Back in the day, the bathroom was as straightforward in terms of design as it could be. The main focus has always been about functionality, but nowadays, bathrooms can sport some pretty impressive aesthetics as well. One of the new entries into the bathroom interior décor is the shower panel, but is it better than the traditional ceramic or porcelain tile?
Well, both shower panels and tiles provide their strengths and weaknesses. In this article, we will dive deep into the features and qualities that shower panels and tiles have to give you a better understanding of their differences. By the end of the discussions, we are confident that you will be able to form a more informed decision as to which between the two will better suit your bathroom preference.
Different Types of Shower Panels
Similar to how bathroom tiles can come in either porcelain, ceramic, or natural stone, the same applies to shower panels. There are four different types of shower panels in the market, each with its advantages and disadvantages.
PVC Shower Panels
PVC or plasticized polyvinyl chloride is a synthetic thermoplastic material known to be highly flexible and widely used in all products. PVC shower panels provide excellent waterproof properties and versatility. This type of shower panel is also incredibly lightweight and is the cheapest option available.
The main drawback of PVC is that it may contain harmful chemicals such as BPA and phthalates. It can also lack in the durability department, but this low-cost option is to be expected.
uPVC Shower Panels
uPVC or unplasticized polyvinyl chloride is an eco-friendlier alternative to the PVC shower panel. The difference between uPVC and PVC is that the former is BPA-free and proves to be safe for both your health and the environment. uPVC is pretty much virtually similar to PVC in terms of versatility. We recommend you opt for the uPVC over the standard PVC shower panels.
Acrylic Shower Panels
Acrylic shower panels offer more durability than our previous two entries with their solid core, which also means it is heavier. This type of shower panel comes in a wide variety of colors and designs with an appearance similar to glass panels.
Acrylic shower panels are more hygienic, durable, and chemical-free. That said, this type of shower panel is more expensive than PVC and uPVC panels.
Laminate Shower Panels
Also known as Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF), laminated shower panels provide the highest durability with their thicker and heavier construction. In addition, laminated shower panels featured a water-resistant core and were sandwiched via high-pressure lamination for more enhanced waterproofing. As a result, the laminated shower panel is incredibly durable and is considered a high-end option.
The uPVC shower panel is the most popular of the four due to its affordable price tag, decent durability, and excellent versatility. A uPVC shower panel also has mold and mildew-resistant properties.
Should You Pick Shower Panels Over Bathroom Tiles?
One of the biggest reasons to choose shower panels over tiles is that you will only require a handful of panels to cover the entirety of your bathroom wall. This makes the installation process more manageable and straightforward as three shower panels can cover a surface area that would take a dozen tiles to complete.
A shower panel will create a more modern aesthetic that might not be to everyone’s taste. If you are aiming for a traditional bathroom look, a shower panel will not be able to deliver on that goal. To go into further detail, we compiled a list of advantages regarding shower panels and tiles.
The Advantages of Shower Panels
No Grout Needed and Easy Installation
As anyone who installed their own tiles can attest, grouting can be incredibly time-consuming. Well, with a shower panel, there will be no need for grouting at all. Not only does this make installation significantly faster, but it also means that you do not need to worry about maintaining and cleaning those tile joints. As a result, shower panels are easier to install and easier to maintain.
Speaking of easier to install, shower panel installation is as straightforward as it can be:
- Install moisture-resistant drywall.
- Apply adhesive evenly to both the shower panel and drywall.
- Attach the shower panel to the drywall and seal the joints.
That’s pretty much everything you will need to do to install a shower panel. Plus, you don’t need a ton of tools which makes shower panel installation less messy.
Contemporary Aesthetics and Convenience
Along with being easy to install, shower panels create a modern vibe regarding the bathroom’s décor. Shower panels are not just water-resistant, though, as it is also effortless to maintain and clean. In addition, shower panels have an excellent mold and mildew-resistant surface. You must clean shower panels less than ceramic tiles, which need regular scrubbing to prevent stains from water and soap.
Another notable reason to choose shower panels is that it is considerably cheaper than tiles. Also, despite being more affordable, shower panels do not skimp on durability and even offer decent longevity with proper care and maintenance.
Easier to Repair
If you have a tiled bathroom wall, the worst-case scenario is to wake up and find out that there is a water leak coming from somewhere beneath the wall. Repairing will mean you need to remove the tiles, which equates to buying replacements and going through the whole installation process again. With a shower panel, repairs are relatively straightforward, quick, and cheap.
The Advantages of Bathroom Tiles
Nothing beats the polished and professional look of a tiled bathroom. While laminated shower panels come close to providing a near-identical appearance of a high-quality tile, nothing beats the original. Additionally, you can mix and match hundreds of tile color combinations, giving tiles flexibility for designs.
A single shower panel can measure up to 200mm to 1,000mm in width. Now, while this will make installation easier as shower panels can cover a larger surface in one go, it can also get tricky to fit it into the bathroom door. If you live in a small apartment, getting the shower panel into the bathroom can be a hassle. This is not the case with tiles, as the average measurement is 300mm x 300mm (12 x 12 inches) or less.
Also, tiles offer more flexibility in smaller rooms with lots of corners and edges. Yes, installing the tiles will take a bit of time, but the results are guaranteed to be outstanding.
Tiles Are Easily Accessible
You can pretty much acquire tiles at your local hardware store and have a vast selection of designs to boot. On the flip side, it seems that shower panels have yet to be fully tapped into the accessibility part. We tried to look for available shower panels at three local hardware stores, and our choices were extremely limited compared to the options that tiles offered.
While uPVC and acrylic shower panels are considered eco-friendly, it is not even in the vein of tiles. Tiles made from ceramic and glass are made from natural resources and are recyclable as well. So if you want to go to an entirely environment-friendly route, tiles are your best bet.
Shower Panels or Tiles? Which Should You Choose?
As you can see, both options are evenly matched in terms of the advantages that they offer. It will all boil down to the preference of the consumer. If you are going for a cost-effective, sleek, functional, and modern aesthetic for your bathroom, we suggest you go with shower panels. If you have a more traditional taste, tiles best fit your needs. Either way, both are sensible options depending on what you want.
Hopefully, this article helped you determine whether you should go with a shower panel or tiles concerning your bathroom. Shower panels have that uniquely contemporary edge if you want to inject something different into your bathroom’s décor. For those who are going with shower panels, we recommend you go with uPVC shower panels as these offer the most well-rounded qualities of the four types.
A uPVC shower panel is BPA-free, it is lightweight, there are tons of designs and colors to choose from, and it does not look as plastic as acrylic shower panels. Plus, uPVC shower panels are incredibly cheap while still being a good quality purchase.