How to Compare Dumawall vs. Laminated Wall Panels for a DIY Shower or Tub Surround
Updated January 17 2021
Choices are a wonderful thing…until they’re NOT!
Choices are wonderful until you read one-sided, ‘pitch-oriented’ web pages which brag how their car, dress or tub or shower wall panels are the best thing to hit the United States since Kanye West decided to run for President (OK, that’s a bizarre choice whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat or even like the Green party).
The question is when making a choice with anything (whether choosing new bathroom wall panels or choosing a President) is how can you get in-depth input about the possible options and choose what’s best for you?
While I’m (certainly) not capable of giving you the all the best points and counterpoints of choosing a President (and I’m going to out on a limb here and say Kanye West IS NOT the best candidate), I do have a few ‘notches under my belt’ to help you evaluate DIY shower wall panel systems. And 2 new – and fast-growing – DIY wall panel systems in the United States are Dumawall faux tiles made by Acoustic Ceiling Products and laminate wall panels made by Fibo Systems.
And as a nationwide shower wall panel wholesaler to DIY homeowners and professional contractors alike, I’ve looked into both products. In addition, my business (Innovate Building Solutions) stocks and sells one them as well (and I’ll share which one at the end …but I’m going to keep you in suspense right now).
I’ve had tens of thousands of conversations (and sales) of various wall panel systems (including PVC panels, cultured marble, laminate, high gloss, fiberglass and acrylic system to name just a few). I’ve experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of these systems. You can say I’m a shower and tub wall panel geek (I’ll bet you’ve never met one of those before!).
And while the interlocking vinyl faux tile Dumawall system and the DIY friendly laminate panels from Fibo are both cool products, like you and I, they also have their strengths and weaknesses (shhhh….don’t tell my wife I have any weaknesses because she still thinks I’m perfect after 36 years of marriage….NOT!).
And in this article my goal is to do 2 practical things to help you choose which is best for your next bathroom remodel.
First, I’m going to share the common strengths of both systems. It’s good to know how you’ll benefit no matter which product you choose.
Second, I’ll give you a look at 8 factors where these wall panels differ to help guide you to the best choice for your project.
So, let’s dig in and learn about these 2 wall panel systems which are growing like weeds (fortunately not like mold!) in U.S. homes today.
The common advantages of Dumawall vinyl interlocking tiles and Fibo laminate wall panels which are fueling their growth
While its true not all DIY wall panel systems are created equal, there are a few important advantages these systems share which are helping them grow in the United States today. These common advantages are…
- 1) At the end of the day (and at the beginning of the day as well) they create a stylish looking shower or tub surround.
- 2) They’re simple to cut with common woodworking tools like jig saws, circular saws, track saws and hole saws.
- 3) They can be installed by 1 person.
- 4) Their designs look like real tile and stone WITHOUT EVIL GROUT JOINTS!
- 5) They’re designed with a tongue and groove installation system which simplifies the job for a do-it-yourselfer.
However, this is where the similarities end.
Now, let’s take a ‘deep dive’ (note – I just HATE this ‘corporate buzz’ term, but I threw it in so you’d ‘think’ I’m professional) into 7 factors which show the differences between these tub and shower wall panels. These factors will help you ‘take sides’ on which is best for you.
Factor #1 – How important is a broad range of designs, size variations, styles, colors, and textures to you?
While Dumawall comes in 10 patterns, they’re only made in one visual tile size (which is 25 5/8” x 14 ¾”). Fibo laminate wall panels, on the other hand, are stocked in the United States in 24 different patterns, textures, and colors. You can get DIY wall panels which look like rough wood (for a ‘manly’ shower), cracked cement (for a modern minimalist look), or textured antique gray (to compliment your modern farmhouse motif), or a traditional subway tile wall panel.
As if these selections were not enough – you can order another 700 color and pattern options from a US wholesaler to arrive with their next container shipment if you can’t find your perfect selection from the 24 stock choices.
