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lilacinjust

Are Plastic/Fiberglass Bathtub Surrounds "Cheap" Looking?

lilacinjust
7 years ago
last modified: 7 years ago

I'd like to read your thoughts on tub surrounds. I'd love to not have to clean grout again in my bathroom, which has a tub shower.

I love the look of tile, but am pretty sure we'll be sticking with a shower curtain which would obstruct the view anyway. Also, our bathroom is very small and the impact wouldn't be great.

In wanting a simple, limited to no-grout surround, I'm considering just getting a nice plastic 3-piece. I've looked at the Kohler Choreograph but don't want to spend that kind of money, although I love it.

Comments (41)

  • Errant_gw
    7 years ago

    I prefer tile and an open curtain, but you should do whatever suits you and your home :)

    lilacinjust thanked Errant_gw
  • neu2you
    7 years ago

    Yes. But they are functional and affordable.

    lilacinjust thanked neu2you
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  • lilacinjust
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    That's what I'm afraid of! I'm pretty sure we'll be getting a semi-custom vanity because I want it to go wall to wall. We'll also do a nice counter and decent fixtures.

    I'm trying to think of ways to save money and get the ease of care that I want.

    I don't want anyone to look and it and say "yeesh!".

  • sloyder
    7 years ago

    my mother is looking at condos, and she does not want a plastic bath surround,

    lilacinjust thanked sloyder
  • nicole___
    7 years ago

    How about tile with dark grout? Or a sealed grout?

    No tub surround for me...

    lilacinjust thanked nicole___
  • sloyder
    7 years ago

    Solid Surface, but that could be expensive.

    lilacinjust thanked sloyder
  • lilacinjust
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    I'd definitely do a tile that worked well with darker grout if I go that route.

  • sasandfat
    7 years ago

    Have you looked at Swanstone? It's a solid surface type shower, but it can be expensive.

    Master bath remodel - Everly · More Info

    Swanstone shower · More Info

    These photos are both Swanstone and I don't think they look cheap at all. :)

    Or if you want to go with the cheaper fiberglass tub surround you could do tile from the top of the surround to the ceiling. That dresses it up and keeps the grout out of the water line so very little grout maintenance.

    lilacinjust thanked sasandfat
  • sheloveslayouts
    7 years ago

    Who are you concerned about judging your tub surround? I wouldn't worry about it and do what works best for you. Unless you do a white tile, any tile you choose is subject to looking dated or not being others' taste.

    We have a fiberglass shower in our main bathroom and I LOVE it. So easy. I have better things to spend time and money on than bathroom fixtures and finishes. We're 38 and 40 with a 3 and 6 year old. We have a shower curtain that we keep closed so it can dry out between uses; no one should be looking in there anyway.

    My parents have cultured marble slabs surrounding their tub. They still look new after 35 years. I've never priced cultured marble, but maybe it's a more affordable to the swanstone type options.

    lilacinjust thanked sheloveslayouts
  • Anne CK
    7 years ago

    My sister just put in a surround, and then subway tiled above it. Her shower curtain is always closed as a feature (hers is a small place, and when you look in the bathroom, you stare straight at the tub), and with the tile above, you can't tell that it isn't a tiled enclosure, and the space looks bigger, because the tiling goes to the ceiling and fools the eye.

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  • llcp93
    7 years ago

    Cultured Marble would be a great alternative and can last for a very long time and be very low maintenance.

    lilacinjust thanked llcp93
  • mnnie
    7 years ago

    Yes they look cheap. But that may be OK depending on your home and the other homes in the area. Does it matter? There are lots of things that I like that happen to be cheap - and sometimes I even like them because they are cheap. But if this is a high-end home and you are thinking of resale, I wouldn't do it. If you are going to be in the home for a long time and looking for value - go for it.

    lilacinjust thanked mnnie
  • lilacinjust
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    It does matter because I don't want a disconnect between nicer finishes (semi-custom vanity, granite or other top, tile floor, nice light fixtures) and something that looks cheap. For me and for resale.

    I think from the feedback here, the plastic tub surround is out. Now, hmm...

  • mrspete
    7 years ago

    In our first house, we had one-piece molded plastic tub/surrounds. No joints of any type. While it wasn't anything special to look at, it was functional and sooooo easy to keep clean. We always kept the shower curtains closed. I never really consciously thought, "I wish I had something nicer". The only negative I can remember: We did have some small scratches from normal use.

    However, I have tile in my two walk-in showers in my current house, and I plan to do the same thing in the house we're building. Tile is nicer looking, and it doesn't restrict you to a certain size.

    lilacinjust thanked mrspete
  • elpaso1
    7 years ago

    Yes it looks cheap. Go with tile.

    lilacinjust thanked elpaso1
  • maries1120
    7 years ago

    I was walking through Menards the other day and saw a product called Flexstone. They displayed it as a shower but the pic showed this as a tub surround. There are other solid surface options that might work. We re-did the tile around the tub and an all tile (leaking) shower. We did larger tile around the tub. For the shower we used some brand of solid surface. I love both.

    lilacinjust thanked maries1120
  • lookintomyeyes83
    7 years ago

    I love the look of Swanstones faux tile - no grout!

