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6 Reasons to Upgrade to Prefab Shower Walls

If your shower could use a makeover, try this easy fix

By Nancy Mattia - CTW Features

Homeowners are embracing prefabricated shower walls with open arms. And why not? They offer an affordable way to improve a bathroom shower’s look and functionality. Available in DIY-friendly kits and sold at home-improvement retailers, the factory-produced walls can even be customized to suit your taste or needs. Here, six reasons why you’ll want to hug it out with these good-looking units too.

1. It’s less expensive than retiling a shower.

While hiring a pro to build a new shower from scratch is the traditional way of doing things, it’s also more expensive. A typical tile shower renovation takes several days and lots of labor, says Tim Koehler, owner of Triad Rebath, in Greensboro, North Carolina, since it’s created on-site and painstakingly done one tile at a time. With a high-quality premade version, though, you’ll spend less time and money, whether you or a contractor installs it.

2. Shower walls come in different sizes and configurations.

You can choose between a one-piece unit (the easiest to install though it may not fit through some older home’s doorways) and in three- to five-piece kits (which may be more labor-intensive if you have to add grout to the seams). They’ll available in various heights and widths.

3. It’s a cinch to find one that fits your budget.

Shower walls come in many different price points, from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on what material you choose. There’s the affordable PVC plastic, fiberglass and acrylic to the more upscale cultured marble and natural stone. Some prefab options feature tiles made of glass, ceramic or porcelain, or tiles engineered to look like stone or marble.

4. You can customize it.

Adding a feature strip of accent tiles is a nice touch, Koehler says. “You could have natural stone panels above and below a six-inch feature strip of glass tiles for a custom look.” Delta makes adding some bling easy with its UPstile Wall System, which comes with an inlay, where you add the tile of your choice. Another custom accessory: Sterling offers Accord shower walls that incorporate universal design by including a space for a grab bar.

5. It’s a possible DIY project.

Some kits, especially those made of thinner material like PVC where you don’t have to cut or trim the pieces, are designed with the average DIYer in mind. It’s crucial to read manufacturers’ instructions before starting the project; for example, if your shower currently has tile, it’s strongly recommended you remove it before installing the new walls to avoid future mold problems.

6. Many are easy to clean.

The material makes a difference. “Acrylic panels are relatively easy to clean with soap and water,” Koehler says. “It’s mildew resistant, durable, and easy to wipe down. A material like natural stone has pits in it, and since it’s not a solid surface, it’s a little harder to clean.” But no matter what material your shower walls are made of, Koehler suggests rinsing them off every day after you shower to immediately remove soap scum.