Fiberglass shower cubicle units and doors are all the rage. They come in a multitude of colors styles and sizes. Are they right for you?
Fiberglass shower units come as a molded, one-piece unit. This has lots of advantages, but a few disadvantages.
Advantages of One Piece Fiberglass Shower Cubicles
You can choose the color of your new shower unit to match your bathroom dÃ©cor. Remember avocado green, thoughâ€¦You might go off any strong colors in a few years and the color will date your bathroom makeover in the same way that avocado green bathrooms all date back to the 1970s.
It might be an idea to consider a neutral color so you can paint the walls in a few years time without needing to replace your fibreglass shower unit.
A one-piece shower unit comes with molded shelves and storage nooks and crannies. You can never have too much storage for shower gels and shampoos in a shower cubicle. More expensive, higher end units normally have more storage shelves and options.
There is no need to tile the side wall of your new unit, because it IS a one piece unit with three sides.
The overall appearance of a fibreglass shower unit is very neat. It would make an ideal 'en-suite' shower for a teenaged daughter to free up the family bathroom for others.
Level access fibreglass shower cubicles are a popular option for those with family members with mobility problems. Most of us will have mobility problems as we become older and arthritis takes its toll, so everyone should consider a level access shower if they are ever fitting a new shower or replacing an old one.
Disadvantages of 1 Piece Shower Units
One Piece acrylic or fibreglass units are very bulky and awkward to install. You need to leave it in the packaging to prevent damage to the unit while you move it around the house. The packaging makes the unit more bulky, unfortunately, but it does stop you bending and cracking your $500 shower unit.
You might not be able to physically fit the unit and its packaging through doorways and up staircases. Ask the store if they have an empty carton you can take for a trial run.
It is much easier to install a fibreglass or acrylic in a new build situation than in a bathroom or bedroom makeover. In a new build the shower unit can be brought in through a window opening before the window is fitted.
If the glass fiber reinforced plastic does crack then it is almost impossible to repair it acceptably. Damage to any part of the all-in-one unit means that the entire unit needs to be replaced. The plastic is not very strong and will not stand up to any rough treatment. If your family members are likely to hand out rough treatment to a plastic shower unit in the privacy of the bathroom, you will are likely to have to find funds to replace your expensive all-in-one shower unit sooner than you expect.
You cannot attach shelves or other fittings inside the shower cubicle because the fibreglass is not strong enough to drill through. It will not carry the weight of a glass shelf without cracking. Make sure you buy one with lots of molded in shelving and storage.
If you want to change your bathroom dÃ©cor you are stuck with the color of your
Acrylic or fibreglass shower unit, so avoid highly fashionable, dark or bright colors.
Fibreglass and acrylic panels look great and shiny when they are new, but they are very easily scratched and the surface will be dulled within two years.
You need to be extremely careful when you are cleaning the plastic shower cubicle walls and side panels to reduce scratching. Use only a clean soft cloth and liquids, never creams. It can be difficult to clean off hardened soap residues.
Fiberglass Shower Unit Doors
You usually buy a separate door when you choose an all in one shower cubicle. You buy a metal frame that usually slides on to the end of the acrylic side panel. It is this frame that supports your shower unit door.
The frame is not strong enough to support a heavy shower door such as one made from 10mm or 12mm tempered glass, so you will need to choose one with 4mm or 6mm tempered glass.
There is nothing wrong with the thinner glass doors, but they do flex a lot more than one made from thicker glass.
If you choose a door with a printed design, a white print is best. It goes with any dÃ©cor and if you want it for privacy, white works much better than a black or dark colored design.
You cannot drill tempered glass, even with a special glass drill bit, because the glass will shatter. Any extra fittings will have to be glued on.
The door frame may be made from chromed steel, stainless steel, aluminium, white polyester resin (white paint) covered steel or gold anodised aluminium.
Avoid aluminium in any shape or form. It corrodes on exposure to alkalis such as soaps and cleaning solutions.
Gold anodised aluminium is obviously just that, it never looks like gold and it will corrode just the same as plain aluminium. Genuine gold plated frames have a much deeper yellow. The gold layer is totally unreactive, so it will not corrode, but the layer is only a few atoms thick, so it is easily worn off. Cleaning gold-plated shower doors and trim will wear away the gold.
Stainless steel is the only shower door frame you should consider. It is easy to clean and stays shiny for life, stains are easily removed by almost any bathroom cleaner.
Alternatives to Fiberglass Shower Cubicle Units
There are alternatives to acrylic and fibreglass that have different advantages and disadvantages. Tempered glass shower cubicles are the most popular options.
Glass is attractive as a material to use. It is easy to clean using proprietary glass cleaners and it lasts without any noticeable scratches for twenty years or more. Glass cubicles allow you to use heavier tempered glass doors, either frameless or semi-frameless, with the luxury feel that these doors have.