News from the Block, Innovate Building Solutions Blog
News from the Block, Innovate Building Solutions Blog
Bathroom, Kitchen, Basement Design & Remodeling Ideas for the Nicest Home or Business on the Block
Bathroom, Kitchen, Basement Design & Remodeling Ideas for the Nicest Home or Business on the Block

9 Frequently Asked Questions about Stone Solid Surface Shower Wall Panels

9 Frequently Asked Questions about Stone Solid Surface Shower Wall Panels

Updated January 26, 2019

“OK – I’ve just stumbled across your web page on stone solid surface shower wall panels and I’m praying it’s the answer to my two nasty bathrooms, Tammy said to me. I hate cleaning the tile shower walls in my master bathroom and the builders grade tub/shower plastic insert in the kid’s bathroom is yellowing, cracking and looks disgusting. I’m hoping this product is the answer for a nice looking surround which won’t be a pain to clean, Tammy continued. I have to warn you I have a lot of questions about this product!”

The conversation above about stone solid surface wall panels is not unique. Homeowners are looking for better alternatives to what’s commonly being used (tile and plastic fiberglass inserts) but aren’t too familiar with the options available. Traditional tile showers and one-piece fiberglass tub/shower inserts can look good after they are installed but the maintenance and their looks long term are less than ideal.

With your crazy schedule you may be hoping that there is a better option to get a nice looking shower you won’t have to be messing around cleaning all the time (after all you’ve got kids and parents to take care of and you want to carve out some fun time – imagine that!).

Let’s take a look at the 9 questions Tammy peppered me with. These are the most frequently asked questions we get about solid surface shower wall panels from most everyone.

FAQ #1 – What is solid surface and why is it a good choice for shower wall surround panels?  

Solid surface wall panels are thick engineered stone panels which are solid and consistently colored throughout. It is a man-made stone and epoxy aggregate which is durable and dense. This product is used for shower and tub wall panels (and also shower pans) because it is waterproof, nice looking and easy to clean.

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Cultured granite shower pan | Innovate Building Solutions | #SolidSurfacePan #ShowerBase #BathroomRemodel
Cultured granite shower panels

FAQ #2 – How difficult is it to clean solid surface wall panels?   

These panels are offered with gloss and matte finishes. The gloss finish is made with high speed buffers in the manufacturing process and are smooth and easy to wipe off. You can use a cloth, sponge or squeegee along with your favorite non-abrasive cleaner to wipe off the surface of the walls. The gloss finish is easier to clean than the matte finish.

FAQ #3 – How does the thickness of these panels compare to acrylic or fiberglass wall surrounds?

One of the biggest advantages of solid surface shower or tub panels is they are extremely durable and come in a deep 3/8” thickness. You can compare this to decorative PVC (which is 1/4″ thick),  and fiberglass and acrylic which are around 1/8″ thick. So solid surface (or cultured stone) shower panels are 3x thicker than most competitive materials.

grout free shower wall panels thicknesses including stone solid surface wall panels | Innovate Building Solutions
Various grout free shower wall panel thicknesses comparing cultured stone to PVC composite to high gloss acrylic to acrylic

Recently I got a call from a Maintenance Supervisor of a University in Virginia who originally called for pricing on 1/8” thick acrylic wall panels for men’s dormitories. Since I’ve got two boys of my own (ages 21 and 17) I know that TLC (tender loving care) and bathrooms don’t go together with guys of this age group. I recommended the thicker solid surface units because they are 3x thicker than acrylic, are colored throughout and are virtually indestructable. These panels also make a good long term solution for rental properties because they are built like a tank to withstand the abuse of even the most difficult tenants.

FAQ #4 – Are solid surface wall panels cheaper than fiberglass inserts? Are they less expensive than ceramic tile?   

It would be excellent if solid surface wall panels were cheaper than fiberglass one piece inserts, but that is not the case if you are comparing the initial purchase price of these products. If you look at the longevity of the materials (see FAQ #5 below) you can be ahead cost-wise with the better product if you are planning to stay in the property for a while. If you’re looking to sell your home the less expensive product may be better.

It can be a bit more difficult to compare the costs of ceramic tile to solid surface because tile product costs and installation patterns can vary greatly depending on what you choose. In general, the initial material plus labor costs between tile and solid surface is pretty comparable.

Solid surface and tile shower walls
A solid surface shower (top) and a tile shower (bottom) with decorative borders

FAQ #5 – What’s the guarantee with solid surface shower and tub wall panels? 

 Guarantees on cultured stone wall panels (or solid surface wall panels can vary between manufacturers). The line we install most in the Cleveland and Columbus Ohio markets carries a lifetime guarantee.

FAQ #6 – Can these shower wall panels work for a custom sized tub or shower?

This is a huge benefit to a solid surface system vs. a standard store-bought fiberglass kit. You can not only get individual panels for virtually any sized space – but with sizes up to 100” wide by 100” high you can install these panels without worrying about seams between panels (this can eliminate the chance of water penetrating where panels are joined together).

Solid surface grout free shower panels and glass tile recessed niche | Innovate Building Solutions
Solid surface grout free shower panels and glass tile recessed niche


FAQ #7 – Can I use any type of glass enclosure or shower pan system with solid surface panels? 

 Yes – it doesn’t matter if you want to use a framed, unframed or frameless glass enclosure or even a glass block shower system. The panels can be installed on any base (acrylic, fiberglass, tile pan). To have a completely consistent system pair up the solid surface panels with a cultured stone shower pan (these bases come in standard sizes and custom shapes).

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Sliding glass enclosure with a solid surface shower pan and wall panels
Solid surface walls with a frameless sliding glass enclosure

FAQ #8 – Do I need special experience to install solid surface wall panels? Can I DIY this project?

