acrylic shower or tile shower, Bench or not?

rtmom2May 25, 2012

I am looking to redo our main floor bathroom. It s is small 5 X 7 bathroom. It currently has a tub which we are repalcing with a shower. We love the look of a tiled shower but we are afaid of leaking and keeping the grout clean (more afraid of leaking though). We have a finished basement below. Sum contractors that have come in told us to do a tiled shower and not to worry and others are strongly against it saying more problems than it is worth. (1 of these contractors is also a more highend contractor in the area who is against tile showers). What are others experiences with this. We are also trying to deside if we should add a bench or not. I don't like the look of a self like bench want a finished look. Thinking of doing it in the corner angled so we do not have to move shower plumbing to opposite wall (currently we have toilet, than sink, than shower all on 1 wall, & we are moving toilet and sink so we can get in a 24" vanity against wall. Right now have small pedistal). Help!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I hate grout, also. I had a nasty tile shower (builders 4x4 tiles) and I just replaced it with very substantial pure white cultured marble. I love it and it feels like my shower even got bigger!

I also didn't want a cheap acrylic, and I was almost talked into tile by a large plumbing company in town. I suddenly came to my senses when I realized that this was totally not what I wanted (just before signing the contract).

The tiled shower with a new (cheap) shower valve was $3500 (all materials and labor). I got a handyman to install my cultured marble shower and shower valve for $2200 (all materials except for the nice Grohe shower valve, which I bought). I'm sure the materials was much much less based on other quotes he gave me, but I was so happy to be saving money.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 1:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We did both. A local company poured us a very thick & substantial shower pan. We then tiled the 3 sides and put a glass door on the front. So far all is well. Love the floor - no grout to keep clean & no leaks. We use a squeegee on the tiles & have had no trouble so far with the grout. Good luck with yours.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 1:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A properly built tiled shower won't leak. We have a custom tiled shower in our master bedroom and a fiberglass shower in the kids' bath. I find the tile much easier to maintain and clean. And the kids are grown and out of the house so that shower doesn't get used much!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 3:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

terriks is right--a properly built & waterproofed shower won't leak. Our shower/tile guy was meticulous on this point. Acrylic is more difficult to clean IMO--especially those textured bottoms. So my vote is for tile hands down.

As far as keeping it clean...there are several things you can do now in the planning & building stage to help with this:

1) Use larger tiles (12x12, 10x13, 9x18, etc). Larger tiles mean less grout.

2) Use a smaller grout line--1/16" or narrower. Not all tile can do this. Stone tile typically can and certain porcelain/ceramic tiles--it has to do with the type of edge the tile have. Your tile guy can help you with this. I can tell you from personal experience that Florida Tile's Pristine & Renaissance styles will work for this.

3) Use unsanded grout--sand in the grout gives anything that wants to grow a place to hold on and grow. Unsanded helps eliminate this and also has a smoother look.

4) Put a squeegee in the shower and use it after each one--helps eliminate things growing as well as water spots.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 10:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The down side of unsanded grout is that it tends to shrink somewhat and lacks the strength of sanded. Annual sealing is recommended. Sanded requires a minimum of 1/8" joint, however.

Dry your shower after use and use a liquid soap as most bar soap has animal fat as a binder/filler and your shower will look good indefinately.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 11:52AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We have a very narrow bench in the shower about 16" high, but only 8" deep. It is not enough to sit on, but enough to lift and shave your legs. People like that. For a shower I had in another house I had them use a piece of Granite on the top of the bench to match the granite on the vanity.

For my current shower room, on the shower floor, I used Epoxy grout (Lacticrete) which doesn't need to be sealed, but it does cost more money, and we had to buy more than one container to cover a 31"x33" floor. but then again, we used a pebble floor so that takes a lot more grout than normal since it has a lot of gaps to fill.

I love tiled showers over plastic walls (we have 12"x24" tiles installed horizontally). The entire bathroom from wall to ceiling is tiled with the same tile.

I agree - a well built shower should not leak. Mine is also on the second floor. It is very important that the shower pan is made correctly. You can also get a prefab shower pan which can then be tiled over. since it is one piece, it is good for preventing leaks.

I have a custom sized shower so that was not an option. Our shower pan was built the traditional way using a sloped pre-floor made from a packed down cement "mud" mixture, then Oatley shower pan liner, then the cement mud mix again. It is critical this is done correctly. I highly recommend John Bridge's website to see examples of properly made shower pans and tiling.

We also have 2 recessed boxes built into the shower for shampoo, etc.. and no problems. One wall opposite the shower is in the hallway so we would notice if it leaked.

When we redid that room - we did not use any green sheet rock - which I think is pretty much banned now - you can google why green drywall is so bad.

Basically, we had ALL the walls in the bathroom done in cement board which is over kill. Then all the gaps were covered with special fiber tape made for cement boards/thin set. Then "all" gaps and corners were filled with thinset making sure to feather so that the walls stayed relatively flat. Normal mesh fiber tape can not be used b/c it eventually will get eaten by the chemicals in thinset. The special mesh tape is available in any big box store and is usually gray colored as opposed to White or Yellow for the normal mesh tape they use when they mud new drywall.

Then the walls and niche boxes were all painted with 2 coats of Redguard which is a water-proofing rubber like material. Lacticrete makes a similar product called Hydroban I think. The Thinset and tile were then put directly over the Redguard (after it dried a couple days).

