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

Are shower wall panels a good idea?

Are shower wall panels a good idea | Innovate Building Solutions | Cleveland Shower Wall Panels | Alternatives to Tile | Bathroom Remodeling ideas

When I’m asked, “Mike, are shower wall panels a good idea?” I know people are expecting me to say the following (since I’ve been writing about them and wholesaling these products FOR YEARS!).

“Absolutely, There’s the best thing since the Internet, or AI (OK, the debate is still out on that one). Or they’re the best thing since sliced Wonderbread, if you’re old enough to remember that reference!”

But in all seriousness, the ‘better’ answer to the question, Are shower wall panels a good idea – would be if my answer went something like this.

“Yes. No. Maybe…and it depends on what wall panels you buy.”

And while I know most of us want the ‘certainty’ of one correct answer (especially if you’re an Accountant and balancing the books), however when it comes to using shower wall panels in a remodeling or new construction project, they can be a smart option – or not the best option – depending on your goals for the job.

And given this, my objective in this article is to give you the ‘straight scoop’ on when shower wall panels ARE a good idea, when they’re NOT a good idea, and also when it’ll depend on the specific shower wall panel system you buy if they are (or are not) a good idea.

I’ve organized this article in 4 sections:

What is a Shower Wall Panel?

Where shower wall panels ARE a good idea.

Where shower wall panels ARE NOT a good idea (and tile and stone shower surrounds are better).

Where shower wall panels MAY BE a good idea depending on the specific wall panel system you choose.


So – now let’s get down to business.

What is a shower wall panel?

Shower wall panels are grout free wall boards which are glued (or screwed) to backer boards and provide a 100% waterproof shower installation.

Section 1 guy holding Fibo shower wall panel | Innovate building solutions | Wall panel shower design | bathroom remodeling ideas | Cleveland Bathroom Remodel

Where ARE shower wall panels a good idea?

Below you’ll find 14 examples where shower wall panels ARE a good idea.

Example #1 – When you need to save money

Oh, to be independently wealthy and not need to worry about cost. Few of us fit into this category, and as you know bathroom remodeling costs can become a runaway freight train if you’re not careful.

Get Free Samples!

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

A big benefit of shower wall panels is they cost less than tile installed by a professional tile setter.

Example #2 – When you don’t have access to a highly skilled tile setter (who charges an arm and a leg for a tile shower)

As more tile setters (and tradespeople in general) are retiring, and there’s fewer ‘young bucks’ to take their place, tile installation costs are going in the wrong direction (up and up).

Since wall panels are either glued on to moisture resistant greenboard, or mechanically fastened to plywood or OSB, their installation process is simpler than tile. Wall panels can be installed by a wider range of contractors or handyman (or handywomen) who aren’t as expensive as tile setters.

Section 2 example 2 track saw cutting fibo wall panels | Innovate Building Solutions | bathroom design ideas | Cleveland Remodeling ideas | Shower design ideas

Example #3 – When you HATE, HATE, HATE cleaning grout joints

Who likes cleaning moldy grout joints? Other than an owner of a Grout Medic franchise who makes money from technicians cleaning them for you, that’d be…


Section 2 example 3 woman cleaning tile grout joints | Innovate Building Solutions | Cleveland Shower Design | bathroom design tips | Cleveland Bathroom

With grout free shower wall panels, you eliminate grout joints and the cleaning hassle which comes with them. Wouldn’t you rather be out to lunch with friends, golfing, or even going to the Dentist or speaking in front of a group of 1,000 people (OK, those are 2 BAD examples – ha! ha!), rather than cleaning grout joints???

Example #4 – When you need the job done quicker.

There are times when you need your bathroom remodeled quickly. For example,

  •  Mom is coming home from the hospital or rehab facility and you need the tub removed and a shower installed ASAP.
  • You own rental properties, and your new tenant needs to take occupancy right away. And, unfortunately, your old tenant left the tile shower or tub surround a mess.
  • You own a small hotel or motel, and need to renovate the rooms fast so you can get cash flow flowing.

Let’s face it, tile takes a long time to install. Wall panels are far quicker to put in (most wall panel projects take one or two days to install depending on how extensive the rest of the renovation is).

Example #5 – When you want a good warranty.

More often than not, tile warranties are either ‘non-existent’ or a maximum of 5 years long (and very few tile contractors are offering 5 year warranties).

When you buy better quality grout free panels (products like the laminate wall panels pictured below), you’ll get a lifetime guarantee. This’ll give you peace of mind. You won’t be paying for a failed tile shower installation (and end up with a ‘BOBO’ special – which is ‘buy one shower, then buy another shower).

Section 2 example 5 white subway tile fibo wall panels black trim niche | Innovate Building Solutions | bathroom remodeling | Cleveland Design Ideas | Subway tile shower display

Example #6 – When you want a 100% waterproof shower surround.

