What Is the Best Material for a Bathtub Surround?
Replacing a dingy or outdated bathtub surround is a great way to freshen up the appearance of a bathroom. But, several different materials can be used for this type of project. How do you decide which is best?
When making your choice, you should take into account several factors in addition to cost, such as your aesthetic preferences and bathroom safety considerations. You’ll also want to think about the durability of the material, how well it resists mold and mildew, and its upkeep requirements.
Some materials you might consider for your new bathtub surround include:
Incorporated into bathroom floors, shower stalls, and bathtub surrounds for decades, ceramic tile is relatively inexpensive, durable, and easy to install. But the key reason for its popularity is its versatility. Ceramic tile can be manufactured in virtually any color, pattern, color, or texture. It can be produced to replicate the look of hardwood or natural stone. It can also be cut and shaped into various designs, such as planks, circles, and triangles. As such, ceramic tile offers virtually endless design options.
When properly installed and maintained, high-quality ceramic tile can look beautiful and function well for many years. However, the grout that secures it will gradually break down over time. As cracks develop, grime and soap scum can become trapped in the grout, making the cleaning process a challenging chore. Even worse, water can seep under the tile and create an ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew.
Prized for its elegance, glass tile is available in a wide range of designs, colors, and sizes. The glass tile used for bathtub surrounds is reflective, which means it has a special metallic coating that lets in light while reducing glare. The reflective coating also makes it possible to see out, but ensures privacy by making it impossible to see in. As such, glass tile can be an ideal material for a bathtub surround in a small or dimly lit bathroom.
Glass in general is easy to keep clean by regularly wiping it down with a microfiber cloth or squeegee. This is important because glass tile can become stained with hard water spots.
A bathtub surround made of granite, marble, limestone, or slate can be exceptionally beautiful—and equally expensive. One by one, pieces of natural stone are carefully arranged into a concrete wall to create a truly functional work of art.
Keep in mind, though, that certain types of natural stone are particularly susceptible to staining from water spots, soap scum, and bathing products. To maintain the gorgeous appearance of the stone and help prevent stains, a special sealant should be periodically applied.
An attractive and budget-friendly material for a bathtub surround, fiberglass is free of grout lines that can harbor soap scum and mildew. Therefore, fiberglass is generally easier to keep clean than tile. However, it is not resistant to ultraviolet (UV) light, which means its color may fade, chalk, or yellow over time. What’s more, fiberglass can develop chips and cracks that allow water to seep through the wall, where it can create an ideal environment for mold to flourish.
Thicker than acrylic, fiberglass is a surprisingly great choice for soundproofing. Therefore, if you’d like to minimize the noise of flowing water—or people singing in the shower—this option may be worth a look.
Acrylic is an exceedingly popular choice for bathtub surrounds—and for good reason. Unlike expensive natural stone or tile that comes with high-maintenance grout lines, acrylic features a smooth surface that pairs well with any aesthetic and is a breeze to keep clean. It can also be fully customized with built-in seating, secure grab bars, and handy shelving for safety and convenience. And perhaps best of all, it’s a cost-effective solution that can typically be installed very quickly.
Consider a BathWraps Acrylic Bathtub Surround
BathWraps is proud to offer premium-quality acrylic bathtub surrounds that can update any bathroom. Custom-crafted from the highest caliber of nonporous acrylic, our bathtub surrounds are available in a variety of classic colors and styles, some of which replicate the appearance and texture of ceramic tile and natural stone. And our factory-trained and certified technicians can completely transform a bathroom in as little as one day.