Bathtub walls can be expensive to tile. It takes time, skill, and patience to perfect the look, but there are alternatives. The best bathtub surrounds make light work of finishing off the tub, are easier to install, and deliver instant results.
We review 7 of the best bathtub surrounds, judging them for their price, quality, and material to make your choice easier.
- Repairable and scratch-resistant
- Fits directly onto other surface
- Maintenance-free subway tile pattern
- Lightweight and modern design
- Fits directly onto studs
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Easier to manage when solo-installing
- Affordable option
- Overlapping sides prevent water seepage
- 6 self-draining shelves for storage
- Price is set somewhere in between
- It fits standard, large, and whirlpool bathtubs
- Unbelievable price
- 6 generous shelves for added storage
- Weighing just 4.38 pounds
- High-quality Veritek so it won't chip or crack
- Stylish tile-effect surface
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Doesn’t fade, scratch, or crack
- 8 color choices
- Highly durable
How To Choose the Best Bathtub Surround
Getting the best bathtub surround is a challenge. There are some things you should keep in mind when making your choice. Here are the key considerations.
Choose the Correct Size
Most bathtub surrounds have a stipulated maximum and minimum size. Make sure you measure your space twice and then carefully cut the panel to size. Double-check the measurements are compatible with your tub.
If you cut it to size incorrectly, you can’t return it. The good news is that you can trim most fiberglass and acrylic surrounds, so even if your bathtub is not plumb, you can still cut the panels to a straight line to rectify the problem.
Select the Right Material
Most bathtub surrounds are made of plastic. However, there are many different materials available. Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), thermoplastic, and acrylic are also commonly used.
The material affects the quality of the surround and its longevity. If you are looking for a short-term solution, a budget surround will do the job, but it won’t stay looking good for long.
Solid surface surrounds, and Veritek are hard-wearing materials. They cost a lot more than acrylic and fiberglass, but they can take a lot more punishment, so they look good for longer.
Is It Easy To Maintain?
This follows on from material quality, in that the better the material, the easier it is to maintain. The advantage of a bathtub surround is it should retain its “like new” look, keeping your bathroom looking fresh.
Most surrounds just need a wipe around with a damp cloth to keep them looking good. Look out for materials like Veritk, which is non-porous and has no surface coating to easily scratch and chip. This material is a color-through product, meaning that it won’t fade and is repairable.
Is It Easy To Install?
The time you spend installing the bathtub surround is crucial because, at some point in the future, you may need to remove the panel to gain access to pipework, so the last thing you would want is to spend hours fiddling with tools to remove the surround.
Some simply glue in place, while others fit directly to the studs. You should also keep an eye out for seamless panel edges and watertight seals. Once the surround is installed, the last thing you want is water seepage, forming mold and mildew behind the panels.
Does It Have Storage?
Some bathtub surrounds come with shelves and recesses where you can keep bottles and toiletries. If you have a large family, the smallest room in the house needs all the storage it can get.
Try and get a surround with self-draining shelves because water collects and causes mildew to grow. Also, some have rails to hang towels for convenience.
The Best Bathtub Surrounds of 2021
Here is our review of the 7 top bathtub surrounds, based on price, quality, and material. We also look at options like 3-piece and 5-piece kits.
1. Transolid SWK603660-27 SaraMar 3-Piece Tub Wall Kit
This Transolid kit comes with 3 wall panels and 2 color-coordinated inside trim pieces. It measures 36 inches by 60 inches, but you can get it in larger 72-inch and 96-inch panels.
It has a maintenance-free subway tile pattern, which enhances your bathroom style, and the panels glue directly over other surfaces, making them ideal for a bathroom remodel or new construction project.
Because the material has color running all the way through rather than on the surface, it is scratch-resistant and repairable, keeping it looking good for longer.
The downside is you pay for the added quality. This kit costs several times the amount of other examples, but the plus side is it looks good. And to top it all, you get a 10-year warranty, which instills peace of mind when you purchase.
- The color runs through the entire material, so it is repairable and scratch-resistant.
- It fits directly onto other surfaces, making it ideal for remodels.
- You get a maintenance-free subway tile pattern for a modern-looking bathtub surround.
- The 10-year warranty is industry-leading.
- This surround costs several times the amount of other bathtub surrounds.
|Dimensions (inches)||36 x 60 x 60|
|Number of pieces||3|
2. American Standard Studio 60-inch x 32-Inch Bathtub Surround
This American Standard bathtub surround comes with a high-gloss finish. It has 6 large corner shelves and is constructed from acrylic. The central wall area is free of shelving to make getting in and out of the bathtub easier.
This surround mounts directly to studs and has a tongue and groove interlocking system so that the panels are watertight to prevent seepage. This model is 60 inches by 32 inches, although you can order it in smaller and larger sizes.
It comes as a 3-piece set, and best of all, you get a limited lifetime warranty to guard against defects in the manufacturing process. It’s also a lot lighter than the Transolid model, so installing it won’t need an army of people to lift it.
- The lightweight and modern design complement the Studio range of bathtubs.
- It fits directly onto studs for a super-secure installation.
- You get a limited lifetime warranty, giving you peace of mind against defects.
