Install a Prefabricated Unit

You are remodeling your bathroom and you need a new shower/tub. Should you install a prefabricated (prefab) shower stall or construct a tiled shower stall?

 

Two Types of Shower Stalls

Pre-fabricated shower stall units are formed in a factory, shipped to your home in one or several pieces, and are then installed in your bathroom.

By contrast, the tiled shower is site-built, constructed from scratch by carpenters and tilers.

Carpenters construct the frame, walling it in with a cement-based board such as Wonderboard. Tilers step in and finish the tilework.

Types of Pre-fabricated Units

They are composed of a shower pan and solid side panels. One deciding factor between one-piece or multi-piece units is whether you can get the one-piece unit through the doors of older homes. Homeowners often choose multi-piece units for this very reason.

Multi-Piece Best Pick: Buy on Amazon – American Standard Acrylux 60″ x 32″ Shower Kit

If you are looking for a sleeker, better-styled shower unit, American Standard has a shower stall unit made of Acrylic capped ABS, reinforced by fiberglass. This kit is everything you need: all wall panels, glass door, and shower pan.

 

Consider a Wall Kit if Your Tub is in Good Condition

An alternative to full kits like the American Standard are wall kits.

Wall kits are for bathtub-only or tub-shower combinations.

The tub stays in place but you cover everything above the tub with wall panels.

Wall Kit Best Pick: Buy on Amazon – Swanstone Veritek Tub Wall Kit

Swanstone’s Veritek Tub Wall Kit is a good, reasonably priced way to refurbish your icky tub/shower combination.

This is a five-panel wall kit that effectively obliterates nasty shower walls, covering them with white, bone, or bisque-tinted Veritek panels.

For a faux-tile look, the panels have simulated grout lines. Best thing: all of the soap dishes and convenience shelves that come pre-molded into the panels.

Home Refinishing and Replacement

When your bathtub or shower surfaces go bad, all-out replacement appears to be your only hope.  And while nothing can compare to the quality of full replacement, there are intermediate solutions that are less expensive, faster, and cleaner that may satisfy your needs.

Acrylic liners for bathtubs and showers promise just such a solution to a decrepit tub or shower.  However, as with any other cover-up, this fix comes at a price.

What Are Liners?

Bathtub liners and bathtub refinishing are two methods of covering up your bathtub, shower pan, and walls.

Liners are solid pieces that are installed over your existing tub or shower; nothing is removed.  By contrast, refinishing is sprayed on epoxy paint.

 

Liner Construction

Liners are made of acrylic, the same material that composes new, pre-fabricated bath and shower stalls.  While the acrylic is heavy gauge, it is not as thick as acrylic used for bathtubs and shower stalls.

 

Separate Sections:  Base and Walls

Liners come in two sections:  bottom and top.

  • Bottom:  For bathtubs, a unit that looks exactly like your original tub forms the bottom.  For showers, this bottom unit looks like your shower pan.  In each case, these units are single, unified, seamless pieces, which makes them waterproof.  The only entry points for water, then, would be around the drain and at the top of the liner.
  • Top:  For both tubs and showers, a second section of wall panels called the surround extends above the level of the tub liner or shower pan.

Because of this dual-piece method, you can conceivably install only the bottom section, leaving your walls untouched.  However, some liner installers say that they will only install bases in concert with walls.

The stated reason is that the junction between the top of the liner and your existing wall is a prime area for water infiltration.  By including wall panels, the installer can ensure a watertight fit.

 

Cost

Tub and shower liners may cost more than you imagine.  If you are not vigilant about finding competitive prices, you may end up paying as much for a liner as you would for full-out replacement.

Bathroom With These Decorating Ideas

This homeowner is maintaining this bathroom’s classic, traditional feel with an acrylic claw-foot tub. Note the side-mounted fixture–a feature to help save space and let the bather stretch out all the way.

 

Why go with the typical wimpy, translucent “bathroom window” when you can install a full-size double-hung or casement window to further push the “classic” envelope? Not only that, but installing a real window allows for fresh air (cutting down on your reliance for noisy bathroom fans) and gives you a convenient ledge for magazines or votives!

A skylight in the shower? Why not? Unless you’re worried about jets at 32,000 feet seeing you in your birthday suit, a skylight over the shower or bath is a great way to bring in natural light–and to naturally mitigate any mold and mildew growth.

 

This bathroom incorporates a framed-glass shower at the end of the room, allowing light from two directions. The cantilevered bathroom cabinet gives the impression that it is “floating” several inches off the ground, and the white marble bathroom counter further maximizes light.

