Are Shower Wall Panels Better Than Tiles?

Written by Milan Jara on 7th Apr 2022

Shower Wall Panels

Are shower wall panels better than tiles in the bathroom? Which wall covering should you use? Here’s a closer look at shower wall panels and tiles.

You've seen shower wall panels recommended as excellent bathroom wall coverings and possibly wondered if they are better than tiles. It's a crucial question if you have a bathroom renovation project coming up and are looking for suitable wall coverings.

Both tiles and shower wall panels are great, and you can't go too wrong with either of them when taking on bathroom remodeling. However, some aspects of one and your preferences may make you choose one material over the other.

Let's dive right in and see if shower wall panels are better than bathroom tiles.

The Difference Between Shower Wall Panels and Tiles

Bathrooms and showers are among the most commonly used wet areas in residential and commercial places, hence the need to ensure their walls are well covered to prevent water damage. You could use bathroom tiles or shower wall panels to achieve this.

What are Shower Wall Panels?

Shower Wall Panels

Shower wall panels are waterproof, grout-free large-format sheets that you can attach to a wall with an adhesive. They are a reasonably modern innovation for covering bathroom walls to prevent water damage to walls.

Each sheet of shower wall material is a few feet tall and wide, making it easy to fix them. You also use fewer sheets than tiles for the same wall size. Shower wall panels are sold in kits, complete with the trims, panels, and sealant.

What are Bathroom Tiles?

Shower Wall Panels

Bathroom tiles are small-sized wall covers that come in different types, such as ceramic, porcelain, stone, marble, vinyl, granite, limestone, linoleum, and glass tiles.

Since they are an earlier innovation for covering walls and the tub surround in bathrooms, tiles come in various colors and designs, and you can choose depending on your taste and your house's architectural theme.

Advantages of Shower Wall Panels

Shower Wall Panels

The following are some pros of shower wall panels that might make you choose them over tiles.

They are more economical

Waterproof shower panels are more economical than conventional tiles in the long run, although they might have a higher purchase price. They are easier to maintain, needing only a few wipes with mild cleaning detergents and water.

The ease of maintenance and installation makes shower wall panels cheaper than bathroom tile over a long time. The two aspects offset the high initial purchase cost, which depends on the manufacturer and the type of panels you get.

They are easier to install than tiles

Since only a few pieces are needed, and no grout is used, shower wall panels are easier to install. No special tools are required when installing the panels. For example, you only need scissors to cut the panels, while a tile cutter is necessary for cutting tiles.

You can even install shower panels over the existing tile.

They are easier to maintain

It's easy to maintain shower wall panels because the pieces are fewer, and no grout is applied. You can clean the panels easily by wiping them down after each use or cleaning them with a mild detergent and water.

Shower wall panels are more hygienic than tiles because they do not require any grout during the installation.

They have a flawless finish

Shower wall panels fit well into each, leaving no spaces between them that could be filled with dirt. The fitting together results in a flawless finish that's much better than the grouted spaces between tiles.

Bathroom wall panels are suitable for a contemporary finish, unlike tiles, which suggest a traditional look even if they are newly made.

They are lightweight

While some panels may be thick and heavy, most are thin, moderately sized, and lightweight. The lower weight makes them easier to carry and install.

Disadvantages of Shower Wall Panels

Shower Wall Panels

Despite the above advantages, shower wall panels have shortcomings such as:

  • High upfront cost, depending on the manufacturer and type of panels
  • A shower panel be damaged easily by water if installed badly
  • They are not as versatile as tiles in design and colors
  • They lack the traditional touch suitable for classic bathrooms
  • Quality can vary highly from one manufacturer to another

Advantages of Tiles

Shower Wall Panels

The following pros can make you choose tiles over shower wall panels.

They are highly versatile

Tiles are highly versatile in design, colors, and patterns. You have the liberty to choose from various types, depending on your taste.

They are more eco-friendly

Tiles made with natural construction materials like ceramics are more green-friendly than some types of shower wall panels, such as one-piece fiberglass and one-day-acrylic wall panels.

They are better for small spaces

In most houses, the bathroom is a small place. The large format of wall panels might make installation hard in such tight spaces. In place of a large bathroom wall panel, you can use tiles, which are small and can also be cut relatively easily.

Disadvantages of Tiles

Shower Wall Panels

Below are some shortcomings of bathroom tiles.

  • They are harder to maintain. Cleaning tiles is more challenging because of the grouting. Grout gets dirty quickly and requires regular cleaning of the tiles.
  • They are heavy. Their weight means they are riskier to install on delicate walls.
  • They are harder to install than tub wall panels as they require grouting, and cutting them to size can be tricky.
  • Grout lines discolor quickly, and the covering loses its original appeal.
  • Mold may grow along the grout lines, causing allergy problems to shower users.

Are Shower Wall Panels Better Than Bathroom Tiles?

Several factors come into play when choosing between using a tile or shower wall panel design in your bathroom renovation, such as the house's architectural theme, your tastes, and the flexibility you need in design and colors.

While both wall coverings have their advantages and disadvantages, shower panels aren't necessarily better than tiles. The choice boils down to the various factors mentioned above.

However, shower wall panels are the favorite material for many people because of the ease of installation, maintenance, and lower cost over a long time. They also work more effectively than tiles.

If you prefer tiles, they are available in many colors and design options. Ceramic tile is also more eco-friendly and you can install them in tight spaces where fitting panels would be stressful because of their large size.

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