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 kits worth it?

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You don’t buy a shower everyday…unless you’re a purchasing agent for bathroom remodeling company.

And if you’re debating between a premade shower kit and a tile shower there’s A LOT of details to wrap your head around. For most people (who aren’t industry professionals) this decision is more complex than they thought it’d be.

So, whether you’re looking for a prefab DIY shower replacement kit, or professionally installed tile shower, how can you determine if the specific kit you’re looking at is (or is not) worth it to you? How will you know it’s a good investment, or whether you’ll be putting your hard-earned money in the wrong place?

In this article I’ll lead you through this decision by tackling the following questions:

  • Question #1 – What is a prefab shower kit, and where can I purchase them?
  • Question #2 – What does a shower kit include?
  • Question #3 – What’s the most popular alternative to a prefab shower kit?
  • Question #4 – Can a prefab shower kit and tile be used together?
  • Question #5 – When are shower kits worth it? When are they a good investment?
  • Question #6 – When are shower kits NOT worth it? When are they a bad investment?

OK, so let’s start with question #1 (and yes, I know, it’s an amazingly logical place to begin).

Question #1 – What is a prefab shower kit, and where can I purchase them?

When most people think of a prefabricated shower kit they automatically think of thin, plasticky stalls made of fiberglass or acrylic installed by a builder or picked up in standard sizes at a home center store.

And while the market for prefab shower stalls includes these options, this IS NOT where prefab shower kits begin and end.

Shower Kit Replacement Guide

The Ultimate Shower Replacement Kit Guide

Clear advice on bringing your bathroom to the next level

It’s true prefab showers can be a ‘one piece’ unit where the walls and shower pan are joined together like Siamese twins. And you’ll generally only see this product in new construction, because one piece systems are too big to fit through finished walls in an existing home. However, there’s more options to prefab showers than that. And here’s the wide range of choices with prefab shower stalls you CAN get, but many people don’t realize are available.

  • Material options – Prefab shower stalls can be made of fiberglass, acrylic, cultured marble, PVC, sheet molded compounds, high gloss acrylic, and laminate – to name a few.
  • Size options – You can get prefab shower stalls in standard or custom sizes.
  • Height options – While home centers stock standard height shower stalls, custom heights are available.
  • Molded and unmolded options – I don’t know about you, but when I see molded shower stalls they look cheap. I don’t like them. It’s nice to know all wall panel systems are not built in a mold with faux joints which look fake. For a more realistic look, find shower panels where the faux joints are either etched or routed into the panels on a CNC (which stands for Computer Numerical Control) machine.

Question 1 unmolded wall panel close up Fibo panels | Innovate Building Solutions | bathroom remodel | shower design ideas | Bathroom tips | Cleveland Bathroom remodel

And while you can buy prefab shower stalls (usually the standard molded type) in home center stores, if you want better quality, more realistic looking systems find a specialty wall panel bathroom dealer.

Question #2 – What does a shower kit include?

OK – so here’s where I’m going to use a fancy Latin term (because I’m a fancy-schmancy kind of guy) I learned in business school at Carnegie-Mellon University when I had more hair and NONE of it was gray. And this term applies to buying shower kits. The term is…..

Caveat Emptor (which in ‘real people’s words,’ means ‘let the buyer beware!)

Not all shower kits on the market are created equal (and this insight goes beyond the material, size, height, and molded/unmolded options discussed in question #1).

Shower Kit Replacement Guide

The Ultimate Shower Replacement Kit Guide

Clear advice on bringing your bathroom to the next level

No, at a basic level all shower kits DO NOT even have the same contents.

Most kits have a shower base and shower surround panels. However, this is where the consistency ends. You need to get more ‘granular’ and dig into the ‘nitty-gritty’, so you don’t feel like a parent or grandparent putting a toy together on Christmas Eve when you ‘discover’ batteries ARE NOT included (or, in this case, not all the components for your shower kit are included).

