Posted on: 10.10.2023 Posted by: Редакция Comments: 0

Designing a bathroom is fun and exciting… and really overwhelming. There are about a million decisions to make. And with a bathroom, every design element also needs to be selected for its functionality. Take the shower, for example. Shower design is often the centerpiece of a bathroom and important, but it also needs to function efficiently. What is the best shower surface for decor and function?

Must a shower wall be tiled? The shortest answer is no, a shower technically does not need to be tiled for functional or aesthetic reasons. Tiles are just one of many ways to design and build a shower.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t choose a tiled shower. Whether you’re giving your current shower a facelift or starting from scratch in a brand new bathroom, there are a few hurdles to overcome when selecting how the shower will look and how it will function. Keep reading to get more information that will help you decide what’s right for you… tiles or not.

Must a shower wall be tiled?

Again, no, it doesn’t. A shower wall does not need to be tiled. In fact, there are ready-made showers without tiles available at a home improvement store, just waiting to be brought home and installed. Right this minute. And they are not tiled, but rather a combination of plastic and fiberglass.

Tiles are not everything when it comes to a waterproof and aesthetically appealing shower. There are many options, like the ones we just talked about.

Why are so many showers tiled then?

Tiled surfaces are ideal for bathrooms for several reasons. It’s one of the most common, if not the most common, choice for showers.


Probably the most important factor when tiling a shower is selecting a waterproof material. Since showers are used for showering, the walls should be made of something that can withstand frequent use and prevent water from escaping the area.


Tiles come in nearly every imaginable color and shape. No matter what color scheme you have in mind, there is undoubtedly a tile that perfectly matches it and helps you experience the shower of your dreams.

Semi-slip resistant

While this is more important for the shower floor, it’s also worth mentioning when it comes to shower walls. Showers can be dangerous places for some of us who tend to be a bit clumsy, so having a non-slip wall is crucial to ensure that a small slip doesn’t turn into a fall.

Hygienic reasons

Bathrooms, along with other areas where it’s highly moist and wet, are the perfect hiding place for all kinds of nasty bacteria. Tiles are a surface that is easy to clean and doesn’t allow bacteria to get into corners and crevices and form little bacteria families. Many tiles, such as ceramic, are also free of the following aggressive chemicals and components that can potentially be harmful to health:

  • Allergens
  • Formaldehyde
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
  • Plastic
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Various types of tiles for shower walls

As mentioned earlier, the possibilities for tiles are virtually endless. Seeing all the different options in tiles can be truly inspiring, or it can make your head spin with all the choices available. Here are the most common options used for tiling shower walls.

Marble and stone tiles

Marble and stone tiles provide the overall luxury that some people desire in a shower. However, this comes with a hefty price tag. Marble and stone tiles are also quite fragile and need to be professionally installed.

Not only is it important for these tiles to be installed correctly, but they also require more care than other tile options. Marble and stone tiles need to be sealed and then resealed. This prevents staining and discoloration.

Marble and stone tiles are also limited in availability as they come from natural sources. They are not artificial materials.

There is also no good, affordable marble. In order for marble tiles to be efficient shower materials, they need to be of higher quality. But if budget is not a concern and you’re looking for a wow factor, then marble and stone tiles are an option.

Glass tiles

Glass is fairly new to the shower tile scene, considering how long some of the others have been around. Ceramic and porcelain tiles, for example, have literally been used for centuries.

Glass tiles are a popular choice because they make a shower appear visually and physically larger due to their ability to let light pass through. All that light and reflection are great in a shower that can already feel small.

Another bonus of glass tiles is the cleaning factor. With just a little glass cleaner, your tile will look as shiny as new. Showers easily get infiltrated with soap scum, but glass cleaner can take care of that too. Vinegar is another option to keep the glass looking fresh and new.

Many choose glass tiles to fit into a more modern design in a shower, but because it’s so versatile, it can be customized to almost any style. Glass tiles are also budget-friendly as there are simply so many to choose from.


While they are ancient materials, porcelain and ceramic tiles are tried and true. This is the most popular option because they have been around for so long and have proven themselves worthy of tiling a shower efficiently.

Porcelain/ceramic tiles are incredibly easy to care for. Part of their manufacturing involves a process that covers them with a protective glaze, which also means they are easy to clean. Win-win!

Again, you have options in this tile department. Since ceramic tiles are made by human hands, they can be made to fit any style or design. There are actually companies that manufacture custom tiles, so these tiles truly are whatever you can imagine.

Reasons not to tile

Tiles are the most common choice for showers. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to think about… the non-tile side. While there are many proponents of tiles out there who firmly believe in them, there are some reasons not to tile. Here are a few to consider before committing to tile a shower wall.

Grout & seams

Tiles require grout. This can be an interesting design element and serves to keep the tile in place. It’s also part of the overall tiling system that gives tiled shower walls their strength and waterproofness.

But grout and seams are also weak points if not properly maintained. Grout can crack, leading to broken tiles or gaps that are not as waterproof. While this is not inevitable, it does require a certain amount of care and caution to prevent tiled walls from cracking and crumbling where grout is present.

