a grey brick tub surround with a white bathtub

Tub Surround

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 12/29/2020

Most people are literally surrounded by a tub surround (aka, shower surround) every time they get in a shower or bathtub. Yet, very few of us ever really pay any attention to the shower wall panels. But if you’re in the market for a new tub surround, there are several things to consider before making your final choice.


A tub surround (sometimes referred to as a shower surround) is the term used to describe the walls (and the materials used to cover them) enclosing the inside of the tub and shower area. A tub surround is sometimes constructed from tiles or in other cases can be an acrylic insert or shower wall panels. A tub surround is meant to be waterproof to prevent water damage inside the walls and floors around the bathtub. Additionally, tub surrounds are often used to provide functional and design elements to a bathroom interior.

To Tile Or Not To Tile? Not Such A Simple Choice

There are several advantages to both a tile tub surround and acrylic shower wall panels and inserts, but most people would probably agree that installing tile is a superior choice if the costs fit the budget:

  • In most cases, acrylic tub surrounds come at a cheaper cost than tile surrounds. Acrylic inserts or shower wall panels come pre-formed and ready to install with adhesives, making it a job that an experienced DIYer could do themselves.
  • 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.