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How do you feel about solid surface (Corian) shower walls vs tile?

I have installed both types of material and the look is much different between the two products. I am looking for your incite on what you have used ad felt was a superior product and why.

Comments (91)

  • daisychain Zn3b
    3 years ago

    Starting a new thread will bring more attn to a post rather than attaching to an old thread.

  • Nancy in Mich
    3 years ago

    Unless you only want attention from people interested in the solid surface discussion.

    Bebe Larson, I like how you used the Corian base to ensure a waterproof shower but still got the tile look you like. The bench top ties the Corian together with the stone tile very nicely and gives it a clean and modern look. I like how you chose a Corian color that is also in the wisps in the stone pattern. It is a pretty shower and sure to give you years of easier care than going totally stone.

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  • Nancy in Mich
    3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    If anyone is interested, here is the Transolid ADA shower, installed in my home. Click on the pics to get them back to full size. Houzz crops them.


    Roll-in ADA shower floor with a trench drain. There is a regular drain under the square of solid surface material above the center of the trench. There is also a 1/2" dam that directs the water to the center drain. No problems with the pan over flowing yet, but I do have a floor drain in case that happens.

    See the slightly darker square in the floor tile, about 18" in front of the walnut vanity leg and 18" to the right of the toilet? That is a drain. The entire floor is another shower, sloped with a Kerdi shower product, covered with Kerdi waterproof membrane to about 5" up the wall (behind the baseboards). If my shower overflows (or toilet does or sink leaks or washlet hose develops a hole) my house is not going to flood, because all of those wet things are within the territory of my floor drain. The toilet is shimmed level with plastic shims.

    My rain shower head is in the center of the shower, so I can move freely under it. The two LED lights I had added keep it bright in there.

  • Chuck Tator
    3 years ago

    I absolutely love my solid surface showers. I had tile for many years. I was tired of fighting the mold and mildew, the grout discoloring and grout deterioration. Cleaning it is as simple as spraying and rinsing it off.

  • PRO
    jane
    2 years ago

    Can anyone recommend a Corian bathroom fabricator and installer in the Boston area? We are looking for a Corain shower tray and walls for our bathroom remodel to which we will affix 2 glass panels. Thanks in advance !

  • momfromthenorth
    2 years ago

    While researching solid surface for our own shower surround, (we're removing old tub and converting that space to a walk-in shower) we were told that Corian is no longer selling these units for the residential market. I don't know about commercial. Odd since there are so many other solid surface companies now but maybe they have priced themselves out of the market. Who knows!

  • Gregory Pruss
    2 years ago

    Tile has "never" worked for me in the bathroom or kitchen, cleaning issues, grout problems, leaks, cracks and so on as mentioned above. Corian Products out shine "Tile by ten fold" and well worth the cost in my mind. We have had Corian in two shower in two different homes repair is easy, scratches are buffed out, dull Corian use white polish compound and Corian is bran new. If you want accents in the Corian they can be put into it. We have to redo a shower in our current home and it is Corian all the way.

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    2 years ago

    I'd install a Corian shower at a price competitive to any decent tile. No waterproofing, no grout, repairable, refinishable, mold and mildew proof.

  • Missi (4b IA)
    2 years ago

    If you had an itty bitty (5x7) bathroom, would you put solid surface on *all* the walls, not just the tub surround?

  • Nancy in Mich
    2 years ago

    Missi Rogge, I probably would not do the whole bathroom in solid surface. The room would probably be very lively acoustically and that might transfer to having loud, echoing sounds heard outside of it. Even tile will have small, curved edges that bounce sound waves around in different directions, which makes the room less loud. Some solid surface companies (Swanstone, for one) sell wall cladding that looks like tile and wainscoting and those have a dimensional appearance. Towels and bath rugs also soften sound.

    I fear that doing the whole room in flat solid surface might look more commercial than residential.

