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What is the Best Shower Wall Material? Full Comparison

A tile shower that is gray and has different colors and types of tiles, also showing the shower head which is silver and black.

Picking a good material for the shower wall should be one of your priorities if you are thinking of renovating your bathroom. There are many options on the market, each of them with pros and cons. I’ve dealt with a lot of dilemmas involving shower walls in the past. After encountering one too many dilemmas with a certain material, I decided to do a thorough search for some of the best materials to use for my bathroom.

What is the best shower wall material? Tiles are a popular option because of their waterproof qualities. Acrylic is also preferred for easy installation and affordability. These are the two most common materials, but we have also listed other options that could work just as efficiently.

These are some of the best options out there. When I made this list, I considered:

  • price
  • cost
  • style
  • functionality

If you want to find the ideal material for your shower wall, then read on to learn more.

Tile Shower Wall

As mentioned above, tile is a popular option for shower walls. However, it comes in various types that are hard to choose from. I’ve included some of the benefits and drawbacks of using these types of tiles below for easy comparison and selection

#1: Glass Tiles for a Shower Wall

Glass tiles, sold on Amazon, are a great choice if the style is a top factor in your list of priorities, it makes your bathroom look bright and fashionable. The shiny surface of glass tiles can add a vibrant sheen to your shower.

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It’s one of the more expensive options on this list, but glass is known to be a superior option in terms of durability and aesthetics. Glass tiles are also easier to clean compared to other types, thanks to their smooth surface.

Pros of Glass Tiles for a Shower Wall:

  • contributes to aesthetics
  • durable material
  • easier to clean than most tiles
  • easy to replace if broken

Cons of Glass Tiles for a Shower Wall:

  • expensive
  • not crack-proof

#2: Ceramic Tiles for a Shower Wall

Ceramic tiles, which can be found on Amazon, are a cheaper alternative for a more decorative approach to your shower wall material. Like glass tiles, ceramic tiles come in various:

  • designs
  • styles
  • colors

This allows you to mix and match between each type to see what suits your preferences the most. Ceramic tiles are:

  • durable
  • water-resistant
  • long-lasting, up to ten years

Their cleaning process is also quite simple, it only needs to be wiped it down with a clean cloth. However, keep in mind that ceramic tiles are prone to mold growth, so keep track of the temperature inside your shower and check the tiles regularly for mold.

Pros of Ceramic Tiles for a Shower Wall:

  • durable
  • many style and color options
  • cheaper than most tiles
  • easy to clean

Cons of Ceramic Tiles for a Shower Wall:

  • installation may be more expensive
  • slippery, depending on the style
  • prone to mold
  • not crack-proof
A pink ceramic tile wall with a square shaped silver shower head.
Ceramic tile comes in many colors and styles

#4: Porcelain Tiles for a Shower Wall

Porcelain tiles, which are sold on Amazon, are similar to ceramic tiles in terms of their wide list of options in style and design. However, porcelain tiles may be a more practical option because they are made with a less porous material. Both are water-resistant but since porcelain absorbs less water, it has a higher chance of lasting longer compared to ceramic.

Porcelain tiles are fairly simple to clean as well, just wipe the tiles down with a clean cloth until they’re good as new. One of the biggest cons is that it’s prone to mold, so keep a close eye on the tiles to make sure they don’t develop too much mold.

Pros of Porcelain Tiles for a Shower Wall:

  • durable
  • can easily be replaced
  • easy to clean
  • less porous
  • water resistant
  • stain resistant

Cons of Porcelain Tiles for a Shower Wall:

  • installation may be more expensive
  • prone to cracks or dents
  • slippery surface

#5: Stone Tiles for a Shower Wall

Stone tiles, sold on Amazon, are one of the most durable and classy options on the market. Its material exudes an elegant vibe, which makes a bathroom look effortlessly sophisticated and stunning.

These are also one of the best options for durability, compared to other types of tiles. Stone tiles are the most water-resistant type of tiles, so they are less prone to water-related damage and last longer.

However, the main drawback is that they are quite hard to maintain. Stone tiles need to be:

  • sealed often
  • checked for mold
  • cleaned regularly

Pros of Stone Tiles for a Shower Wall:

  • long-lasting and durable
  • elegant aesthetics
  • water-resistant

Cons of Stone Tiles for a Shower Wall:

  • high maintenance
  • more expensive than other tiles
  • prone to mold, chips, and stains

#6: Marble Tiles for a Shower Wall

Marble tiles, found on Amazon, are a well-known and popular choice for aesthetic purposes. Due to its stylish and elegant design, marble has become a go-to option for homeowners who want to take their bathroom’s visuals to the next level.

The material is lightweight and fairly easy to clean, but the performance may depend on what type of marble. Some types of marble can damage the walls, while some may be prone to rust because of their material.

It’s best to do your research before getting marble tiles. If you want a high-class and sophisticated-looking bathroom, then marble is the way to go. However, since marble is a natural stone tile, be prepared for high-maintenance practices like resealing.

Pros of Marble Tiles for a Shower Wall:

  • stunning design
  • durable
  • fairly easy to clean and polish

Cons of Marble Tiles for a Shower Wall:

  • needs to be resealed frequently
  • expensive
  • likely to develop cracks
  • not stain-proof
A woman with an apron cleaning large marble shower tiles.
Marble tile is easy to clean but is not stain-proof

NOTE: For ideas on tile trim for your shower, read this article!

Alternative Options for Shower Wall Material

Tile offers good performance but it also has some setbacks, mostly with mold growth and maintenance. Some of the cons of tiles seem to have a common theme, so I decided to look for non-tile alternatives that would fill in the gaps of where tiles are lacking. Some of the items in this list include:

  • acrylic
  • plastic
  • wallpaper

Although a few of these materials sound a bit questionable at first, they perform quite well in certain aspects.

