5 Things to Consider When Choosing an Acrylic Tub Surround

Barbara Bellesi Zito
Updated January 3, 2022
A bathtub with acrylic surround
Jason - stock.adobe.com


  • An acrylic tub or shower surround adds a clean look to your bathroom

  • It’s a budget-friendly way to upgrade the space

  • Acrylic surrounds are easy to install and even easier to maintain

  • There are acrylic finishes that look like stone for a more luxurious look 

  • Many acrylic systems are DIY friendly, though a pro can get the job done quicker

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A bath remodel often tops the wish list of both homeowners and homebuyers. Even with minor upgrades, you could see a two-thirds return on investment for your bathroom upgrade. A new acrylic tub surround is an affordable option for sprucing up your space quickly and easily. Here are some things to consider when shopping for tub and shower surrounds for your space.

Your Budget

Installing a new acrylic tub or shower surround in your bathroom is one of the most budget-friendly options for your bathroom. Acrylic is made of plastic and is much cheaper than purchasing individual glass or ceramic tiles for your tub or shower surround. Plus it’s quicker to install, so you’ll save on contractor costs.

Ease of Installation

While most acrylic tub surrounds are DIY-friendly, the type of surround you choose may determine how long it will take to complete this project.

One-Piece System

The number of visible seams will determine how you’ll need to install your shower replacement surround. Even a one-piece system will have a seam or two at the corners and along the top of the tub or shower pan. For a completely seamless acrylic shower install, you’ll need to hire professionals to take on the task. One-piece tub surround units are available for new construction or major remodeling and are usually not a suitable replacement option for updating or removing an old surround.

Three-Piece System

If you are removing an old tub surround with the bathtub still in place, installing a new three-piece or five-piece surround is often the way to go. They're often easier to install if you plan to DIY the upgrade.

Opting for a three-piece system might seem counterintuitive, but a one-piece system is actually more complex than its name lets on. The separate wall system doesn’t require adding any filler pieces around the border to secure the fit. If you hire a professional to do it, this will also speed up their installation time.

Overall Aesthetic

An acrylic tub or shower doesn’t have to be boring. You’ll have your pick of options that put function over form, but the market has expanded to feature acrylic surrounds that mimic the look of upscale stone finishes. For a more luxurious look, choose acrylic tub surround finishes that look like marble or granite.

Cleaning and Maintenance

A bathroom with an acrylic tub surround
Jason - stock.adobe.com

Tiled baths are beautiful, but their maintenance can be a chore. With acrylic, you don’t have to worry about scrubbing grout, but you will have to clean the surfaces of the walls and tub/shower floor to keep things sanitary. Use household cleaners marked safe for acrylic on the label or enlist one of the trusty standbys in your pantry: baking soda and vinegar.

Whichever cleaning method you choose, skip the abrasive scrub pads or tools with harsh bristles and opt for a soft cloth instead. Also, consider rinsing down the walls and floor after every use to stop soap buildup.

Resale Value

An upgraded bathroom will net you one of the biggest returns on your investment at resale, depending on the level of finishes you choose for it. This goes for the color palette as well. Neutrals have a universal appeal, so keep that in mind when choosing colors for your acrylic tub or shower.

Of course, if you’re planning to stay put for a few years, then pick a color scheme and design that satisfies your tastes and makes you want to soak in your bathtub for hours at a time.

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