  • Mrs Pete
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Solid surface is superior to tile in a shower in nearly every way. Unlike grout, mildew cannot live on solid surface.

    I'll argue with that.

    We recently ripped out the shower original to our 1970-built home. It was just short of 3'x4' ... made of three walls of cultured marble (not too unlike today's Corian) ... and a glass door for the third wall.

    Yes, those solid shower walls DID develop mildew. We'd see a sheen of light gray splotches all over the lower half of the walls, and -- if we didn't jump on them right away -- within two days they'd turn to larger black splotches. On solid walls. Not at the corners. Well, yes, in the corners, but not exclusively in the corners and not emanating from in the corners.

    My thoughts on WHY we had this problem: The ceiling over the shower was "dropped" to about 7' ... so we had only about 8" of open space between the top of the glass doors and the shower ceiling. The bathroom fan was about 2' away from the shower (so, essentially useless). If we left the sliding doors open so the steam could dissipate, we'd get mildew /mold between the doors, and that's hard to clean ... so we opted to close the doors and clean mold on the solid walls, considering it the lesser of two evils.

    What tile does for a home verses what solid surface materials bring to the table is the ability to incorporate timeless, elegant design.

    This is true. Tile is more attractive /has more personality than solid surface. Looks vs. function. It's a trade-off.

    Tile's other strength is that it's easier for a DIYer to install than large panels of solid surface.

    Is marble tile a "shower use" tile?

    Look through this board and see how many people are having trouble with real marble showers. If I liked marble, I'd go for a porcelain-tile look-alike.

    Large tile so hardly any grout on the walls & none on the floor.

    Personally, I think this may be the best option. Large tile is easier to install /less expensive than solid-surface ... and it's less trouble to clean than small tile. I think it's the "sweet spot" between the various options.

    No tile on the floor ... that means a shower pan floor. I agree with that too; I'm not crazy about the feel of the sloped tile flooring under my feet in our hall bathroom.


  • Missi (4b IA)
    2 years ago

    Nancy-I’d actually been looking at the Onyx Collection panels that look like subway tiles. I *think* those are solid surface? Yeah I wouldn’t put in just flat panels. I’d like to tile the whole bathroom but the grout...ugh the idea of grout all over that needs to be cleaned makes my brain twitch. We have such an issue with moisture in the bathroom I thought that would help alleviate some of the yuck. (Besides the need for a better fan)

  • Nancy in Mich
    2 years ago

    Yes, a better fan will do wonders. Mine has a humidity sensor on it, so runs by itself until the room is not damp.


    The Onyx Collection just misses qualifying as a solid surface. It has a gel coating, so it is not the same through-and-through. A true solid surface can be sanded or even a scrubbie can be used to make any marring on the surface disappear. When there is a gel top coat, trying to sand out the scratch or scuff makes the problem worse.

  • Missi (4b IA)
    2 years ago

    Well poop. That's good to know, tho, thank you! I guess I need to find a solid surface place around here and talk to them, find out costs and such.

  • silken1
    2 years ago

    We used Caesarstone Quartz in the thin slabs for our tub/shower surround and some behind our toilet as well at wainscott height. It works well. Just another option.

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago
  • Mrs Pete
    2 years ago

    Corian does not promote the growth of mold, mildew, or bacteria. Third page, item #2.

    - As I said, I had cultured marble in my old shower -- a solid surface, but not specifically Corian.

    - "Does not promote mildew" isn't the same as "Will never, never experience mildew". In the right circumstances, any product will pick up mildew or mold; I explained that my shower wasn't particularly air-circulation-friendly.

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    2 years ago

    There's a reason architects specify Corian for hospital surgical room wall cladding and not granite or tile.

