6 Myths About Tub and Shower Wall Panels (2023)

6 Myths About Tub and Shower Wall Panels (1)

Featured Image:Innovate Building Solutions – DIY Shower & Tub Wall Panel & Kit in Arctic Haze Royale Full

You’ve heard the TV commercial promoting the “one-day bathroom.” Tub or shower wall panels SO revolutionary the crew will come today, and you’ll be enjoying your new shower or tub alcove by tomorrow. You’re intrigued and set an appointment.

A hard-charging salesperson shows up pushing thin acrylic panels. The ONLY way you can get the AMAZING benefits of these panels is to have them professionally installed by his company. If you don’t sign today for this once in a lifetime “special”,you ’ll have to live with your mold-infested tile grout joints forever. He has the one and only solution for your tub and shower alcove problem. Now, sign at the bottom line before it’s too late. Your family’s health is at stake. This pushy thin-acrylic wall panel salesperson is selling you lies.

Choosing the right tub and shower wall panel system is not a one size fits all proposition. There is no one “best” system. There ARE other great options – even if some high-pressure in-home salesperson tells you otherwise. The goal of this article is simple: to find the best system for you – whether you want to DIY the job or leave the “driving” (or installing) to others.

Now, let’s review the 5 biggest myths of shower and tub wall panels.

6 Myths About Tub and Shower Wall Panels (2)

Innovate Building Solutions – This contemporary bathroom features “Calabria” shower wall board. It is also featured on the tub deck. This material is waterproof and has no joints to minimize maintenance.

Myth #1: Shower Walls Panels Are Only Made Of Acrylic

The ONLY type of grout free shower wall panels available is made of acrylic. They must be bought and installed through a “one-day-bathroom” sales guy.

1/8” thick acrylic shower wall panels sold by a “‘one-day-bathroom” salesperson are by no means the only shower wall panels out there. In many cases, they aren’t the best option because acrylic is thin and hard to work with (the black butyl tape they are installed with is messy and the acrylic expands and contracts making it harder to work with than you may think).

Here are 5 options (some little-known – others not) to consider beyond the 1/8” thick acrylic wall system (although acrylic is certainly also an option):

  • Option 1 – PVC composite decorative stone panels – This faux stone DIY wall panel is 2x thicker than acrylic (at ¼”) and super-simple to install. It has 3” wide trim moldings which cover over your cuts (if you make a cutting error it is hidden behind the 3” wide molding).
  • Option 2 – Solid surface wall panels – Most people don’t know what the term solid surface means. When I tell them, it is like Corian®, then they get it. These wall panels are 3/8” thick, not difficult to cut and come in smooth, subway tile and stone tile looks for the appearance of real tile – without grout joint maintenance.
  • Option 3 – Fiberglass wall panels – If your budget is small – and you have a standard sized tub or shower – fiberglass panels are a sound choice. The selection and patterns are boring, the material is thin (even thinner than the acrylic)– but if you’re looking for a cheap fix or to flip a home – fiberglass can do the trick.
  • Option 4 – Contemporary high gloss wall panels – Offering the look of back painted glass (without the cost), these panels are popular for the minimalist who wants a sleek contemporary Euro-style bathroom. 7 fun colors will make your shower or tub a show-stopper. Warning – high gloss panels are not cheap.
  • Option 5Laminated shower and tub panels – I believe this European product – which is being introduced in the United States later this year – will sell like hotcakes. These panels look and feel like tile (even the joints between the faux tiles feels real). They snap together during the installation process. They require no grout maintenance. Very cool.
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6 Myths About Tub and Shower Wall Panels (3)

Innovate Building Solutions – DIY Shower & Tub Wall Panel/Kit in Tetride Blue Accent Full

Myth #2: You Only Need A One Piece Wall Panel System

If you think you’re getting a one-piece wall panel system, you’re likely being fooled. You want to remodel your home and get a completely seamless wall panel system. No joints anywhere – even in the corners.

