Tile Vs. Plastic Shower Enclosure

Nice bathrooms add value to any home. For a near-term or future sale, you might profit by upgrading a bathroom. In replacing a shower, consider the pros and cons of a prefab unit versus installing a tile shower. Consult with builders in your area to inquire about popular designs and colors that buyers prefer. Your own considerations, such as affordability and the time it takes to install a shower, will come into play as well.

Tile in a shower adds value to a home.

Investing Time and Money

For any shower, tile is typically costlier than a plastic-type enclosure. Minimum cost for a tiled shower area is close to $800, not counting fixtures or a door. Average cost including a door and fixtures is $1,800. A plastic or fiberglass prefab shower typically ranges from $400 to $1,000, excluding faucets and other accessories. You can, however, purchase discontinued prefab enclosures at discount stores or from classified ads for as little as $200, including a door but no fixtures. Prefab units can usually be installed in a day. It takes about a week to install a tile shower.

Cleaning Each Type of Shower

Cleaning either a tile or plastic shower enclosure takes constant attention. Mold, germs and hard water creating mineral debris can be a problem. Black mold in a shower, if neglected, could become an allergen or irritant to the lungs. Never scrub an acrylic or fiberglass enclosure roughly. Overscrubbing will dull the surface. Clean a prefab unit more often, allowing the cleaner to do much of the work. Tile is hard and kiln-fired, so you can scrub it roughly with a brush.

Understanding Durability of Tile

The toughness of tile makes it a desirable choice, but tile cannot last if poor workmanship is involved in its installation. Sloppy grouting can cause water to penetrate into walls and flooring. Before you hire an installer, ask to see his work in other homes.

Prefab enclosures are delicate in certain ways. For example, if you paint a bath's ceiling or walls, you may want to place a ladder inside the shower. The ladder's pressure could punch through an acrylic-type shower. A tile shower could support the ladder with no problem.

Comparing Designs to Fit Your Needs

One benefit of tile is you can create a smaller size or odd-size shower with relative ease. If you like the faster installation and lower cost of a plastic unit, consider that a gel-type fiberglass is probably your best choice. The surfaces of fiberglass have been formed on the mold evenly and at the correct temperature. Acrylic units have been heated and stretched so much, they tend to soften in places. If you need to repair a scratched place on a prefab unit, you will gain better results with fiberglass. Flaws or scratches on acrylic units can't be repaired as smoothly.

Enjoying Your Bathroom Is Key

If it pleases you to choose a tile shower enclosure, based on beauty alone, it's worth the time and money. Homeowners who enjoy their bathrooms tend to enjoy their homes more overall. However, the overall look and feel of a bathroom can be created on a budget. For instance, a white fiberglass shower that matches a large white garden tub in one corner of the bath looks great. A nice tile floor can offset not putting in a tile shower.

Judi Light Hopson

Judi Light Hopson is a national stress management expert and psychology issues writer. Her column on relationships, co-written with a nurse and a psychologist, is distributed by McClatchy Newspapers to over 300 major publications worldwide. Ms. Hopson has written for employee assistance programs that serve over 15% of America’s Fortune 500 companies. links provided below.