  • Lars
    2 years ago

    I'm in earthquake country too, and we will be redoing bathrooms in Cathedral City soon. BTW, there is no such thing as "The Big One" - it should properly be called "a big one," and that is the term used in Mexico City. There are multiple big ones, and the concept of "The Big One" was created just to scare people. After 1994, we in Los Angeles are waiting for the next big one, as the one in 1994 as "a big one". The term "The Big One" might be applicable for the Pacific NW or Yellowstone, as big events often happen only once in one's lifetime, but I have already been through several big ones, including one in Mexico City. The Landers quake in 1992 was also a big one, and it was much closer to Cathedral City, although I felt it rather strongly in Culver City, where I was living at the time. I moved from Culver City to Venice two weeks after the 1994 quake, and Venice fared much better than Culver City did - the plate glass window in my dining room in Culver City broke and came into the dining room, not to mention what happened in the kitchen.

    Anyway, I have concerns about large slabs on walls in bathrooms, even though I love quartz and have quartz countertops in Los Angeles. Cathedral City is very close to the San Andreas fault, and so there is the potential for a large quake there. I do not intend to buy earthquake insurance because of the expense, and I want to take precautions instead to minimize damage that I might experience.

  • Nancy in Mich
    2 years ago

    Lars, a 1/4" thick sheet of Swanstone or Corian that is glued to your drywall would be the least likely kind of material to crumble and fall during the flexing of walls in an earthquake. Of course it may crack and become useless, as anything would, but it would be less likely to damage surrounding surfaces if some of it fell.

  • Twosit4me
    2 years ago

    I used Swanstone with a subway tile look for my cottage shower. I love it and plan on using something similar for my addition. The only problem I experienced was the caulking used at the bottom was the wrong product and had to be replaced.
    The comment mentioning mold behind the cultured marble....cultured marble is not considered a solid surface.

  • Nancy in Mich
    2 years ago

    Pictures, please Twosit4me!

  • Twosit4me
    2 years ago

    Nancy, I just looked for pictures...I know I have a lot somewhere, but couldn’t,find any. If I don’t locate that file I’ll take another and post when I return in a couple weeks. My daughter just recently observed it wasn’t real subway tile.

  • MikeandTerra VanderSchaaf
    last year

    Just want to comment that Cultured marble is not the same as Corian. Chemical makeup is not the same and if you clean Corian (spray it down) it will not develop mold or mildew. Acoustically it is better than a tile as it absorbs some sound (this is why they use it in airports as decorations on the ceilings).

  • thequadsqueen
    last year

    What are some online vendors for solid surfaces? Especially the custom kits? Need one that goes from floor to ceiling, similar to the Transolid kit Nancy mentioned above.


    Also, what’s a good transition of a walk-in solid surface shower base to vinyl plank flooring?

  • Nancy in Mich
    last year

    I found the largest non-custom wheelchair accessible shower to be my Transolid at 61 x 37.75 inches. Swanstone does one 34” deep with a roll-in style. I decided to have a floor drain installed in my bathroom floor as a back-up in case the shower ever overflowed, and I highly recommend this. It means sloping and waterproofing the room floor as if it were a second shower. My guy used a Kerdi shower floor kit made of hard foam and a Kerdi membrane waterproofing.

    Is this a remodel, or new construction? You have to lower the solid surface shower pan a bit to get it even with an existing floor. We lowered it 3/4 an inch by cutting the subfloor that is under the shower so that it could be installed between the floor joists, even with the top of the joists. Then the 3/4” plywood for the rest of the floor was installed on top of the joists, as usual. When my guy added the foam sloping floor pieces, Kerdi membrane, and small hex floor tile, it came out to be just the right height for meeting up with my shower pan edge. He used a special caulk called KerdiFix on the front of the shower pan to seal that joint between the floor and the shower pan.

    You can see the Transolid showers at the site Bath1.com. They sell kits like mine that you can get to go to the old-fashioned shower height and another kit to go up to the ceiling. They had no experience doing a kit for doing the ceiling, too, but kept sending me molding until they finally got it right. If you are going down to the studs, they have walls with an aluminum mesh backing that is installed right to the studs. For that, they sell a complete dome kit to not only cover the ceiling, but also give you two lights. I could not use that version because my already-purchased shower controls and grab bars would not work with it. It is designed for a single shower control and has reinforced ferrules in place where you would drill through if you are using their grab bars.

