Tile vs. 1-piec fiberglass shower installs?

10 Replies

So the 4-plex I have under contract is a mess. 2 of the bathrooms are goners. So, my question to you other landlords is:

Your thoughts on the initial & long term costs vs. durability of a 1-piece fiberglass shower/tub insert vs. tile the shower surround + tub?

Let's assume I want to keep this 4-plex for a long time. Also, does your mindset change if I want to flip this building?

Originally posted by SolidReturns:
Your thoughts on the initial & long term costs vs. durability of a 1-piece fiberglass shower/tub insert vs. tile the shower surround + tub?

First off, can you even get a 1-piece insert in there? Many times, those 1-piece enclosures are installed BEFORE the framing of the house is even up. That's why Home Depot and Lowe's sells those multi-piece inserts so they'll fit through the door.

For a rental, I prefer the clean, easy maintenance, no grout to clean or repair surface of fiberglass. For a flip, tile or marble surrounds seem really popular nowadays.

Is this the 4-plex with the 600 pound shut-in?

Loc, for a rental, cost is the main factor, the other factor is teh competition (what do they have). For rentals I would use the fibergalss inserts (the multi-piece inserts are easier to get in there as Mitch stated). For a flip, depends on the area and competition. In a residential SFR, I would do tile or travertine in nice areas. For an apartment, I would stay with the fiberglass inserts.

Yes, it is the one with the (large) lady.

OK. Fiberglass it is.

I lucked out with my other triplex - it came with tile in all 3 bathrooms.


I agree with both Mitch and Will, that in a rental you'll want fewer grout lines for easier cleaning.

I would suggest you do some good research on the various brands of these enclosures. There is one brand in particular that is carried in "big box" home improvement stores that has some issues:


Thanks for the heads up. This place isn't near a Lowe's, so it looks like we'll be getting our material from Home Depot (or other).

Another option is to tile the floor and use the fiberglass inserts on the wall. It is much cheaper to avoid potentail future leaks by spending some initial investment on the floor tiles. Should only be 15 square feet or so, so cost is not significant and install charges on labor is much cheaper per sq. ft. for floor than wall.

BTW - a contractor who also flips was showing me one of his flips (after I had already seen the above link and went with Sterling), and he was complaining about the tub that he had chosen and that it had melted while he was doing some soldering. Turns out he used the one in the link provided above... I told him he could have asked me first, and I would have steered him clear of that.

You should use 4x4 snow white tile with a fiberglass tub. Those fiberglass surrounds crack and when they age they discolor and look really dirty. You will always be able to find 4x4 tile and it is not very expensive to install. If you want to save on labor you can go up to a 12x12, but those color specific and are not as common as 4x4s. I have installed 4x4 or 12x12 tile in close to 50 units and have no second thoughts.

I used the same floor tile and buy it by the pallet so I always have extra laying around. Spend a buck a food and get porcelain over ceramic.

I also thought as above to use a fiberglass 3 piece you bolt together inside the room. Bought heavy good quality. First tenant destroyed it trying to clean it.

After that episode I will ONLY use steel tubs with tile over them. Outside walls get insulation,,,6 mill poly all around,,,cement board all the way up,,,(because it doesnt mold like drywall AND is more durable, less likely to dent, finishes all the same,,,redguard over cement board,,,tile,,,grout,,,sealer. Like Jeff said can replace some if you have to but is MUCH more durable and clean proof than any fiberglass or plastic surround. They use all the wrong stuff on those.

Ceramic Tile on floor because they will burn or destroy linoleum or good floor covering.

Inspect your units often and do regrouting/sealing as necessary. Good excuse to get inside. Dont let them ruin a unit by being filthy pigs.

I've asked in another thread last year if anybody had any experience with tub liners? These are usually 1/8"-1/4" thick acrylic shells that drop into your existing tub to 1) cover it up and make it look pretty and 2) eliminate small leaks in the old tub's surface. They are made to fit like a glove over your old tub, so you supposedly need an installation consultant to come out and determine the make and model of your existing tub so you can order the correct liner (you can probably skip this step if you already know the info).

I have one tub enclosure in a house that is riddled with small hairline cracks in the gel coat. Instead of replacing it ($$$$), I thought I might reline it ($$$) or just refinish it ($$).

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