The hands-down best choice if you want variety are the Fibo laminate wall panels.
Factor #2 – Ease of installation and the number of waterproof seams in the system
If you’re looking for a super-lightweight system Dumawall vinyl interlocking tiles are lighter per piece. They weigh a little under 3 lbs. per faux tile and are .2” thick. Fibo wall panels are 2’ x 8’ x .378” thick, 2x thicker than Dumawall, and weigh 26 lbs. per panel.
On the other hand, you’ll need to put up 6 times more Dumawall faux tiles than Fibo wall panels. Not only will you have 6 times more units in your shower or tub surround to install, but you’ll also have 6 times more seams to seal. Less seams are always better.
You may also like the Dumawall being thinner because you’re able to ‘score and snap’ the faux tiles with a carpenter’s knife. However, the drawback to this lightweight design is it makes the interlocking fins prone to cracking during shipment and installation.
In addition, while Dumawall is sold as a ‘100% waterproof solution,’ it’s still recommended by the manufacturer to use (more expensive) 100% waterproof wall backer boards behind the panels. The manufacturer recommends Schluter Kerdi Board, Cement board and HardieBacker board. With Fibo laminate panels you can use lesser cost (and non-waterproof materials) like plywood, batten strips or Oriented Strand Board behind the panels. The backer board behind Fibo panels will save you money. Fibo has years of experience proving the system is waterproof on the surface.
Regarding installation, here’s the bottom line. There are positives and negatives to both systems – but there’s one thing you CAN rest assured of. They’re both FAR SIMPLER to install than ceramic tile…and so much neater to put up!
Factor #3 – You want the cheapest wall panel you can get
Because the vinyl Dumawall panels are made in small tiles (which are 25 5/8” x 14 ¾” x .2” thick), they can be packaged in small boxes and shipped via UPS. And since they’re thinner (and made of a lesser cost vinyl material vs. the Fibo laminate panels) they’re also cheaper. If, for example, you’re removing a tub and installing a shower in it’s place in a 60” x 34” x 96” alcove you could cover these 3 walls with one Dumawall kit (and one extra box). This will cost you $524. You will need to add the cost of the more expensive wall backer board with the Dumawall to get a complete cost comparison, but still Dumawall will cost less.
The 2x thicker and 6x larger Fibo panels (which are 94.4” high vs. the 14 ¾” high Dumawall panels) are crated on a skid and delivered via a common carrier. Expect to pay between $1,400 to $1,700 for this shower system.
If initial purchase price is most important to you (and selection, product longevity, guarantee and product thickness are not critical), Dumawall will be the way to go.
Factor #4 – You want a system which has ‘been around the block’ (and around the world) more than a year or two
While Dumawall is a promising product, here’s the reality. It was invented in 2018. 2 years of the product being used is not very comforting if you want to bank on these panels lasting over the long run. On the other hand, Fibo laminate panels were invented in Norway 40 years ago.
If you want the peace of mind of a time-tested system, Fibo is your answer. As a matter of fact, Fibo is soooo popular in countries like Norway – there’s as much of these panels sold as ceramic wall tiles! Now, that’s a proven system you can count on.
Factor #5 – You’d like a system where you can change the installation pattern ‘on the fly’
So, you’ve got a spouse (bless his or her heart, as a Southerner would say) who can NEVER make up their mind. One minute they want a horizontal tile-like pattern. Then they get on Pinterest and like the look of a large-format vertical design. One minute they like the look of one tile stacked above another. The next moment they want a ‘running bond’ design pattern (like you see with traditional bricks).
Since the installation pattern of the Dumawall individual faux tiles is done on the site you’re ‘free’ (or maybe burdened might be a more appropriate term) to change the pattern up until the last minute you start to install your tub or shower surround. With the Fibo product (where the pattern is pre-built into the wall panel) – you can’t change the tile or stone pattern on the fly.
If you’re dealing with someone who can NEVER make up their mind –Dumawall gives you room for last minute installation pattern changes.