  • thequadsqueen
    last year

    Thanks so much for the details Nancy! So everything through Bath1.com? sounds like you contacted Transolis directly to get custom ceiling molding? This is a remodel. we probably will not opt for dropping the shower pan. We were not expecting how few purchase options there are for solid surface, especially given our shower size of 35”x54”x108”, currently tiled.

  • Nancy in Mich
    last year

    Yes everything was through Bath1.com/ They were the only residential sales agent for Transolid at the time. I started out writing to someone at Transolid and he referred me to Bath1 once all my questions were answered and I was ready to buy. I got a plain 36 x 96 sheet of the transolid material for the ceiling. It did not have the lines in it to imitate tiles as the shower kits do. The lines are through-and-through the shower kit material and do resemble grout lines (except they are flat) but since the swirl pattern is over the sheet as a whole, it makes no sense to have the grout lines interrupting the swirls. If they really were tiles, swirl lines would not continue tile-to-tile, they would end at each grout line. So it is silly to try to make the sheets look like tile with 1 ft x 2 ft "grout line" white lines in the swirl patterns. They may look more like tiles in the speckled or solid patterns You have no choice about getting "grout lines" in the handicapped shower size. You get them.


    Bath1 did have the corner moldings I needed for my ceiling-to-wall seams. They are the same as the back wall-to-sidewall seams. They just were not thinking when they sent me the moldings and sent the wrong ones. First, they sent the wrong color, second, they sent flat, not corner, moldings. Finally, they sent the correct corner moldings. They did not charge me for any of the wrong ones and did not want me to return them (their length would cost more to ship than they lost in letting me keep them). I also needed an extra 3 inch rectangular front edge molding for where the ceiling panel met the painted ceiling. That molding is what made the 36 inch wide ceiling panel work for my 37.75 inch wide ceiling. My contractor just had to figure out where exactly to cut the 36 x 96 panel to fit the ceiling, considering the front molding. He also had to cut the moldings for where the ceiling met the walls, including the angle cuts. That is why getting the kit made for new construction is easiest, if you only want one shower head and one shower control. Those angle cuts have to be precise. They sent 96 inch moldings and Jim had to cut them to fit. The kits are all cut to fit. There was no ceiling kit other than the New Construction, mesh-backed dome with lights installed. And I could not use it.


    If you are getting the wheelchair-accessible shower, it is longer than your shower and you will have to build new walls for it. So - you COULD do the proper stud placement for their New Construction mesh=backed kit.


    If you do not want to move your walls, your only option is a Corian pan made to order from Grifform. https://www.grifform.com/custom-shower-pans/

  • Nancy in Mich
    last year

    Also, thequadsqueen, the Transolid barrier free shower pan is listed as 38 x 63. I could not remember the length earlier and may have said 61"

  • Caitlin Veteto
    last year

    Corian would be my choice between the two. I installed an Onyx composite shower (walls and and pan) in my last house. I will never install a tiled shower floor. The composite is so much less maintenance.

  • Lisa S
    8 months ago

    Would love to see any pics of solid surface showers! Thx!

  • Gregory Pruss
    8 months ago

    Hello Lisa, I just find out we do not have Corian in our shower but a close match of it. It's a plastic. The builder in our other house said it was "Corian" and now I'm not so sure. The most important thing to remember is that tile CAN absorbs water. With that comment, the grot is the culprit, letting the water in. The tile seals the water in. Thus leading to mold problems because the wall can not dry out even though it is green board. A seamless system is the way to go. Also when putting in a new shower, I highly recommend a thermostat controlled water supply to the shower. Set the temp at the shower never touch it again. Gröhe was always our first choice. They were bought out. Gröhe's son took over and is now manufacturing faucets. Gröhe was the first to come out with this type of control. Price might be a shocker but the advantage of a Gröhe is well worth it. One can remove the whole valve with out shutting down the whole water system of the house.


