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Should I Consider a Tile Shower for My Bathroom Remodel?

May 30th, 2024 | 4 min read

By Callie Lovejoy

When you think of a tile shower or bathroom, what is the first image that pops into your head?

Mine is my grandma’s bathroom with pastel pink bathroom walls and a black accent strip along the top. Although many homeowners would be itching to change this pink bathroom, these unique and bold colors are making a comeback in home design trends.

Tile is a classic shower wall material, loved for its versatility and unlimited creative options. It has been used for decades and has stood the test of many style trends.

But is tile the BEST choice for YOUR shower walls? JSB Home Solutions has been remodeling bathrooms for 45+ years. We have installed tile showers. We have torn out tile showers. While we no longer install tile showers because we have found alternatives to tile showers that our customers love, we want you to feel confident that the shower material you choose will be the best fit for your lifestyle, regardless of who you work with.

Table of Contents:

What are Tile Shower Walls?

Natural stone tiles serve as a shower and tub surroundTile is a material used to cover surfaces in areas of your home prone to getting wet. Tile is popular for bathroom floors, shower walls, and backsplashes behind a kitchen sink to protect the area from water damage. It is highly durable and water-resistant (with the right maintenance). Tile can come in many colors, textures, sizes, shapes, and materials. The most common types of tile are ceramic, porcelain, glass, marble, and granite.

Tile shower walls can be as unique as the people who use them. And quite frankly, so can their cost and timeline. The average size of a walk-in shower is 60 inches by 30 inches. We will use this size as a reference for the timeline of your shower renovation project and cost estimates.

Timeline of Tile Shower Walls

A tile shower with three walls and very few intricate structures (seats, nooks, shelves, etc.) will take about 3-5 days to install. Choosing small tiles that require more grout or intricate patterns could increase the timeline slightly.Graphic showing the steps to install a tile shower

Cost of Tile Shower Walls

When we talk cost of shower wall systems, we will break it down into two parts: purchase cost and maintenance cost. 

Purchase: The materials needed to install a tile shower are inexpensive compared to other shower wall systems. However, tile is much more labor-intensive to install than wall panels. Installation costs for tile are 3-5x more than solid surface or acrylic shower wall installation. With materials and installation, you are looking at $2,100 to $17,500 for a tiled walk-in shower according to Angi.

Maintenance: Tile, and more specifically the grout, requires regular maintenance to prevent water damage. The grout will need to be resealed about every 6 months according to many grout experts. If you do it yourself, expect to pay $150 - $300 each time you reseal. If you hire a professional or need grout repair, you are looking at anywhere from $200 - $800+ depending on the extent of damage and the size of the area that needs repairing.

Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of tile showers and their maintenance to decide if this shower style is what you are looking for in your ideal bathroom.

4 Advantages of Tile Shower Walls

Dark grey tile with light grout, glass shower door, and shower bench1. Lower Material Cost than Solid-Surface Walls

Tile is one of the least expensive materials for shower walls but that cost quickly goes up by the time the tile is installed.

2. Extensive Customization

Tile colors, patterns, textures, shapes, and sizes come in just about anything you can imagine. Choosing large rectangular gloss finish tiles brings a sleek, modern feel to a bathroom. Textured tiles in earth tones lend themselves to a more natural atmosphere. Intricate patterns and bold colors bring an air of elegance and style.

3. Resistant to Scratches and Dents

Tile is most often made of ceramic, porcelain, glass, or natural stones such as granite, quartz, and travertine. These materials are hard and durable. They will not scratch easily and they don’t dent. Tiles would be more likely to chip than dent and repairs are as simple as removing the broken tile, replacing it, and re-grouting around the new one.

4. Can Withstand Harsh Cleaning Agents and Abrasives

Tile is better able to withstand harsh cleaners and abrasives than solid surface walls. This isn’t to say that bleach won’t discolor your grout or an abrasive pad won’t damage a gloss finish on a tile, but overall, tile will take just about any beating you throw at it.

4 Disadvantages of Tile Shower Walls

It’s safe to say that the problem with tile showers isn’t so much the tile itself. It’s the need for grout.

Tile shower grout cracking and failing1. Water Resistant, Not Waterproof

Grout is a porous material, meaning that any time water sits on grout, that water is trying to seep into it. If you do not regularly seal your grout, water can get behind your grout and tile and cause damage to the materials behind it. In our experience, well over half the tile showers we remove show signs of water damage to some extent. Water sitting anywhere it isn’t supposed to leads to mold, mildew, and bacteria growth that isn’t good for you or your home.

2. Higher Maintenance Requirements

Grout has to be resealed about every 6 months to make sure that it remains impervious to water. If your grout gets dirty, stained, or discolored, you’ll probably find yourself on your hands and knees with a toothbrush scrubbing away at every line of grout in your whole shower. And if your grout is unsavable, you’ll be seeking out a pro to regrout.

JSBHomeSolutionsHowLongDoesABathroomRemodelTake3. Longer Installation Times

Grout has to be spread into every joint between tiles. Tiles have to be individually (or by sheets) placed throughout the whole shower. And everything has to have time to dry in between steps. More details mean more time which means more labor-intensive installs. And ultimately, a higher cost for tile installation than solid surface.

4. Grout Lines

Grout…enough said. Grout care can really make or break your tile shower. Tile showers need to have the grout sealed immediately after installation and then regularly for the life of the shower. If not, the shower is only likely to last a few years. At JSB, we have seen tile showers that are over 50 years old with no issues and showers that are only 5 years old showing signs of damage. And it depends largely on the grout care.

Are Tile Shower Walls Right for Your Bathroom Remodel?

Your shower should bring you feelings of relaxation and comfort at the end of your busy day. If you love the creativity and designs available in tile or if you work a dirty job that requires you to use harsher cleaners on your shower, tile could be a great choice for your shower.

If grout lines and regular maintenance are not appealing to you, consider acrylic shower walls or solid surface shower walls with no grout lines or maintenance and super simple cleaning. These materials usually shorten your bathroom project timeline compared to tile.

If you have more questions and want to talk to an expert in bathroom remodels, schedule a free in-home consultation with JSB Home Solutions. Your bathroom oasis can be right around the corner!

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