Tile vs. Solid Surface Showers: the REAL Cost of Ownership for Institutions

Commercial showers can come in a wide variety of materials and designs. The most common materials for shower installations are marble, terrazzo, fiberglass, tile, and solid surface. Each of these unique materials has its pros and cons. Aesthetic appeal and cost are the two most commonfactors that determine which route makes the most sense.

Fiberglass liners are dated and not nearly as widely used anymore, since the materials don’t tend to last long. The initial cost of fiberglass is typically much cheaper, but the materials are subject to cracking, staining, and wearing out over time. On top of the short life expectancy, fiberglass showers don’t have aesthetic appeal on their side either.

Marble and terrazzo both require consistent treatment over time to preserve and maintain them. Terrazzo is expensive enough that it really doesn’t make sense for commercial shower application, in most cases. High-quality marble is harder to find these days, since it’s naturally occurring. Marble is also risky to use in commercial applications because it’s easily damaged or stained by chemicals.

Tile and solid surface are common contenders. The differences between the two lend a lot to the true cost of ownership. For one thing, old tile needs to be taken out for new tile to be put in. Demolition work costs money and takes more time. Solid surface can be fitted for commercial showers over existing construction. While solid surface is a little more expensive up front, the maintenance is very low.




Over time, tile needs to have grouting redone and maintained to prevent water from being absorbed, breaking down the grout between tiles and getting underneath. Any time that a tile cracks, it needs to be replaced or it can cause problems more significant than looking unsightly. The need for demolition, maintenance, and upkeep drives the price of tile up over time, making it less economical than solid surface.

The bottom line is that solid surface is a solid choice for commercial showers. True, the initial cost may be more than competing materials, but there’s virtually no maintenance once it’s installed. Custom fitted showers can be installed over existing structures, so you may not have to remove the old shower or completely remodel the bathroom. Since the material is homogenous, scratches and abrasions are not a problem and can be easily repaired using readily-available tools and materials.

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