How to Use Laminate Sheets for Shower Walls

Laminated shower walls differ from molded shower enclosures. Each wall is a separate piece. Laminated sheets can't be bent to fit corners or edges, so individual pieces are cut to fit each wall. Laminate is tough, easy to work with and water-resistant, but you can't install it directly on drywall. You'll install medium-density fiberboard before you place the laminate. With laminate sheeting, you can customize with a variety of textures, patterns, colors and designs widely available on the home improvement market.

shower head is spraying water.
credit: mettus/iStock/Getty Images
Shower head dispensing water

Step 1

Turn off the water to the shower. Remove knobs or any superficial shelves or fixtures. Pry off and remove any trim or moldings using a pry bar.

Step 2

Measure the wall that bears the fixtures. Subtract 1/8 inch from the width and height. Install a 60-tooth carbide-tipped ATB blade on a table saw. Cut 3/8-inch MDF particleboard to the dimension you arrived at, using a table saw. Subtracting 1/8 inch from the wall's width and height prevents the MDF from binding during installation.

Step 3

Take the measurements for fixtures. Use an appropriate-size hole saw and drill/driver to cut holes for the fixtures.

Step 4

Apply panel adhesive to the MDF panel. Press the MDF panel in place, fitting it over the fixtures. Measure an adjacent wall, subtract 1/8 inch, cut, glue and place panels on this wall the same way you did the fixture wall. Then repeat on the remaining walls.

Step 5

Install an 80-tooth, TCG laminate-cutting blade on a table saw. Cut the first laminate sheet for the wall with the faucets with a table saw. Cut all sheets 1/8 inch less than the measurement for the width to prevent them from binding during installation.

Step 6

Measure and cut the holes in the laminate for the fixtures using a hole saw. Place the laminate on a flat surface. Slip a piece of scrap wood under it to serve as backing, to drill the holes. Turn the laminate upside down.

Step 7

Dry-fit the laminate on the wall to ensure it's the right size. Trim if needed and dry-fit again. Repeat as necessary.

Step 8

Brush a coat of contact cement on the back of the laminate and the wall using a brush. When the contact cement is dry to the touch, press the laminate into place, starting at the bottom, gently bending it as needed to fit over the fixtures as you work upward to the top. Bump the surface of the laminate randomly with a rubber mallet to bond it to the MDF.

Step 9

Cut the the laminate for the adjoining walls one piece at a time. Repeat dry-fitting, gluing and placing each successive piece.

Step 10

Apply a bead of color-matched silicone to one seam or joint at a time. Smooth the bead into the corner with a wet fingertip. Add silicone everywhere the laminate terminates against or wall or ceiling, all the way around the perimeter.