    As well, you may not have home hardware's around you, but they also have a new manufacturer that does the custom-(faux)-tile-at-the-top shower in acrylic that looks REALLY modern and well-done. Not my style, but I have to admit I liked the overall look of it! It was 'Utile'

    http://www.utilebymaax.com/en

    lilacinjust thanked lookintomyeyes83
  • stelmoqn
    7 years ago

    Mimiadv, I hear what you are saying -

    It does matter because I don't want a disconnect between nicer finishes (semi-custom vanity, granite or other top, tile floor, nice light fixtures) and something that looks cheap. For me and for resale.

    I think from the feedback here, the plastic tub surround is out. Now, hmm...

    My issue is not what "I" think, rather my husband. He thinks no one will ever see this bathroom despite having two guest bedrooms which will use the space. I am seriously thinking about not even finishing the upstairs bath if we can't go with tile (or until I can take a tiling class at Home Depot/Lowes and do it myself!)

    lilacinjust thanked stelmoqn
  • grannysmith18
    7 years ago

    It does look cheap, and if you can leave the shower curtain pulled open, it will make the bathroom look larger. Even if it looks nice at first, it won't wear well, and eventually it will look cheap and plastic-y. I think even the nicest most expensive ones have a commercial/motel look to them.

    Years ago we were having leaks from the tiled walls in our master bath, and so i was so worn down that the solid surround seemed like it would be a relief, No, just tacky looking. BTW, don't worry about my leak! it won't happen to you - it was because the tiles were there from long ago when they were applied incorrectly right onto sheetrock) .

    lilacinjust thanked grannysmith18
  • Tmnca
    7 years ago

    We left ours in the hall/guest bathroom since it's rarely used now and will eventually be our child's bathroom (if we stay in this condo). In the master we put in a tiled stand alone shower. I love the low maintenance of the plastic surround. I wouldn't have chosen it over tile but we didn't want to pull out a perfectly good surround and tub (they mold together) in an infrequently used bathroom. In the master, we have grout to clean!

    lilacinjust thanked Tmnca
  • Jim1405
    7 years ago

    I've had plastic surrounds in both baths in my house for over 20 years and they a have served me well. Although they are super easy to take care of I don't find either of them particularly attractive and personally consider them somewhat cheap looking. But since this is a smaller, affordable home I think they fit right in with the house and neighborhood. If I were to replace either I would get the same type of enclosure without hesitation.


    Now when I have my retirement home built next year I would not consider using this type of enclosure and my builder agrees fully. I think I would have a tough time trying to convince him put one in. But the new house is going to be several notches above my current home, higher priced and in an more upmarket neighborhood where I've never seen this type of enclosure used. It would kill the resale.

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  • Tmnca
    7 years ago

    I think way too much is being made of resale. In most areas, a tile shower vs surround is not going to add appreciably to the sale price. Remember bath and kitchen remodels only recoup about 80% of the cost f the remodel upon resale.

  • cpartist
    7 years ago

    I think way too much is being made of resale. In most areas, a tile shower vs surround is not going to add appreciably to the sale price. Remember bath and kitchen remodels only recoup about 80% of the cost f the remodel upon resale.

    You are correct about that. It will not add to the price.

    However depending on your market, it may or may not be the difference in actually selling the house vs the house sitting on the market. Especially if you're in a mid or upscale market, it would be expected to see at a minimum tile surrounds.

    lilacinjust thanked cpartist
  • amanda99999
    7 years ago

    I know this is from March so OP has probably already made his/her decision, but in case others (like me!) read this thread: OP mentioned Kohler's Choreograph shower walls. They are made of - nor look or feel at all like - plastic or fiberglass. I just this morning went to a Kohler showroom to see it because I assumed they'd be too cheap and plastic/fiberglass-like. They aren't! (And, they cost more than tile, at least for my 3.5'x3.5'x6.5' alcove shaped shower. The material is far more expensive than ceramic subway tile, but of course labor to install (I'm paying someone) will be lower vs. tile). The "Shower locker" you can get as an option is awesome: full wall height, 9"or 14" IIRC width, shelves to hold stuff, recessed into the wall. The shelves come out - easy cleaning, no crevices.

    Anyway, the Kohler Choreograph stuff 'feels' like matte stone. Its ground up stone of some kind (plus I'm sure fillers etc.) but it feels like unglazed matte tile. Its not shiny or cheap looking like fiberglass surrounds. I didn't like the patterns (they are 'raised' patterns) that looked like subway tile - it was trying to look like something it isn't IMO - but loved the "cord" texture.

