Can You Install a Fiberglass Pan in a Tile Shower?

Shower With a Fiberglass Shower Pan
Shower With a Fiberglass Shower Pan. Abode / Getty Images

Deciding whether to install a tile shower or a pre-fabricated fiberglass shower can be difficult because significant money is at stake.  

Tile installers, especially the veterans, are expensive--but for good reason.  They routinely work bathroom tile miracles that amateur tilers can only dream of.

Often, you see showers that are all one type of material. You see showers with tiled walls and floor pan.

Or you see showers with fiberglass (or acrylic) walls and floor.  But what about combining the two materials?

Tile + Fiberglass = Perfection?

Yes, mating tile and fiberglass or acrylic is possible.  It can save you some money on tile work, plus it has some functional value.

Note that you cannot tile on the floor of standard fiberglass/acrylic shower pans.  Slight flexing will quickly crack the grout and even the tiles.  

However, some specialty pans such as those made by Tile-Redi are designed to accept tile on the pan floor.

Buy on Amazon - Tile Redi Shower Pan with Integrated Center

Tile Walls

Tiling your shower walls gives you the ultimate in flexibility and beauty.  With thousands of available tiles that can be mixed in countless ways, you can create unique shower walls.  

Even though all-fiberglass and all-acrylic showers are improving, many homeowners still prefer the design choices offered with tile walls.

Fiberglass Pans

A fiberglass shower pan is hardly beautiful.  But you can justify its meager looks by knowing that over 80% of your shower is made of tile.  Plus, this is the 80% that truly counts:  that areas that are most visible because they meet eye-level.

Fiberglass pans make it easier (though not easy) for the DIYer to tile the shower by themselves.

However, the most important functional value is that the shower floor can flex with the weight of the shower-user, ensuring more years of usability.  If your shower is located in an area with a less-than-perfect floor, a flexible shower pan may help compensate for some of the floor's instability.

What To Buy

Fiberglass/acrylic pans do not have to be expensive.  Basic pans usually cost well under $300.  Typically, the outer surface is acrylic, with a fiberglass supporting base.

Summary

Pros
Less expensive than an all-tile shower because less tile work is involved.
Pan can flex, avoiding the cracking associated with tile shower pans.
Because the shower has no seams or grout, the shower is easier to clean.
Demolition easier because shower pan will pull up as one piece (more or less)

 

Cons
Combination tile/fiberglass showers may be considered aesthetically inferior to an all-tile shower by some home buyers, resulting in slightly lower resale value.
Cost savings will be negated if the shower pan purchased is more expensive than the wall tile.
Possibility of water leakage below shower pan, much like the leakage associated with shower/tub liners