If you’re building a new home this is possible using standard, not-very-exciting fiberglass units which are brought in before the home’s framing is complete. In remodeling – even if you wanted a completely seamless unit – it won’t fit through your door!

Some acrylic salespeople will claim they have a one-piece system which is bent at the corners. The reality is they still use trim pieces around the edges – so it ends up not being a true one-piece system.

The best option for a remodeling project, no matter if it’s a standard or custom size, are separate panels for each wall. If you have a long wall (greater than 60”) you can still get a continuous panel without a seam using 3/8” thick solid surface.

6 Myths About Tub and Shower Wall Panels (4)

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Myth #3: Wall Panel Thickness Matters

Wall panel thickness is VERY important.

Sure – it’s nicer to have thicker (3/8” thick) panels which are more scratch than a thinner choice (less than 1/8” acrylic or fiberglass). The reality is when thick or thin panels are adhered to the wall, both systems will do the job and be waterproof.

If your budget is tight it’s OK to use the cheaper, thinner panels. The one word of caution is to make sure whatever thickness you use – install them with the manufacturer recommended adhesives. A great product which doesn’t stick properly is a disaster.

6 Myths About Tub and Shower Wall Panels (5)

Innovate Building Solutions – This accessible shower uses an acrylic shower wall system with a barrier-freeentry.

Corian®–“The Black Butterfly” bathroom wall panels by Mario Romano, designed with Corian®

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Corian®–“Giraffe-Hex” wall panels by Mario Romano designed with Corian®

Myth #4: Custom-Sized Showers Not possible W/ Grout-Free Panel

Custom sized showers are not possible with grout free wall panels. You must use tile for these projects.

This tall-tale is kept alive by not-very-knowledgeable remodeling contractors and those wearing the orange smocks at your local home center store (who only carry standard shower and tub kits). Here’s a fact for you. You can get a custom sized solid surface shower panel as big as 144” x 100” (although I doubt it will fit through your door!). If solid surface doesn’t thrill you, the PVC composite and high gloss panels have seam pieces to go beyond the standard 48” and 60” wall panel sizes.

Don’t settle for tile if you have a large walk-in shower. Long wall panels do exist to make big showers work. They will help you dump your nasty tile scrub brush once and for all.

Myth #5: You Can’t DIY Shower Panels

You need special tools to do the installation.

Doing any DIY project can get WAAAAY more expensive if you end up buying special tools to do the job. In these instances, you would have been better off hiring a contractor.

The fact is most shower and tub wall panel jobs can be installed with simple carpentry tools. Some popular tools used include jig saws, routers, table saws, hole saws, carpenters knife, and drills. Don’t chicken out tackling this job because you don’t think you have the tools. Ask your material wholesaler what tools are needed. Read the installation instructions (although this can be worse than a needle stick in your eye or eating liver). Watch any installation videos you can get your eyeballs on.

Shower panels can be installed in even the smallest of bathrooms. Numerous materials may be utilized to make shower panels. Moreover, glass, marble, and fiberglass are all viable options.

Each one is waterproof and may work admirably in a particular condition. Typically, glass shower units are widespread in living rooms. Although rust-resistant stainless steel is a common choice, it is not artistic.

Compact laminate that is slam-resistant and waterproof should be used in public shower rooms. The accessory is distinguished for its long service life.

There’s a common misconception that shower panels must be fitted by a professional because you don’t have the necessary tools. You can handle the installation with a Philips screwdriver, an adjustable wrench, and a basin wrench.

Myth # 6: Shower Wall Panels Are More Expensive Than Tiles

Shower panels will create a new mood in your shower by immersing you in a full-body sensation. For example, a high-quality LED shower panel will keep your bathroom looking great for many years.

Shower panels are typically more expensive than tile because you purchase only one system. Because of the substantial work and preparation, new tile installation tile generally costs more.

You will also need to buy tile, mastic, grout, and specific tools and put green boards or cement boards on the walls.

