Fiberglass vs. Ceramic Showers and Baths

When you’re looking to replace or renovate your bathroom, the question of showers and tubs is an important one. The shower or bath is often the thing you see when you walk into the bathroom. The two most popular choices of showers are fiberglass and ceramic. Here’s a breakdown of the two types of showers and tubs and considerations when making your bathroom decision. 

Fiberglass Showers and Baths

Fiberglass showers are shower units that are preformed in a factory from layers of fiberglass. They are then coated with a shiny finish. The lightweight, budget-friendly fiberglass units are installed intact in your bathroom. 

Cleaning Fiberglass Showers

Fiberglass showers require light cleaning so you don’t see streaky mineral deposits or soap scum. The best way to clean a fiberglass shower is with white vinegar and water or baking soda can help if you need to scrub stubborn stains. It’s a good idea to wipe down a fiberglass shower after every use to remove water and soap scum. You also should not use abrasive cleaners or scouring pads on fiberglass, or you will scratch and damage the surface

Fiberglass Shower Maintenance

Fiberglass showers, if installed properly, are maintenance-free. 

Life Span of Fiberglass Showers

Ceramic tile, if properly installed, will last for decades. Fiberglass showers are touted at the last shower you’ll ever need due to the durability. Fiberglass showers are guaranteed to last up to 30 years.

Ceramic Showers and Baths

A ceramic shower, on the other hand, has ceramic tiles installed directly onto the walls and floor (more specifically, onto a cement-based backing board attached to the studs). Once the tiles are cemented on and the cement has dried, grout is applied in the spaces between the tiles. Because ceramic tile is so labor-intensive, it tends to be more expensive to install than a fiberglass shower unit. But both types, of course, have their pros and cons.

Cleaning Ceramic Showers

While the ceramic tile itself is easy to clean, mildew on the grout is a common problem with ceramic tile. Some ceramic tile owners swear by wiping down their shower walls, door, and floor after each use and keeping the door open to avoid dampness. Such daily efforts will help a lot, but you might still end up with mildew. 

Ceramic Shower Maintenance

Ceramic tile requires more maintenance than fiberglass showers. Some might eventually need to be regrouted if the grout gets too moldy or begins to wear out. Replacing the grout is expensive. In addition, ceramic tile can chip if you drop something on it. A chipped tile is not inexpensive to replace, and it can cause leakage, because water can get through the crack and damage the underlayment or the wall behind the tile. 

Life Span of Ceramic Showers

The lifespan of ceramic showers is significantly shorter than fiberglass mostly due to the maintenance of it. Ceramic showers and baths may need grout replacement at some point if it becomes worn. If well made and properly installed, a fiberglass shower will last for 10-15 years. If properly cared for (that is, never cleaned with an abrasive or harsh cleaner that will damage the surface), it could last even longer. 

When deciding on the right shower or tub for your home, take a look into the differences and how each type of material will work with your lifestyle and cleaning abilities. For more information, contact us for a free bathroom quote.

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