Prefabricated vs. Custom Tile Showers

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One of the most popular rooms to renovate, a bathroom remodel often centers around the shower and tub. 

This presents homeowners with a crucial choice: prefabricated shower stall or custom tile? 

There are pros and cons to each; I dive into the details below to help you make an informed decision!

Prefabricated Shower

Prefabricated shower units are made of acrylic or fiberglass and shipped to your home in one or multiple pieces. The choice between one-piece or multi-piece is typically determined by practical factors, like whether a one-piece unit can fit through the doorway of a home. For this reason, one-piece units are more popular when building a home or adding on to one when they can be installed before the doorframe. Prefabricated showers can be installed by professionals or DIYers fairly quickly. Once considered a subpar option, they have risen in popularity in recent years as they have become available in a huge variety of textures, colors, and designs.

Pros

There are many pros to a prefabricated shower. First, they tend to be more cost-effective than custom tiled showers. They are also much easier and quicker to install; you can even do it yourself. They are very easy to clean and maintain as they have few or no seams for water and dirt to accumulate in. They are usually very lightweight, which can be important if you have doubts about the structural integrity of your floors, such as in an older home.

Cons

One of the main cons to a prefabricated shower is size limitations. Most units only come in standard sizes and ordering a custom size can get very pricey. There’s also the issue of repairs. While it’s fairly easy to replace a cracked tile, prefabricated showers are more tricky. If your shower cracks, your only options are to make a visible repair with a fiberglass repair kit or replace the entire thing. If you’re the environmentally conscious type, it’s important to note that these showers are less environmentally friendly, as they are made of materials that will not decompose. Finally, there is simply less creative freedom when ordering something premade than when designing it yourself.

Custom Built Tile Shower

Unlike prefabricated showers, tile showers are built onsite. A carpenter constructs a frame and walls it in with cement, then a tiler finishes the job. Custom tile showers sometimes use factory made shower pans, other times the whole shower is tiled. This method tends to be more expensive than pre-fabrication but also allows for a greater range of customization.

Pros

As previously mentioned, one notable pro of going custom is that there are literally thousands of design options to choose from so that you can get the exact look you’re after. You can also be more precise with sizing, filling any space perfectly. Tile is made of natural materials and is therefore more environmentally friendly. Finally, tile is usually considered a more high-end material and can add value to your home.

Cons

If cost is a concern, a tiled shower may not be the thing for you, as they can easily become very expensive. They are also much more labor intensive and may take days even for the pros to complete. They require more maintenance than prefabricated showers, as all those tiny grout lines will need to be cleaned and sealed on a regular basis to prevent mildew and cracking. 

Ultimately, there are many factors that go into choosing the right kind of shower remodel, such as cost, style, and resale value. With careful consideration and research, you can choose the right type of shower for your home and make the most of your bathroom remodel.

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