While everyone adores the beauty of a tile floor, this is an area where you may save money while also having easier cleaning and maintenance. Thus, shower panelsgain in terms of cost, maintenance, and water tightness.

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6 Myths About Tub and Shower Wall Panels (9)

Innovate Building Solutions – This sleek bathroom features high gloss acrylic wall panels in “red rougher” color. Provides the look of back painted glass at a more affordable price.

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Don’t be scared of using shower and tub wall panels. Seek out a grout free shower and tub wall expert (with multiple product options) to help you find your best choice and installation approach.

Thanks to our guestwriter:Innovate Building Solutionswho offers 4 lines of wall panels for DIY wholesale or professional installation.


How long do acrylic shower panels last? ›

Acrylic shower walls are one the most durable and resistant materials, and for that reason you can expect them to last anything from 10 to 20 years from the day they were first installed. Due to its properties, acrylic showers don't tend to chip, crack or fade over time.

Are shower panels a good idea? ›

Overall, shower panels are often more cost-effective than tiles, require less cleaning and will look their best for longer. They're also more durable and waterproof than tiles whilst being quicker to install. Bathroom wall panels can be cut to any size, making them ideal for small or awkward spaces.

How thick should shower wall panels be? ›

Shower panels are thicker than traditional bathroom wall panels as they have to be more rigid in construction. This has the added benefit of being stronger. Most shower panels are 10mm or 10.5mm in thickness.

What goes behind shower wall panels? ›

What is a shower tile backer board? A shower backer board can act as a waterproofing barrier in between your shower and the wall. Traditional shower wall boards are made out of Portland cement, and they also come along with fiberglass reinforcements.

What not to use on acrylic shower? ›

Don't use solvents (turpentine, lacquer thinner, mineral spirits, paint thinner, MEK, xylene, acetone, naphtha, etc.) that can wreak havoc on an acrylic surface. With a little care and consideration, you can prevent damage to your acrylic shower or tub.

What is the disadvantage of shower panel? ›

Bathroom panels are more expensive than tiles

The better end of the market (where you should be shopping for long life bathrooms) are not a cheaper option. Yes, you'll be able to put one board up in a faster time that lots of tiles, but boards are not cheaper inch-for-inch.

What are the best shower wall panels to use? ›

Marble, granite, and natural stone are porous materials that can be damaged by the water and moisture in a shower unless the tile is regularly sealed to prevent the water from seeping into the tile. For shower walls that are easy to keep clean, consider investing in porcelain, ceramic, PVC laminate, or even glass.

What to look for when buying a shower panel? ›

Here are some key points to consider:
  • 8mm or 10mm tempered glass is highly durable, long-lasting, safe and also easy to clean making either a perfect choice.
  • Toughened safety glass is always a good choice for a wet room or shower enclosure.

What is the best size for a shower panel? ›

However, for a more comfortable space, a 42 x 60 inch (106 x 152 cm) walk-in shower is typically recommended. Dimensions that go above these common sizes usually fall into the luxurious bathroom category which is a great place to find yourself, if your budget allows.

What is the difference between wall panels and shower panels? ›

Shower panels are used for the area around your shower, whereas bathroom wall panels can be used for the entire bathroom. If you're looking to redecorate your bathroom with wall panels, you'll simply need to make sure they're the right kind of wall panels – using PVC rather than any of the other materials.

How thick are FlexStone shower wall panels? ›

How thick is FlexStone? FlexStone wall panels are ¼” thick.

Do you need to waterproof behind shower panels? ›

Bathrooms are the main wet area in the house. Therefore, you need to waterproof the area so that water does not get into the substructure of the house and cause major structural damage. Waterproofing is typically done by experts while the bathroom is being built.

Do you put drywall behind shower panels? ›

Install cement board or an equivalent moisture-resistant backing material on walls behind tub and shower enclosures composed of tile or panel assemblies with caulked joints. Don't use paper-faced backer board, i.e., paper-faced drywall, behind seamed tub and shower enclosures.

