It can be difficult to choose the right surround for your bathtub or shower. You must decide whether acrylic, Swanstone or decorative tiles should be used. These products will withstand the test of time. Which product is best suited for your needs and budget?
Discover 7 steps that will help you choose the right wall system for your needs.
Step 1: Decide if you want to cover your walls. It is a good idea to put a surround around a bathtub or shower to save money. You can attach acrylic or Swanstone solid surfaces to existing tile with butyl or specialized glue, provided that the walls aren’t spongy. It is not possible to add new walls to existing tiles if you have a fiberglass or plastic system. In such cases, the existing system must be removed and a new backerboard installed before new walls can be put up.
Step 2: Plan your budget. If you are like most people, you want to get maximum value for your money. A high-quality material that is affordable is the best option.
acrylic solid surface sheet is a great choice if you are looking for a cost-effective, easy-to-clean material. Acrylic is soft to the touch and easy to install. It also comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Swanstone solid-surface walls are a great option for a more elegant look. They come in a variety of decorative patterns and designs. Swanstone is easy-to-maintenance, doesn’t need to be sealed or grouted and comes in many colors.
Tile is usually the most expensive product. Unless you are able to do it yourself, tile will be more time-consuming than sheet products like acrylic and Swanstone. You have endless options and price ranges for tile, and you get an elegant look.
Step 3: Select the material, designs and colors you would like. Once you have made your selections between tile, Swanstone, and acrylic, you can now choose your design.
Acrylic wall surrounds are available in many colors, patterns, and finishes. There are a variety of finishes available, including solid, metallic, and marble. You can choose from smooth walls, simulated tiles of 4″x4″, 8×10″ tiles, or even stone-like walls. Acrylic is more than a wall with a smooth face.
Swanstone is well-known for its strength, consistency in color and texture, grout-free quality and ability to resist cracking and crazing. There are more than 45 standard, high-gloss, and granite colors. There are also decorative panels that can be used to create unique architectural designs such as Tangier, Geometric and Beadboard. You can also find designer trim pieces and rosettes that will give your design a finished look.
Tile has the most variety of colors, accents and borders. For your shower or bath, make sure you choose a high-density tile that is water resistant.
Step 4 -Choose a backerboard. Choose the material to attach the wall material. In the case of tiles, finish the face of your wall. What you don’t see is just as important as what it looks like. Make sure you use the correct material behind the wall. These are some suggestions:
Acrylic – You can apply acrylic to tile walls that are in good condition by adhering it with butyl tape or color match sealant. This will reduce landfill costs, cut down on project time, and save you money. Install a moisture-resistant green board or cement backer board if the wall is too damaged to be replaced.
Swanstone – Swanstone can be installed over existing tiles if they are in good structural condition. Swanstone can be used over cement boards or greenboard with special glue.
Poorly installed tile tiles have resulted in a lot of money being wasted over the years. Cheap backer boards, poor grouting and poor corners work are all possible problems. Never use greenboard for tile installations. Use either a waterproof extruded, polystyrene or water-resistant cement board. These boards should be glued to your framing and screwed. You can also use a urethane grout instead of the correct backer board. This grout is waterproof and does not require resealing. It will be more expensive upfront, but it will save you money in the long-term.
Step 5: Fix the wall behind you – When the wall is open, it’s the best time to repair a bad shower valve or a low-performing shower head, or to add support material to reinforce the installation of your accessories.
Step 6 – Identify the accessories that you would like to add to your bath tub or shower. – Do you have a long list of desired accessories? A corner seat, a corner stool, a curved rod to let water in, a corner caddy to hold the water, a corner caddy to store the water, a frameless door, soap niche, or grab bar? This is the time to add style to your shower or bath when you are installing new walls.
Step 7 – If you find the process too complicated, contact a professional contractor who is not “one-size fits all”. There are many options and details that must be followed in order to make sure your project succeeds. While it may cost more in the short term, hiring a professional can save you money over time. A contractor should not try to sell you a particular type of bath surround or shower system (e.g., acrylic companies will push this on you). You want a company that is skilled in multiple systems and will take the time to get to know you and your budget so they can offer different options.
You’re now equipped with 7 steps that will help you plan your acrylic, Swanstone, or tile shower surround or bathtub installation.