Factor #6 – You want the ‘peace of mind’ of the longest guarantee
We all know the saying ‘talk in cheap.’ It’s easy for a manufacturer to say their product is the best thing since ‘sliced Wonderbread’ (for those of you old enough to even know what Wonderbread is). However, the pedal hit’s the metal when you compare IF they’ll put their money (‘er guarantee) where their mouth is.
Dumawall – while being a DIY friendly product – only has a 10-year warranty against manufacturing defects. Fibo has a lifetime warranty (and it’s been around for 40 years).
If you’re planning to stay in your home a while – Fibo is the safer choice.
Factor #7 – You want a product which is simple to find
As far as DIY product distribution goes, Dumawall is available everywhere. You’ll find them on the shelf at Menards and Lowes. You’ll find it on-line at Amazon, Overstock.com, Ebay and Wayfair.
Fibo, on the other hand is sold through specialty bathroom product wholesalers. These wholesalers are knee-deep in product and installation knowledge (vs. retailers or on-line sites who not only sell Dumawall, but thousands of other products also). However, these wholesalers (likely) won’t be right around the corner from your house (or as simple to find while letting your ‘fingers do the clicking!)’
Factor #8 – You want to make sure you won’t have a water problem down the road
The big reason you’re looking at waterproof wall panels is to make sure they’re waterproof (OK – you’re probably saying ‘duh’ right now!). And one thing which has me concerned for the long term performance of Dumawall panels is they have horizontal seams (where the laminate panels only have vertical seams). You see if the ‘vinyl Dumawall tiles’ don’t sit flush on the wall I worry water may get in behind these horizontal seams.
Now maybe I’m just being a worry-wart, but I don’t dig horizontal seams in wall panels AT ALL. This is something to think about when you make your choice.
What have you learned? How can we help you next?
As you can see there are things to like about both wall panel systems. They both create a nice-looking tub or shower wall surround which is easy to clean (and gets rid of evil, evil, evil grout joints).
And I mentioned at the beginning I do sell on a nationwide basis (and install through my local remodeling business) one of these lines and promised to ‘unveil’ which one at the end. NOW the time has arrived.
My company – Innovate Building Solutions – wholesales to DIY’ers and professional contractors, builders and developers the Fibo laminate wall panel system. We also install it on our own remodeling jobs. However, we don’t wholesale or install Dumawall. And while Dumawall has its advantages, here’s 3 reasons I chose Fibo for our business and it’s become our #1 wall panel offering:
- Reason #1 –I’m a conservative guy from the Midwest! – I like proven products with a track record (especially since I service professional contractors – who are staking their reputations on products they buy from us). Fibo’s been around for 40 years. Fibo panels have a lifetime guarantee. Fibo panels have waaay less seams and ZERO horizontal seams. Since Dumawall is still pretty ‘wet behind the ears’ (it was introduced in 2018) and only has a 10-year guarantee – this can be a bit unnerving when selling to repeat customers.
- Reason #2 – I like variety and ‘higher-end’ products – When it comes to building materials, I like fun options and style. With over 700 design/style/color/texture combinations Fibo has a wealth of options. In addition, these panels come in a wide selection of design styles (from contemporary to transitional to traditional).
- Reason #3 – I sell to professional contractors and builders who like thicker products with less ‘moving parts’ – As a company who also works with remodelers, builders and developers (as well as DIY homeowners) I know ‘the trade’ wants ‘substantial products’ with less parts per tub or shower. Since you’ll need 42 pieces of .2” thick Dumawall tiles to do a standard 60” x 36” x 96” shower and only 6 – 3/8” thick Fibo panels to do the same area – my pro customers like this offering better. Less, higher quality parts are the way to go.
In the end here’s what I’ll tell you. It doesn’t matter what I think. All that matters is…
As an owner of your home (or rental property) and as a DIY’er, what works best for you?