Do you need to tank behind shower panels? ›

If you're creating a wet room, then you'll need to tank the room. Waterproof wall panels for bathrooms are highly effective but you need 100 per cent assurance that no water can escape, as the damage could prove costly.

What is the best material for a bathtub surround? ›

Fiberglass units are stronger and far more chip- and-scratch resistant than the bathtub surrounds in the next category. Composite tub surrounds and tubs are the strongest and have the longest projected life span.

What is the major drawback of acrylic? ›

Perspex sheets melt at high temperatures or from exposure to direct flames. The melting point for acrylic plastic is 160 degrees C, so they cannot withstand extreme temperatures. Acrylic is tough and durable, but can also be easily scratched.

Which is better for shower walls acrylic or fiberglass? ›

The differences between fiberglass and acrylic showers and tubs extends beyond aesthetics. When it comes to durability, acrylic lasts much longer than fiberglass. Acrylic is harder to scratch or puncture than fiberglass, and therefore requires fewer repairs and typically has a longer life expectancy.

Does vinegar hurt acrylic shower? ›

While acrylic shower walls are completely water-resistant, many feature coatings that can be damaged by choosing the wrong shower cleaning products. The best options are a soft cloth and simple, non-abrasive cleaners, including Formula 409 or a solution of one part water to one part white vinegar.

Does vinegar damage acrylic tubs? ›

Acrylic tubs are easy to clean with simple items you already have around the house. You can use dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, cream of tartar, or borax to clean an acrylic bathtub. Avoid mixing any household cleaners, including common ingredients like vinegar and bleach, as this can create toxic fumes.

Can Windex be used on acrylic tubs? ›

It is possible to scratch acrylic, so NEVER use any scouring compounds or chemical cleaners such as Windex or other glass cleaners (even if they are environmentally friendly, organic or non-scented).

What are the disadvantages of wall panels? ›

One of the major cons of installing panelling instead of giving your room a simple paint job is the potential of rot developing on the panels. Rot can easily occur in wood and fabric panelling if any form of water sets into the material.

What is the safest shower screen? ›

What type of glass is safe to use in a shower screen? Grade A safety glass should always be used in shower screens. Most often toughened glass will be used, if broken, toughened glass will shatter into small particles opposed to large, sharp shards like that of annealed glass.

Are frameless shower panels safe? ›

While your frameless shower door is safe, the thick, unprotected glass is less stable than a framed glass door. The complicated installation: The installation of your frameless glass door depends on the type of shower you have. Proper glass door installation maintains the clean look and safety of a door.

Which type of wall board is most appropriate for use in a tub or shower? ›

Bathroom drywall needs to be mold- and mildew-resistant. For the spaces around your bathtub and shower, other materials like backer board and green board work the best.

What is the best wall paneling for a bathroom? ›

What kind of paneling can be used in a bathroom? MDF paneling is the best choice of material for a bathroom, as it's moisture resistant, so unlike wood it won't expand and contract as the humidity in the air shifts. This will help you to avoid cracks after installation, meaning less upkeep on your part.

Should shower walls be matte or glossy? ›

You can use either depending on your taste preference. For walls, gloss tiles have a shinier, reflective surface whereas matt finish can be defined as flat or more non-reflective. It's worth noting that gloss tiles offer a slightly smoother surface so wipe down well and also create light and the illusion of space.

Do plumbers install shower panels? ›

But if you're having any type of shower installed that connects to water and electricity then you'll need to hire a Part P-certified plumber. They can safely complete the shower installation and will ensure that all water pipes and wiring are handled correctly.

How do you prepare a shower wall for panels? ›

Fully clean wall surfaces

If you're planning on placing wall panels directly over your existing painted walls, consider sanding the wall surfaces down or sealing newly plastered walls with primer. This will allow the adhesive to take properly and makes the installation of the panels as easy as possible.