    That all said, of course one should use fiberglass or whatever they want - don't choose tile and be a martyr if you hate cleaning grout because you think it looks cheap. HTH someone!

    lilacinjust thanked amanda99999
  • ybchat67
    7 years ago

    You could use large format tiles. If you were interested in a stacked, modern look you could really reduce the grout lines. I just put 10x30 tiles on the sides of my alcove bathtub. I have very tiny joints also. I think there are 6.5 tiles total going up each side. I have smaller subway tiles on the back wall, but you could also have 2 stacks of these tiles on the back wall if you have a 30x60 bathtub.

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  • Lisa Samson
    7 years ago

    Hi Sasandfat,

    Love tour bathrooms. You have a hinged door. Did you have the glass coating put on it? Are you happy with it?

  • Vertise
    7 years ago

    You have to think about what works for you:

    'I'd love to not have to clean grout again in my bathroom, which has a tub shower.

    I love the look of tile, but am pretty sure we'll be sticking with a shower curtain which would obstruct the view anyway. Also, our bathroom is very small and the impact wouldn't be great. '

    There is nothing wrong with a surround if that's what meets your needs.

    lilacinjust thanked Vertise
  • Vertise
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    I didn't read the whole thread. If you are doing granite and other luxurious finishes, the tub surround does not fit in.

    lilacinjust thanked Vertise
  • PRO
    MDLN
    7 years ago

    What I found more distressing than the cheap look, was the cheap "feeling." It just feels nice to start and end your day in a room that feels a bit luxurious, fine hotel or spa-like. jmho

    lilacinjust thanked MDLN
  • sasandfat
    7 years ago

    Hi Lisa, those are not my bathrooms. I found those examples of Swanstone through a Houzz search. I'm sorry I can't speak to the treatment of the glass doors or the update. Myself, I've never been a fan of shower doors. I prefer shower curtains.

    lilacinjust thanked sasandfat
  • cpartist
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    pippabean that is gorgeous

  • lilacinjust
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Love the gray and white baths!

    I'm so relieved to know about newer grout, because my preference is tile, and tile will be more apropos with the vanity and finish, and I love being able to design the look myself.

    Next will have to decide glass door or curtain, with my preference being glass for the spatial nature and unfettered view of the tile.

  • PRO
    Hudson Smith Interiors
    7 years ago

    Does anyone actually have the Kohler Choreograph that ap999 mentioned? I'm thinking about it for my master bath. Definitely want low maintenance with a higher end look than your typical fiberglass surround. I've seen the Swanstone ones, and they're not for me. I would get Corian or quartz, but from what I can find out it's beyond my budget. Any input absolutely appreciated!

  • lilacinjust
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    After (probably way too much!) consideration, and great input from our pros here, I am going with large format tile and mosaic for my bathtub surround. I feel confident that grout has improved a great deal and mold and mildew isn't as much of an issue with today's products.

    I feel excited that I can customize a unique look that reflects my aesthetic, vs. having only a handful of choices when dealing with tub surround systems.

    I can say that I've seen the Choreograph product several times at our nearby Ferguson showroom, and it looks as nice in person as it does online. The barres and floating shelves are VERY nice products, too.

  • PRO
    Hudson Smith Interiors
    7 years ago
    Thanks! I'll be near our Ferguson next week, so I might stop in and see if they have it in the showroom. I've heard the same about new grout, etc, but part of my problem is that DH and I can't agree on a tile for the shower, so we were thinking plain white would solve that!
    lilacinjust thanked Hudson Smith Interiors
  • lilacinjust
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    I was thinking the same thing!!!! White subway tile, what could go wrong? But we decided to take a chance go out of our comfort zone.

    We went to a tile company and got assistance from a designer that helped us pick out tile and mosaic accent that is going to look really nice. It's very exciting!

    Good luck with your project!

  • H B
    7 years ago

    Hudson, we remodeled a bath this past March and installed choreograph white around a Kohler tub (expanse), and are very pleased. It has a matte finish and the "barre" is quite stylish and functional. Our ceiling is angled and the installer was able to custom cut the side piece to fit.

    lilacinjust thanked H B
  • PRO
    Hudson Smith Interiors
    7 years ago

    Thanks HB! I went to the Kohler store last week and looked at the sample chips. I like the way it looks, kind of like porcelain. Anyway I ordered it. Crossing my fingers it will look good installed and DH will like it as well (he didn't get to see the sample).

    Mimipadv, it's funny but white tile is kind of outside my comfort zone! I generally prefer color. But we're going to do white tile, mix of square and subway, with an iridescent glass accent. We fell in love with Saturnia Gold granite, which is black with lots of mica and gold specks, so we wanted to have a simple backdrop that would show off the granite. Good luck with your project!

    lilacinjust thanked Hudson Smith Interiors
  • lilacinjust
    Original Author
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Thanks, Hudson. We're actually not going with white subway tile! Funny, the process of choosing finishes brought us to a different place.

    We're going with a glass mosaic accent, that I really fell in love with.

  • PRO
    Marble Creations
    5 years ago

    Cultured Marble is an amazing alternative to tile. No Grout! It looks like the real deal and so easy to maintain. Check out our page! Would love to hear from you!

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