- It has 6 generous corner shelves for maximum storage.
- It still costs a lot of money for a molded plastic kit.
|Dimensions (inches)||60 x 32 x 58|
|Number of pieces||3|
3. ASB Vantage 39240 5-Piece Tub Wall
This ASB Vantage tub wall is constructed from heavy-grade material. It has overlapping corners for a watertight seal and 6 generous shelves for increased storage options.
It measures 60 inches by 31 inches and fits alcoves 49 inches in width and 28 inches in depth, and it comes with a 1-year warranty. The high-quality acrylic stays looking good for years, and the best news is you don’t need to break the bank to get this surround.
It costs a third of the price of the American Standard and over 4 times less compared to the Transolid wall surround. This is a lightweight kit, weighing just 11.44 pounds, so maneuvering it into position is easy.
Because this is a 5-piece kit, it does take a bit of working out to get it to fit properly, but the upside is you can tackle the installation on your own. Dealing with individual panels makes it more manageable.
- This 5-piece set is easier to manage when solo-installing.
- It costs much less than the other examples, making it an affordable option.
- It has overlapping sides to prevent water seepage.
- You get 6 generous corner shelves for maximum storage.
- This kit weighs just 11.44 pounds, so getting it into position is a lot easier.
- It may feel a little flimsy because it is so lightweight.
- Installing a 5-piece wall surround is more complicated than other kits.
- It only comes with a 1-year warranty, which is much less than other makes and models.
|Dimensions (inches)||36 x 5 x 60|
|Number of pieces||5|
4. Mustee 56WHT Durawall Fiberglass Bathtub Wall Surround
This Mustee is another 5-piece wall surround kit. It has 6 substantial self-draining shelves for keeping shampoo and soap, as well as other bathroom items, plus it has seamless overlapping corners and edges for a watertight seal.
These panels are formed from a high-grade thermoplastic and should stay looking good for years to come. It fits standard 60-inch by 30-inch bathtubs, as well as larger 32-inch by 60-inch models. It even accommodates whirlpool baths measuring 42 inches deep and 72 inches wide.
The colorfast satin finish is resistant to mold and mildew and easy to clean, just don’t use abrasive materials like scourers, or you risk damaging the material.
Mustee has pitched this wall surround in the middle price-point, so it should appeal to most customers.
- You get 6 generous, self-draining shelves for storing shampoo and other bathroom items.
- The price is set somewhere in between the cheapest and more expensive wall surrounds.
- It fits standard, large, and whirlpool bathtubs.
- Formed from high-grade thermoplastic that’s mold and mildew-resistant.
- The thermoplastic easily scratches if you use the wrong cleaning products.
|Dimensions (inches)||39.8 x 5 x 59|
|Number of pieces||5|
5. Maax 5-Piece Bathtub Wall Kit
When it comes to saving the pennies, this Maax bathtub surround is impossible to beat. It costs nearly 7 times less than the Transolid model and almost 4 times less than the American Standard.
This kit comes in 5 biscuit-colored pieces. You also get 6 generous shelves for added storage, although you might want to limit the weight you place on them, as this unit only weighs 4.38 pounds.
It fits bathtubs up to 60 inches in length and 31 inches in width. This is the budget option, so don’t expect the same quality as other models. The material is polystyrene, which may not have the durability of fiberglass or high-grade acrylic.
- The unbelievable price makes this an instant favorite with customers.
- You get 6 generous shelves for added storage.
- This kit is super-lightweight, weighing just 4.38 pounds, so it’s easy to maneuver into place.
- It fits bathtubs up to 60 inches long and 31 inches wide.
- It weighs 4.38 pounds, so the flimsy construction might limit its durability.
- This is not the highest quality bathtub surround you can buy.
|Dimensions (inches)||29.25 x 4.37 x 59.25|
|Number of pieces||5|
6. Swanstone Veritek Glue-Up 5-Panel Kit
It seems that 5-panel bathtub surrounds are popular, and this Swanstone model is no exception. We liked the molded tile effect, giving it a higher-quality finish and a style that complements most modern bathroom suites.
It is constructed from Veritek, which is a compression-molded material that is non-porous and has no surface coating to chip or crack. So it should withstand the rigors of the family bathroom without a hitch.
Instead of 6 large shelves, Swanstone has been a little mean and only provided a thin soap rack and a ledge for shower products. Given that this unit costs 5 times more than the budget option, you might have expected more.
This kit is also heavy, weighing 90 pounds, so you might need to recruit help to install it. On the plus side, you also get a limited lifetime warranty, which instills confidence that this bathtub surround will last the distance.
- It’s made from high-quality Veritek, which means it won’t chip or crack.
- You get a stylish tile-effect surface, which complements most bathroom styles.
- You get a limited lifetime warranty, covering you for manufacturer defects.
- This surround is mold and mildew-resistant, keeping it looking its best for years.
- This kit is expensive, costing 5 times the price of the budget model.