This bathroom is completely tiled - every wall, floor to ceiling - which is why we just went ahead and painted all the walls with Redguard. Normally it is only necessary in the shower area - but it was easier to just tell the painter to paint the whole room with red rubber.

for the walls we used unsanded grout, but in the shower floor and curb and bench we used Epoxy grout of the same color. We used the Lacticrete brand for this because they had a larger selection of colors and it was easily available at Lowes.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 4:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

acrylic showers have thier place if you can live with it, it will be cheapest route. they do atleast dry out between showers, can be easily serviced. the only downfall of them is the wasted/lost space. In a average 32 acrylic the actual room inside is more like 28 1/2" and thats anywhere there is no shelf or handle, you loose another 9 inches in each corner, thats where they need the most support (for shipping)
I am continuously asked about this question by my clients. Here is my opinion and why.
I suggest the use of a poured cultured marble pan. we do the others but this is why. I do not like the way that the drain attaches to the liners in a wet-bed, I have been called back to 3 showers in the last 5 years where they have began to leak. none of the 3 were my fault, but all 3 had to have the floors removed, and rebuilt. all 3 was from the plumbers flange, 3 different plumbers were used by the homeowners. 2 leaked because the seal gave up on its own over time,(obviously they were not tight enough) plumbers had to pay me to redo. the 3rd I was paid by homeowner, because he admitted to plumber to using a toilet plunger to try and unclog the drain, that was full of hair. In doing so he blew out the seal, when the clog would not move. but there are more reasons than that. I have repeatedly been called in to redo showers here in the south (NC)because of mildew/mold. if you live in humid states rubber liners with wetbed is just not smart. it is just that a wetbed. Anyone can say what they want, seal it every year, or not the floor of a tile shower takes days/weeks to dry out after a shower. this combined with the fact that the floor and every wall contracts with temperature guarantees you that in a tile shower the corners Will crack no matter how small. relevent to leakage, no thats why the walls are sealed before the tile, it is enevitable that water will enter behind the tile in some small amounts. and move down to the pan.
True they make caulking in every color that they make grout in, and should absolutly be used. but this does not take away from he fact that there is no possible way to keep water from getting under the tile level on a tile bottom shower floor. liners are not there incase the tile fails, its a working part of the shower system. and in this system (the cracks around the corners) there is an eco-system that is perfect for mold and mildew to survive, and spore out into the rest of your home continuously.
cultured marble bases removes this continuous dampness, as well as having a standard flange that can be easily changed/worked on in case of any cause. Cultured marble pans are flanged on top, come in stardard sizes up to 4x5 feet, then you could build a bench all the way around the outside of that for a party shower.

If you use cultured walls as well, corners are siliconed in, as well as a second sealed corner trim strip. so leakage is an impossibility, so is moisture retention. Recesses, and shelving no problem, even adding them later. smooth single no seamed surfaces are easy to clean and no maintainance.
I make money if I do the tile, when I do bathroom remodels, I use outside contractor if they want the cultured marble and I make nothing for that. Facts are facts, I want my clients to get what they want, and what they need is info to make thier own decisions. Other people have said clean and dry your shower after use, I say what are they thinking. I want a VERY low maintainance place to get clean, not a place where I have to do maintainance every night, I wont dry me and the shower after every use. There is still the water in the cracks that you simply cannot get to to dry, along the bottom of the wall to floor seam.
if you use the cultured marble base , and tile walls, you will have no worries as well, the possible problem is in the tile floor base.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2012 at 9:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just to clarify a little, the shower walls will be tiled and I am leaning toward doing a large tile on the walls. It was the floor that I was undecided about, tiled or acyrlic. Maybe even cast iron if you can still do that (no 1 has mentioned that to me). I am a little confused on what is cultured marble floor. I thought marble is very pourious. I live in NY so not as damp as the S but still some consurn.

The contracted that we where considering said he does tile floors like a pool with a vynil liner. Does this sound right what is the best base? They do mud job on top to lay tiles.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 10:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Cultured marble is a resin (plastic) with ground marble mixed in.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2012 at 12:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Where can cultured marble bases be purchased?

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 7:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

rtmom2 , we are in NY, and recently (3 yrs ago?) installed a Kohler cast iron shower pan in our guest bathroom shower. The bathroom is long-ish, but very narrow, and was a powder room that we converted to a full bathroom with the addition of the shower. The shower walls are tiled, and we have a frameless glass shower door.

Originally had ordered what we thought was a fiberglass shower pan (also Kohler). When it arrived, we discovered it not only was acrylic (which we did not want), but also did not have no-slip grips, which was a must for us (aging parents would be using that shower when visiting). Sent that one right back, and ordered the cast iron pan. Love it. Solid, sturdy, looks great. More $ than acrylic and fiberglass, but much less than a tiled floor.

We have tile on the shower walls and ceiling. DH used Hardibacker (cement board) for the shower walls, and coated them with Hydroban, a waterproofing membrane that is rolled or brushed on, like paint (a "lovely" pea-soup green color paint!).

FWIW, this bathroom is on the ground floor of a bi-level/hi ranch just north of NYC.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 11:31AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What are the pros and cons of acrylic compared to fiberglass, compared to cultured marble? For example, someone said that one of them (I think it was acrylic) stains easily.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 8:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

>Where can cultured marble bases be purchased?

Look in your local yellow pages. Even the small town where I live has a fabricator for these. If you're in any kind of metro area there should be a bunch.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 10:31PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Suggestions - Eliminating Jack and Jill Bath in New Construction
Looking for suggestions on eliminating a Jack and Jill...
Quality Pocket Door Frames?
(Please accept my apology for the duplicate post -...
Family of 5 - only 1 1/2 bathrooms. What would you do?
We are an active family of 5 and our bathroom situtation...
Ammara Designs Faucets
I've gotten so much information from these forums....
Nervous about going curbless, need to decide this week. Issues, cons?
To be quite frank, we'd be doing this for looks only....
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™