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Shower Pan vs Tile Floor: Which Is the Better Option?

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Flooring is a crucial factor to consider in your bathroom. It’s one of the biggest decisions you must make. You may be remodeling your bathroom from scratch or are in a situation where renovations are necessary due to water damage. So, you must choose the right flooring for your bathroom.

One of the most common choices when it comes to bathroom flooring is shower pans and tile floors. These two options are, of course, costly. We don’t want you to regret the decision if you don’t like the new floor coating after completing the project.

Choosing between the two can be challenging with all the available options. So, which one is right for you? That’s why we’ve put together this guide to compare these two types of shower floors. Take a look!

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Overview of Shower Pans

Shower Pan
Image Credit: El Greco, Shutterstock

A shower pan is a single-piece waterproof tray that forms the floor of a shower. It prevents water leakage and protects the subfloor from moisture damage. Usually, shower pans are made of fiberglass or other composite materials, but they’re also available in metal and plastic.

The most popular composite material is PVC (polyvinyl chloride). This material is often used due to its durability and cost-effectiveness. You can install a shower pan on a flat bathroom floor.

What Is a Shower Pan Good For?

A shower pan¹ collects water from the drain. This way, it doesn’t leak into your subfloor or other areas of your home. It keeps mold and mildew from forming in your bathroom, which could cause damage if left untreated over time.

Here are several features of shower pans that you may want to consider.
  • Water Resistance- The water resistance feature keeps water from seeping out of the pan and into your subfloor. It also prevents leaks from getting into other parts of your home’s structure, such as your basement or garage. Several materials manufacture water-resistant shower pans. They include fiberglass and acrylic shower pans.
  • Cost-Effectiveness- Shower pans are also pocket-friendly. They last for years without needing costly replacement or repairs—even after years of use. You only need to take care of them and keep them clean after use.
  • Maintenance– A shower pan needs minimal maintenance. The most important thing for you to do is keep it clean. Avoid leaving soap scum and other debris in the pan for too long before cleaning it with soap and water. Also, ensure you check for any leaks around your shower pan once in a while.
  • Anti-Skidding– Another crucial factor to consider when looking for a shower pan is how anti-skidding it is. It means it’ll not be slippery when wet. It’ll also be more comfortable to walk on and much safer to use.
  • Durability– A high-quality shower pan can last up to 10 years without any issues. It’s crucial to buy a durable product. This way, you won’t replace it often. The durability of a shower pan is measured by its thickness. A thicker pan will be more durable than a thinner one. It’ll also withstand water pressure better.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Quick and easy installation
  • Needs little maintenance
  • Budget-friendly
  • Few seams and a flexible base
  • Can last for more than ten years
  • Keeping it waterproof is easy
Cons
  • Few designs available
  • Can screech under heavy weight
  • Not eco-friendly
  • Repairing or customizing it is challenging
  • Has size restrictions
  • It may not be suitable for oddly-shaped showers
  • Its real estate value is poor

house dividerOverview of Tile Floor

Tile Shower flooring
Image Credit: Arina P Habich, Shutterstock

Bathroom tile floors¹ are an excellent way to bring a splash of color to your bathroom. You can use them to create a traditional or contemporary look in your bathroom and make it look like the masterpiece it deserves to be. Bathroom tile floors come in many styles and finishes.

What Are Bathroom Tile Floors Good For?

Bathroom tile floors are an excellent option for anyone looking for a new flooring option for their bathroom. They can be used even in commercial bathrooms or facilities such as hospitals.

Several features of tile floors include:

  • Water Resistance– Waterproofing is a concern when installing tile floors in your bathroom. You can find many styles of bathroom tile floors that are water-resistant. These include porcelain, vitreous, and ceramic tiles.
  • Cost-Effectiveness– Bathroom tile floors are inexpensive when compared to other flooring options. However, bathroom tile floor installation is more expensive than with other flooring types. It needs extensive labor and tools.
  • Maintenance– The biggest issue with bathroom tile floors is that they need more maintenance than other options. When you clean your tub and toilet, it’s easy to get water on the bathroom floor. It can damage the grout between tiles. Regular grout cleaning is essential to keep it looking good. Otherwise, mold and mildew can form in the crevices between tiles.
  • Anti-Skidding- Make sure the tiles you choose have non-skid properties. It’ll prevent slips and falls in your bathroom. Several bathroom tiles have a special coating that increases traction. It also prevents users from slipping on them when they step into the shower or bathtub.
  • Durability– Tiles last longer than other types of bathroom flooring. The reason is that they’re made of hard materials such as porcelain or ceramic. These materials can withstand moisture more than softer materials like wood or vinyl.
Bathroom with granite tile floor
Image Credit: Artazum, Shutterstock
Pros
  • Can last for more than two decades
  • Easy customization
  • Eco-friendly
  • Increases your home’s resale value
  • Many available designs
  • Flexible size and shape
  • No squeaking sound when under heavy weight
Cons
  • Installing them is challenging
  • Need resealing to keep them waterproof
  • Costly
  • Slippery
  • The space between tiles can leak if not sealed well

house dividerTypes of Shower Pans

Shower pans are the most basic part of the shower installation. They provide a base for the rest of your shower system, so choose one that’ll last. There are different shower pans, usually named according to the material used to manufacture them. But they all serve the same purpose.

Here’s a list of some of the most popular options:

1. Stone Resin Shower Pans

Do you want your bathroom to look as if it’s crafted from natural stone but don’t want the hassle of dealing with real stone? If yes, stone resin is an excellent option.

These shower pans are manufactured using a mix of natural stone and artificial plastic. Stone resin is an excellent choice for a low-maintenance bathroom remodel. It’s easy to install and doesn’t need special tools or skills.


2. Porcelain Shower Pans

Porcelain is a strong material, a mixture of water, natural clay, and other materials. This material is also more expensive than others like fiberglass or metal. But it’s worth it if you want something that will last long.

Porcelain also has a smooth surface, making it scratch-resistant. The only downside is that it’ll chip when subjected to hard impacts.


3. Acrylic Shower Pans

These shower pans are made from acrylic plastic, a strong and durable material. It can withstand high temperatures and is stain- and mildew-resistant. Acrylic is also lightweight¹, which makes it easy to install on your own.


4. Fiberglass Shower Pans

These pans are an excellent option for those who prefer not to tile their showers. They are made from fiberglass-reinforced plastic (FRP). They are not prone to cracks, but take care when cleaning them, as they may scratch if you use any abrasive cleaners.


5. Composite Shower Pans

These shower pans are made from a combination of materials including plastic and fiberglass resins that are held together using epoxy glue. These pans are much lighter than other types of shower pans, thus easier to handle during installation.


6. Marble Shower Pans

These pans are made from natural stone. They come in different colors including white, gray, green, and blue. The patterns on these materials vary. They are all natural stones mined from different quarries worldwide.

The only disadvantage of using marble in shower pans is that it’s expensive compared to other materials, such as fiberglass or metal. But it lasts for decades if properly taken care of.

house dividerTypes of Bathroom Floor Tiles

There are many types of bathroom floor tiles to choose from. So, if you’re looking for something durable yet stylish, you will always find something to fit your needs. Here are several of them.

1. Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain tiles are one of the most popular types of bathroom floor tiles. They are durable and easy to clean, making them an excellent choice for any bathroom. They come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and textures.

Besides, they don’t stain or scratch. You can use high-gloss or matt to achieve your desired results. Although porcelain tiles are costly, they are a worthwhile investment.

assorted porcelain tiles
Image Credit: Sergey Ryzhov, Shutterstock

2. Ceramic Tiles

Ceramic tiles are also popular in bathrooms. These tiles have been around for centuries and have stood the test of time. They are manufactured using the same materials as porcelain. The only downside is that they’re not as hard-wearing and long-lasting as porcelain tiles, but they’re still some of the most durable options when sealed well.


3. Mosaic Tiles

These tiles are made of many small pieces that fit together like puzzle pieces. They can be made from different materials including glass, ceramic, marble, or stone. The most common type used in bathrooms is the ceramic variety because it’s durable and easy to clean.

You can put the tiles together to create captivating designs and effects using various patterns and colors. They’re an ideal way to personalize your bathroom.