So, I’d like to ask you this question. Which system do you like best and why? Comment below or give us a call if you’d like a price on a laminate wall panel system wholesaled direct to you (or if you’re not a DIY’er me and my team can also refer you to one of our professional installing contractors in your area).
How can I (or a member of my team) help you?
Call for advice on shower and tub wall panels, grout free cultured stone shower pans, contemporary acrylic bases, or unique glass enclosures at 877-668-5888 or click for a Free Design Consultation. For a Cleveland bathroom remodeling project call The Bath Doctor at 216-658-1280.
Thanks for reading,
Thanks Lea – I’m glad this article has been of value to you! Mike
Thanks for taking the time to provide all this great information!!
Stan – I appreciate your point of view. Yes we do represent Fibo and believe in this product. I try my best to make my articles balanced – but I’ll admit my personal preference is to these laminate wall panels. Thanks for your comment – Mike
While the article is well-written, I feel you should disclose that this is exactly the kind of “pitch-oriented” page that you decry at the opening. It’s apparent you rep Fibo. Like a good lawyer (I’m reformed and out of profession), you create a beautiful “objective” argument that leads to your front door. I agree with you: these pitch sites have ruined the internet.
Bruce – we don’t currently offer delivery into Canada but we can ship to the border if you can get it from there. Another option – depending on where you live is I have a distributor friend in Vancouver who can help you – Mike
Can you deliver to Canada?
Kevin – thanks for your question. The laminate wall panels will be about 2x more than the Dumawall panels – but I would still consider them to be a better value and a ‘safer’ project. With the laminate panels you’ll get a lifetime guarantee (and the products been around for 40 years vs. Dumawall which is about 4 or 5 years old). Also with the Dumawall panels you have 50 to 60 ’tiles’ per standard bathtub vs. 6 for the laminate panels (and with the Dumawall you have horizontal ‘joints’ which are concerning to me. The Dumawwall you’ll likely be able to buy for $650 to $790 and the laminate will be (with shipping about $1,400 to $1,600. Let us know if we can help further – Mike (877-668-5888).
Hi Mike- What would a typical 3 sided alcove with bath tub 60 x 36 cost roughly in comparison to the Dumawall panels? Thanks!
Lori – thanks for your questions.
Onyx is a solidly built product. It’s 3/8″ thick and will stand the punishment – even from kids! For this feature I’d give it an ‘A.’ From a style-standpoint, these molded panels are OK – but not very exciting (and if you look at the ’tile or stone’ joint panels they don’t look very realistic). From a ‘style-points’ grade I’d put it at a ‘C’ (but I do love, love, love their shower pans!).
Dumawall as you’ve learned from this article is a very new product – it’s been around 3 or 4 years. It is a nice-looking cost-effective system, but another thing which worries me about it is the fact it’s ‘seamed’ both vertically AND horizontally. If those panels don’t sit flat on the wall, you could get water behind the Dumawall tiles. It’s for this reason, I’m a much bigger fan of the 3/8″ thick
Thank you for an honest comparison of these two products. I’m from the Midwest too and most people in my area use onyx for a grout less solution. What is your opinion of onyx? We put an onyx shower in about 10 years ago. It survived daily use of two teenage girls that took advantage of an endless hot water heater and the shower still looks like new! I hardly ever see articles discussing the advantages of onyx! However, we will soon be installing Dumawall in our weekend cabin shower mostly for economic reasons and since it won’t get daily use we figure the 10 year guarantee means it should last at least 20.
Yes Craig – you can use a laminate panel – even with a window in there. You will need to cut the panels so they fit around the window and then we usually recommend using a solid surface or cultured stone to trim around the edges of the panels and ‘return back’ to the window. Let me know if one of our team can help you – Mike – 877-668-5888.
I have a window in the shower area can a laminate panel be used?
