Which is best for your Bathroom Remodel: Shower-Liner, Bath-Fitter or Ceramic Tile Replacement?

Bathrooms don’t last forever. As your home ages, the wear and tear in your bathroom will start to show. In fact, bathrooms take a bigger beating than other rooms in your home due to moisture, heavy foot traffic, and other factors. That’s why you might be noticing that your bathroom is aging faster than other parts of your home.

One major renovation that nearly all homeowners will face at one point is retiling. If you have tiles lining the wall of your shower or tub, you may be staring at dingy, cracked tiles that are aging your bathroom. The truth is that tiled tubs and showers are considered to be selling points for homes. However, this is only considered a valuable feature in a home if it’s in good shape. By contrast, damaged and outdated shower tiling can actually detract from a home’s value.

If it’s time to update your shower tiles, you’re faced with two options. The first is to retile your shower using an updated design. The second is to switch to a molded shower liner. Made of either fiberglass or vinyl sheeting, these bath-fitter systems are actually designed to go right over your tile. That means you won’t have to go through a demolition project in your bathroom. While this may seem like the easy solution, many homeowners discover that it’s not necessarily the best option. Let’s explore what homeowners need to know when choosing between bath-fitter lining versus tiling.

Why Are Bath Liners Popular?

Bath-fitter liners became popular as more and more homeowners started to look for simple solutions for bathroom remodeling. Taking what can be considered a shortsighted view, homeowners began pivoting to this nearly instant solution as a way to avoid the time and cost involved with tearing down existing tiles to put up new ones. Bath-fitter liners can typically be installed in a few hours. They simply cover up your existing tile. While bath-fitter liners certainly do create a new, fresh look immediately, it’s important for homeowners to understand that this is considered a superficial upgrade.

What Are the Downsides to Bath Liners?

One of the main problems with bath-fitter liners is that they cover up problems instead of handling them. Covering up “ugly” tiles today could leave you with an even uglier problem tomorrow. First, it’s possible that plumbing issues are hiding underneath your tub, behind your shower walls, or in some other area that will be covered up by your bath-fitter solution. That means you’re essentially putting a veneer on a dry-rot issue that will now be impossible to detect until it gets to a critical state.

One issue that we see time after time with bath-fitter liners is that they eventually need to be torn away in order to address the underlying issues that were covered up when they were installed. That means that you’ll effectively be paying for your project twice. Even homeowners who never have to deal with issues behind the scenes of their bath-fitter solutions may still be left unsatisfied.

Bath-fitter liners aren’t considered attractive. While you may be eager to get a fresh, new look in your bathroom at any cost, a bath-fitter liner can quickly become a “cheap-looking” eyesore after the initial thrill of the upgrade wears off. Bath-fitter linings have a generic, plastic-like look that brings blandness to a bathroom. If you add tiles to your bathroom backsplash, the bath-fitter liner will detract from the high-quality look you’ve put time and money into creating. Bath-fitter liners are also terrible for resale value.

A bathroom is one of the rooms that “sells a house.” Buyers are always disappointed when they encounter bathrooms with generic bath-fitter solutions. By contrast, tile is considered a high-end feature that increases home value and desirability. Buyers often factor in the cost of redoing a bathtub or shower that comes with a bath-fitter design when making offers on homes. In addition to being unattractive, bath-fitter liners also create suspicion. When buyers and agents see a freshly installed bath-fitter liner, this causes them to wonder if the homeowner is covering up a problem. The rushed, inexpensive aspect of this choice can make it look like the homeowner was in a hurry to hide something. By contrast, the look of freshly installed tiles denotes pride of ownership. Here’s a rundown of some other “cons” to consider if you’re thinking about remodeling a bathroom with bath-fitter lining:

  • Water Can Get Between Your Tub and Liner: The small cracks that form in your tub’s caulking over time can be large enough for water to seep through. When this happens, mold and odors may be noticed over time.
  • Limited Range of Options: Bath-fitter linings are only available in standard colors. This option doesn’t allow you to choose custom textures, patterns, or designs. By contrast, tile offers limitless options for colors and patterns. You can even have a custom mosaic done!
  • Not Every Tub Can Be Lined: Free-standing, acyclic, and fiberglass tubs aren’t compatible with bath-fitter linings.
  • It Might Not Actually Be Cheaper: Many people walk away from a quote for bath-fitter lining feeling confident that they’re getting a bargain without actually looking into the cost to tile a tub or shower with a Philadelphia home remodeling company. Many homeowners are shocked to discover that having a licensed, qualified bathroom contractor come in to replace tile isn’t nearly as expensive as they thought it would be.

Of course, many people are still lured in by the perceived low cost and ease of having a bath-fitter lining installed. There’s no denying that some people may ultimately decide that this option is the way to go. For instance, bath-fitter lining can be an economical choice when fixing up a rental property. However, nobody should make a final decision without looking into the benefits of tiling your tub or shower. Here’s a look at the “pros” of going with tile this time around:

  • Unparalleled Moisture Resistance: Ceramic tiles have a nonporous texture that can withstand the harshest of wet environments with grace! Even stone tiles can perform beautifully in wet environments as long as they are sealed. Well-maintained tile tubs and showers can last for a lifetime!
  • Lower Risks for Mold and Mildew: Tile cuts down on risks for mold and mildew because there’s no need to worry about water soaking “underneath” your tiles the way you need to with a liner.
  • A Cleaner Look: While a uniformly colored bath-fitter liner shows off stains and water spots, “busy” tile patterns conceal messes to create a neat, polished look.
  • Durability: How long can bath tiles last? Ceramic tiles in a bathroom can be expected to last for at least 75 years! It’s not unheard of for stone tiles to last 100 years. Let’s compare that to liners. Most people will only get between five and 15 years from a liner. That means that hiring someone to install tile in your tub or shower will ultimately “pay for itself” when you factor in the reality that you won’t need to redo this project every few years.
  • It Might Be Healthier: Synthetic materials expose humans to something called off-gassing. During off-gassing, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) pollute your indoor air over time. That means that the heat and humidity of your bath or shower could actually be causing toxic fumes to be released every time you wash up in a bathroom with a bath-fitter lining. This is not something you want your family breathing in! There’s no need to worry about off-gassing with ceramic and stone tiles. These are all-natural, non-synthetic materials that do not release toxic fumes.
  • Endless Design Options: As stated above, the sky is truly the limit when it comes to design possibilities with ceramic and natural stone. A bathroom contractor can create a custom look that integrates various shapes, sizes, and finishes.

Finally, bath and shower tiles can be integrated into the full design of your bathroom. If you’re updating your tub or shower as part of a larger bathroom renovation, this is a perfect time to match your vanity backsplash with your bathtub tiling to create a high-end bathroom! Doing everything at the same time is a great way to save money.

There’s simply no doubt that tiles provide a better return on investment than bath-fitter liners. However, you may not have been aware of the fact that tile can also end up being more affordable, safer for your health, and easier to care for than synthetic bath liners. Don’t risk degrading the value of your bathroom by going with the easy, cheap option. Pick the choice that will bring your home beauty and value for a lifetime to come. American Home Concepts is ready to help you explore the beauty of tile at your home! A leader in Philadelphia home improvements, American Home Concepts has performed countless bathroom remodels in Philadelphia over the years. Our quality workmanship sets us apart. Contact our team today to get a quote for bathtub tiling in Philadelphia.

Table of Contents

Schedule Service