Sooner or later, every bathroom needs a tuneup—and the tub’s shower enclosure is often the best place to start. An enclosure is large enough to dominate the room and set the tone, yet it’s often the area most in need of repair. As always, the culprit is water. Tiled walls are especially vulnerable because every 4-in. tile has 16 in. of leak potential at its edges. When well installed and regularly maintained, tiled shower walls can last a generation or more. When not, they mold, crack and crumble until replacement becomes the best option.
When it comes to alternatives, you can choose from new tile, plastic tub surround kits and professionally installed solid-surface panels. A quick look at the numbers will tell you why tub surround kits are so popular. A professionally installed solid-surface job can cost between $1100 and $2000, and standard tile installations run from about $600 to $1000. Plastic tub surround kits, including pressed fiberglass, range between $60 and $500, with the most popular kits costing around $150.
This project was originally published in the January 2001 issue of Popular Mechanics
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