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

A Step by Step Guide to Buying Shower Wall Panels

Pinterest A Step by Step Guide to Buying Shower Wall Panels Innovate Building Solutions | Innovate Building Solutions | #Showerwall #Bathroomwallpanels #bathroomremodel

Updated July 9, 2023

So, you’re sick and tired of cleaning tile shower grout and are determined to buy a shower wall panel system to eliminate the hassle of moldy and dirty joints once and for all.

You said to yourself, “How difficult can it be buying shower wall panels?” Of course, you said this BEFORE you got down to the task at hand. Then you found soooo many different products, sizes, thicknesses, and installation methods it made your head spin.

Suddenly, the simple – I’m buying shower wall panels – wasn’t simple any longer. Different manufacturers making different claims. You don’t know what to believe. It started sounding as one-sided as cable news channels reporting on the political candidates – ha! ha!

As a guy who has lead a business (for more years than I care to admit) which wholesales shower wall panels across the United States, and does bathroom remodeling in Cleveland Ohio which installs them I can tell you I’ve seen ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ in shower wall  panel options. And I DO NOT want you to experience the ugly (either because you paid too much for an inferior product, or feel you got ‘stuck with’ a choice which ‘cheapened’ your newly remodeled bathroom).

To guide you through this shower wall panel buying decision, I’ll lay out a 9-step process. I don’t want you to waste time or get a product you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. So, let’s dig in.

Step 1 – Determine your budget

Isn’t it disheartening to spend a LOT of time researching a product, then you ‘fall in love’ with it only to learn it’s waaaay beyond your budget?

This is a lesson in frustration you can do without. You need to think through your budget FIRST, so you don’t go on a ‘wild goose chase’ (as my Dad used to say).

If money is tight (or you’re using these panels in a low-cost rental) your ‘top’ (or lowest budget) choices will be FRP (fiberglass reinforced plastic), fiberglass or acrylic. For a standard 60” x 32” shower these 3 types of wall panels will cost between $250 and $1,000.

On the other hand, if you want an upgraded system – without blowing BIG BUCKS – the mid-priced offerings are laminate wall panels, PVC composite units or cultured stone. Expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,500 for a 3-wall standard sized 60” x 32” shower alcove.

And if budget is no option (you just hit  the lottery or your rich Uncle Biff died leaving you a big inheritance), check out marble or granite slabs or high  gloss acrylic wall panels. These panels will run between $3,000 and $6,000 for a standard 60” x 32” alcove shower.

Finally, if you want to do a ‘deep dive’ (OK – I’ll admit I HATE this corporate jargon phrase, but used it to amuse you) into this subject read, How Much Will My Shower Wall Panel Project Cost? or click on the image below.  

Step 1 How much will my shower wall panels cost blog post | Innovate Building Solutions | #ShowerRemodel #ShowerWall #WallPanels

Step 2 – Decide if you’re going to DIY this project yourself, work with a buddy or have it professionally installed

Not all shower wall panels are the same difficulty to install (right now, you’re likely saying, “Tell me something I don’t know Captain Obvious?”).

Some low-priced systems like FRP (fiberglass reinforced plastic), fiberglass and acrylic are relatively straightforward to put in (although you need to watch for shrinkage when you’re cutting them). However, these same systems are hard to install alone because they’re wafer thin and awkward especially if you have a 60” or larger wall to do). In addition, some of these panels’ (especially acrylic) are only sold through professional installing dealers (which makes it tough on the DIY’er to buy them).

For the mid-priced panels – my favorite (as far as ease of installation is concerned) for a DIY’er are the PVC composite shower panels. They’re super-simple to cut (you can even cut them with a carpenter’s knife). Another winning system is laminate shower panels (which are 2’ x 8’ x 3/8” thick rigid boards which only weigh 26 lbs.). They can be installed by one person, which is a BIG bonus if you like to work alone. The cultured stone shower panels – while thick and durable – are super-heavy (a 5’ x 8’ x 3/8” thick panel weighs 120 lbs.). So, if you’re using this product YOU WILL need help installing.

Also – the very expensive wall panels like marble slabs and high gloss acrylic are tricky to install. However, if you have the bucks to buy them, you most likely have the bucks to hire a professional installer.

Get Free Samples!

Click here to request free samples of our Laminated Waterproof Shower Wall Panels.

Step 3 – Measure how tall do you need the panels to be?

