Updated August 18, 2019
My Dad used to tell me, “Mike, you can’t fit 10 lbs. of s*** (insert swear word here) into a 5 lb. bag.” My Dad was quite the creative guy (both in his fun use of words and in business – which was his passion). If he was alive today to experience the tiny home, mobile home, RV and converted bus movements, I could hear him amend his quote to add, “You can, however, fit more than 10 lbs. of coolness into a tiny home bathroom with only 5 pounds of space!”
Owners of tiny homes, mobile homes, converted buses know that ‘great minds DO NOT think alike.’ (note – I love this saying from Lawrence School – a school for kids with learning differences both of my boys attended).
Great minds create, innovate, figure out a way when everyone else says, “No way dude!”
When it comes to tight bathrooms in mobile-friendly vehicles (whether they are on land or ‘sea’) you’ve got to think outside the confines of the boring, white 32” square fiberglass one-piece shower (which will look like 10 lbs. of s*** in a few years anyway).
You need to find creative materials for your shower which will work day in and day out.
You need to think about fun materials which will show your unique sense of style and personality. After all you didn’t get into a mobile-type home just to have a generic place to rest your head at night.
You need to think of products you can install yourself (or pay some buddies with a good steak-dinner to help you install) which won’t break the bank (or if they do break the bank, it will be worth it).
In this article, my goal is to show you 5 ½ ‘not-butt-ugly’ shower ideas which will put the WOW into your tiny mobile-friendly bathroom. These ideas will work whether you’re building a new tiny home, remodeling or retrofitting an existing Airstream, houseboat or even a full-sized bus. Although I’m presenting 5 1/2 ideas here for you –your imagination is limitless – so at the end of the article I’d love to hear your comments about other cool shower ideas you’ve seen. Give me your opinion on whether the ideas I’ve presented deserve an enthusiastic thumbs-up or a rousing thumbs-down.
Mobile shower idea #1 – First find a sturdy, yet cool, shower base.
The shower pan (or base) is the foundation of your mobile tiny home shower. If it fails (or gets discolored, yellowed and you can’t keep it clean), all the coolness you’ve designed into the walls above will be have to be chucked in the trash can and called an expensive experiment. You need to get the shower pan right. Why not do it with style? Here’s 2 stylish options:
- The shaped acrylic shower pan – You can buy a boring, cheap 32” square or NEO angle fiberglass shower pan with correspondingly nasty framed shower door which is a magnet for dirt and hair in the bottom track. But why? Get an arc shaped acrylic base. They still fit into tight spaces – but do it with flair. If you want a sliding door, you can get one to fit the pan. It’s also nice to know these pans are reinforced at the bottom with a layer of multi-density fiberboard (MDF) so they won’t sag when you walk on them. Now that’s a cool feature in an acrylic base!
- The shaped solid surface shower base – This base has the flexibility to be made in any size or shape and comes in 51 standard colors. Who says a shower base has to only be white or bone colored? In addition, the arc shaped unit below was manufactured with a low-profile shower curb. This makes it simple for any member of the family to get into. This is nice to know if Mom or Dad or a family member without great mobility spends the night.
Mobile shower idea #2 – Galvanized steel roofing sheets
I thought this was a sharp-looking shower I saw on Tumbleweed Homes site. A galvanized steel shower built with roofing panels. I like the rustic-yet industrial, feel to the space. The product is waterproof (a big plus in my book) and simple to work with. A drawback is the seams between panels. The challenge with seams is they are a magnet for water. Water behind shower panels is the evil-stepsister of a shower built to last. If you use these panels, seal the living daylights out of your seams.
Mobile shower idea #3 – Decorative PVC composite faux stone wall panels which look like natural stone
These panels blow the old, boring, thin white fiberglass options out of the water (OK – sorry about the bad pun here!). They are made of a ¼” thick PVC composite (which is 2 to 3 times thicker than fiberglass or wafer-thin FRP wall panels). They are DIY friendly. They can be cut with a carpenter’s knife, jig saw or circular saw.
These faux stone wall panels are proven in tiny homes and mobile homes. They travel well if your rig is constantly on the road. They come in 20 patterns and are not out of reach for those on a tight budget (although they are more expensive than fiberglass or FRP). There are 36”, 48” and 60” panel sizes so you eliminate seams between panels.