I estimate 50% of the solid surface systems our company sells are purchased by homeowners who are looking to do it themselves. As long as you have standard carpentry saws and drills you will be able to do this job. There are several installation videos available to guide you through the steps of this project.

FAQ #9 – What color and textures are available? Can I get a tile, stone or textured pattern in solid surface panels or do they only come in smooth surfaces?  

With 56 standard colors (in solid and granite options) it will be easy to match your bathroom décor. You can get smooth, slate, stone tile or even subway tile patterns. The range of colors and textures makes these panels a good option in traditional, transitional or contemporary bathroom designs.

Textured solid surface shower wall panels with a decorative border


I hope these 9 frequently asked questions about stone solid surface shower wall panels have helped you to get your arms around the options available. If you need more input – we would be glad to help – just comment or call the numbers below.

For more information or an estimate on remodeling a shower, or nationwide material supply for the solid surface wall panels and pans call The Bath Doctor in Cleveland (216-531-6085), Columbus (614-252-7294) or for nationwide supply Innovate Building Solutions (877-668-5888).

If you’re a remodeler or builder and want practical advice on remodeling products, industry trends, marketing and sales tips to grow your business (and cut day to day hassles), start reading my newest blog – Innovate Builders Blog. It’s packed with ideas you can use now. Click here to Sign Up for the Innovate Builders Blog.

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 (22)

  • Kim – that’s a really good point. For a cultured marble, culture granite or solid surface wall surround system you’d need to remove the entire wall panel (unless you could access behind the wall). However, there’s another wall panel system to consider – which is modular AND the wall panels may very well be able to be reused (even after doing a plumbing repair). That wall panel system are laminate wall panels). These panels are about 2′ x 8′ and click and lock together. So, you’d just need to remove (from right to left) the panel(s) which are in front of the plumbing, do your repair, and put the same panel back in. I’ll include a link to this system below (and feel free to contact our office at 877-668-5888 if one of our team can help you further) – Mike

  • My concern is plumbing issues that require work behind the solid surface – tile can be removed in a small section to change out fixtures, etc. What happens when a solid surface is installed? Does it require a complete renovation of that section?

  • Larae – when you buy the solid surface panels you’ll get the adhesive and also a color matched silicone. If you need more information feel free to call 877-668-5888 – Mike

  • I replacing tub shower. What adhesive is used to place each panel on the wall or does this come with the panel when ordered?
    thank you

  • Serena – in the ‘solid surface’ line it is possible to get one long 72″ wide panel. Or another option is to use laminate wall panels which click, lock and seal together and will cover this 72″ span. I’ll include a link to the laminate panels for you to learn more about them. If you need more information call me or a member of my team at 877-668-5888 – Mike – now here’s the link –

  • Mike, I have a 6 ft (72 inches) area to cover. I was wondering if I have two shower wall panels that equal 5 ft (30 inches for each panel). Can I use a 1 ft (12 inch) tile in between the Two 30 inch shower wall panels? That way I can cover the 6 ft (72 inch) area. I was also thinking the 1 ft tiles in between would be like an accent).

  • Fred – you’ll find most of the stone products are ‘glue up’ products and not attached direct to the studs. Our company is focused on the United States – and the ‘solid surface’ style wall panel we sell the most of is our laminate wall panels. We could get this to a town bordering Canada – but we don’t ship into Canada right now. Let me know if we can help further – Mike 877-668-5888.

  • We are interested in 3 pieces of engineered material for an alcove shower enclosure (60″ x 32 or 34 “). We intend to utilize a good quality fibreglass reinforced acrylic base with a good-sized lip on the sides and back. Possible types of material would be cultured marble, or a Corian-type material like what is used for kitchen counter-tops. We would want to install a pre-made soap/shampoo niche in the back piece. Material we are looking for would be solid, min 3/8” thick, impermeable and be fastened directly to the studs with adhesive and the corner joints caulked with silicone. Would you be able to assist us with this purchase? We live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

  • Please send me a brochure or pdf file of the products your company sells. We are building a multi-unit complex in Arkansas and will need to do 30+ bathroom shower installs. Please include framing and plumbing details.


    John Wagner
    Verafab, LLC

  • Jim – thanks for your email. You could either use our solid surface product, our PVC composite product or our laminated wall panels (even in a high humidity environment). If you want to eliminate the need for a backer board at all our laminated wall panel system is a ‘direct to stud’ product so you’ll have no backer board behind it. It may be the best for your application/environment. I have included a link to our web page on it for your information. Regarding your question about samples – we can send these to you. Give us a call at 877-668-5888 so we can help you further. Mike

  • Hello Mike: I am a DIY’er looking for a shower kit to replace the standard shower 60×32 alcove surround the builder put in. I live near Houston Texas and we have lots of humidity.
    Will your kit work in our humidity? Should I Redgard the backer board before I put in the kit? Where can I see samples near Montgomery Texas 77356? Jim

  • Absolutely Coyla. The solid surface panels can be used either in a wet room (without a shower base) or with a shower pan. If you need more information on the technical details for this give us a call. Mike – 877-668-5888.

  • Sandy – just call us at 877-668-5888 and we’d be glad to send you free samples and also price your solid surface shower pan, walls, vanity top and accessories for you. Thanks for your interest – Mike

  • We are remoldeling our shower can you show us samples and prices for solid surface materials that we can order from you?

  • Splendor Corner Surround Kit
    Model: SSK40407421
    Size – 40″ x 40″ x 78″
    Beaver, PA home owner planning a basement bathroom gut and replacement. Please provide an estimate for the frost color and edge trim delivered to my home.

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