What Is The Best Material For Shower Walls? [5 Options Examined]

You can use a wide variety of materials on your shower walls, both for protective and decorative purposes. If you’re undecided over what material to use for shower walls, you’re in the right place. We’ve done extensive research on the best shower wall materials. 

Here are five of the best materials that can look great and fit perfectly onto any modern shower wall: 

  • Glass tiles
  • Ceramic tiles
  • Fiberglass
  • Acrylic
  • Natural stone

If you’re wondering what makes the above materials the most useful to shower walls, each has a lot to offer when it comes to style and ease of cleaning, among other reasons. Please keep reading to find out more about shower wall materials to make the best choice for your bathroom.

Bathroom shower with wall tile design, What Is The Best Material For Shower Walls? [5 Options Examined]

What Is The Best Material For Shower Walls?

It would be rather selfish of us to force our top pick onto you without giving you a chance to weigh all the options. For that reason, we’ll review five of the best shower wall materials and let you decide for yourself. Let’s get to it, shall we?

1. Glass Tile 

Glass tiles are one of the most commonly used shower wall materials due to their protective waterproof nature. Smooth glass tile surfaces make the cleaning process fast and easy. Clean the tiles and the grout between them effortlessly by using all-purpose cleaners or a little soapy water (more to come on cleaning later). 

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Glass tiles come in an assortment of sizes, colors, and patterns to blend perfectly with your bathroom aesthetic. Price ranges, on average, anywhere between $600 and $1,350 for glass tiles. However, due to their delicate nature, you may need to spend extra on professional installation services. 

Pros: 

  • Easy to clean.
  • No chance of mold or mildew growth.
  • Not water absorbent.
  • Produced from recycled materials, glass tiles are eco-friendly.

Cons:

  • Slightly costlier than alternatives due to unique backsplash material.
  • Might require professional installation.

2. Ceramic Tiles 

Ceramic tiles are available in a variety of sizes, designs, and textures. It won’t be challenging to find something that suits your tastes. Traditional ceramic tiles are manufactured by exposing the clay pieces to extremely high temperatures.  

If you install ceramic tiles properly, they can grace your shower walls and stay put for extended periods. To clean, wipe the surface with a rag dipped in some soapy water. For the most durable backsplash tiles, expect to pay at least $3 per square foot on the low end, and $7 per square foot on the high end.

Did you know that you can paint your existing ceramic tiles rather than replace them? Read more about it on Can Bathroom Tiles Be Painted? (Here’s How)

Pros: 

  • They’re incredibly affordable.
  • You can easily install them without professional assistance.
  • Water-resistant.

Cons:

  • They’re limited in terms of color variation.
  • Significant possibility of mold and mildew growth.

3. Fiberglass 

This factory-made material typically comes as one large sheet that makes it super easy to install. Fiberglass walls are also thicker than the usual shower wall material, making them advantageously soundproof.

Cleaning fiberglass is an easy process since there are no grout lines to scrub. If you’re working with a low budget, you’ll be pleased to know that fiberglass is one of the most cost-effective options available. However, prices vary significantly from one state to another.

Pros:

  • Effective and inexpensive installation.
  • Insulation is available in medium-density and high-density options.
  • The absence of grout offers consistent wall installation.
  • Features a vapor barrier in the form of a plastic covering.

Cons:

  • Studies suggest that they have a high probability of causing cancer.
  • They don’t seal tightly along adjoining walls and ceilings.

4. Acrylic 

Acrylic is packaged in single, large pieces that fit perfectly onto any shower wall. This material is relatively smooth and features an array of eye-catching styles and designs. You can easily customize your bath and shower walls with coordinating acrylic pieces without much effort.

Acrylic is made using triple-seal technology to provide durable construction. Pieces of acrylic are structured to withstand the wear and tear of daily use. They are also non-porous, which means that there’s no area where soap scum, dirt, mildew, or mold can stick. Though the costs vary, acrylic pieces are generally affordable. 

Pros:

  • Exceptionally durable and resistant to dents and cracks.
  • Easy to install and maintain.
  • Lighter than other solid-type tiles.

Cons:

  • Limited aesthetic appeal with few style options.
  • Requires professional installation.
  • Not suitable for customization; they come in fixed configurations and sizes.

