a grey brick tub surround with a white bathtub

Tub Surround

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 3/8/2021

Most people are literally surrounded by a tub surround (aka a shower surround) every time they get in a shower or bathtub. Yet, very few of us ever really pay any attention to the materials that are used to cover the walls while we’re washing our hair. But if you’re renovating and in the market for a new tub or shower surround, there are several things to consider before making your final choice.

Definition

A tub surround, which is sometimes referred to as a shower surround, is the term that is used to describe the walls that enclose the inside of the tub and/or shower area. Specifically, the term refers to the materials and products, such as ceramic tiles or acrylic inserts, that are used to create the walls. These protective surrounds are meant to be waterproof to prevent moisture damage and mold from forming inside the walls and floors around the bathtub or shower. Additionally, tub surrounds are sometimes used to provide function and style to a bathroom interior, including options for shelving, colors, and various patterns.

What Are The Costs To Replace A Tub Surround?

As with most home improvement projects, the cost to replace a tub surround can range from inexpensive to overwhelming, depending on quality of the materials, the difficulty of the job, and a few other factors. Both tile surrounds and acrylic inserts come with their own pros and cons, but most people would probably agree that installing tile is a superior choice if the price fits the budget:

  • In most cases, acrylic tub surrounds come at a cheaper cost than tile surrounds, but that doesn’t mean they're not a good choice. Acrylic inserts come pre-formed and ready to install with adhesives, making it a job that any experienced DIYer could do themselves. And the end results look great and provide durable and effective protection against moisture damage.
  • Tile, on the other hand, can be more expensive for both the materials and the installation. It is possible for an experienced DIYer to install a tile surround but it’s probably a job more suited for a professional as mistakes and equipment can be costly.
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