Your shower is obviously one of your most important plumbing fixtures. Just like any other plumbing fixture, showers can eventually get damaged or suffer from issues with leaking. When this happens, the only solution is to have a professional plumber replace it. With this in mind, here is a full overview of how long different types of showers usually last and how to know when you need to have your shower replaced.
Acrylic and Fiberglass Showers
Acrylic and fiberglass showers are generally the least expensive and the easiest to install. As a result, they are also by far the most common type of shower found in most homes. These showers are prefabricated and usually made of a solid piece of material that has been molded into shape, and this solid construction helps ensure that they shouldn’t leak.
Fiberglass showers are typically the cheapest of all options, but they also have the shortest life span. One issue with these showers is that they can easily be cracked or damaged. If the damage is fairly minor, the shower may be able to be sealed and repaired. In this case, it will then need to be resealed regularly or else it may soon start leaking. For this reason, we always recommend instead replacing the shower if it is damaged.
In most cases, a fiberglass shower will need to be replaced after 10 or maybe 15 years at the most. If you use lots of harsh or abrasive cleaners and chemicals, the shower is likely to wear out and need replacing even sooner. Acrylic showers typically have a glossy coating covering the entire surface that helps make them more durable and longer-lasting. This type of shower will typically last for anywhere from 15 to possibly 20 years.
One of the biggest benefits of acrylic and fiberglass showers is how easy they are to replace and install. In most cases, the entire process of removing the old shower and installing the new one can be completed in a single day.
Ceramic and Porcelain Tiles
Ceramic and porcelain tiles are also popular options that can enhance the beauty of your shower and the entire bathroom. One of the biggest advantages of using tiles is that it allows you a huge amount of freedom in terms of the style, appearance and size of the shower. Another major benefit to using tiles is that it makes it simple to repair any damage. If any of the tiles get cracked or broken, you can simply replace the damaged tiles instead of having to replace the entire shower.
Tile showers will usually need to be replaced every 40 to 50 years, and they will also typically need to be re-grouted and resealed every few years. They could theoretically last for far longer than this, but the issue is that the shower pan liner will typically have an average life span of around 45 years. After this time, the pan liner often begins to develop small cracks or holes that allow water to leak out. It is a common misconception that the tiles and grout in a shower are what prevent it from leaking. In actuality, it is the pan liner that ensures the shower can’t leak.
Stone tiles are undoubtedly beautiful and great in terms of aesthetics. However, they don’t always make the best material for a shower. As with ceramic and porcelain tiles, stone tiles can potentially last for decades and easily as long or even longer than the pan liner. The main issue with stone tiles is that most of them are quite porous and require lots of regular maintenance and upkeep. This problem is even worse if you live in an area with hard water as all of the minerals can cling to the stone and get inside all of the pores, which can make it nearly impossible to keep the shower looking clean.
Stone tiles can easily absorb dirt, grime, soap scum and limescale, and they will need to be resealed every year to help prevent this from happening. Without regular maintenance and deep cleaning, the tiles will often start to look dingy and may need to be replaced much sooner than other types of tiles.
Glass Tiles and Shower Doors
Glass tiles are another popular shower option that can offer a unique, contemporary look. With regular maintenance, glass tiles can easily last for as long as the shower pan liner does. However, they are also quite fragile and can easily crack or break. Another issue with choosing glass tiles is that they can get scratched quite easily. Compounding this problem is the fact that glass tiles are much more difficult to clean limescale and soap scum off of. To keep glass tiles in good shape, they will need to be resealed every year and then re-grouted every five to 10 years.
Glass doors are commonly used in all types of showers, and these should easily last for as long as the shower itself. Most glass shower doors will last for around 20 years as long as they are taken care of properly. Especially important is monitoring the hinges and bearings to make sure the door still opens and closes smoothly. In many cases, the hinges will need to be replaced or repaired after about 10 years.
Glass shower doors can sometimes be prone to leaking as they begin to age and the silicon sealant starts to degrade. Luckily, this problem is easy to fix by removing the old sealant and resealing around the entire edge of the door.
Most bathtubs are made from porcelain, fiberglass or acrylic materials. Porcelain bathtubs typically have the longest life span and will often last for anywhere from 25 to 50 years. For acrylic and fiberglass bathtubs, the life span is usually similar to showers made from the same materials at anywhere from 10 to 20 years.
Shower and Bathtub Fittings
You may be surprised to learn that most plumbing experts recommend replacing your showerhead at least once or twice a year. If not, the head will often become clogged with mineral scale and result in poor water flow. You can clean showerheads by soaking them in vinegar, but there is generally no way for you to ever remove all of the mineral deposits.
In addition to the showerhead, you may also need to have the mixing valve replaced on your shower or bathtub occasionally. This valve is what works to control the flow of water coming out of the shower and also to control the temperature. The mixing valve will typically last as long as the rest of the shower and faucet, but they can get worn-out or damaged if your shower gets a lot of use. If the valve wears out, it will lead to water constantly dripping out of the faucet or shower handle constantly even when it is shut off.
How to Know When It Is Time to Have Your Shower Replaced
The main reason that showers need to be replaced is due to leaking, and this is the one thing you always want to watch out for. If the pan liner develops a leak, it will often cause the flooring around the shower to feel soft or spongy. Leaks can also quickly allow mold to start growing, and this is why you should always watch out for any musty or moldy odors in your bathroom. If your shower is leaking, you will also often see water spots or other signs of water damage on the ceilings or walls in the room underneath the bathroom.
At High 5 Plumbing, we specialize in a full range of plumbing services, and our team can help when it comes time to replace your shower. We repair, install and maintain all types of bathroom, kitchen and outdoor plumbing fixtures. We also offer water heater services, repiping, drain cleaning, sewer and water line services and a range of other plumbing services for residents throughout the Denver Metro area. Give us a call today if you have any questions or need to schedule any type of plumbing service.