5. Natural Stone 

Natural stone is one of those materials that can leave you staring at your shower walls now and then due to their alluring appearance. Stone is installed by fitting the pieces one by one onto concrete. Types of natural stones for shower walls include granite, onyx, slate, and travertine.

All these types make it easy to keep the shower surfaces clean because the stone has the unique ability to absorb soap scum and water. Depending on your preferred style of natural stone, expect to spend between $100 and $300 per square foot. This cost is inclusive of labor and materials.

Pros:

  • Hard-wearing and naturally beautiful.
  • Appearance improves with use and age.
  • Timeless; they never go out of style.
  • Available in various forms and sizes.

Cons 

  • Most expensive of available shower wall materials.
  • Quite heavy – your wall may not withstand the weight.

What Stone Is Best For Shower Walls? 

Most homeowners find it hard to settle for one type of stone for their bathroom walls – and we don’t blame them. Various kinds of natural stone can look great when installed properly. The following are three of the best stones you should consider:

Marble

Marble alone is enough to encompass your bathroom with elegance and beauty. White marble, to be exact, is perfect for that classy touch. To clean this natural stone, you need nothing less than a quality cleaning product.

Contemporary bathroom with marble details

Granite

This excellent vanity top is among the hardest natural stones in the world. It’s impossible to stain and incredibly easy to clean. Oh, it also comes in a wide variety of colors.

Travertine

A stone made from water; how cool is that? This property makes travertine perfect for wet environments such as bathrooms. Just take precautions to prevent excess water from seeping into the stone by keeping the grout lines as small as possible.

What Do You Put Behind Shower Walls? 

No shower wall is 100 percent watertight; that’s why you must keep it safe from water and moisture. Whether you’re building your shower for the first time or customizing it for the millionth time, the following are some of the best waterproofing materials you should consider for these shower walls:

Drywall/Greenboard

Behind drywall or green board shower walls, install some quality acrylic surrounds. The surround keeps moisture from causing damage in the form of rot to your drywall. Amazingly, you can also place it on top of the drywall, and it will still serve its purpose. 

You’ll have to hang a polythene sheeting first before covering it with the surrounds.

Tile Enclosures

Use FibaTape to prevent swelling and moisture behind tile enclosures. Before installing the backer boards, be sure to install 6-millimeter polythene sheets first. These will prevent the tape from warping and getting affected by the moisture. As soon as you place the sheets, install the backer board over the studs.

Click here to view this product on Amazon

Click here to view this product on Amazon

What Is The Easiest Shower Surface To Keep Clean? 

Fiberglass is the easiest shower surface to clean. It comes in one large sheet and makes it very simple to get rid of mold, mildew, and grime. Here are some of the items you’ll need to clean your fiberglass:

  • Sponge
  • Spray bottle
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar

Start by filling the spray bottle with the white vinegar. Shake it well and spray on the surface, and into any cracks or crevices. Allow it to stay for at least half an hour. 

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Next, grab your baking soda and sprinkle a fair amount on the fiberglass. Use your sponge to wipe the fiberglass in a gentle circular motion. As the vinegar and baking soda mix, you’ll notice some slight foaming. Rinse the fiberglass wall with hot water and leave it to air dry.

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Are Shower Wall Panels Better Than Tiles?

If you have shower wall panels fitted in your bathroom, pat yourself on the back. It’s a fact that shower walls are way better than tiles in so many ways. 

When it comes to cleaning, you only need some good old antibacterial spray to leave your shower wall looking as good as new. On the other hand, tiles have gaps in the form of grout that gathers dirt. The cleaning process, therefore, is bound to be somewhat time-consuming. 

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Shower wall panels have a simplistic design. One panel can cover a wide area compared to using multiple tiles. Shower panels boast a convenient fit versus tiles needing to be dry-fit, measured, and cut. 

Suppose you need a quick way to cover existing tiles instead of replacing them altogether, read How To Cover Bathroom Wall Tiles [5 Easy Ways!]. While both tiles also have their unique selling points, shower wall panels almost always take the cake at the end of the day. 

Final Thoughts

Any material you pick from the ones suggested above is totally up to you. Just make sure it fits your taste and doesn’t compromise your budget!

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