Panels and tiles are available in an impressive array of colors, shapes, and styles that make it cumbersome to make a final judgment for your shower walls. To save your sanity, we took it upon ourselves to research which material works best and compiled our findings on these two popular types of shower wall coverings.
Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
The following are six noteworthy pros and cons of wall panels versus tiles in a shower:
- Wall panels offer a faster and cleaner installation.
- You stand to save money by installing wall panels.
- Wall panels are easier to maintain.
- Tiles offer a wider variety of custom finishes.
- Tiles are eco-friendly.
It's impossible to ascertain which wall covering takes the cake just by reading the above points. Keep reading to learn more about why wall panels are easier to clean than tiles and which is more aesthetically pleasing. We hope that our findings will help you pick the right wall cover and get the best style and function for your desired shower look!
Are Shower Wall Panels Better Than Tiles?
1. Wall Panels Offer Faster and Cleaner Installation
Installing PVC wall panels is a quick and straightforward DIY project. All you need for the installation process are the panels, a circular saw or carpenter's knife, and a high-quality adhesive. Just use the knife to apply the adhesive to the sheets and mount them directly onto drywall. The easiest shower panels to install are the laminated types.
Depending on the size of your shower, you can significantly reduce the installation time by using panels. No matter the type of wall panel system, the process is always simple because panels are scalable to fit any shower stall and versatile, making it possible to cover wide areas of a wall in the shortest time.
In comparison, tile installation is a more involved process. You have to prepare to complete multiple tasks, including placing an underlying cement board, grouting the wall, and cutting and setting the tiles into place. Not only is the entire process time-consuming, but it is also laborious and dirty.
2. You Stand To Save More With Wall Panels
The prices of wall panels vary greatly. The most affordable panels are acrylic and fiberglass. Though they have a plastic look and feel, these materials manage to serve their purpose for long-term use. Either acrylic or fiberglass panels are perfect if you need a quick fix of your shower walls without having to spend heftily on installation materials.
If you need a better quality wall panel, of course, expect to spend significantly more. Even though expensive, you will save money because wall panels are durable with a slim chance of needing repair for cracks or chips.
Tiles, on the other hand, can set you back a great deal of cash. If you're wondering how much you may have to part with, read, "How Much Do Bathroom Tiles Cost?" On top of that, you may need to hire the services of a qualified high-end contractor for a quality finish.
3. Wall Panels Are Easier To Maintain
If you have a tiled bathroom, you can attest to just how difficult it is to keep your walls spotless. You need to clean tile frequently to prevent the accumulation of dirt or mold. Failure to thoroughly clean grout lines often leads to the formation of a black, brown, or gray color.
Cleaning tile walls is more involved, requiring more time, effort, and cleaning products compared to cleaning panel walls. You can scrub grout using cleaning products such as vinegar, ammonia, baking soda, lemon juice, or OxyClean.
One of the best things about shower wall panels is that they do not involve the use of grout, which makes panels easier to clean by using a cloth, warm water, and non-abrasive mild detergent (more on this later).
4. Tiles Offer A Wider Variety Of Custom Finishes
Although this will depend on your individual preference, most homeowners are inclined to install bathroom tile for design options. If you're looking to remodel your shower with brighter patterns and colors, tile manufacturers design innovative and trendy options suited for bathroom surfaces.
What's more, there are plenty of new tile patterns unveiled often. These include super-large format tiles and vertical aqua-colored tiles, among others. Each design is unique and distinctive enough to accentuate personal style. Read our blog, "Does Bathroom Floor Tile Have To Match Wall Tile?" for more great ideas on how to coordinate tile.
Tile variety allows you to mix and match until you find the specific design that works for you. Sure, you might pay a lot for this customization, but it's all worth it if you want to get the best look for your bathroom.
5. Tiles Are Eco-Friendly
If you're keen on reducing your carbon footprint while using the best materials for your shower, opt for tiles more than wall panels. Most tiles today are made from natural materials such as ceramics, which are environmentally friendly compared to toxic plastics used to manufacture panels.
Encaustic cement tiles are among the most sustainable options that are positive for the environment and look great on shower walls.
Fiberglass or acrylic wall panels may look great on your walls, but they're doing the planet more harm than good.
How Long Do Shower Panels Last?
While tiles can last for decades, shower panels typically need to be replaced within a few years. However, extend the longevity of panels with proper installation and adequate maintenance.
Although you can use any soap to clean shower panels, we strongly suggest that you go for a non-abrasive liquid detergent such as Wet And Forget Shower. This product contains gentle chemicals that will preserve your shower panels by preventing the build-up of limescale and residue.
How To Clean Shower Panels
Here are some of the items you'll need to clean your shower panels effectively:
- Soft cloth
- Clean microfiber cloth or cleaning sponge
- Mild detergent or white vinegar
- Spray bottle
Clear out the accessories and toiletries from the shower.
Pour the detergent into a spray bottle and spray onto different areas of the shower panel. Wipe using a soft cloth or sponge. Wipe the corners and areas adjacent to the shower fittings as well.
Rinse away the detergent using warm water from your showerhead.
Allow shower panels to air dry. Alternatively, you can give them a sparkling finish by wiping with a clean microfiber cloth.
What Are Shower Panels Made Of?
Shower panels are primarily made of acrylic. This material is ideal for adding a modern touch to any bathroom. Acrylic shower panels come in a variety of colors that liven up any dull shower. Acrylic also guarantees a watertight finish and requires zero grout between panels.
The material's grout-free nature makes it unlikely for mold or dirt growth. Another benefit of this is that it can last long on the walls with no need for replacement later on. It is highly versatile and can be used anywhere around the bathroom. Aside from shower panels, acrylic is also to manufacture:
- Shower screens
- Shower panels
- Sink backsplashes
- Bath panels
Are Shower Panels Waterproof?
Most shower panels are advertised as being 100% waterproof because of the material's ability to resist water damage from splashes or exposure to condensation. Shower panels are designed to stay intact in a bathroom's humid atmosphere.
From this detailed explanation, it's clear that shower walls have the upper hand over tiles in so many ways. Panels are attractive, water-resistant, easy to install, and easy to maintain. We hope you make the right choice and pick the right wall covering that fits your style and preference!