Tiles or Shower Walls – Which Is Best?

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Shower design and technology has come a very long way in recent years with some incredibly innovative designs taking centre stage. From basic shower cubicles, we’ve moved forwards into wet-room territory where entire bathrooms are transformed into luxurious capsules, perfect for enjoying long showers and now even shower cubicles can become much sleeker and easier to maintain with new innovations in wall coverings. Shower walls are a fairly new concept and they certainly seem to be full of promise at first glance.

What is a shower wall?

A shower wall is basically a tough, hardwearing and waterproof wall covering designed to be fitted inside shower cubicles or areas. Often sold in kit form, they are a waterproof panelling system which is an alternative to more traditional tiles. They come in a wide variety of colours and finishes from marble effect to plain matte grey and there are even models which come with added sparkles; if you happen to like a bit of glitz in the morning.

Shower wall kits come complete with trims and sealant so that you can pop it all into place yourself. Instructions are usually clear and once in situ they do away with the worry of grubby grout which is a definite plus for many people.

Because the surface of shower wall is non-porous, they are easy to clean. However a word of warning: they don’t take kindly to abrasive cleaners and manufacturers will usually advise a specialist cleaning solution.

Are shower walls better than tiles?

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This is the million dollar question and to answer it you will need to weigh up the pros and cons. Shower walls definitely have an advantage over tiles in that they consist of fewer parts; you’re looking at three panels generally rather than 300 tiles. This would suggest that there will be less risk of damage in the long term in addition to simpler fitting. However, shower walls won’t be to everyone’s taste. Not as traditional in appearance as tiles, they may not suit a more classically designed room but could look super-sleek in a contemporary bathroom.

In terms of maintenance, a quick wipe with antibacterial spray should see your shower wall looking as good as new in no time whilst tiles need more in terms of elbow grease. Grout is always an issue with tiles and unless you’re super vigilant about cleaning daily and drying the walls off, your grout will generally start to look a little shabby after a few years. Read our tips on removing and replacing grout.

So, tiles or shower walls: which is best? The two options both have their selling points, but in terms of longevity it would seem that tiles win the contest. A shower wall will usually last well for around 15 years before it needs replacing, but tiles will have a longer lifespan if you re-grout occasionally to keep things looking clean and bright. Both options measure up pretty equally when you look at the pros and the cons and in all probability it is taste which will dictate most consumers’ choices.

Super sleek and modern is what you get with a shower wall whilst tiles are always going to give a more traditional finish to a shower- it’s all a matter of taste. Look at your bathroom as it is now, consider what look you really want and choose accordingly because both options are sound and sensible.