How high should a shower panel be mounted? ›

Shower heads should be installed at 80" (203.2 cm) from the floor of the shower pan or bathtub. This height can be adjusted for special cases, but it has proven to be a comfortable industry standard for the typical person and for those that are slightly taller.

Is a 36x36 shower too small? ›

For smaller bathrooms, most experts recommend a shower enclosure no smaller than 36" x 36". To comfortably fit one adult, a shower measuring 48" x 36" should offer enough space for easy movement.

How tall should a shower glass panel be? ›

What Is the Standard Size for Shower Doors? Shower doors come in a variety of sizes and dimensions to fit your walk-in shower. However, the standard shower door size is between 22 inches and 36 inches wide and 72 inches high.

Are wall panels a good idea? ›

Wall Panels will withstand the test of time

So your panels will keep that showroom finish. You can cut your panels to fit the dimensions of your home, so you make your panels fit your vision. They also have a unique tongue and groove system that keeps them secure.

Are shower wall panels expensive? ›

While the cost of systems varies greatly from $200 to $1,200, most are in the $300 to $500 range. The height of the showers is from 72” to 84” high (so you'll need to do finishing work above the surround when you have a standard 8' ceiling).

Can you do a whole bathroom with wall panels? ›

As the name suggests, bathroom wall panels can be used in your bathroom. You can completely cover the walls of your bathroom with wall panels. Or, you can just use them in the shower. They have become a popular choice for wet rooms as well.

How long does FlexStone last? ›

Flexstone on a residential sundeck will last indefinitely, but 20-30 years can be achieved easily. On industrial or vehicular applications, the membrane may begin to wear down after heavy traffic, but even then you will get at least 10 - 15 years out of the membrane before any repairs or re-top coating is required.

What is LuxStone shower walls? ›

LuxStone shower walls are made of durable blend of crushed stone and other natural materials to provide reinforcement. When combined, they make a surface that is stronger and lasts longer than tile, acrylic and other common bath and shower surfaces.

How much is FlexStone? ›

Flexstone Cost per square foot you can expect to pay $15-30/Per Sq Ft depending on the application, where you are located, condition of existing surface.

What is the cheapest way to waterproof a shower wall? ›

Bathroom waterproofing with liquid membranes is perhaps the easiest and cheapest modern method of waterproofing, which can be applied to any surfaces that come into contact with water or moisture.

Should you put plastic behind shower walls? ›

The insulation behind the tub or shower should be equivalent to the insulation in the rest of the exterior walls and should be covered with an air barrier of cement backer board, rigid foam insulation, or non-paper-faced drywall that is sealed at the edges and seams to provide a continuous air seal.

Do you need insulation behind interior shower walls? ›

Neglecting to insulate and air seal behind shower walls can cause significant heat loss, which can make showers, tubs, and bathrooms chilly. The insulation behind shower walls should be equivalent to the insulation installed in the rest of the exterior walls.

Should you install drywall or tub first? ›

In a typical remodeling project using a direct-to-studs surround kit, you first install a bathtub or shower base, then finish the wall with the surround kit, attaching the panels directly to the studs, with no need for drywall or cement board as a backer.

Should I drywall behind my bathtub? ›

While installing shower surrounds and bathtub walls over drywall is technically possible, it's a recipe for disaster. That's because drywall is not a material that's intended to get wet. In fact, drywall actively absorbs moisture – which causes it to lose its structural integrity.

How do you prep a wall for wall panels? ›

Prep. The first step for installing paneling is to remove all wall plates, outlets and any nails in the wall. Gently remove any crown moulding, baseboards and trim you plan to use again. Tip: For best results, set the paneling in the room for a few days before you install it.

Do shower panels use more water? ›

More Water Efficient – Because they use the plumbing for a single shower head, shower panels use much less water than shower systems, which can help keep your water bill low and save you from having to upgrade your water heater.