  • tamradiane
    7 months ago

    If installing swanstone solid surface panels in a tub shower surround where we'd be having to add a greenboard to glue panels to ( we have fiberglass tub surround to studs) would you suggest kerdi board, or any hardboard that is sealed.

  • Gregory Pruss
    7 months ago
    last modified: 7 months ago

    Hello; when it comes to water I'm just a bit paranoid. Blue board is always my "first choice". On a fiber glass tub there is always a flashing to it. This flashing goes behind the blue board. In my dealings with this bath tub flashing in the past and blue board this seems to work. My "go to" sealer is Plumbers GOOP "work fast" when applying. What your trying to prevent is moisture getting to where it does not belong. I also would use an OIL based paint on the blue board to seal it up. If you "think" water might get into it somehow. I would look closely and see how water intrusion could be prevented.

    As far as "hardwood" is concerned." IT' S Wood"... Wood can be labor intensive and in a moisture environment where shrinking and swelling might occur. "Hardwood", outside Doors are a prime example. I have always loved a magoney doors on old buildings. They are just beautiful. Till I owned a Magoney door. From now on I'll just admire them from afar.

    "Hardboard" is a material of concrete in nature. I think this is what your referring? Concrete absorbs water and "holds it" Not too familiar with "KERDI" board. One wants water not to be absorbed. Some one had the idea to use Concrete board under tile. Lay the concrete board down then plastic or the other way to keep moisture out. Once moisture gets into that area how do you get it out?

    I hope I answered your question.

  • tamradiane
    7 months ago

    Can anyone tell me which they like better Corian or Swanstone for shower surround?

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    7 months ago

    Corian is the best shower wall cladding available.

  • Gregory Pruss
    7 months ago
    last modified: 7 months ago

    I've had both. Corian is my first choice. For easy cleaning. The way our Corian was installed was a 1/4 in of Corian over blueboard. Edges were then thickened by a 1/2" / 2" edging of Coian glued on to the 1/4" Corian and edged with a electric rotor. This thicked edge was what received the glass enclosure for the shower.

  • rxn254
    6 months ago

    Years ago I had Dorian countertops. You could take the shiny finish of it, if you used a scrubby. Do these corian shower panels have the same problem? Do I have to be careful scrubbing them so as not to scratch the shiny surface.

  • Gregory Pruss
    6 months ago

    Good question. The answer is yep. I do not scrub the surface of the shower. I use a rubber 2' long window cleaner after showering. This removes soap scum. With no problems to the surface. If I need to scrub the shower surface "Corian" I now use the Dremel tool battery scrubber deal model #PC 10-01 does a great job quick and easy with a car polish and a light abrasive in the polish. Try it you'll like it.

  • ghgardz28
    6 months ago

    How do I find a local place to purchase Corian Shower walls and base? Im in Columbus OH, havent had much luck finding anything. Thanks...

  • PRO
  • Gregory Pruss
    6 months ago

    Hello Joseph. The base of the shower cannot be Corian, last time I heard it is just not made. Shower bases will have to be cultured marble they come in preformed sizes. That means you shower will have a specific size due to the base. Home Depot has them I did a quick look. There are other companies that sell cultured Marble shower bases in various sizes and some companies do custom sizes.......at extra cost. I highly suggest you might look into them.

    Down side is the shipping cost it heavy stuff and somewhat brittle.

