Great alternatives to using tile in the bath

The traditional approach for a shower base and wall applications in the bath has been tile. But did you ever consider using a one piece shower pan with wall panels? The panels can also be used for a tub surround. There are several different manufacturers, but most fit into the category of a cast polymer or compression molded acrylic. Cast polymer products are made by combining polyester based material with resin which is poured into a mold to take on a particular shape like a shower base or wall panels. Compression molded acrylics use pressure and temperature to mold the product into a particular shape. You may have heard of brands like Syn-Mar, Terrestone or Swanstone, but Corian can also be used for wall panels and even custom bases can be made from the popular counter top product. What is nice about these products is it eliminates all the grout lines, which reduces the risks of leaks and greatly reduces the maintenance associated with tile. Caulk is still necessary in the joints where the walls meet the base or each other. While Syn-Mar offers about 50 different colors/patterns to choose from, Corian has literally a suitcase of samples. Wall applications require a substrate to install on like cement board or moisture proof sheetrock, so there is prep work involved. Once the prep work is complete though, the installation of the panels is much faster than laying tile. One piece bases are much easier to install than a “mud” base. Many customers ask me which type of product is more cost effective. The answer is it depends on the cost of the tile, plus the labor to prep and install it versus the cost to the cast polymer or molded acrylic plus its cost to prep and install it. Typically, the cast polymer/molded acrylic products compete very well with tiles priced in the mid to upper end range.

Posted by Steven Vendetta on March 4, 2012