish.

• Patterns – Digital imagery allows the 20 patterns to have the realistic look of natural stone.

• DIY and sizing options – These walls are very DIY friendly and easy to cut with either a carpenter knife or standard woodworking tools. They are available in standard sized kits or panels which can be cut to size for a custom project.

• Price – mid priced.

Solid surfaceSolid surface panels are thicker (3/8”) and heavier than the other 4 product options mentioned previously and provide a stone looking appearance.

Solid surface shower walls in a stone pattern

• Colors, textures and finishes – With over 73 different colors there is a solid surface option to match most any décor. The product is available in 5 finishes including – smooth, matte, stone tile, subway tile and slate.

• Patterns – There is a 12” x 12” pattern in the stone tile finish and a 3” x 9 ½” size for the subway tiles.

• DIY and sizing options – This material is easy to cut and comes in standard sized kits and custom sized panels.

• Price – higher end (but still affordable).

Do one of these 5 popular styles of shower or tub wall panels appeal to you? Please comment below or check out the following links for more detailed information.

• Acrylic shower and tub walls
• High gloss acrylic walls
• PVC backed walls
• Solid surface walls

 

If you’re looking for information on shower and tub wall panels contact The Bath Doctor of Cleveland (216-531-6085) or Columbus (614-252-7294).For nationwide direct product sales on these lines call Innovate Building Solutions (877-668-5888). For complete bathroom remodeling contact Cleveland Design & Remodeling (216-658-1270).

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Mike Foti

President of Innovate Building Solutions a nationwide supplier and regional (Cleveland and Columbus) remodeling contractors. Some of our product lines include glass counters, floors, backsplashes, glass blocks and grout free shower and tub wall panels

Comments (9)

  • Diann

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    Where do we buy this in Central Pennsylvania?

    Reply

  • Mike Foti

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    Diann and Bob – thanks for your comments. What’s nice is there are several lines of grout free shower and tub wall panels which can make a nice looking project which is also low maintenance. The lines for us which are the most popular are a PVC backed faux stone product and solid surface. They are simple to install and pretty cost effective. Another fun line are high gloss acrylic wall panels – they look like back painted glass – but are simpler to work with (these panels are a higher priced alternative). I hope this helps you!

    Mike

    Reply

  • Diann

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    We were looking at putting emporador dark tumble marble in our shower and then started reading up on it and feel it may not be the best choice. We then started looking at tile but still feel it may be to high maintenance. We want the look of the marble and was wondering what you feel would be our best option.
    We now have a fiberglass shower and have problems with the paint peeling in our bathroom and were told by several painters we should just tile it. HELP!!! We want something easy to clean and maintain. We are fussy and wipe down the shower walls after we shower.

    Reply

  • Mike Foti

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    Karen – there are several lines we have which can achieve your goals. One is made of solid surface, the second is a PVC composite which looks like natural stone and the third is a sleek high gloss wall panel system which looks like back painted glass (very cool and contemporary). I will email you to start up a conversation to help you with these choices. Mike

    Reply

  • Karen

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    Hi- My contractor is remodeling my bathroom at camp which has a small small 26″ x 48″ bathtub! He has sent me to the big box stores only, and they have such a limited list of wall panels! I see on the blog that you talk about acrylic tub wall panels that are not just in white…are they available in western Pennsylvania? I would like something not white, decorative, maybe an imitation tile look, but it would need to be custom able to fit my small space. Help! Thanks!

    Reply

  • Mike Foti

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    Glen – thanks for checking out our post. I am looking forward to talking to you about solid surface shower enclosures

    Reply

  • Glen canfield

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    Like info on solid surface shower stall surrounds new jersey

    Reply

  • Mike Foti

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    Bonnie – thanks for your interest. We can supply the high gloss acrylic wall panels (or any wall panels we sell for that matter) to you on a nationwide basis. IF you need samples we’d be glad to send those to you as well. Please call us!

    Reply

  • Bonnie

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    Hi. I’m looking at your website showing acrylic walls. Ncan you please give me more information on this for use in a home shower stall and for a tub surround? Are there suppliers in the San Diego or Silicon Valley/San Jose California areas?

    Many thanks,
    Bonnie

    Reply

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