The height of your shower system is a key component in figuring out what system you should use. Some people love to take their wall panels to the ceiling (which in most bathrooms is 96” tall) so they no longer have to paint the area between the shower surround and the ceiling.

Others prefer to save money with shorter panels (and/or make it easier to install by not having to match the panels up to an uneven ceiling). They like to buy a 72” or 80” tall system. Some products (like the PVC composite wall panels seen below and cultured stone are available in multiple system heights) while other panels only come in 8’ high panels (like laminate and high gloss acrylic wall panels).

Step 3 80 inch high PVC composite calabria pattern shower wall panel system | Innovate Building Solutions | #PVCWallpanels #ShowerWallpanels #Bathroomremodel

PVC Composite Wall Panels

When checking on prices ask your supplier if you have height options.

Get Free Samples!

Click here to request free samples of our High Gloss Shower Wall Panels.

Step 4 – Measure the width of your walls.   

The width of your wall panels (if they’re ‘standard widths’ like 36”, 48” and 60” wide or custom sizes) will not only determine if you will need to cut or ‘seam’ panels together, but can also be a key factor if you’re able to afford them (note – with solid surface or cultured stone systems you’ll pay a 25% to 50% premium for custom cut shower wall  panel widths).

However, with interlocking panels (like the laminate wall panels which click and lock like laminate flooring) you can do literally any length walls with the same 2’ x 8’ panels (checkout the laminate wall panels being installed below). This feature eliminates the premium associated with custom sized walls.

Step 4 click together laminate wall panels being installed with a white tile pattern | Innovate Building Solutions | #LaminateWallPanels #WhiteTile #WallPanels #BathroomRemodel

In addition, some systems need ‘seam trim’ if your wall is wider than the width of their standard panels (which in many cases maxes out at 60” wide).

For whatever system you’re looking to buy, figure out the widths you need and ask if your preferred choice is available in only standard widths, or if they can be ‘customized’ without extra cost to you.

If you want to be able to compute the specific number of Fibo laminate wall panels for your project watch the video below.

Get Free Samples!

Click here to request free samples of our Laminated Waterproof Shower Wall Panels.

Step 5 – Make sure you can buy a ‘shower kit’ with all the supplies you need

One of the ‘nails-on-a-chalkboard’ moments is when you’re assembling a toy for your son, daughter or grandchild and come upon those 3 NASTY words….

Batteries not included!

Then when you realize there a Z-E-R-O batteries in the house and you have to go out to crazy-crowded stores so you don’t let the little one down, you’re more than a bit bummed (OK, if we’re being real, you’re muttering a few ‘not-PG-rated’ words)!

The same frustration (and worse) happens with shower wall panels, although the result can be way more problematic than missing a few batteries. Some retailers and manufacturers sell ‘panels only.’ And as a matter of fact, I have tons of people who call us and ask if they can buy the ‘panels only.’ We tell them no and say this is a BAD idea. And here’s why.

If the manufacturer or supply house leaves it up to you to figure out the ‘all-too-important’ sealant to use between or behind the panels, you know who they’re going to blame if years from now the system fails. In case you haven’t come up with this answer. It would be ….


In addition, some wall panel manufacturers want you to ‘figure out’ the trim pieces for the end of the wall (cheap systems like FRP are famous for this).

These ‘errors and omissions’ (as they might say in a court of law) are a BIG PAIN IN THE REAR FOR YOU!

Why settle for guessing and buying a ‘hodge-podge’ (as my Dad used to say) of sealants and trims you ‘hope’ are the right products with your wall panels?

My advice is if you’re buying a wall panel system which doesn’t include a kit with everything you need, I’d look at another product. You don’t want to learn (after the fact) your warranty was voided because you bought the wrong sealant AND wasted your time chasing down parts. And while we’re talking about warranty, let’s check out Step 6.

Step 5 a laminate shower wall panel kit with sealant and trims ready for shipment | Innovate Building Solutions | #ShowerKit #Bathroomremodel #ShowerWallPanels #LaminateShowerPanels

Step 6 – Does the manufacturer put their money where their mouth is? Ask about the warranty.  

It’s easy for a manufacturer to brag their shower wall panels are the best thing since sliced Wonder Bread (even though my health-conscious, carb-cutting wife doesn’t think sliced Wonder bread is ANYTHING to brag about!). Claims are worthless UNLESS they’re backed with a long and strong warranty.

And all warranties for shower wall panels ARE NOT created equal.