If you’ve experienced the cost – and damage – done by leaky tile shower walls, you KNOW ‘water-resistant’ is NOT the same as ‘waterproof.’ Why risk expensive repairs you’ll foot the bill for with tile? Why not buy grout free shower panels which are 100% waterproof?

Get Free Samples!

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

Example #7 – When you worry about mold and your family’s health.

Nobody likes a moldy shower. And mold can attach like a magnet to grout joints in a tile shower.

Wall panels minimize mold growth.

Example #8 – When you hate dusty construction sites or when your contractors (no matter how nice they are) become the second reincarnation of Eldon the Painter from Murphy Brown.

Sometimes I ‘date’ myself. And yes, I resemble this remark.

But for those of you who’ve got a few gray hairs (like me, BEFORE I color my hair) you’ll remember Eldon the Painter on the sitcom, Murphy Brown, who (practically) lived her home doing painting job after painting job.

Section 2 example 8 eldon the painter long tile jobs | Innovate building Solutions | Cleveland Bathroom Remodel | Shower remodel | Bathroom design ideas

And while we all love the benefit of a COMPLETED home improvement project – NO ONE likes the dust, dirt, and time where contractors are ‘unwanted intruders’ in our homes. You want the job done, and the contractors out, ASAP.

So, wouldn’t it be nice to use grout free wall panels (where crews aren’t kicking up dust like in a tile or stone shower installation) and don’t take as long to finish?

Example #9 – When you want a ‘fancy’ tile-looking design but can’t afford it.

If you’ve love the look of a 45 degree herringbone or a ‘stacked subway tile’ shower, but were blown out of the water by the price, you’re not alone.

Get Free Samples!

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

Section 2 example 9 45 degree white herringbone wall panels Innovate Building Solutions | Cleveland Remodeling Tips | Shower Design Ideas | Herringbone design ideas

However, when you buy shower wall panels – the ‘fancy’ designs are built into the panels, so the time to install them is SIGNIFICANTLY less than a tile project. You’ll get the cool (and updated) tile look at a fraction of the cost.

Example #10 – When you want the simplicity (and savings) of buying a complete alcove shower kit.

When you’ve received a price to build a tile shower surround, and a tile base, with a glass shower door, there’s not only a lot of details to get the job done right – but it can be expensive.

A way around that is to research a complete shower replacement kit which includes a grout free shower pan, a grout free shower walls, and a sturdy glass shower door.

Shower Kit Replacement Guide

The Ultimate Shower Replacement Kit Guide

Clear advice on bringing your bathroom to the next level

Section 2 example 10 innovate building solutions shower replacement kit | Bathroom remodeling ideas | Cleveland Bathroom Tips | Shower Design ideas | Alcove shower replacement

Example #11 – When you want to ‘see’ how the ENTIRE shower looks BEFORE spending your money.

If you’ve ever bought a building product based on a small sample and then got the (unwanted) surprise of your life when you came home after work to ‘see’ the actual completed projected and thought, “that’s NOT what I ordered!” Then you’ve experienced the catastrophe of not seeing the full pattern before ordering.

However, when your supplier has a bathroom visualizer you can see not only your wall panels – but also how the shower pan, and glass doors look with the wall surrounds. Don’t invest your hard-earned money based on teeny-tiny samples alone!

Section 2 example 11 innovate building solutions bathroom visualizer | Innovate Building Solutions | Bathroom remodeling ideas | Shower remodeling | Bathroom design tips

Example #12 – When you want a simple to maintain age in place bathroom.

If you cringe when you see mom on her hands and (bad) knees cleaning grout joints, you know the simplicity of an easy to clean design can be a huge benefit of a new shower replacement (or tub to shower conversion).

With wall panels – mom can stay off her hands and (bad) knees! She’ll be safer. You’ll worry less.

Example #13 – When you don’t want to rent fancy equipment to DIY the job.

There’s A LOT of specialized tools to build a tile shower (you likely don’t have a wet tile saw lying around anywhere). With shower wall panels, you’ll usually only need common woodworking equipment many DIY’ers already own.

Example #14 – When you want an oversized niche, but don’t want one which is time-consuming to build (and is a mold-magnet)

Tile niches are time consuming and ARE NOT cheap to build.

When you use a shower wall panel surround system you can use an SMC niche (which stands for sheet molded compound) or an oversized stainless steel niche (available in 10 finishes and 7 sizes in horizontal and vertical designs).

Ultimate Shower Accessory Guide

Get Our Shower Accessory Guide!

Making the most out of your bathroom remodel

Section 2 example 14 champagne gold stainless steel niche | innovate building solutions | niche shower | shower accessories | Cleveland remodeling ideas

These niches won’t attract mold and are simple (and time-effective) to install.

