There are several pros and cons of fiberglass shower enclosures that should be considered before making a purchase. They are available in a wide variety of styles and colors. These units are relatively easy to maintain and most models are less expensive than other materials. One-piece enclosures are usually very difficult to navigate through an existing home because of their bulky shape, however. Shower enclosures made of fiberglass are also easily damaged and may need to be replaced after only a few years.
Fiberglass shower enclosures can be found in both traditional and designer colors to compliment various bathroom color schemes. Styles range from simple to elaborate with some models featuring built-in shelves and storage areas. These units typically have a glossy finish with a non-slip floor. Some models are also designed with a level access floor to accommodate persons with limited mobility. Fiberglass enclosures are available in full-size or compact versions and some units also have built-in seats.
Most fiberglass shower enclosures require only minor routine maintenance to maintain their glossy appearance. Special scratch-proof cleaners are available to remove soap build-up without damaging the glossy finish. These units are typically a cost-effective choice for bathroom remodeling and new home construction due to their relatively low price. The one-piece surround design of this enclosure eliminates the need for labor intensive wall tiling projects.
One of the drawbacks to shower enclosures made of fiberglass is their bulky one-piece design. Fiberglass is a somewhat delicate material and must be well-protected when transported from one location to another. These units are typically shipped in padded cartons and must be kept in their packaging prior to installation. The large size of a packaged shower enclosure can also be difficult to navigate around corners and through doorways. It is sometimes impossible to transport the enclosure to the desired location without causing some type of damage to it.
A fiberglass shower enclosure typically lasts for several years with proper care, but the finish can be easily damaged by improper cleaning methods or products. The fiberglass surface may also be cracked, chipped, or broken if a heavy object is dropped onto it. Fiberglass repairs are usually very difficult and may result in an unsightly surface appearance. If the finish is excessively scratched by abrasive cleaners, it will become porous and unsanitary over time.
Although the initial expense of fiberglass shower enclosures is lower, the overall cost can sometimes be higher than traditional materials. Damaged enclosures may need to be replaced prematurely, thereby causing the cost of labor and materials to actually double in the long run. Non-traditional color choices may also become dated and require premature replacement. In some environments, the glossy coating may begin to peel or crack and produce a porous and unsightly appearance.