Can be difficult to clean and maintain

Many tiles can be wiped clean to stay that way. But dealing with grout takes a bit more time and effort. There are many specialized cleaning products that can be used to keep the grout clean, but in the end, they are not easy to use and cleaning grout is not a fun activity.

If the grout is not sealed and maintained, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria and other nasty things. So even though nobody enjoys cleaning grout, the alternative is much worse.

The floor is another challenge

If you choose to tile the shower wall, there’s still the floor to deal with. You can spend more money to tile it, or you can opt for a prefabricated floor or pan. The tiled floor will look nice, but it will also add more money to the budget. Many therefore opt for the pan.

This is also hard to clean, especially since they are mostly white or beige most of the time. The part of the shower where the tiles or layout meet the wall can also be left vulnerable to potential leaks. Shifting and setting the flooring can cause the shower floor to detach from the tiled wall, leaving it open to all sorts of problems.

Professional installation

If you want the tile done right, it will likely take a professional to do it. There are way too many things that can go wrong. So unless you’re really confident in your tiling skills, not to mention your measuring skills, attention span, and patience, then it’s best to leave it to a professional.

Finding a quality professional can also be a bit more challenging than it initially seems. The possibility of something going wrong without an experienced professional is long… really long. And trust me, you don’t want to learn that the hard way. Best to ask for references and even a portfolio when looking for someone to do your tile work.

Requires a lot of tools

Let’s say you’re ready to take on the tiling job yourself. And you’re pretty confident that you won’t end up with crooked shower walls in the end. Tiling still requires a lot of tools. Not just ordinary tools that are most likely in your garage or even your neighbor’s.

The amount you’ll probably spend on additional tools besides the tile and grout will likely be comparable to what you’d spend on a professional. Then you’ll be left with a few tools that you probably won’t need anymore, especially if the project was a little less fun than you originally hoped.

Tile can be expensive

In addition to finding someone to install the tile, if you want something that looks really great, you have to be willing to spend a lot of money. Tiling a large space like a shower wall can get expensive, and that’s just for the tile alone, not even including the professional.

Possible repairs

While the actual materials that are used to make the tile are durable and easy to clean, the grout in between, as we discussed, is a different story. If you drop a huge bottle of shampoo right in the right spot on the grout, it can lead to chipping or cracking.

If a small crack or chip is not fixed right away, water can get under the tiles and cause all sorts of havoc. Tiles can break, but even worse, you might be dealing with serious leaks and water damage.

So, what’s out there in the non-tile department?

Yes, most people opt for bathroom tiles for the reasons stated above. But if you’re just not sure if tiles are right for you or not, or you’re like me and don’t want to commit to a decision until you know there’s nothing better out there, then consider these tile alternatives.

Resin stone

Resin stone gives tiles a run for their money in the durability department. While the upfront costs are higher than most tile options, it lasts longer than any other option due to its durability. And it looks great. This means you really need to be confident in your design choice when committing to installing resin stone shower walls.

If your home is in a location where it can get cold, this could be a great option. Resin stone stays warm under your toes. But that makes texture choice especially important as too smooth a surface will definitely become slippery when wet.

This choice also scores points because it is resistant to nearly everything bad, including:

  • Scrapes
  • Chips
  • Cracks
  • Mold


A marble slab can be customized to fit into any shower, but it is almost always more expensive than marble tiles. Marble is a completely custom option, where no two marble showers are identical.

But marble is not only upfront costly as it’s created for a specific space, it also requires a lot of maintenance and care to ensure it looks good at all times. However, when properly maintained, marble can essentially last forever. And like resin stone, it is resistant to chipping, scratching, as well as mold.

Acrylic panels

Being panels made of solid materials, there are no seams. That makes them even more efficient at being waterproof. In addition to seamlessness, there is an added coverage as the acrylic is infused with fiberglass, making it a completely pore-free surface.

Again, this material scores with its easy cleaning. It is smooth and has no hidden spots where mold or bacteria can hide. Acrylic panels are also a good choice because they are durable and won’t easily break or dent.

Stainless steel

With the growing popularity of modern and industrial design, stainless steel has been making its way into homes in recent years. But more recently, it has made its way into shower design. This material may be the ultimate in elegant, contemporary design.

While stainless steel sheets are becoming more and more popular, they do require more maintenance and care to ensure they look good and function optimally. Stainless steel showers need to be professionally installed by a skilled professional. They need to be caulked between the panels and behind the panels with silicone.

Stainless steel commits to cleaning as well. Cleaning a stainless steel shower requires a lot of muscle but also needs to be done frequently. With proper care, a stainless steel shower can be very long-lasting.


We’ve briefly mentioned PVC showers, but here’s a somewhat deeper look for those who are considering this tile alternative. Showers made of PVC panels are often the most affordable option and easy to install.

PVC panels in a shower are great because they are seamless, like acrylic panels. There is no opportunity for mold or bacteria to grow on the panels themselves. And without seams, no water can get behind the shower and cause problems.

PVC panels are also durable, making them good for kids’ bathrooms or other places that need to be cleaned frequently, and can handle being bumped by bathtub toys here and there.

A shower made of PVC panels is affordable and looks good. When kept clean, it can last quite a while. Not to mention, if something happens and a repair is needed, it can be easily done without costing a small fortune.

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