Is acrylic shower better than fiberglass? ›

When it comes to durability, acrylic lasts much longer than fiberglass. Acrylic is harder to scratch or puncture than fiberglass, and therefore requires fewer repairs and typically has a longer life expectancy. Fiberglass is much more susceptible to color loss, scratching, and damage.

Do acrylic showers scratch easily? ›

While acrylic tubs are easier to repair than many other tub materials and can be chip resistant, they are prone to staining and scratching when improperly maintained or cleaned.

Do acrylic showers crack? ›

While acrylic is well known as one of the most durable materials available, it doesn't mean that it is indestructible. An acrylic shower tray could crack if you have dropped something heavy on it and can also flex overtime under the weight of the users.

Is acrylic or tile shower better? ›

Both tile and acrylic have their benefits when it comes to durability and longevity. Tile cracks and chips, but it can still be maintained with proper care. It can also be repaired more easily than acrylic. However, acrylic is resistant to scratching and chipping, making it a better long-term choice.

What is the most durable material for a shower? ›

Acrylic is one of the most durable materials used in the shower construction industry, and for good reason. It is guaranteed not to chip, peel, crack or fade over time, and it is highly resistant to mildew or mold.

What is the best material to use for a shower remodel? ›

Ceramic / Porcelain

Ceramic and porcelain tiles have been the classic and staple shower wall materials for years! Similar to glass tiles, they come in a variety of textures, sizes and colors. To add, these tiles are inexpensive, water resistant and less likely to stain.

What is the easiest shower material to maintain? ›

There are many replacement shower materials to choose from, but which is the easiest to clean? In short, acrylic comes out on top in terms of low maintenance requirements and easy cleaning.

Do acrylic tubs crack easily? ›

Acrylic is non-porous, meaning that an acrylic bathtub will not absorb water, leading to a longer lifespan. The material is also more durable to heavy impacts and will not chip or crack.

Can you use vinegar to clean acrylic shower? ›

While acrylic shower walls are completely water-resistant, many feature coatings that can be damaged by choosing the wrong shower cleaning products. The best options are a soft cloth and simple, non-abrasive cleaners, including Formula 409 or a solution of one part water to one part white vinegar.

Why do acrylic tubs crack? ›

It means the material will bend if come across a heavy weight on it. Even, due to improper installation or lack of support cause cracks to form. Cracks also tend to form when objects are dropped on the bathtub all of a sudden creating small dents and divots. Over time, it turns into larger cracks and crevices.

Do acrylic showers need waterproofing? ›

DON'T ignore the importance of waterproofing when installing an acrylic shower base. The walls and the area around the top of the acrylic base along the wall are very important for proper waterproofing and it is essential that it be done correctly. DO use the appropriate waterproofing materials on the shower walls.

What do you put under an acrylic shower base? ›

The majority of shower pan manufacturers recommend installing a bed of mortar under your shower pan. Besides providing a satisfyingly hard floor for your shower, a mortar base will also protect your subfloor from water damage, mold and even rot.

How much does it cost to install acrylic shower? ›

Tile can cost anywhere from $2 to $17 per square foot, while cultured marble costs anywhere from $42 to $64 per square foot. If you opt for a fiberglass or acrylic insert, you'll spend anywhere from $400 to $2,000.

Are acrylic shower panels expensive? ›

Acrylic Comes on Budget!

It just so happens that acrylic is one of the most affordable options for shower enclosures. The cost of acrylic is far lower than that of tile or stone. As a result, you can get a shower with a stone-like finish without the hefty price tag.

What is the best shower tile to prevent mold? ›

Glazed Ceramic

This will seal away the porous parts of the tile vulnerable to mold and mildew. Ceramic glazes do more than just add a layer of protection to keep out water. The right glaze can also make care and maintenance extremely easy to maintain.

What are the advantages of acrylic showers? ›

A non-porous material, it provides reliable waterproofing, which means your shower can impede mold and mildew growth, and it lowers the chances of water damage in your home. Once installed, an acrylic shower is easy to clean and maintain. In fact, a soapy water mixture is enough to keep it shiny.


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