Mobile shower idea #4 – Contemporary and sleek high gloss shower wall panels
In the title of this article I said I was sharing 5 ½ ideas which ‘mostly’ wouldn’t break the bank. Now you’ve come to the idea which will break the bank (but don’t you deserve to splurge on yourself sometimes?).
This break the bank idea are optical grade, hard-coat high gloss acrylic wall panels. These waterproof color-backed panels look like back-painted glass (but it is not glass). They are hard to scratch, won’t fade or crack when you’re cutting like plexiglass. They are the ultimate in sleek and contemporary and come in 39” and 60” widths so you won’t have seams. With 7 vibrant colors (like a fire-engine red, cool blue, a glass-bottle green, coffee-colored mocha and charcoal black and bright white) you’ll be able to express yourself even in a tiny shower. These panels reflect light like crazy. You won’t feel like you’re showering in a dark, tight, cramped space.
If you’re equipping a laid-out Airstream or an RV you’re planning to park for a week of fun at the Indy 500, don’t you want to kick up the inside of your shower? People will ooh and aah when they see the coolness of these panels. Here’s a warning though, these panels aren’t a cheap date. They will wow you and your guests – but they are about 2x more expensive than the other panel systems discussed in this article.
Mobile home shower idea #5 – Solid surface wall panels
For those who like a traditional bathroom – yet have the peace of mind knowing the shower will be waterproof, solid surface is a ‘rock-solid’ (another bad pun – sorry) choice. These panels are 3/8” thick and the heaviest of all the products I’ve mentioned. They weigh 3.5 lbs. per square foot so a 3’ x 6’ panels will weigh 63 pounds. They are durable and colored throughout.
You can get them in 51 standard colors and 4 textures (smooth, 12” x 12” stone tiles, subway tile pattern and slate) with a shower base to match (see shower idea #1 in this article). They are simple to cut with common woodworking tools. Note, many DIY’ers worry about working with these panels. They are actually the ones my installation crews rank as one of the easiest types of wall panels to install (and we sell and install 4 different types right now.
Mobile home shower idea #5 ½ – High pressure laminate wall panels you’ll swear (make sure Mom’s not hearing you) are tile – but aren’t
You may be wondering why this is a ‘1/2’ idea? It’s because these panels are coming soon (please note – these panels are now in stock in the United States and are growing like crazy). No – not to a theater near you. Although, selling shower wall panels with buttered popcorn and large containers of dark-chocolate covered Raisinets is a unique concept. These shower wall panels are due to be launched in the Spring or Summer of this year (yes – they are in stock now) and we are planning to have them for you. When I saw these high-pressure laminate shower wall panels at the 2018 International Builders Show I was blown away. (new updated – these laminated wall panels are here and selling faster than buttered popcorn is being popped at your theater. Click below to get a Free Sample to check them out yourself). Here’s a web page geared specifically at shower wall panels for tiny homes.
These units are bonded to a laminated birch backing and one panel snaps together into the next. They are super easy to install. They have 3D grooves which appear exactly like grout. Since the grooves are made of laminate – you can drive around all day and not worry about a tile or grout joint falling out. This product has been sold in Norway for 32 years – where more than 50% of the market uses wall panels instead of tile. That’s an amazing stat.
Even though you own (or are looking to own) an RV, camper, tiny home, houseboat – or even a bus you’re converting into a home – that is no reason to put up with a butt-ugly tiny shower. Choices have never been bigger (OK – another bad pun intended). Let your creativity run wild. Start at the bottom – with a long-lasting, yet stylish shower pan. Work with the coolest shower wall panel which fit your budget. If you need advice– or a cost-effective supplier, I (or a member of my team) would love to help.
How can I (or my team) help you?
For assistance with shower wall panels or a shower base for a mobile-friendly home call us for nationwide at 877-668-5888. If you’re looking for shower or bathtub wall panels for a prefab home of any type please contact us.
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.
If you’re in the building business, click here if you’d like to learn how to become a shower wall panel dealer or call and ask for Mike at 888-467-7488.
Tags: contemporary bathroom tiny home, DIY, DIY wall panel, diy wall panels, faux stone wall panels, faux tile, faux tile wall, faux tile wall panels, high gloss panels, laminate shower panels, laminate wall panels, mobile home bathroom, mobile home shower, RV shower, RV shower ideas, shower pans, solid surface base, solid surface walls, tiny home bathroom, tiny home shower, tiny home shower pan, waterproof shower, waterproof shower system
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