Shower base - tive vs. acrylic

I'm going to re-do our shower, using tile. It has an acrylic shower base which I want to replace.
Should I go with acrylic again, or do tile? What are issues regarding durability, lifetime, leaks, ease of keeping clean?
For acrylic, I've found info on Jucuzzi and American Standard. Can you recommend one of these, or another?
Judging by the instructions I've pulled of the web, installation of acrylic looks pretty straightforward. Any useful tips?
I've done a half-dozen floor/backsplash tile projects, so I'm pretty comfortable with doing the shower walls. But a tile base is another story. Looking in a tile book, it doesn't seem too difficult. Is this something that takes some experience to get right, or could I reasonably expect to get it right the first time? This is on a second floor, so I definitely don't want leaks to be a problem.
The book I looked at said to use a heavy plastic liner. I know in the old days they used a lead liner. What's the current thinking in that area? Any other tips for installing a tile base?
Thanks for your help.
Ken
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whoops, needed to spell check my subject line!
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acrylic
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To me, tile base means grout joints--the smaller the tile the more of them. They need maintenance, get dirty and might eventually leak. I had a terrazzo base that lasted 30+ years; got an acrylic shower now and it's so much easier to maintain. MLD
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MLD wrote:

Hi, If the base is solid. My shower is 10+ years old with acrylic with tile wall with latex grout. Still in like new condition. It's upstairs. Tony
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KenM wrote:

base
regarding
Good to see you are spending a bit extra and going for the acrylic. Much stronger than the cheaper shower bases that are made from plastic and easier to repair than fiberglass bases.
Tile is nice, but can fail very easily to a bad installation.

you
Doesnt really matter, I forgot the brand that I used, but mine was about 400.00+ and is 60" x 34"

acrylic
It is pretty easy to do, just make sure to use something like structolite underneath the base to make the thing SOLID.

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Between the lead liner (or other material) or using a tar to seal up the place, angling it to the center drain etc etc.... to me it was just easier putting the base in and its done.

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Lets face it, tile DOES look nice. But it will fail at some time and point. Whether or not you have to replace it again in the future is entirely up to your talents. The shower base is REALLY straight forward. Just follow the instructions, make sure its level when installed and just set it something like thinset or even better something like structolite.

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Sexytom976 wrote:

Hi, Level? drain is in the center and water should flow towards it, level base? Tony
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Yep Level...
Most shower bases do have drains in the middle (you can custom order left or right drain too for those instances where you are ripping out a bathtub)
But with a center drain unit you need to make sure it is perfectly level! Why you ask? Easy one, the angle that it drains towards the center is not that steep at all. If you set it in and its off, it'll just pool on one side and drain well on another. So what is normally done is 1x2's are used on the left and right side of the base. Make sure how you set it up is nice and level. Once done pick up the base and make a structolite donut. Careful not to put too much around the center (dont want it squishing around and up the drain (never get the rubber seal to work then))
Put down the base, pressing it slowly down until it rests on the 1x2's. Take your last look at the level and let it dry. If you like you can even take a 1 foot level and read it from a few areas around the drain. Cheap are ya? then take a cup of water and make sure it flows towards the drain.
No pooling? no problem!
Tom
P.S. make sure to cover that acrylic base when you working with tiles etc. Acrylic is not very scratch resistant. Sucks scratching it up before its first offical shower.

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An acrylic base won't fail after a dozen years like a tile base will.
If you do tile, I suggest doubling or tripling the liner. It will fail at some point. (I don't know if doubling or tripling works, by the way. I just think off the top of my head it's a good idea.)
Note you can get "pages" of tile. That is tile that is already "grouted" together into "pages" that are perhaps 3 feet by 3 feet. That might make things easier.
If you tile, be sure your backing board on the walls is concrete board and not regular plaster board, as the moisture in the shower will soften the latter over time.
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KenM wrote:

There are lots of fine points. I used a book from Home Depot, _Tiling 1-2-3" which made it look simple. It's not. Getting the floor pitched right is really hard because you can't stand back and look at it. I got two slight slight dips that take awhile to dry out. And the drain was hard. Cutting the floor tile matrix to fit around the drain took 4 tries until I figured how to do it. Luckily, somebody told me to use expoxy grout because it will never fail or mildew.
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That's the kind of info I'm looking for. Like you said, the book makes it look simple. You gave it some realism.
Judging by this and other replies, it seems like acrylic is the way to go.
Ken
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base
acrylic
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Remember the base has to be rock solid and not move or flex when you are stepping in it. Can (does happen) if the floor is not exactly level. One easy fix, recommended by the manufacturer, and one that I had to use, is to use foam. Comes in a can--using the nozzle that comes with it, spray under the base, it'll expand and will start oozing out all over the place. Don't be skimpy, you may need more than one or two cans. When it hardens just cut off the excess. Does a great job. MLD

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While it might cost a few bucks more, consider a terrazzo base. There is no grout to worry about and if the floor is solid and you set in in a thin mortar base it will never crack. Acrylic is nice and smooth but time will take it's toll. Sooner or later someone will take cleanser to it and scratch the snot out of it.
For the walls tile is good especially if you take the time to make sure your walls are dead plumb and square. Be sure to do a good job on the vapor barrier and you should be fine.
Another thing to consider is installing a vent light combination right in the stall. This is definitely worth the price of admission.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
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Ken,

A prefab acrylic base will certainly be easier to install. No debate there. But, you will be limited to a choice of sizes and shapes, and they can be fairly easy to scratch. They also don't "feel" very solid.
Since you are tiling the walls anyway, I would choose to tile the floor too. I built a large (6'x6') curbless shower area with a sloped mortar bed and 2x2 mosaic tiles. It looks great, is very durable, and I would not have been able to find a prefab base for that. I used a waterproofing system called "Kerdi" which is fairly easy to install and works very well. It goes right under the tile and keeps the moisture out of the sloped mortar bed, so you don't have problems with mold and mildew.
Grout can stain and discolor over time, but regular cleaning and periodic applications of grout sealer can help with that.
With either option, it's usually the caulking that mildews and discolors.
Check out the John Bridge Tile Forum at http://www.johnbridge.com/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?forumid=1&daysprune There's a lot of great folks there who can offer lots of great advice. Somewhere deep down in the forum you can find the thread "Anthony's House" which details my tiling experiences on our home.
Take care,
Anthony
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