I am going to replace my fiberglass shower.
Which would you recommend: Replacing it with another fiberglass insert,
tile, or Swanstone panels?
The previous owner apparently died her hair in the shower, and it left
stains on the shower floor that no matter what, I cannot seem to get rid
Thanks for your help.
Definitely not tile. It's more work to install and more work to
Fiberglass is good and fairly cheap, easy to install and minimal
Solid surface materials are also very nice and you can get kits that
contain all the materials needed to do a shower. They are more work to
install, but like fiberglass are minimal effort to maintain.
> ;3316114']I am going to replace my fiberglass shower.
The biggest gun in the arsenal when it comes to removing stains is a
process called "procking", but which goes by many names depending on who
you talk to.
To prock a stain out, you soak a WHTE cotton rag in bleach and squeeze
it out only so that it doesn't drip. You want it to be almost at the
point of dripping bleach, but not quite. You set that bleach soaked rag
over the stain and cover with either a bowl or CLEAR plastic, and then
tape the edges of the plastic down with masking tape or weigh them down
with a length of steel chain of any sort. The idea here is just to
prevent the bleach from evaporating. Leave that on for a half hour, and
see if it does any good. If it seems to be taking the stain out, then
leave it on for another hour and check again, and gradually increase the
time between checks until you're leaving wet bleach on the stain over
Now, if that doesn't take the stain out, nothing will.
Try the bleach on an inconspicuous spot first, probably in the stained
area to ensure that if the bleach takes the colour out of the fiberglass
tub, it's in an area that was damage by the stain anyway.
You should be aware that you might not be able to replace the fiberglass
tub insert with another. Some of those fiberglass tubs are too large to
fit through a door way even with removing the door and the wood door
moldings. Replacing them would require removing exteriorwalls like they
so when a super obese person has to be taken to the hospital.
If it were me, and replacing the fiberglass tub wasn't feasible, I'd
probably go with the Swanstone/Corian plexiglas panels simply because
they're the least maintenance. If you're willing to seal the grout
yourself, then ceramic tiling is a good option, but only if you're
willing to maintain the tiling by maintaining the grout sealer.
Maintaining ceramic tiling is an entire subject that you would need to
learn at least a little bit about.
The only problem with the Plexiglas panels comes when you want to
replace the mildewed silicone caulk on them. In that case, you can't
use a steel razor to cut the old caulk off. You can buy plastic razor
blades at Lee Valley to get much of the silicone off, but you'd still
need to use some tools that could take the silicone off without damaging
the Plexiglas, and about the only one I can think of are plastic razor
blades or plastic ice scrapers for car windshields. Any metal scraping
tools would likely scratch up the Plexiglas/Swanstone/Corian panels.
| I am going to replace my fiberglass shower.
| Which would you recommend: Replacing it with another fiberglass insert,
| tile, or Swanstone panels?
That's a bit like saying you're buying a new car and
asking what you should buy. It depends on what you
want, what you need, what you can afford, etc. We
don't even know what you have now. I'd suggest you
do some research and talk to whoever is going to do
the work, to compare pros and cons.
Depends on budget and desired end result. I'd go with Swanstone over
the fiberglass, but my first choice is ceramic tile.
In the past year I renovated both our bathrooms. I used Swanstone
bases, a 32 x 60 in one and a 34 x 48 in the other. The walls are
porcelain tile. To keep maintenance low, I used epoxy grout. It never
needs sealing and is much more waterproof than regular sand grout.
I also used glass doors and the inside glass has a coating that repels
water. After a shower, just take a squeegee and it is clean.
I also used Swanstone for the sinks and sat them on Bertch vanities.
Both showers have both a handheld and a rainhead. We chose Kohler
faucets and diverters.
Fiberglass is cheap, quick, easy.
Swanstone has a better choice of finishes and, IMO, a better look
Tile add elegance, rich colors, most durable. Most expensive.
I also did the other walls in tile about 50" high. Easy to clean, looks
great. There is a 3" accent band around the room also.
You can spend $500 for a cheap enclosure or $15,000 or more on a full
I'm with you, except for the epoxy grout. Urethane grout is quickly
over taking epoxy in the professional world. More "user" friendly than
epoxy, but not as friendly as the old stand by grout, which needs
regular sealing. Urethane also does not need sealing.
