A slab shower or slab feature wall can really make a visual statement in your bathroom. But how do you know if it’s right for your space and which material to choose. Here are the pros and cons of 4 common slab shower styles.
From zero grout lines and easier maintenance to a stunning look and feel, there are several reasons why slab showers are becoming more popular these days. When choosing the right style for a bathroom, we typically recommend starting with the material. Here are the 4 most common types:
Traditionally, acrylic or some type of plastic shower panel was a common choice for those looking for a single shower wall feature that didn’t require much maintenance.
This material is the least expensive of the slab shower types and is relatively easy to install. Something like the Kohler Choreograph would fall in to this category, even though technically they bill it as more of a composite fiber material.
Acrylic shower slabs don’t provide the same look and feel of some of the other types and may not be as durable, but if you’re on a budget, this can be a good option.
2. Granite or quartz
Another traditional option is a granite or quartz slab. These are cut and installed by the same fabricator who typically does your kitchen countertops. In fact, they’re usually made up of countertop materials that are about 2 or 3 centimeters thick, and then adhered to the wall. These panels can be heavy and pretty expensive, but they create a stunning visual impact.
Whether you choose to a full shower like this or simply do a feature wall, the aesthetic is eye popping.
A relatively newer entrant in the slab shower field is porcelain. These very large tiles come in a range of thicknesses and are installed just like a regular tile.
The difference is that they’re much bigger than regular tile, so you need different equipment to cut it and different equipment to make sure you’ve got your thinset adhesion, but they still goes on a tile backer material and the waterproofing is still behind the tile.
In terms of design options, porcelain has a wide range to choose from so this material offers a lot of style flexibility.
4. Dekton Slim
Another slab shower material newcomer is Dekton Slim. Dekton is a highly durable, compressed mix of quartz, porcelain, and glass popular in kitchen countertop design. The “Slim” version is essentially the same as the product used in kitchen, just you know, slimmer. This thinner profile makes it lighter, so it works well for shower walls.
It also comes a range of colors and styles to provide design flexibility with a minimal number of joints. Plus, it has a fairly reasonable price point. It’s a great way to get the slab look without breaking the bank.
Slab shower pros and cons
So what are some of the advantages and disadvantages of a slab shower? Here are a few considerations:
Pro: No grout
This may be the most obvious plus of a slab shower. No grout means a sleeker profile, a more seamless aesthetic, and no grout lines to clean. The corners are typically caulked with silicone, but other than that, the area is seam-free.
If you place tile on your shower floor, you may have grout lines there, but even that’s avoidable as there are several shower pans options that come in single slabs.
Pro: Wow factor
The visual statement a slab shower can make is unique. The large panels can transform a space and lend it an air of sophistication that you may not be able to get with grouted tile.
Whether you choose a natural granite, a porcelain slab, or something like the Dekton Slim, they all can really frame your bathroom space and turn it into a show-stopper.
Con: Access and installation
In order to install a large slab, or several, in your bathroom, there needs to be a way to get them in there, so that present some challenges. If your front door is large enough, that’s the easiest way, but some slabs may be too big, so the process calls for some pre-planning. If the bathroom is on an upper floor, this may involve hoisting the slabs through a large window — sometimes even requiring a crane.
Con: May not work for complex spaces
As we’ve noted, these slabs are big. So if your bathroom has a lot of angles, a curved wall or something else a bit unusual, a slab shower may not work. Part of the appeal of slab showers is to be able to create a seamless effect over a single large area, so a space with a lot of different planes can really take away from the slab aesthetic.
Con: Niches can be difficult
Niches with slab showers can be another challenge. With custom tile showers, niches for shower products or benches to sit on are fairly straightforward, as the smaller tiles are more amenable to those features.
With slabs, you don’t have the same level of flexibility. That’s not to say there aren’t storage options. We’ve added shelves and small ledges for some of our clients’ slab showers, but installing too many can really diminish the seamless look of the slabs and take away from the overall design.
Are you thinking about doing a bathroom remodel with a slab shower or feature wall? We’re happy to discuss your project. Simply schedule a conversation with us!