When are shower wall panels NOT a good idea (and stone and tile surrounds are the way to go)?

Although there’s lots of instances where shower wall panels ARE a good idea, there’s also situations where you’ll want to use a tile or stone shower surround. Here’s 3 examples where shower wall panels are NOT a good idea (and tiles and stones are better).

Example #1 – When you want an intricate, funky, and one-of-a-kind design.

If you hire a talented tile setter, the best are actually ‘tile artists.’ The range of designs, patterns, and textures with tiles is only limited by your, and your tile contractor’s, imagination.

Section 3 example 1 intricate tile shower credit MEC Artworks | Innovate Building solutions | Cleveland shower design | bathroom remodeling ideas

Example #2 – When you want the luxury associated with tile and stone.

Let’s face it, when you look at uber-high-end luxury kitchen and bath magazines the bathrooms (and kitchens) are dripping with tile and stone products. And…

Tile = Luxury…in the minds of many people.

 If you have an expensive luxury home, buyers expect tile. And tile may not be bad for people who own expensive homes because they can afford to hire SOMEONE ELSE to maintain their tile grout joints!

Section 3 luxury tile bathroom with freestanding tub credit | Innovate Building Solutions | Bathroom remodeling ideas | cleveland shower design ideas
Image Source:

Example #3 – When you want a wide range of tile sizes and patterns.

Tile patterns are always changing – just like outfits created by famous fashion designers. Options are endless. There are fewer wall panels options than tile patterns.

When can shower wall panels can be a good idea, DEPENDING on the specific system you choose?

Here’s a reality you need to know…

Shower wall panels ARE NOT created equal.

Basic shower surround panels made from fiberglass, FRP (Fiberglass Reinforced Acrylic), and acrylic DO NOT have the same capabilities as the shower wall panels used on nicer projects. So, let’s look at where you need a ‘specific shower surround system’ to effectively use shower wall panels.

Example #1 – You need a specific shower wall panel system when you want a material which looks realistic.

I don’t know about you, but I HATE, HATE, HATE the look of molded shower wall panels made from fiberglass, acrylic, and cultured stone. They look…..


 And cheap and fake aren’t the adjectives I want to use (and others to use) to describe my bathroom. If you want a realistic wall panel system – which also won’t break the bank – my money is on laminate wall panels by Fibo. They have realistic (faux) grout joints and come in an unbelievably wide group of patterns. You’ll swear they’re the real thing…but don’t let your mom catch you swearing!

Get Free Samples!

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

And if you want to learn about my recent bathroom remodel in Akron using these panels, read 15 Lessons You Can Learn from my Safer, Simpler, and More Stylish Master Bathroom or click on the image below.

15 lessons you can learn from my safer, simpler, and more stylis | Innovate Building Solutions | Bathroom Remodeling ideas | Shower design | Bathroom tips and tricks

Example #2 – You need a specific shower wall panel system when you need a custom size and don’t have a ‘custom budget!’

If you’ve ever gone to Lowes and Home Depot and come to the realization their products are of NO VALUE to you since they only come in standard sizes (in the molded fiberglass and acrylic systems), you know how frustrating this is.

If you need a custom size, two popular options which won’t break the bank include cultured granite wall panels or 3/8” thick laminate wall panels.

Section 4 example 2 sloped smaller shower with laminate wall panels | Innovate Building Solutions | bathroom remodeling | cleveland remodeling | Bathroom Tips

So, do you now have a better understanding of when shower wall panels are a good idea – and when they’re not? How can our team help you learn more about wall panels, bases, and any products you need for your bathroom?

Like everything in life, there’s more to wall panels than meets the eye. And all wall panels (or tile or stone jobs for that matter) ARE NOT created equal.

And if your bathroom remodeling project is already blowing your mind, I’d say to you – why put yourself through the aggravation of trying to figure it out alone.

Contact a Bathroom Specialist at Innovate Building Solutions to learn about shower panels which can be supplied for a job ANYWHERE in the United States. Call 877-668-5888 or fill out a Free Estimate Form (or ask for a referral to an installing shower wall panel dealer in your local market).

And if you’re a bathroom contractor, a kitchen and bath showroom, or multi-unit property owner (or buyer) looking to purchase stylish wall panels call me at 888-467-7488 or visit the wall panel dealership or multi-unit wall panel supply areas of our site.

And lastly if you’re looking for an Akron or Cleveland bathroom remodeling contractor call 216-531-6085. Our northeastern Ohio team would love to help.

Thanks for reading and learning about shower wall panels. As the styles in the market have grown, and the availability/cost of tile setters has gone up, wall panels are growing faster than ever.

And BTW – if you’re an installing contractor and would like to learn about becoming a dealer of laminate wall panels manufactured by Fibo (and other bath/shower products) call me at 888-467-7488.


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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *