Tile shower compared to the 4 piece shower kit

violettulipAugust 10, 2011


We are in the middle of fixing a leaking shower pan, and the quote we got for redo the shower pan and re-tiling is quite large.

We went to HD and Lowes, and sales people are recommending the Aqua Glass 4 piece shower kit, which include a shower pan base and 3 wall pieces. They said the kit can be installed directly on the wood floor and wall stubs, so no need to concrete wall boards and shower pans with mud...

My question is how do you think between the two options? Is tile much better in terms of long term durability? How well does the kit typically last?

This is a small condo we had before, and currently repairing for renting.

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Shower kits are definitely cheaper. Tile is definitely nicer. Sounds like you want go with the shower kit.

We are building a vacation rental and are going with the a fiberglass shower for the lack of grout lines to maintain - and also the cost.

For a reno - there is the truth that fiberglass is safer from a leak standpoint. A quality tile job is absolutely fine but hard to get fiberglass to leak even with a crap install.

There are 1 piece shower kits which are obviously the best from a leak standpoint.

We have all seen fiberglass shower floors that get scratched so no question, tile is more durable. I would think 10 years is a reasonable expectation with fiberglass although it won't need replacement at that point, it just won't look the best.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 7:07AM
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Thanks David_cary! Do you have a fiberglass shower kit that you can recommend?

Also, is it common for the contractor to say that they will not use our existing shower door, and we will need to either go with shower curtain (cheap), or a new shower door?

Thanks much!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 8:50AM
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I think the shower doors are very difficult to reuse. The frames get almost destroyed when removing.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 4:00PM
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"Also, is it common for the contractor to say that they will not use our existing shower door, and we will need to either go with shower curtain (cheap), or a new shower door? "

The frames are hard to get off. They are generally siliconed in place and the metal is pretty flimsy. I think you'll have a hard time finding a contractor willing to take the risk of not bending/damaging them during demolition. If you really want to reuse them, you can carefully uninstall them yourself. All it takes is a utility knife, screw driver and patience. If you have more time than money, it might be worth it. If the door is newish, you could also contact the manufacturer and see if they sell spare parts for the frame.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 9:19AM
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Thank you all for your input!! I have been reading the forums and found people are more inclined to do the Swanstone shower surround. Is that the same as Fiberglass? Does it last longer than the flimsy kit I see in Lowes/HD? They certainly are a lot more expensive ($800-1100 a kit) compared to the Aqua Glass kit ($200-300 a kit).

Also, the kit in store says to install directly on the studs. Is that a good idea? or we should still have backer boards up to support the wall kit?

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 10:18AM
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Not sure of the terminology, but there is a piece of "upper curb" on the shower door side, and seems that we have tiles all around the inside (don't remember exactly about the ceiling.) Do you think it is a good idea to knock off that piece and do we need to tile all the way up to the ceiling or 7 ft or so, and leave the rest as dry wall?

I have a picture below which might make more sense than my poor explanation.

Contacted the plumber, and he suggested to just use a shower curtain for the shower instead of the door... I don't think that is such a good idea, am I right?

Also, since we are still debating on tile vs. kit. a local friend recommended to hire a tile guy to do the tile shower instead of a plumber. Who really is the right person for the job?

Here is a link that might be useful: Shower with Notes

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 10:39AM
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The Swanstone stuff looks like a composite material like Corian. It is not fiberglass. If it is what I've seen before, it is about 1/4" thick and heavy-duty. Instructions say to mount it over cement backerboard or greenboard (water resistant sheetrock).

I think you could get away with a curtain seeing as you have a high step-over. But I would do a door.

If you were replacing all the tile with new tile, you could use a tile guy for the work. But you might want to go ahead and replace the shower valve with something new now while the wall is open. Hence, a plumber. Also, the plumber I think would do a better job with a new pan.

You could do a combo thing where you use a solid shower pan with tile. Let the plumber do the pan.

The swanstone stuff would go in quicker than tile, but you have some extra surfaces to do, which means you may need some xtra stuff to make it look the way you want. Or go to a flat wall.

If you tile, you might think about larger tiles (12x12) so they go in faster.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 6:55PM
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In my area - the plumber does the drain and waterproofing. It must be tested by inspectors. Then the tile guy comes in. So it isn't an either/or.

No tile installer charges less for larger tiles. That should tell you something.

You don't want something as fancy as Swanstone - do you?

Look - I am building a new house that will be a vacation rental and I am doing fiberglass throughout. I wouldn't worry about it. Curtains are cheap and easy to replace. That style of door gets so grimy in the channels. I personally hate cheap glass doors. If you can't do something nice, then do a curtain.

I guess you have to decide how nice you want it to be. You can spend $1000 on tile and another $500 on good doors. Or you can spend $200 on fiberglass and $30 on a curtain and rod. Obviously tile is nicer. If you are concerned about water control - either is fine.

I don't think you are in the right forum for this. Remodeling or baths.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 6:17AM
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Thank you guys! I think I got the point. I am going to get a quote on the fiberglass and just use a shower curtain. When time comes to sell the place off, we will look into fixing it up with something nicer.

David, I will check in the two other forums you mentioned! I am new here, and just dived in this forum without much thinking...

    Bookmark   August 15, 2011 at 8:56AM
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I thought I am all clear to go for a fiberglass unit, until the plumber came by and did a measurement and told me that he can not find a single fiberglass unit that can fit in existing shower area. Which means we have 3 options:
1. go back to tile
2. custom made cultured marble (waiting on a quote, but heard it can be expensive)
3. torn down the half wall which is currently separating the shower from a shelving unit in the bedroom, and expand the shower to a full size of 6 ft. But this route will need additional demolition, dry wall, and possibly rough plumbing since the drain will not be in the middle anymore.

What is your suggestion?

For option #3, if we increase the size of the shower, do we have to move the drain location?

please refer to my photo of the current shower in the thread.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 11:16AM
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You should probably check around. I was given the impression that if I did anything other than 30x60, I couldn't do fiberglass. BS- look at HD/Lowes - they make almost any reasonable size.

I don't know what the issue is with plumbers and the availability of fiberglass surrounds. It is certainly true that 30x60 is the most popular and cheapest, it is still far cheaper to use fiberglass if the size is non-standard.

5 ft long is certainly the standard not 6 feet.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 8:15PM
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Been a plumber for over 10 years now. Restoring a historic home. I would recomend rebuilding the tile shower if you plan to lve there for some time. If you plan on moving within five years go the cheap route. I've ripped out more tub surrounds than I have installed. They just don't last like tile.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 11:56PM
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