Mahalo – I’m sorry you didn’t get a response. I hope you got my email to help you. We can send product our laminate wall panel products to Hawaii. Feel free to call us at 877-668-5888. Mike
Jean – Fibo in the United States does actually have a lifetime warranty! When the product was first introduced in the US it was 15 years – but the Fibo leadership decided to extend it to a lifetime warranty. So – you will be covered. Our company does wholesale this product across the United States so let us know if we can help you further. Our number is 877-668-5888 – Mike
Thank you for this informative article. I was going to purchase the Dumawall product for my shower project but after reading your article I was most impressed by a product that stands behind its product with a lifetime warranty, which had me leaning strongly towards the Fibo product. I did a little more research on Fibo however and am disappointed that the warranty is only for 15 years, not Lifetime as you noted several times in your article. Not a show stopper but it definitely brings the Fibo product down a few notches. You’ll want to revise your article with Fibo’s change in warranty.
John – we would be glad to help you. As I mentioned in the article we stock a large number of Fibo patterns/colors – but will NEVER stock them all (with over 700 possibilities!). We do have a high gloss white (without a grout joint which may look nice). You can feel free to call our office at 877-668-5888 for help. I’ll also send you a private email if you want to contact me directly. I think you’ll find we have the largest number of stock keeping units in the United States – but we still hardly have them all! Mike
I’m totally sold on the Fibo panels, but I have a problem: you mention there are 24 stocked patterns and another 700 available to order. My wife and I had originally selected Crescendo Casablanca Grigio for our 52″x36″ alcove shower, and were looking for a complementing color for the rest of the walls (and a matte white for the ceiling). We are having a hard time with this: we found a distributor here in the US that stocks the Casablanca Grigio, but we are having difficulty finding a complementary (preferably white) panel for the walls. We’ve reviewed the offerings in the Fibo catalog and website. We also made some alternate selections (for the C.G.) in the event nothing would work. It seems our choices are not stocked in the US (unless we just don’t know where to look). We would like to discuss our options. Is there a way you might be able to assist us?
I, like another, have emailed previously but not received a reply ( not on a post, just directly) hoping to get some help. I live in the Hawaii. Do you ship to Hawaii and if so, how. I need something urgently and asaid as much in my email. Mahalo
Helen – thanks for your questions. Most people who do grout free wall panels also want a grout free shower pan. I usually recommend either a cultured granite, cultured marble or more sturdy acrylic shower pan. I’ve included links to these pans in these comments. If we can help you further (we do wholesale not only the wall panels but also the bases directly to you or through our network of installing dealers) call 877-668-5888 – Mike . Now – here’s the links -https://innovatebuildingsolutions.com/products/bathrooms/custom-cultured-marble-shower-pans-bases https://innovatebuildingsolutions.com/products/bathrooms/contemporary-acrylic-shower-pans-bases
I am looking into the laminated wall panels for a future bathroom remodel. What do you recommend for a shower pan for these? I’m worried about water leakage and mold/ mildew buildup around the shower pan, ugh.
How are the laminated wall panels fit into or against the wall panels? What seals them together? Thanks for your input on this.
Cyndi – I would be happy to help you. We do have a dealer called Kingdom Construction in Kent Washington who should be able to help you. I’ll plan to call you so we can talk more about your project – Mike
David – we wholesale our products across the United States and can certainly get you samples of the Fibo line. We don’t sell Dumawall – but you can find it in many home center stores as I indicated in this article. I’ll send you a separate email. Mike
David White, Owner, White Home Improvement
Dear Custome Service,
Is this product available only in Ohio or can it be shipped around the U.S.?\
If it can be shipped outside of Ohio, is there any chance you could send me some samples, particularly of an overlap section of the Dumawall and Fibo products, and perhaps a catalog, if there is one available?
I have emailed previously but not received a reply ( not on a post, just directly) hoping to get some help. I live in the Pacific Northwest due west across the Sound from Seattle. I hope to finally do a to the walls bath remodel but not DIY can you suggest anyone in my area to work with for the laminate wall panels please. I think they would be perfect for what I am thinking. Thank you.