Can You Tile Over Acrylic Shower Walls?

Can you tile over a plastic shower wall

Can You Tile Over Acrylic Shower Walls?

When it comes to updating a bathroom, one of the most common questions homeowners have is, can you tile over acrylic shower walls? Yes, the prospect of tiling over existing acrylic can be enticing for those looking to give their bathrooms a fresh, modern look without undergoing a complete remodel. This article will explore the feasibility of tiling over acrylic shower walls, providing a comprehensive guide on the process, necessary preparations, and expert tips to ensure a successful outcome.

The Feasibility of Tiling Over Acrylic Shower Walls

The first consideration in this project is whether it’s practical to tile over acrylic shower walls. Acrylic is a non-porous, smooth material, which can present adhesion challenges for tile and mortar. However, with the right preparation and techniques, tiling over acrylic is possible and can lead to stunning results. The key lies in proper surface preparation and using the right materials to ensure the tiles adhere securely.

Understanding Acrylic Shower Walls

Before diving into the tiling process, it’s essential to understand what acrylic shower walls are. Acrylic is a type of plastic that is lightweight, durable, and water-resistant, making it a popular choice for shower enclosures. These walls are typically installed in one or multiple panels and can be smooth or textured. While acrylic provides a seamless and easy-to-clean surface, its smoothness can be a hurdle for tile adhesion. Additionally, considering the use of triangle shower benches can enhance the functionality and comfort of your shower space.

Can I tile over an acrylic shower base

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Tools and Materials Needed for Tiling Over Acrylic Shower Walls

To embark on the tiling project, gather the necessary tools and materials:

  • High-quality tile adhesive suitable for non-porous surfaces
  • Tile spacers
  • Notched trowel
  • Grout
  • Grout float
  • Tile cutter or wet saw
  • Primer or bonding agent designed for smooth surfaces
  • Level
  • Measuring tape
  • Sponge and bucket for cleanup

Surface Preparation

Proper surface preparation is crucial for ensuring that tiles adhere well to the acrylic surface. Start by thoroughly cleaning the acrylic walls to remove soap scum, grease, or any other residue. Use a cleaner designed for bathrooms and scrub the surface with a non-abrasive pad. Once clean, rinse the walls thoroughly and let them dry completely.

Applying a Primer or Bonding Agent

Since acrylic is a non-porous material, applying a primer or bonding agent designed for smooth surfaces is essential. This step helps create a rougher surface that improves the adhesion of the tile adhesive. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the primer or bonding agent application, and allow it to dry completely before proceeding to the next step.

Choosing the Right Tile Adhesive

Selecting the right tile adhesive is critical for a successful tiling project over acrylic. Epoxy-based or modified thin-set adhesives are ideal for non-porous surfaces like acrylic. These adhesives offer superior bonding strength and are resistant to moisture, making them perfect for shower environments.

Laying the Tiles

With the surface prepped and adhesive chosen, it’s time to start laying the tiles. Begin by applying the tile adhesive to a small section of the wall using a notched trowel. Spread the adhesive evenly, creating ridges that help the tiles adhere better. Press each tile firmly into the adhesive, using tile spacers to maintain consistent gaps for grout lines. Work in small sections to ensure the adhesive doesn’t dry out before you place the tiles.

Cutting Tiles to Fit

In most tiling projects, you’ll need to cut some tiles to fit around fixtures, corners, or edges. Use a tile cutter or wet saw to make precise cuts. Measure the area carefully and mark the tiles before cutting to ensure a perfect fit. Always wear safety goggles and gloves when cutting tiles to protect yourself from sharp edges and debris.

Grouting the Tiles

Once all the tiles are in place and the adhesive has cured (follow the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions for curing time), it’s time to apply the grout. Mix the grout according to the manufacturer’s instructions and use a grout float to spread it over the tiles, pressing it into the gaps between them. Wipe away excess grout with a damp sponge, being careful not to disturb the grout lines. Allow the grout to cure as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Sealing the Grout

After the grout has cured, applying a grout sealer is highly recommended to protect it from moisture and stains. Follow the sealer manufacturer’s instructions for application, and ensure the bathroom is well-ventilated during this process. Sealing the grout extends the longevity of your tiling work and keeps it looking pristine.

Read More: What’s the Average Size of a Shower Bench?

