Planning for a kitchen and bath upgrade? Are you looking to focus on upgrading your existing bathtub to a spacious, luxurious walk-in shower? Choosing the right enclosure is key to creating a beautiful, functional shower stall that matches your bathroom aesthetic and layout. In this blog, we’ll compare popular walk-in shower enclosure options—glass, acrylic, fiberglass, and metal—to help you select the perfect solution.

Glass Shower Enclosures: Sleek and Streamlined

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s (NKBA) 2024 Design Trends study, frameless glass is the most requested walk-in shower enclosure style today for its sleek, airy aesthetic.

Frameless glass shower enclosures instantly create a clean, contemporary look. Glass panels and doors beautifully showcase fancy tilework or natural stone while allowing light to fill the space. Pros of glass walk-in shower enclosures include:

  • Streamlined appearance seamlessly fits modern or contemporary bathrooms
  • Frameless design highlights shower materials and colors
  • Glass is non-porous and easy to clean
  • Durable tempered safety glass resists cracks and scratches

Tempered glass costs more upfront but its durability pays off long-term. Handleless designs further enhance the modern appeal but could be challenging for some users to open.

Get the Spa Look with Textured or Patterned Glass

If you want a bathroom remodel with added privacy or a signature style, choose textured, tinted, or patterned glass panels. Obscured glass provides seclusion without closing off the space. Bronze, rain, or reed glass panels lend wonderful ambiance. Etched patterns like florals and geometrics infuse artistic flair.

Elegant bathroom with walk in shower, toilet, and vanity

Acrylic Shower Surrounds: Waterproof & Customizable

Factory-formed acrylic shower surrounds cover all walls to create a water-tight seal. Completely customizable options enable tailoring the size, shape, and accessories to your exact shower plans. The benefits of acrylic enclosures include the following:

  • Waterproof, sealed walls prevent leaks and mold growth
  • Smooth non-porous surface simplifies cleaning 
  • It can be sized for nearly any shape from neo-angle to corner showers
  • Shower bases, shelves, and seats can be incorporated seamlessly

On the downside, acrylic scratches fairly easily and the seams may yellow over time. Higher-end acrylics resist discoloration and damage better, retaining their lustrous gloss for years.

Infuse Color and Pattern with Acrylic Surrounds

While most acrylic shower walls are clear, some brands integrate color or graphic prints throughout the material. Vibrant blue or green walls deliver a serious wow factor. Abstract shapes or graphic prints render a graffiti-style look. Illuminated walls powered by LED lights take it to the next level. This is one of the best shower remodeling ideas you can include in your remodel. 

Bathroom with spacious walk-in shower, and toilet

Fiberglass Shower Stalls: Affordable & Low Maintenance

For an affordable and hassle-free option, fiberglass shower stalls come in one-piece, leak-proof units. The gelcoat surfaces keep a shiny polished look for years with basic cleaning. Standard neoangle corner units fit most bathrooms but custom sizing or shapes generally cost more. Best of all, fiberglass stalls are installed quickly with minimal demolition to existing bathrooms.

On the flip side, fiberglass lacks the sleek modern aesthetic of frameless glass. Over time, the surfaces are prone to scratches and yellowing. Fiberglass also cracks if subjected to intense temperature fluctuations or improper support. Overall though, it provides pleasing durability at a moderate price point.

Maximize Small Bathrooms with Fiberglass Corner Showers

The best use for fiberglass shower stalls may be transforming tiny bathrooms. Corner fiberglass showers maximize floor space and create spacious stalls inside cramped footprints. neo-angle units angle the back wall to open the interior area without consuming more bathroom area. The all-in-one fiberglass construction simplified installation exponentially.

White shower with enclosed glass with metal frame

Metal Shower Enclosures: Highly Customizable Durability

According to the 2022 Home Additions survey by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), over 60% of homeowners upgrading master bathrooms are installing more spacious, luxury walk-in showers.

Similar to frameless glass designs, metal shower enclosures highlight fancy tilework through semi-frameless paneling. Instead of glass, however, opt for coated aluminum, nickel, bronze, or other metal composite sheets. Completely bespoke designs crafted of zinc, copper, or stainless steel raise luxury even higher. While not cheap, metal enclosures offer:

  • Incredible strength and durability from tough coated metals
  • Resilience against scratches, dents, and other damage
  • Nearly endless customization from shapes, sizes, and configurations
  • Matte or shiny finishes to match your desired style

Cleaning metal surfaces takes a bit more effort as residues easily accumulate. And style-wise, some metal enclosures skew more industrial than luxurious depending on finishes and hardware choices.

Infuse Personality with Creative Metalwork

For one-of-a-kind artisanal flair, customized metalwork opens astonishing possibilities. Commission intricate brass inlays, backlit perforated copper screens, or nature-inspired zinc cutouts. Mix metal types, patinas, and textures for a serious luxe style. Though pricey, a custom metal walk-in shower becomes a functional accent wall and focal point of the entire bathroom.


What size walk-in shower should I get?

Generally, 36-42 inch square stalls suit most users’ needs but larger is better if space allows. Corner neoangle units typically span 32″ deep x 60″ across. Custom sizes range wider and deeper. Remember to factor in elbow room and accessories like benches when planning dimensions.

What is the most cost-effective shower enclosure option?

Fiberglass shower stalls offer the best value, with acrylic surrounds as a second budget-friendly choice. Glass and metal shower walls or panels cost more upfront but carry long lifespans to balance overall cost.

Which enclosure is easiest to clean and maintain?

Non-porous glass and acrylic surfaces wipe clean with little effort. Their seamless designs leave minimal edges or hardware to trap grime. Fiberglass needs more scrubbing to fight soap scum absorption and prevent yellowing over time.

How difficult is it to install different shower enclosures?

Acrylic and fiberglass units install fairly easily as preformed inserts. Glass and metal panels require precise measurement and professional installation but allow greater customization. Consider doing structural work like bench seats or tiling beforehand.

What option looks most high-end and luxurious?

Frameless glass lends an airy, elegant appearance, as do semi-frameless metal enclosures. For opulent bespoke style, customized metalwork and attention to design details top the luxury scale regardless of raw material costs.

Spacious bathroom with tub, and shower

Create Your Dream Walk-In Shower Oasis

Transforming a lackluster tub into a spa-worthy walk-in shower takes thoughtful planning but pays off tenfold. Glass, acrylic, fiberglass, and metal enclosures all merit consideration depending on budget, aesthetics, and functionality needs. Additional touches like recessed shelving, designer grab bars, built-in seating, rain showerheads, or even steam generators further enhance the splendor and utility.

With strategic materials selection and keen attention to critical measurements, nearly any bathroom can support a walk-in shower upgrade. Going vertical with floor-to-ceiling tile or similar overlays visually expands modest footprints. Curbless entryways improve accessibility too.

Investing in the ideal walk-in shower enclosure truly elevates your whole bathing experience. Treat yourself to stress relief through hydrotherapy rain showers, steam sessions, or simply soothing soaks. By thoughtfully incorporating the perfect shower conversion for your particular bathroom, the dream of at-home spa luxury stands well within reach.