Prefabricated Shower Units
Prefabricated shower units are mass produced at a factory out of either fiberglass or acrylic. Prefab showers are available in single-piece units or multi-piece units. The single-piece units are for new homes or additions, and the multi-piece units are for bathroom remodels. Shelves, soap dishes, and seats come already molded into place. Glass doors or shower curtains can be used with prefabricated shower units.
Advantages of a Prefabricated Shower Unit
- Fast install – prefabricated shower units can typically be installed in one day.
- Less mess – installing a prefabricated shower unit is a lot less messy then installing a custom tiled shower.
- Low cost – prefabricated shower units are much cheaper than custom showers.
- Easy to clean and maintain – because prefabricated shower units are either one solid piece or three-to-four large pieces, they are much easier to clean than custom tiled showers. Also, there are no grout lines that need to be kept sealed and clean.
- Lightweight – prefabricated shower units weigh a lot less than custom tiled showers.
- Watertight – prefabricated shower units are watertight and will not leak.
- Durable – prefabricated shower units are chip and crack resistant.
- There are prefabricated shower/bathtub units available.
Disadvantages of a Prefabricated Shower Unit
- Size limitations – because prefabricated shower units are mass produced, they are only available in a limited selection of sizes. There are higher end, custom prefabricated shower units that can be ordered to size, but they are more expensive.
- Style limitations – because prefabricated shower units are mass produced, they are only available in a limited selection of styles. While you can choose between units that feature shelves, soap dishes, and/or seats, you can’t choose the location of these features because they come already molded into place. Most prefabricated shower walls are smooth, but there are some styles available with simulated tiles and faux-grout lines.
- Color limitations – because prefabricated shower units are mass produced, they are only available in a limited selection of colors – typically white and off-white. Higher end prefabricated shower units are available in other colors or stone looks, but they are more expensive. Also, faux-granite and faux-marble only mimics the natural stone and will not be mistaken for the real thing.
- Repairs are difficult – while durable, there is still a possibility that prefabricated shower units can get damaged. Any damage to the a prefabricated shower unit is hard to fix.
- Not environmentally friendly – prefabricated shower units will someday wind up in a landfill where they will not decompose.
Custom Tiled Shower
Custom tiled showers are constructed from scratch and built on site. A carpenter will construct the shower frame and add cement board to the walls. The tiler will then come in and install the tile. If a shower door is desired instead of a shower curtain, the door will need to be measured and custom ordered.
Because the tiled showers are custom built, it allows you to have more creativity and choices when it comes to selecting size, style, and color.
Advantages of a Custom Tiled Shower
- Unlimited size options – because tile showers are custom built, the shower can be built to any size you desire – space allowing.
- Unlimited style options – because tile showers are custom built, you can include all of the special features that you want (as long as they fit) – including shelves, niches, seats, shaving ledge, etc.
- Unlimited color options – because tile comes in various materials (porcelain, ceramic, glass, etc.) and various colors, your tile options are nearly unlimited. You can also include inlays, borders, and/or accent rows for an even more unique look.
- Eco-friendly – most tiles are made from natural clay.
- High end look – custom tiled showers have a high end look that acrylic or fiberglass prefabricated shower units do not.
- Can be built to fit your needs – if you are elderly or have mobility issues, a tiled shower can be built to meet your specific needs.
Disadvantages of a Custom Tiled Shower
- Cost – custom tiled showers will cost more than a prefabricated shower unit. Materials and labor bills can add up.
- Takes longer to construct – because the shower needs to be hand built on site, it takes longer to install a tiled shower than a prefabricated shower unit.
- Messy – installing a tiled shower typically creates more of a mess than installing a prefabricated shower unit.
- Labor intensive – custom tiled showers take time and manpower to construct.
- High maintenance – it is harder to clean grout lines. The grout also needs to be sealed to prevent mildew, cracking, and leaking.
- Not watertight – it is possible for water to leak around the grout on the floor and the walls.
- Heavy – tiled showers are much heavier than prefabricated shower stalls. You will need to make sure that your floor joists can support the weight.
- Tile can easily ship, scratch, or crack. That being said, it is easier to replace individual tiles than it is to replace an entire prefabricated unit.