4. Glass Tiles

You can use glass tiles to create a luxurious and elegant look in any bathroom. They’re available in different colors, shapes, and sizes. Glass tiles are also 100% waterproof, thus ideal for bathrooms. They reflect light into your bathroom, creating a roomy feel. Besides, glass doesn’t stain, and it only needs minimal maintenance.


5. Slate Tiles

Slate is a natural stone. It’s among the toughest materials for manufacturing tiles. Slate is naturally resistant to chemicals. It also doesn’t absorb moisture, so it won’t crack or peel like other materials do over time.

Slate tiles are expensive, but they’re an excellent investment. They maintain their appearance for a long time. They come in green, black, blue, copper, and grey.


6. Marble Tiles

These are the most expensive types of bathroom floor tiles. They are made of marble, which is a hard rock—both durable and hard to stain.

Marble tiles work well in modern and traditional décor schemes. They’re also ideal if you want to create feature elements in your bathroom. These tiles also have veins running through their surface, which adds texture to the bathroom design.

house dividerDifferences Between Shower Pans and Tile Floors

Now, you understand what bathroom floor tiles and shower pans are. You also know the different types of each. Let’s look at several notable differences between shower pans and bathroom tile floors.

Ease of Installation

Shower pans are much easier to install than tile floors. You only need to prepare the bathroom floor, insert your shower pan, and seal it. Not only can you save money by installing the shower pan yourself, but you’ll also spend less time doing it.

On the flip side, bathroom tiles need a lot of equipment when installed. The procedure may also take time to complete.

Durability

A tile floor can be more durable than a shower pan. It has an extra layer of protection against leaks or water damage. A shower pan is also made to hold water, but both shower pans and tiles have varying durability.

The most durable shower pans are made of cast iron and acrylic. The durability of tiles depends on their waterproofing level.

Cost

The biggest difference between shower pans and tile floors is the cost of buying, installation, and maintenance. Tile floors are more expensive than shower pans. They need more labor and materials. If you’re looking for something affordable, a shower pan may be a better choice for you.

Eco-Friendliness

Bathroom tile floors are more environmentally friendly compared to shower pans. They’re manufactured using decomposable materials like stone extracts. Shower pans cannot decompose. They’re manufactured using artificial materials like fiberglass and PVC.

Ease of Customization

Tiles are easy to customize because there are so many different types. From large format to mosaic tiles and more, plenty of options are available depending on your taste and budget. You can go big or small with your tile installation. Tiles also come in many colors and patterns.

On the other hand, most shower pans are made from concrete or some form of plastic composite material. So, they’re not as flexible as tiles, and customizing them is challenging.

Waterproofing

Both shower pans and tiles are waterproof when installed well, but bathroom tiles have more spaces where water can seep through and get to the subfloor. Water can get into these spaces if grout comes out.

Weight

Tile is a heavy solid material that can withstand high water pressure. Because of this, tile floors are a popular choice for bathrooms. One drawback of tiles is that you must install them on a thick and heavy subfloor. So, they’re not ideal for weak bathroom floors.

Shower pans are made of lightweight materials. They’ll fare well on weak subfloors.

Shower Pans vs. Tile Floors: Which Is Right for you?

Choosing a shower pan or tiles is a matter of preference. Buying and installing shower pans will cost you less compared to tiles but repairing them is challenging. On the flip side, you can customize tiles, but they need high maintenance. You must regrout and reseal tiles to make them waterproof.

So, if you’re on a tight budget, go for a shower pan because it’s inexpensive. It also needs minimal maintenance. You can even choose to install bathroom tiles on the shower pan. If you want to install a more customized or permanent look, bathroom tiles are your best bet.

house dividerConclusion

Deciding between a shower pan and a tile floor can be daunting. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. There are benefits and drawbacks to shower pans and tile floors. Each homeowner must decide what works best for them and their home.

But either way, it’s crucial to match your bathroom flooring with your entire home’s décor. This way, it complements your overall design scheme. So, if you want something elegant yet durable for your bathroom, consider these two bathroom flooring options.


Featured Image Credit: Johnson, Shutterstock

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