Maintenance Tips for Tiled Acrylic Shower Walls

Here are some maintenance tips for tiled acrylic shower walls:


  • Regular Cleaning: The beauty of tiled acrylic showers is that both the tile and acrylic are relatively easy to maintain. For regular cleaning, a simple wipe-down with a damp microfiber cloth and mild dish soap or a non-abrasive cleaner will do the trick.
  • Deep Cleaning: For tougher stains like soap scum or hard water deposits, you can use a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. Spray the solution on the affected area, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wipe it clean with a soft cloth. For tougher grime on the tile itself, a soft-bristled brush can be used, but avoid using anything abrasive that could scratch the tile or acrylic.
  • Important Note: Never use harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners on either the tile or acrylic surface. These can damage the finish and make them more susceptible to staining and scratching in the future.

Grout Maintenance:

  • The grout lines in between the tiles are where most of the maintenance will be required. Mold and mildew can grow in these areas, so it’s important to inspect them regularly for any signs of discoloration or cracking.
  • Cleaning Grout: To clean grout, you can use a diluted bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach per gallon of water) or a commercial grout cleaner. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and rinsing.
  • Sealing Grout: To prevent mold and mildew growth and make cleaning easier, it’s recommended to seal the grout periodically (every 1-2 years). Choose a high-quality grout sealer specifically designed for showers.

Additional Tips:

  • Ventilation: After showering, ensure proper ventilation to allow moisture to escape and prevent mold growth. Open a window or turn on the bathroom fan for at least 30 minutes after showering.
  • Squeegee: Use a squeegee on the shower walls after showering to remove excess water droplets that can lead to mineral deposit buildup.
  • Inspect Caulking: Caulking around the shower pan and fixtures should also be inspected regularly for cracks or signs of wear and tear. Re-caulk with a silicone-based, mold-resistant caulk when necessary.

By following these simple maintenance tips, you can keep your tiled acrylic shower walls looking sparkling clean and prevent any long-term problems.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Tiling Over Acrylic Shower Walls

Like any home improvement project, tiling over acrylic shower walls has its pros and cons.


  • Cost-Effective: Tiling over existing acrylic can save you the cost and hassle of removing and replacing the shower enclosure.
  • Updated Look: Tiles offer a wide range of design options, allowing you to customize the look of your shower to match your aesthetic preferences.
  • Increased Durability: Properly installed tiles can enhance the durability of your shower walls and protect them from water damage.


  • Adhesion Challenges: Ensuring tiles adhere properly to the non-porous acrylic surface requires careful preparation and the right materials.
  • Weight Considerations: Tiles add weight to the shower walls, which may not be suitable for all acrylic installations. Ensure your shower walls can support the additional weight.
  • Maintenance: Tiled surfaces require regular maintenance to keep grout lines clean and sealed.

Expert Tips for a Successful Tiling Project

Can you put acrylic shower walls over tile

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  • Test Adhesion: Before committing to tiling the entire shower, test the adhesion of the tile adhesive on a small, inconspicuous area of the acrylic wall. Ensure it bonds well before proceeding.
  • Professional Help: If you’re unsure about any step of the process, consider consulting a professional. A tiling expert can offer valuable insights and ensure the project is completed correctly.
  • Patience is Key: Take your time with each step, from surface preparation to grouting. Rushing through the process can lead to mistakes and affect the quality of the finished project.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Skipping Primer: Never skip the primer or bonding agent step. Proper surface preparation is crucial for the tiles to adhere securely to the acrylic.
  • Inadequate Adhesive Coverage: Ensure the adhesive is evenly spread and has enough coverage to support the tiles. Gaps or thin spots in the adhesive can lead to tiles loosening over time.
  • Ignoring Curing Times: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for curing times for both the adhesive and grout. Rushing this process can compromise the durability of the tiling job.


Tiling over acrylic shower walls is a feasible project that can transform the look of your bathroom. With the right tools, materials, and techniques, you can achieve a professional finish that enhances both the aesthetics and functionality of your shower. Proper surface preparation, careful adhesive selection, and meticulous tile placement are the keys to a successful outcome. Whether you’re an experienced DIY enthusiast or seeking professional help, this guide provides the essential steps and tips to ensure your tiling project is a success.

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