When I bought my house, the shower stall, made of some kind of plastic,
or maybe fiberglass, had a dirty bottom. The guy didn't dye his hair
but I guess he washed dirt off himself. He had cleaned it before
leaving, but one effort or even a weekly effort was not enough. Hard
to clean because it's intentionally made rough so that people don't fall
I used some well known cleaner, can't remember what, but I had to apply
it and then brush 10 times, or maybe even 20. I did it whenver I had a
few minutes. Eventually I got the whole thing clean. I continued using
it and now it's just as dirty as it was when I moved in.
But now it's my dirt, not his, and that makes all the difference.
The shower pan is dirty because hard dirt particles have been embedded
into the relatively soft plastic by your feet.
Use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (or no-name equivalent) to clean the shower
pan and you should find that takes the dirt out much more effectively
than scrubbing with a brush.
The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is actually a foam called Basotect foam made
by the BASF company. It was originally used to make seat cushions for
air planes because if it's very light weight. It's still used to make
sound deadening panels for recording studios. It's very effective at
cleaning because if you look at the foam under an electron microscope:
.. it has microscopically small bristles that can get into tiny grooves
that brush bristles are too large to get into. THAT is why Magic
Erasers work so well at cleaning surfaces.
Don't scrub your shower pan hard with a Magic Eraser. The melamine it's
made of is quite hard and so a Magic Eraser can be quite abrasive and
can dull the gloss finish on your shower pan, leaving it looking dull.
Better to scrub the shower pan floor gently, but moving the Magic Eraser
in different directions over the dirt you want to remove.
In the above micrograph, a "micron" is one millionth of a meter, or
1/1000 of a millimeter. A human hair is about 100 microns in diameter,
so Basotect foam melamine fibers are about 1/10th of that size or about
twice the diameter of a red blood cell. They're about half the size
needed for the unaided human eye to see, which is about 20 microns in
I think people get scared away from regular portland cement based grouts
because they supposedly require "regular sealing". I tiled all 21 of
the bathrooms in my apartment block and used portland cement based grout
on all of them. I find that if I seal that grout once every 3 or 4
tenants, or about once every 10 years, the grout stays clean.
I use an acrylic film forming sealer on my grout sold under the name
"Grout Sealer" made by a company called "Glaze 'N Seal". There's a
hardware store in California that I ordered it from online and imported
it into Canada. If you can draw a straight line, you can apply grout
sealer to grout with a brush.
Every time I seal the grout in a bathroom, I give it three coats of
grout sealer, and that lasts longer than 10 years. I know that because
on most of my bathrooms the grout sealer on the grout actually looks
yellowish because there's actually too much grout sealer on the grout.
Still, I'd much rather have that problem than mildew on my grout, and
every prospective tenant I've ever met would as well.
I'm just saying that sealing grout really isn't the chore that some
people make it out to be. If you can afford a weekend once every 10 to
15 years to apply three coats of sealer to your grout, your sealed
portland cement grout will last as long as any epoxy grout.
And, obviously, the more grout you have, the more grout you have to
seal. So, don't pick a mosaic tile for your bathroom shower walls. I
find that by using 6X8 tiles in the landscape orientation you get the
best of all worlds:
1. You rarely ever see rectangular tiles set in the landscape
orientation, so doing that gives you a custom look with plan jane
2. Also, 6X8 tiles are the largest you can comfortably hold in one
hand, and that's important when it comes to tiling. It allows you to
spread your thin set on the wall, and then back butter each tile with
thin set before setting it in place. That way if the thin set on the
wall dries up before you cover it with tile, the moisture from the fresh
thin set on the back of the tile will reactivate the thin set on the
wall, and the tile will still bond with the same strength it would if
you pressed wet thin set into wet thin set, and
3. 6X8 tiles are large enough that you can seal all of the grout in a
tub to ceiling tiling job around a tub with three coats in a single day.
The smaller the tiles you use, the better the tiling conforms to any
curvature in the wall, but the more grout you have to seal. 6X8 tiles
provide a good compromise between having the tiles conform to the shape
of the wall while still keeping the amount of grout that needs to be
maintained to an easily managable amount.
And, no one can tell me that my tenants take as good care of my bathroom
tub/shower tiling than a homeowner would take care of his own bathroom
tub/shower tiling. Most of my tenants wouldn't even bother turning on
their bathroom ceiling fan after a shower (because it makes noise), so
my tiling has to stand up better to abuse than the tiling done in your
I used 8 x 10 tiles and I do have a mosaic trim strip. The smaller size
may be best for DIY, but I had a pro who is a perfectionist and step one
was getting the walls perfect so there were no bumps, lumps, or curves
to work around. I was able to get the right guy at the right time at
the right price. I'd never trust a Home Depot for a job like that.
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