So, what should you make sure is included – or at least be aware of if it’s not? Here’s a list

  • Make sure your kit includes a shower drain.
  • Make sure your kit includes sealants and adhesives (it can be a B-I-G problem if you use the wrong sealant and your shower leaks).
  • Make sure your kit includes a shower door (if you want to use one). If the door comes with the kit you’ll know the door will be sized properly to work with the walls and base.
  • Make sure your kit includes shower accessories. After all who has enough storage for soaps and shampoos…..especially as we get older and looking ‘pretty’ (even for us guys) can be a near-impossible experience!
  • And – last but not least – make sure there’s a REAL LIVE HUMAN BEING available to help you or your contractor with technical questions. While buying from an e-commerce site can seem wise, most of these sites have NOBODY who knows a doggone thing about what they’re selling. And that’s one reason they sell product ‘on the cheap.’

And if you really want to ‘go deep’ on what should be included in a shower kit read, What’s Included in an Alcove Shower Replacement Kit?

Pinterest - Item 2 a 79 inch high brushed nickel bypass shower d | Northwest Ohio Bathroom Remodel | Shower Design Ideas | Bathroom Remodel

Question #3 – What’s the most popular alternative to a prefab shower kit?

The most popular alternative to a prefab shower kit are stone or tile showers.

And while it’s true stone and tile showers are generally more expensive and take longer to complete – there’s some things you can create with custom tile or stone which can be described as ‘construction works of art’ (more about this later).

Question 3 intricate tile shower floor spilling out into bathroom | Cleveland Tile Company | Bathroom Remodeling Tile Shower

And while most tile showers are built at the site, there are component shower pan and wall backer board systems (made by companies like Wedi, Schluter, and Shower Base Inc.) which reduce installation time and improve the quality (and lessen the chance of a leaky shower).

Question #4 – Can a prefab shower kit and tile be used together?

The answer to this question is yes, although I’d tell you it doesn’t happen often. So, if you love the look of tile shower surround walls – but don’t want to risk a leaky tile shower pan, a grout free shower pan with your tile walls is an option.

Bathroom Remodeling | Shower Design with a grout free low profile sylish shower base | Cleveland Bathroom remodel

Of if you want the tile to look like it’s spilling onto the bathroom floor and/or is continuous with the shower (like you’ll see in a number of one level bathroom designs), you can go with a tile floor and grout free shower surround combination.

Question #5 – When are shower kits worth it? When are they a good investment?

When you’re spending money on bathroom products for a remodel, new home, or bath products for a multi-tenant apartment, you want to feel confident buying a shower kit is a smart investment. Here’s 10 situations where shower kits are a better way to go than a custom tile or stone shower.

    • 1) When you need to get the job done fast – Since you’re not installing (and cutting) tiles and are installing pre-manufactured components, shower kits are a faster installation.
Shower Kit Replacement Guide

The Ultimate Shower Replacement Kit Guide

Clear advice on bringing your bathroom to the next level

  • 2) When you need to save money – Since you’ll be spending more in labor (assuming it’s professionally done) for a tile shower, prefab shower kits cost less.
  • 3) When you need the system to be simpler because you’re DIYing the job – There’s more details, time, and skills involved in a custom tile shower than a premade shower stall.
  • 4) When you want lower maintenance – Let’s face it, tile showers are a PIA to maintain. Grout free wall panels and grout free bases are simplicity personified!

Question 5 item 4 high maintenance tile shower surrounds

    • 5) When you want a longer warranty – Tile shower warranties can range from the ‘blink of an eye’ to ‘non-existent’ with many contractors. This can be unnerving because you’ll be the one ‘holding the bag’ (‘er footing the bill’) if your tile walls or tile base fails. Shower kits comes with written warranties (some even have 10 year to lifetime product warranties).
    • 6) When you can’t find a local tile contractor to save your life – Skilled trades are harder to find than ever (and more expensive as well). Shower kits can be installed by less skilled contractors (and DIY’ers) more simply than tile.
    • 7) When you want to stop water (and potential leaks) at the surface – With a tile shower the waterproofing is (mostly) behind the walls (with the exception of better tile grouts which can improve – but not eliminate – water seeping past the surface). With shower kits, you’ll get grout free wall panels which block water on the face, before it gets to the backer board.
    • 8) When you want an expensive looking tile pattern but can’t afford it – If you love 45 degree herringbone, or stacked subway tiles, or large format tiles – these can be expensive tile patterns to lay. However, with a shower kit –wall surround patterns are built into the panels – there’s no additional cost to ‘fancy’ patterns.