- It’s also heavy, weighing 90 pounds, so you might need help maneuvering it into position.
|Dimensions (inches)||32 x 60 x 59.63|
|Number of pieces||5|
7. Swanstone Solid Surface Glue-Up 5-Piece Wall Kit
If you’ve ever stayed in an expensive hotel and dreamt of reproducing that bathroom style in your home, now you can. The Sawnstone solid bathtub surround has the look you want. The solid material is colored all the way through, so there is no surface coating to chip or scratch.
It will not crack; it is mold and mildew-resistant and is ideal for bathroom remodels and new constructions. You can pick up this surround in 8 colors, from cloud white to bisque, so they are sure to have the color that matches your scheme.
On the downside, you sure pay for this durability and style. It costs almost 8 times the price of the budget model, and it weighs over 200 pounds, so you won’t be installing this on your own.
That said, if you are in the market for a high-quality bathtub surround that will last for years, once you reconcile the price, this is a fantastic option.
- The material is color-through, so it doesn’t fade, scratch, or crack.
- It comes in 8 color choices, making it easier to fit your bathroom scheme.
- This surround scores highly for durability. Even though it costs a lot, it will last the distance.
- You can recreate that swanky hotel bathroom look, adding a touch of class to your home.
- This kit is expensive, costing almost 8 times the price of the budget model.
- If you thought the Transolid was heavy, think again. This kit weighs 205 pounds!
|Dimensions (inches)||72 x 24 x 48|
|Number of pieces||3|
|Product||Best||Weight||Dimensions||Material||Number of pieces||Price||Warranty|
|Transolid SWK603660-27 SaraMar 3-Piece Tub Wall Kit||Best Premium||180 lbs||36″ x 60″ x 60″||Saramar||3||$$$$$||10-year|
|American Standard Studio 60-inch x 32-Inch Bathtub Surround||Best Direct To Stud||27 lbs||60″ x 32″ x 58″||High-gloss acrylic||3||$$$$||Limited lifetime|
|ASB Vantage 39240 5-Piece Tub Wall||Best 5-Piece||11.44 lbs||36″ x 5″ x 60″||High-gloss acrylic||5||$$||1-year|
|Mustee 56WHT Durawall Fiberglass Bathtub Wall Surround||Best With Shelves||25 lbs||39.8″ x 5″ x 59″||Thermoplastic fiberglass||5||$$$||1-year|
|Maax 5-Piece Bathtub Wall Kit||Best Budget||4.38 lbs||29.25″ x 4.37″ x 59.25″||Polystyrene||5||$||1-year|
|Swanstone Veritek Glue-Up 5-Panel Kit||Best Tile-Effect||90 lbs||32″ x 60″ x 59.63″||Veritek||5||$$$$||Limited lifetime|
|Swanstone Solid Surface Glue-Up 5-Piece Wall Kit||Best Solid Surface||205 lbs||72″ x 24″ x 48″||Solid surface||3||$$$$$||Limited lifetime|
How To Install Bathtub Surrounds
Once the tub is fitted and you’ve removed the faucets and other fixtures, you need to attach the surround. Here’s the best way to do it.
1. Measure Twice
Grab a tape measure and double-check the length and width of the surrounding walls next to the bath. Remember to measure each surface that the bathtub makes contact with. Some tub surrounds are designed to fit the entire length of the wall, which is great for freestanding baths, but you want one that reaches the edge of the tub where it meets the wall.
2. Select the New Surround
Once you have the measurements, it’s time to select the new surround. They come in many different styles and materials, ranging from plastic acrylic to ABS. Some panes are wrap-around types and come as one complete unit with the sides attached, while others have individual panels that need to be connected together.
If you are going for wood, metal, or stone, expect to pay a lot more, and you might need special tools to install it, which increases your workload.
3. Install the Surround
Check the height of your walls, making a series of marks to denote the dimensions of the surround. Grab a carpenter’s level to join up the dots in a straight line.
The horizontal guideline needs to be plumb, even if the bathtub is not, which is where the carpenter’s level comes in.
Offering up the surround is the best way to see if it fits. It also gives you the chance to see where you need to cut openings for faucets and other fittings. This can be tricky to do on your own, so enlist some help for this.
4. Make Your Cuts
Now that you have dry-installed the panel and marked where you need to cut for faucets, showerheads, and other features, you are ready to start cutting. Grab a hole saw or jigsaw and carefully make the cuts.
Offer the panel back onto the wall to check your accuracy. If you need to make adjustments, repeat this process until you get it right.
Remember that you only get one shot at cutting these holes, so getting it wrong could be costly as you may need to buy another surround.
5. Fit the Surround
Use a caulk gun and a trowel to spread the adhesive over the wall evenly. The adhesive sets quickly, so if your surround comes in individual panels, focus on one wall at a time.
Offer up the tub surround and press firmly, making sure that the glue covers the surround in all areas. Use your guideline to make sure the surround is square. If you are fitting panels one at a time, start with the sides rather than the back panel.
6. Reinstall the Fixtures
Allow the surround to dry for 24 hours before you attempt to do any more work. Tug it to see if the panels have set. If it feels impossible to move, you are good to start sealing the edges and the fixtures to make them watertight.
Remember that individual panels will need waterproof silicone to seal between each section, or you might get water seeping behind the surround, which could cause damp issues.