surrounds/wall tile | Cabinets
& countertops | Finish
plumbing, HVAC & electrical | Carpet
| Hardware installation
inspection | Punch
list & final clean
There are several types of shower and tub surrounds.
The traditional surround is wall tile/marble. However,
cultured marble, fiberglass surround and one piece
fiberglass tub and shower units are very popular.
The preparation for tile cultured marble and a fiberglass
surround is about the same. The plumber installs a
steel or cast iron tub, backing is attached around
the tub (either water-resistant drywall (green board"
or cement board), the surround is attached to the
backing. Cement board commonly known as wonderboard™,
tile backer or backing board is superior to drywall
in this application.
Green board is a type of water resistant drywall.
If water gets behind the surround mold mildew will
grow. Eventually the tiles will loosen and need to
be replaced. A green board backing will generally
last 15-20 years if it is well-maintained.
Cement board is made of light-weight cement and aggregate.
Even if water is able to get behind the surround material
it won't mildew or rot.
This is the most economical solution for a tub/shower
arrangement. The tub and walls are formed out of fiberglass
into a single unit. The unit is installed during the
plumbing rough-in stage. The unit is not as solid
as a steel or cast iron tub but it won't leak unless
the fiberglass is damaged.
Advantages: patterns and colors are virtually unlimited,
aesthetically pleasing, Strong and resilient.
Disadvantages: Expensive, hard to clean, will probably
need replacing after 15-20 years depending on maintenance
and backing material, Grout can crack allowing water
behind the tile
Advantages: Inexpensive, won't leak unless it is damaged,
fairly strong, quick installation
Disadvantages: Looks cheap, limited colors and styles,
can leak if caulking deteriorates around edges.
Advantages: Very solid and heavy, won't leak, aesthetically
pleasing, Will never wear out. it is cut from large
sheet to just about any size or design.
Disadvantages: expensive compared to fiberglass surround,
doesn't look quite as nice as ceramic tile, can leak
if caulking deteriorates.
Advantages: Cheapest option, installs quick, no need
for backing around the tub, will not leak unless fiberglass
Disadvantages: Looks cheap, the fiberglass tub is
flimsy compared to a cast iron tub, not as comfortable
as most cast iron tubs, limited selection of colors
The surrounds are installed after the painting is
complete. It is not a critical path item, and generally
all the surrounds can be installed in 1-2 days.
In "show" bathrooms or master baths it is
a good idea to avoid fiberglass surrounds or one-piece
fiberglass units. However, for a general bathroom
or a kids bathroom they work fine and can save you