Get Free Samples!

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

Question 5 item 7 white herringbone shower panels credit Best Construction Brands | Innovate Building Solutions | bathroom Remodel | bathroom design ideas | tile pattern | Herringbone white

  • 9) When you need a healthier home – If you’ve got a family member with respiratory problems, mold is no laughing matter. And let’s face it, tile grout joints absorb moisture, and moisture is mold’s B.F.F.
  • 10) When you hate, hate, hate strangers in the house – No matter how nice the installation crew is, for those who crave privacy, they’re ‘unwanted guests.’ You’re less likely to walk around in your ‘hole-infested’ favorite t-shirt you wear to bed. And since tile jobs take longer, by extension, you can count on the crews being in your home longer if you choose a tile shower vs. a shower replacement kit.

Question #6 – When are shower kits NOT worth it? When are they a bad investment?

Despite what pushy a ‘one day bathroom’ salesperson may try to convince you of, shower kits (with grout free wall panels and bases) aren’t perfect for every situation. And here’s 5 situations you’ll be better off with a tile shower.

  • 1) When you buy a cheap shower kit and it hurts the resale value of your home – It’s not hard to recognize a cheap, plasticky shower kit. And if you own a nicer home, potential buyers may hesitate before putting in an offer on your home when they ‘sniff out’ a cheap shower (especially if it’s in the master bathroom).
  • 2) When you buy a shower kit which can’t fit through the door or is hard to maneuver in the bathroom – A ‘one piece’ shower base/shower wall combo unit will not work in a remodel because they won’t fit through the door. And what’s also true, is if you have ‘big-ol’ stone shower walls or a stone shower pan it may be quite a struggle (and strain on your back) to move them into the bathroom. Although boxes of tile (or cement backer boards) aren’t light, they aren’t as heavy as a cultured stone shower pan or cultured stone wall panels.
  • 3) When you want a custom look or pattern you can’t find in a premade kit – While the patterns/looks in shower kits have grown exponentially – they’ll NEVER compete with the (seemingly) infinite number of tile patterns. And this doesn’t even include how even the same tile selection can be cut and laid to create different designs.
Question 6 item 3 custom tile pattern credit | innovate Building Solutions | bathroom remodel | shower design Ideas
Image Source:
  • 4) When you buy a shower kit and the shower pan cracks or yellows and you know there’s no easy fix – You can’t put super glue over a cracked plastic shower pan. And if you’ve experienced a fiberglass pan which has yellowed or has baked in dirt, you know it’s a problem which has no solution (other than for you to ‘live it with’ and see it every day). No matter what you do, don’t settle for a cheap shower pan (or you may regret it).
  • 5) When you buy a shower base which squeaks – The cheaper the shower pan, the higher the chance it’s made with thinner materials and will squeak. And the thinner the pan, the more chance it’ll crack. Again, a cheap base is a big mistake!

So, is a shower kit worth it to you? How can you learn more about quality shower kits for your bathroom?

Let’s face it, whether you’re designing bathrooms for your new home, or remodeling, bathroom projects are not a one-size-fits-all situation.

And while shower kits can be the best thing since AI (artificial intelligence), or the best thing since the Republican or Democratic parties (OK, probably neither of them are best – IMHO they BOTH need work – ha! ha!), or the best thing since Taylor Swift (now EVERYONE loves her, and wants MORE of her like Travis Kelce, don’t they???), to others they’re not the right fit.

And if you’re trying to figure out what’s best for your bathroom is blowing your mind, 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 kits and shower stalls 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 kit 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 standard or custom shower kits or stylish shower walls 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 to professionally install a shower kit for you, call 216-531-6085.

Thanks for reading and learning about shower kits and where (and when) they could be worth it to you. There’s more to this subject than meets the eye, and I hope my article here has shed light on when they’ll make sense for you.


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 (2)

  • Hi Mike,
    My wife and I are building/new construction a home in a remote area in Northern Wisconsin/UP of Michigan. I just received a bid for 3 tiled showers and am recovering from the shock over the proposed cost. We are thinking of resolving the sticker shock by doing real tile for the master shower and modular for the 2 guest rooms. Your information looks better than what we have seen from other sources. May we set up a call to discuss. Thank you , Charlie Ruhl 2398601862

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