Choosing the best material for your shower walls can increase your property value.
Many of us like drop dead gorgeous and inviting bathrooms with fabulous walk-in showers and bathtubs that feel more like at-home spas than simple spaces to cleanse our bodies from the day’s impurities. And choosing the right materials for every corner of your bathroom, particularly the shower walls, is very important to help you achieve the desired scheme you are aiming for in a way that aligns with your interior design style and safety priorities.
When making a decision about your shower walls, there are a few key things for you to consider beyond the design aesthetics you are seeking to achieve. Your budget, based on a detailed quote, is crucial in helping you decide how much you are willing and able to invest in refurbishing your shower walls. The overall size of the shower walls are important in helping you determine how your chosen material will work well with other design elements and textures in your bathroom. The level of upkeep involved in maintaining your shower walls modern, clean, and long-lasting also needs to be factored in when selecting the best materials for your bathroom areas.
Below are some of the very best materials for shower walls that will help you make an informed decision for your bathroom renovation project to best accommodate your budget and your interior decorating ideas.
Native of the Fez region in Morocco, zellige tiles are traditionally handcrafted with non-refined natural clay and coloured pigments by specialised craftsmen known as Mellems.
The tiles are glazed and then hand-cut in different formats using a sharp hammer called the menqach. Each zellige tile is unique.
Photo: © Annie Spratt / Unspalsh
The tile glazed surface with its shimmering effect is characterised by varying colour tone, shine, flatness, transparency and depth as well as surface texture irregularities. Zellige is a glazed terracotta that does not need to be sealed. For your shower walls, ensure the surface the tiles are laid on is waterproof, stable and rigid prior to the zellige tiles installation. Use adhesive cement and grout designed for wet areas. Mild soaps or neutral cleaners are sufficient for cleaning.
Uniqueness of tiles, durable, low maintenance
Wear over time depending on its maintenance, require period sealing of the grout lines
Natural stone tiles are not just for bathroom flooring. If you fancy a splurge to achieve a long-lasting high end look for your shower walls, marble tiles are a good option to go for.
For a more rustic farmhouse style finish, soft and easy to cut limestone is a solid option to explore. For high-traffic bathrooms, slate tiles are worth going for if you are looking for an option that could withstand an awful lot of scratches and high usage.
All these natural stones tend to last longer than a lifetime when well installed and maintained with the right cleaning products that are formulated with a neutral pH. And they are not particularly easy to clean. These natural materials tend to be porous and require to be sealed properly in order to avoid them chipping and cracking over time.
Very beautiful, strong, natural texture, very long-lasting
Expensive, easily stained, hard to clean
Glass tiles are translucent tiles available in a variety of colours and textures that give an extra shine to your bathroom. They tend to come in small sizes that are amalgamated together to create interesting design patterns.
Glass tiles are best used to add an eye-catchy feature to your shower walls to give them a unique and interesting décor twist.
Beautiful, shiny, unique
Expensive, brittle, easily damaged
Ceramic and Porcelain tiles
Constant developments in tile print technology means that glazed ceramic and porcelain tiles, two forms of ceramics whose similarities and distinctions are detailed here, offer a fantastic array of lustrous shades, patterns, and textures suitable for shower wall tiling.
Photo: © Porcelain Superstore
By far glazed porcelain tiles remain the best material to use for shower walls and floors in terms of value for money. From subtle neutrals to gleaming pastels and brights to realistic faux marble, wood, and concrete stone effects, just to name a few, the versatility and affordability of glazed porcelain and ceramic tiles make them highly attractive to homeowners doing bathroom renovation.
Although their installation process remains a little tricky, there is no need for sealing with glazed ceramic and porcelain tiles that are available in small, medium and large sizes, depending on the chosen design patterns you are going for with regard to your shower walls. They are also easy to clean, non-porous and are very durable. Grout lines require to be redone regularly to maintain your bathroom cleanliness, freshness, and inviting look.
Affordable, highly versatile, durable, easy to maintain
Complex installation process, grout lines need regular upkeep
If you have a very tight budget and are seeking to refurbish bathroom shower walls either for children, in your first home, or your affordable rental property, you may want to consider shower wall panels as an alternative to tiles.
Waterproof plywood shower panels coated with a high pressure decorative laminate bonded to the surface are gaining in popularity. Plywood is an engineered wood made by putting together multiple layers of thin sheets of veneer, also called plies, that are glued and pressed together to add strength and stability to the material in a way that it is able to resist shrinkage and expansion caused by moisture.
Read More: How To Make A Small Bathroom Look Big
As shower wall panels, plywood offers multiple benefits for homeowners looking for a budget-friendly, quick and easy to install within a day, waterproof shower wall panelling system. They are grout-free, which makes them very easy to maintain using normal soap, warm water and a sponge. They can be applied directly to most surfaces including tiles, concrete, plaster, plasterboard, chipboard and plywood, or as part of a new installation. They are also available in a variety of colours, textures and finishes.
Budget-friendly, waterproof, quick installation process, very low maintenance
Not as durable as ceramics or natural stones, a little less prestigious
Acrylic shower wall sheets are another budget-friendly option for you to consider for your shower walls. Acrylic is a sheet installation process that needs sealing; each sheet is cut in one large piece to fit your shower wall per corner.
The end result creates a glossy finish that is available in many different colours and texture options
Photo: © Mermaid
The acrylic sheets are easy to install, and do not chip, peel, crack or fade over time. They are highly resistant to mold and are easy to clean since they are also grout-free.
Wallet-friendly, slip and mold resistant, easy installation
Not as durable as ceramics and natural stones, not genuine looking
UPVC wall panels
Unplasticised Polyvinyl Chloride (UPVC or PVCU) bathroom wall panels are a third option for you to choose from for wallet-friendly shower walls, for they are remarkably cost effective, easy to install, clean and maintain. UPVC wall panels are harder and more rigid than standard PVC alternatives. They are also 100% waterproof, leakproof, and fire resistant, which improve your home safety.
Although hardwearing and durable, UPVC wall panels may tarnish from daily wear and scratches over time, which will affect their overall appearance. When compared to tiles, natural stones, and even bricks, UPVC bathroom wall panels look very decent indeed. However, they lack the relief and texture of wall tiles and natural stones. It shows that the shower wall panels are not genuine. Joins in the UPVC wall panels are hardly noticeable, but they do point to the artificial appearance of the material.
Very cost effective, hygienic, waterproof, fire resistant, hard wearing
Not as durable as tiles and natural stones, artificial appearance
Akron© is a proprietary compound developed by Acquabella, which is made of polyurethane and mineral fillers that are compacted in mass to achieve a solid finish that is subsequently used to make shower wall panels. The polyurethane in Akron contains polyether polyols which increase the material resistance to hydrolysis (i.e. water or moisture). The material surface is coated with polyurethane-acrylic to further strengthen its resistance to moisture, scratches, and other environmental aggressors.
Akron shower wall panels work well both in traditional and modern bathrooms as alternatives to tiles. They are easy to clean with a soft cloth of cotton, using liquid detergents with neutral pH free from ammonia or substances with alcohol. They are reasonably versatile and customisable to your requirements.
Waterproof, versatile material
Not easily available on the market, not suited to everybody’s bathroom interior style