#1: Acrylic for a Shower Wall

Acrylic, like this kit sold on Amazon, is the next best material compared to tile for a shower wall. It offers a solution to tile’s biggest issue, which is cleaning the grout and the tendency to grow mold.

Unlike tiles, acrylic shower walls come in one big slab so there are no gaps in the material to clean. There isn’t any space for water to seep in or for mold to develop either.

Acrylic is considerably sturdy and easier to clean. It’s also much cheaper compared to glass tiles, despite offering similarities in aesthetics and performance. Acrylic is great if you are looking for a cheaper and more practical alternative to glass tiles.

However, keep in mind that the material is also prone to scratches and dents.

Pros of Acrylic for a Shower Wall:

  • cheaper than glass tile
  • easy installation
  • less likely to develop mold
  • less prone to water damage

Cons of Acrylic for a Shower Wall:

  • prone to dents and scratches

#2: Single Sheet Plastic for a Shower Wall

Single sheet plastic, sold on Amazon, is possibly one of the most convenient options for a shower wall. Like acrylic, it comes in a large slab that you can install at once, making the installation process much faster compared to the tedious task of installing tiles.

This is also one of the most affordable options and offers great value for money. It’s completely waterproof, so the chance of water damage is unlikely. Since it comes in a large sheet with no gaps, you won’t have to deal with grout.

Single sheet plastic isn’t the best option for style. While it comes in many colors, the finish and texture of the material may look tacky in some settings. However, if durability and quality are your priority, then single sheet plastic is a solid option.

Pros of Single Sheet Plastic for a Shower Wall:

  • easy to clean
  • affordable
  • completely Waterproof
  • easy installation process

Cons of Single Sheet Plastic for a Shower Wall:

  • not stylish
  • logistical issues due to its large size

#3: Laminated Shower Wall Panels

Laminated wall panels are similar to single sheet plastic walls but are considered superior in terms of style. It looks classier compared to single sheet plastic and has been compared to materials like ceramic tiles.

This type of material can also be placed over existing tiles, so the installation process takes less time. Laminated panels are not flimsy at all, but they are easier to cut compared to other materials. As long as you have the right tools at home, then you can cut the panels yourself.

They’re fairly easy to clean and do not develop water spots easily, so they look good as new for a long time if they are maintained properly. Take note that laminated wall panels can be quite heavy, so it’s best to have someone help you out or have it delivered directly to your home.

Pros of Laminated Panels for a Shower Wall:

  • great options for design
  • highly resistant to water
  • cheaper than ceramic tiles
  • easy to clean

Cons of Laminated Panels for a Shower Wall:

  • heavy and hard to transport
  • there are cheaper options with similar quality, like acrylic

#4: Microcement for a Shower Wall

Microcement is slowly becoming more popular as an option for shower walls. The best part about this material is that it is naturally waterproof, which makes it more durable and long-lasting compared to other shower wall materials by default.

The aesthetics are similar to stone but are made with a different material. Microcement is made from a concrete-based mixture that you can spread over your walls. It can go over existing tiles as well, so it eliminates the need to remove your tiles for replacement.

It’s best to have a professional mix and install microcement for your bathroom walls. The outcome is greatly affected by how the mixture is applied to the walls, so it needs to be installed with care and precision.

Pros of Microcement for a Shower Wall:

  • durable material
  • completely waterproof
  • highly resistant to cracks and dents
  • low maintenance and affordable

Cons of Microcement for a Shower Wall:

  • looks plain compared to other options
  • need to be applied with special care, otherwise, it may crack easily

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

#1: What is the best shower wall material?

If you want your bathroom to look posh and beautiful, then materials like marble and glass tiles are the best choice. If you don’t care much for aesthetics and want to focus on functionality and longevity, then single sheet plastic or acrylic could be your ideal materials.

For a mix of both, stone tiles get the job done. However, be prepared for some extensive maintenance.

I think all of the options mentioned are great in their own ways, which is why I included them in the list. However, the best shower is ultimately be decided based on what you need the most. In short, it depends on what you are looking for.

A white tile shower wall with a clear shower curtain pushed to the side, with some mold discoloration growing in the tile grout.
Tile grout is known for growing mold

#2: What is the easiest shower wall to clean and maintain?

The easiest materials to maintain are a single slab or grout-free materials like single-sheet plastic or acrylic. These two materials are waterproof and don’t require any elaborate cleaning practices.

Wiping the surface down with a clean cloth is usually enough. It doesn’t have any grout, so it’s easier to clean and less likely to develop mold or mildew because it has no gaps. If you want a simple and hassle-free experience, go for single-sheet plastic and acrylic.

#3: Which material is better for a shower wall: fiberglass or acrylic?

Acrylic and fiberglass are often compared due to their similar finish and durability. They are both considered affordable shower wall materials. They are also faster and easier to install.

In terms of design, acrylic has more colors and styles to choose from. On the other hand, fiberglass offers insulation properties that minimize sounds produced in the shower.

They’re similar even in their drawbacks. Neither fiberglass nor acrylic is scratch-proof, but acrylic is more advanced in durability. It’s harder to scratch and penetrate and is proven to last longer.  Overall, both are good options.


Before choosing your shower wall material, consider:

  • style
  • durability
  • cost
  • other factors

Based on my experience, the materials I listed in this article are some of the best you can find on the market. They’re not perfect, but the longevity and condition of your shower walls ultimately depend on how you maintain them. Do your research and consider your options before making the final decision.

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