Bathroom Shower Ideas

To help generate bathroom shower ideas, one thing to do is decide which type of shower you want.  Basically, showers are divided between tiled and prefabricated units.

 

Tile Only

 

Created from scratch by tile installers. Your own imagination is the limit. The pan (or floor) is also tile.

 

  • Pros: Capable of being fashioned into any kind of unique design you wish.
  • Cons:  An expensive option, as pricey labor is involved.

 

Tile With Pan

 

Because tile pans are difficult to create, DIY tilers often use one-piece prefabricated tile pans. This also keeps the angle of drainage consistent.

 

  • Pros: Less attractive than the all-tile shower.
  • Cons:  Better at preventing leakage.

 

Prefabricated Shower Units:  Single-Piece

Expensive, but seams are reduced or eliminated altogether. Keep in mind that single-piece units may be difficult to get into an older home with limited access.

  • Pros: Continuous surface with no (or few) seams is less prone to leaks.
  • Cons:  Difficult to move into small spaces.

 

Prefabricated Shower Units:  Multi-Piece

Coming in 3 or 4 separate pieces, these showers are easy to get through doors and up stairs.  Once inside the bathroom, they reassemble to form a single unit.

  • Pros: Inexpensive.  Easy to move because each section is relatively light.
  • Cons:  Less desirable than single-piece units.

 

Prefabricated Shower Units:  Corner Multi-Piece

Relatively inexpensive units which have two walls of glass and allow for maximum light. You can either pair up the glass walls with two tiled walls or use prefab wall unit panels.

  • Pros: Plenty of natural light flows into corner glass units.
  • Cons:  Require an available corner, which many small bathrooms do not have.

How to Choose Bathroom Flooring

Choosing bathroom flooring is far different from choosing flooring in other parts of the house.

Once you get past the commonalities–durability, looks, cost–you have to confront one factor that is found in no other area except the basement: massive amounts of water.

Water is prevalent in bathrooms and it will quickly ruin the wrong flooring. With that in consideration, from best to worst, your floor covering options for the bathroom:

 

1. Porcelain or Ceramic Tile

Summary: Porcelain tile is the best of all worlds for bathroom flooring–waterproof, stylish, and cost-effective.

Like stone, porcelain tile can achieve a rich, textured, solid feeling. Like vinyl, it is waterproof and is fairly inexpensive. Like wood flooring, it looks great.

But should you choose porcelain or ceramic tile? Is there even a difference?

Porcelain is part of the ceramic tile family with one slight difference: water absorption. The Porcelain Tile Certification Agency (PTCA) certifies types of tile as “porcelain” if they have a water absorption rate of 0.5% or less.

If this is a half bathroom or powder room, you will not need to purchase porcelain tiles because there are no bathing facilities.

 

Advantages

Because there are so many different types of ceramic tiles, you can create the exact floor you want. You can even find ceramic tile that looks like wood or stone.

Individual tile comes in sizes between 4″ x 4″ to 2′ x 2′, and in a wide variety of shapes such as octagonal and hexagonal. Smaller mosaic tiles are pre-mounted on plastic mesh sheets, so you do not have to individually set each tile. With tinted grout, you can be even more creative.

Best of all, tile cleans up well and bravely resists even standing pools of water

 

Downsides

Like stone, tile is cold (though radiant or heated tile is available.

Tile can be slippery. But texturing solves that problem. Smaller tiles are less slippery because more grout is used and the grout acts as a non-skid surface.

2. Vinyl: Sheet, Plank, or Tile

Summary: Reasonably good aesthetics, supreme practicality.

Vinyl is the most popular choice for bathroom flooring for several reasons. Vinyl is very much a do-it-yourself job (you can install vinyl tiles in a weekend, easily). Plus there are thousands of style options.

Sheet vinyl flooring is your best option if extreme amounts of water are expected, such as in children’s bathrooms or laundry rooms. Gappy and poorly laid seams are floor killers. Sheet vinyl may have as few as zero seams in a small bathroom.

Luxury vinyl plank flooring comes in narrow widths (about 5″) and long lengths (up to 48″).

Advantages

Luxury vinyl plank is very easy to install.

Downsides

Sheet vinyl is difficult for the do-it-yourselfer to install.

 

3. Natural Stone

Summary: Good choice, but only if you can afford it.

There are few moisture problems with marble, granite, limestone, and the other stone flooring options. Stone is mid-level is this list and not at the top because of a number of issues.

The first one is that it is cold. The second issue: it tends to be slippery. This can be solved by having the stone textured by sandblasting or by purchasing naturally textured stone, such as slate.

But the main issue that pulls this bathroom flooring option down is cost. Real stone flooring is by far your most expensive flooring option.