    Corian shower sides usually are a 1/4 inch in thickness. Prices vary all over the place I had to get a 1/2 thick piece of Corian glued together. Many contractors wanted 250.00 for a single 36" glue joint. I found someone to do it for 25.00. It took awhile. I found out later, due to miscommunication they thought they had to remove the countertop. Thats what "they" said. The people that did the glue joint for me where kitchen cabinet guys when work was slow although they were wonderful to deal with. These are also the people to contact if you need a used Corian. I when into there shop and found some odd sized Corian old cabinet tops which they were willing to sell. (this leads back to the glue joint) Just let you know there might be other avenues. The shower guys I have found are a little on the pricy side I'm not sure why.

  • JJ Mekai
    6 months ago

    @Bebe Larson, your shower is beautiful! Could you share purchasing information, color, etc. for your tile and Corian color? Is your shower curbless?

  • Gregory Pruss
    6 months ago

    Hey, JJ With the advent of stone top kitchen cabinets....granite, marble A MORE heat tolerable substance than Corian. Corian has fallen to the way side some what. Colors for me are: "What works at the time" and then PUNT. You used the term TILE and i'm still not a fan of the product. The base that I use are cultured marble "With a lip / curb as I have mentioned before I'm just a bit paranoid of water. I would use a none lip / curb-less shower pan on the beach. To answer your question, I would call around to kitchen cabinet guys and see what they might have on hand as far as Corian goes. That's the best I can offer, building here is "ON THE MOVE" to get someone on the phone from a kitchen cabinet place will be short of a miracle, this goes the same with the shower installers "tough" to get a hold of.

    Shower fittings; I am a fan of Grohe products a German company they were the 1st (?) to come out with the temp control valve. You set the temp and every time you step in the shower it is the same temp.

    A real nice feature and worth it. When removing the shower valve if things "go wrong" you can isolate the valve ( turn off the water ) at the shower this is part of the Grohe experience. However they were bought out. They are now part of an Asian firm. Grohe's son has now come out with a product line of shower fittings I would look into. I've had Grohe in three homes and have never regretted it. I hate doing plumbing.

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    6 months ago

    Gregory:


    Obviously you didn't click on the link I provided. Corian shower bases are not only still made, there are superior to any other. You don't need heat tolerance in a shower. Depends upon whom you're showering with I suppose.

  • Gregory Pruss
    6 months ago

    Sorry I did not see it. It would have been nice to reference it to something. Like Corian is available at this site, would have been nice.

    Yes your are correct they have it. Boy are you going to pay $$$$

  • PRO
    Joseph Corlett, LLC
    6 months ago

    "Boy are you going to pay $$$$"


    Be sure you make and apples to apples comparison. Solid surface is more expensive, but requires much less preparation (labor) than a proper tile job.

  • Gregory Pruss
    5 months ago

    True, I did say in a previous statement I was said I was unaware of a Corian shower Base was made. To restate "to my knowledge they do not make Corian shower bases". Because of the cost this would limit those who could afford this type of base. I would like a Ferrari but I settled for a... another type of car. I also said LOOK around. I'm an opinion not "god"

    I also stated the TREND is to use rock counter tops marble or granite. This means that kitchen/ cabinet contractors could possibly have Old / used / Corian on hand because of renovations. This may be a source of Corian for shower applications. I know this because: this is my own source for Corian. I also stated a rock counter top is more heat resistant than Corian. Which is true; I have seen it in the Kitchen / cabinet contractors Corian "stash" .....thats why the home owner replaced the Corian in the 1st place,.. because of heat damage. Hence the glue joint that I required for $25.00 which by the way I am hard put to find after the repair / glue joint. For those of you who like to work with material Corian is really nice to work with down side you must have your P.P.E. (personal protection equipment) I have used a electric Router on it and band saw, Jig saw with great results.

    Tile.. well I guess some people just have to experience it. Tile on a shower base is not a good idea. Period.

    Regards


    Greg

  • Nancy in Mich
    5 months ago

    Not only is Corian still available as a shower pan, but other solid surface companies like Swanstone and Transolid make shower pans. I have a Transolid shower that is almost 3 years old.

  • Gregory Pruss
    5 months ago

    Thank you for the information that you added to the site.


    Greg