You’ll find 1 year, 10 year and even lifetime warranties. Generally, you’ll find the cheaper the panels, the shorter the warranty. And if you’re simply doing a ‘fix and flip’ of a rental property maybe warranty isn’t a big concern. However, if you’re planning to stay in your home until they ‘wheel you out,’ you’ll want a warranty you can count on.

Step 6 check warranties for shower wall panel systems | Innovate Building Solutions | #Lifetimewarranty #Showerpanels #BathroomRemodel

Manufacturers like Fibo (who make laminate wall panels), Sentrel (who make the PVC composite wall panels) and Onyx (who make cultured granite wall panels) have industry leading lifetime warranties. They’re moderately priced products with excellent warranties. There’s nothing like a robust warranty to give you peace of mind and a value-oriented purchase.

Step 7 – Ask for free samples to ‘experience’ the product for yourself

So many products look ‘Be-U-Tee-Full’ in digitally created renderings. However, after you get your hands on them, the actual product pales in comparison to the image you loved so much!

This same challenge is also true of shower wall panels.

For example, some ‘tile-looking’ acrylic and cultured stone panels shine on the Internet. However, when you see them in real life, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to know they’re as molded (and not in a good way) as your favorite Bundt cake (but not as tasty or as good looking as the cake shown below). Sorry to taunt you with this picture! And besides not being ‘tasty,’ these panels don’t give you the realistic look you want.

Step 7 chocolate bundt cake from a mold | Innovate Building Solutions | #Cake #Showerwallpanels #Bathroomremodel

To make sure you’re not a victim of a beautiful looking image which disappoints you when you see it live and in living color, insist on getting product samples.

Step 7 samples laminate wall panels white marble and abby shale | Innovate Building Solutions | #LaminateWallPanels #FiboPanels #Bathroomremodel

If the manufacturer or distributor won’t get you a sample, it’s time to say, “Next!”

Get Free Samples!

Click here to request free samples of our Laminated Waterproof Shower Wall Panels.

Step 8 – Identify if the finishes and pattern options elevate your bathroom

While a plain white glossy shower wall panel may be all you (functionally) need, it may not create the ‘wow’ look you want. And when you’re spending a good chunk of change remodeling your bathroom, why shouldn’t your shower wall panels get you excited to use (and show off) your bathroom?

And this is where you need to know what finish and pattern options are available.

For example, do you want a more reflective, high gloss color or use large format faux tile wall panels to make your bathroom feel bigger? Or conversely, are you looking for the relaxed ‘spa feeling’ and want a ‘matte finished wall panel to ‘take you away Calgon’ (and if you’re not familiar with this reference have a chuckle while watching this old 1978 commercial below).

Or perhaps you’d like a faux tile pattern or a wood like ceramic look – like you get with the laminate wall panels below? Or maybe a marble texture associated with cultured marble, PVC composite panels (shown below) or laminate wall panels would be best?

Step 8 calacutta white pvc composite shower wall panels 96 inch high | Innovate Building Solutions | #PVCWallPanels #ShowerWallPanel #Bathroomremodel

PVC Composite Wall Panels

Get Free Samples!

Click here to request free samples of our DIY Shower and Tub Wall Panels.

Step 8 large format faux rough wood laminate shower wall panels contemporary bathroom | Innovate Building Solutions | #LaminateWallPanels #ShowerRemodel #bathroomremodel

Waterproof Laminate Wall Panels

Get Free Samples!

Click here to request free samples of our Laminated Waterproof Shower Wall Panels.

There’s no reason to settle for a boring shower if you’re choosing grout free wall panels over tile!  There ARE panels to upgrade your space, and they don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg either.

Step 9 – Make sure you can get accessories which not only make your shower easy to use, but also nicer to look at.

If you share your shower with someone (like me) who need A LOT of product (shampoos, conditioners, facial masks you name it), you know you NEED accessories (like recessed niches and corner shelves) to keep it organized. Or you may need functional accessories like safety grab bars or fold down seats which you want to know can be safely mounted to keep you loved ones out of the hospital.

And I’ll be honest with you (as if I intended to be dishonest with you), some shower wall panel accessories look like they were designed by old dudes with mullets from the 1980’s (just look at acrylic wall panel ‘corner caddies’ to see what I mean).

