Tile Shower Alternatives

mrenadetteJanuary 25, 2011

We are breaking ground on our new home next week. Originally we had planned on a tile shower in the master bath, but based on the added cost, budget and list of priorities, it has been dropped for a fiberglass shower. I really don't care for the look of fiberglass so I still want to explore other options. If anyone has suggestions on cost effective alternatives it would be appreciated.

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Is it possible for you to do the tile vs. a subcontractor & save some $$?

You can get a precast base in your choice of material for the shower floor so you don't have to worry about the slope for water drainage & texture of the floor. With a simple block pattern design and a class or two at your local home improvement store you could easily do it yourself. Especially if you use oversize tile, it would take 1 or 2 weekends to complete (Saturday to lay the tile, Sunday to grout. If your shower is huge, it may take 2 days to lay the tile.) Tile spacers come in a variety of sizes to choose from so you can get the size grout lines you want & they will be consistent tile to tile. See if you have a tile outlet in your area for further savings on materials.

I'm not much of a "do it yourself-er", but I tiled our guest bath in our last house and it turned out great. I think I spent around $125 maximum in materials-12" x 12" tile, spacers, mortar, & grout. We borrowed the application tools & tile cutter from my dad--application tools aren't that expensive & you can rent a tile cutter at a decent price. It took 2 days start to finish.

If you go this route, see if your GC will give you a credit for materials & labor for the vinyl shower to put toward your cost for the tile one and have him substitute tile backerboard for sheetrock in the shower enclosure.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 10:36AM
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Is this a corner unit? What size? Neoangle or rectangle or square? Was it the cost of the tile or the glass? Have you considered doing a regular shower pan (acrylic or whatever they are), and then doing the tile yourself after that is installed?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 2:09PM
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I ordered a clawfoot tub w/air jets from Lowes that was American Bath Factory. I noticed in their brochure they sell these manufactured shower surrounds dealios that are made to look like travertine tiled showers. Different sizes and configurations. Not sure about the pricing. Maybe that's an option you could check out...wouldn't look as nice as real tile, but definitely better than a plain ol' fiberglass unit. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 2:54PM
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Kohler cast iron shower pan with tiled walls or cultured marble walls.

We have one of the cast iron pans in a basement shower and it is solid as a rock and looks very nice with the tiled walls.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 4:09PM
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I personally think you'd be crazy to attempt a DIY of a master shower. This isn't a tile floor, this is an area where water penetration is a HUGE potential issue and an area where real care and expertise is important to the future upkeep of your home. Just the fact that the above poster didn't mention anything about waterproofing and focused on aesthetics would make me concerned that their shower is inadequately finished. It took a professional crew over 2 days just to prepare our shower for tiling and 5 whole days to tile it. Yes, it's large, but still...

Anyway, I'm sure that I could lay tile as well as any professional b/c I'm OCD and have a good eye, but I wouldn't want the responsibility of water proofing my house.

I'm not sure what other alternatives there are beyond an enclosure. Good luck with your decision.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 4:11PM
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All, thanks for the feedback. This is a 5 foot rectangular shower. I am not a DIY guy, so that is out of the question. Going from tile to fiberglass was a $4300 savings. I have to say I liked the American Bath Factory Sistine tile option. Worth taking a closer look. Will also look into the cultured marble.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 5:04PM
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I will be doing a 5' fiberglass shower by choice...I just hate cleaning grout lines!!....let alone the savings. I'd rather do something else with my $$$ than put it into a shower that only DH and I will ever see.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 5:28PM
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I chose to avoid tile in the showers, not for financial reasons, but for maintenance reasons. Everyone that I know with tiled showers experiences some problem with mold/mildew, and eventually has to resort to bleach to clean the grout. I wanted as little maintenance as possible, so after reading lots of posts here, I used cultured marble in our walk-in shower. It's 48" square, uses a stock base, and after almost 2 years, it still looks like new. Very happy with it! FYI, there's also a cultured granite that might be of interest. I cannot tell you the cost differential between tile and cultured marble, but I believe tile is more costly.
From Baths

Here is a link that might be useful: Cultured marble manufacturer

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 12:34PM
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We're building a house and we put a 5' Kohler Sonata shower in our MB. It's nice and also big. You can even turn it into a steam shower if you want. I decided with my busy life I don't want or have time to clean a tile shower. I have one now and won't be sad to leave it behind.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 1:56PM
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