Step 9 contemporary agile shower accessories for laminate wall panels | Innovate Building Solutions | #ShowerAccessories #BathroomRemodel #ShowerRemodel #Shelving

Check the manufacturer and distributor web sites for shower accessory options. Do they offer choices which compliment your brushed nickel rain head or wood-look paneled walls? Can you get accessories you need to keep your family safe? How are the accessories installed?

contemporary bathroom remodeling cover page

Get Our Contemporary Bathroom Guide!

Tips, tutorials, and how-tos for the hottest design trends

Don’t allow shower accessories to be the ‘ugly ducklings’ of your shower!

How can I (or a member of my team) help you?

After reading these 9 steps to guide your shower wall panel purchase do you still need help with the plethora (OK – that’s a fancy word I used to impress you) of options? If so – we’d love to be of service to you.

Our company – Innovate Building Solutions – is a nationwide supplier of several lines of wall panels – and grout free shower pans. Call us at 877-668-5888 or if you’d like a free wall panel sample click on the links below.

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. Click for a Free Design Consultation. For a Cleveland bathroom remodeling project call The Bath Doctor at 216-658-1280.

Thanks for reading and putting up with my humor,



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 (16)

  • We have dealers in Atlanta – but I don’t see Savannah – but we could certainly work with your chosen remodeler to assist on the project. Feel free to contact us at 877-668-5888 – Mike

  • LaDonna – we do have some dealers in this area. Feel free to call our office at 877-668-5888 and they can go over the list with you. Thanks for reading my posts! Mike

  • Bill – thanks for your question. Regarding the ‘Flexstone’ panels – this is a good product (we also use them on some of our projects). It’s a thicker (1/4″ thick) PVC panels vs. the thinner 1/8″ acrylic panels. The acrylic panels are perfectly functional – although many of them don’t look very high end (in my opinion). My favorite type of wall panel system are the laminate wall panels. And although they’re slightly more expensive than the PVC or acrylic systems – they look so realistic and are 3/8″ thick. I’ve included a link to this product here – Feel free to call me or my team for more help – 877-668-5888 – Mike

  • Which are the best acrylic wall panels ? I have been looking at Flexstone and they appear to be good . Are they ? Or what do you consider good ?

  • Grant – you make an excellent point! The cultured granite, laminate, and PVC wall panels can all work with windows in a shower or bathroom. Most (off the shelf) fiberglass panels you may find in a home center ARE NOT designed to work with windows. I hope this helps you – Mike

  • WINDOWS! You’ve missed if some can accommodate or not. Trims can make them look nice but can every system be customized? It’s one of the first questions really.

  • Mark – thanks for referring your contractor to us. I would be glad to help Michael – and you – on this project. We have a ‘dealer program’ Michael may want to take advantage of which will also save you money. I’ll see you and email as well Mark – Mike Foti

  • I’ve referred my Contractor to your online 9 Step How to Buy Shower Stalls, and expect he could become your best Go To account in the up scale White Mountains of Arizona. Phoenix, less than 4 hours away, is now the fifth largest metropolitan area in the U.S. and has a huge market of families seeking a summer home on The Mountain!

    Hope you hear from Michael Macloud.

  • Frank – I’m glad you’re finding the site helpful. I believe we do have an installing dealer in the DC area – but I’m going from memory right now because I’m not in the office. Give us a call at 877-668-5888 and one of our team can look up the list.

    Regarding replacing the plumbing, you’ll need to remove the tile wall to get behind there to replace the valve. I would recommend using a product like laminate wall panels after you put in the new plumbing because it’s a simpler system to remove if you ever need to access the plumbing again.

    Hope this helps – Mike

  • Mike,

    Great site, but if I read it all I might never get to my renovation. Two questions. First, do you know any wall panel dealers/installers in the Washington DC area?
    Second, I have no access to the fixtures/plumbing in my tub from the back. The only access is through the current tiled or hopefully future paneled wall. Any suggestions for the best way to put a seam where there shouldn’t be one so I won’t have to remove the entire panel?
    Thank you.

  • Katie – I’m glad you found this article helpful. And while we don’t install in South Carolina – we do have some installing dealers who may be able to assist you – depending on where you live. Feel free to call us at 877-668-5888 and ask for our wall panel dealers in South Carolina – Mike

  • I just want you to know, I found this incredibly helpful. I’m trying to revamp a tub/shower and I’m overwhelmed with what to do. This made it a little easier! But gosh! Do I wish you installed in SC! Because I sure would be hiring you to come do the job for me!

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