Easy, Low-cost Shower Wall Panel

When we purchased our Airstream there was a lot of wallpaper throughout that had been painted over. We were fine with that except that a lot of it was bubbling and looked pretty bad. We're not sure if it happened over time or if painting it caused it to bubble and ripple. Regardless, we thought removing it would go a long way in terms of aesthetics so we painstakingly removed it where we saw issues. One of those places was on a shower wall. The problem was that the wallpaper was likely waterproofing the wooden panel wall behind it and we didn't want to expose the wood to water from the shower. We considered many options including tiling, waterproof painting, and adding a completely new shower wall surround. The latter costing upwards of $1,000. While reconnoitering Home Depot we came across FRP (fiberglass reinforced plastic) board. It is waterproof, easy to cut, and only costs about $30 for a 4x8 board. Winner!

 Example of the rippling wallpaper

Example of the rippling wallpaper

 
 Typical texture of an FRP board

Typical texture of an FRP board

This project turned out to be pretty easy and consisted of the following steps.

  1. Remove the wallpaper.
  2. Cut the FRP board.
  3. Adhere the FRP board to the wall.
  4. Affix trim/molding.
  5. Caulk/seal the seams. 

 

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

Products/Supplies

  1. Contractor's paper - We used this to trace out a template for curved walls.
  2. FRP board - This is they key to a waterproof wall. Make sure to purchase enough to cover all the surfaces in your project. 
  3. Construction adhesive - Most any should do. We used Liquid Nails Heavy Duty Construction Adhesive.
  4. Molding/trim - This will depend on your wall thickness and your other molding but we got a nice look with pvc outside corner molding and FRP cap molding from Home Depot.
  5. Caulk - This is necessary to complete the waterproofing of your wall.
  6. Deglosser (optional) - If there is residue left behind by the wallpaper, deglosser can be used to prep the surface.

Tools

  1. Stiff Scraper - Used for wallpaper removal.
  2. Saw - This was a perfect job for one of our favorite and most versatile power tools the Dremel Ultra-Saw but there are probably many tools that can do the job include hand saws.
  3. Clamps - Just about any clamps should do. We used our Irwin bar clamps which have served us well on many projects.

 

The Process

1. Remove The Wallpaper

Although this was one of the least enjoyable things we did in our trailer we didn't use any special tools or tricks. All we did was pull it off with our hands and when the going got rough, we used a basic scraper. If there is adhesive or any other residue left behind that you think might interfere with the construction adhesive, a deglosser can be used to clean the surface.

 

2. Cut the FRP Board

The actual cutting of the FRP board is easy but you need to make sure you cut it accurately to maximize the coverage of the existing wall. Our wall was curved and had other odd shapes to accommodate for the shower basin so we used paper to trace out the shape to use as a template. We used our Dremel Ultra-Max saw since the blade is small and allowed for a somewhat easy curved cut. Typically a jigsaw would be used for a curved cut but we also didn't have a great surface to lay our board on so the reciprocating nature of a jigsaw probably would have caused some problems.

 

3. Adhere the FRP Board

Following the instructions on the adhesive you've chosen, apply the adhesive, place the FRP board against the existing wall, and clamp it using a sturdy set of clamps such as the ones listed in the "tools" section above. Depending on the type of trim you purchased, you might also want to attach that now as well. If you're using FRP cap molding, now's the time to adhere it to the edge of your board.

 Notice in the bottom left hand corner of this image the circular hole used for the shower valve. We didn't cut this until after apply the FRP board so that it would be easier to cut accurately.

Notice in the bottom left hand corner of this image the circular hole used for the shower valve. We didn't cut this until after apply the FRP board so that it would be easier to cut accurately.

 Note the FRP cap moulding already applied.

Note the FRP cap moulding already applied.

 In the bottom center of the image you can see the cut around the shower basin.

In the bottom center of the image you can see the cut around the shower basin.

4. Affix the Moulding

Outside corner moulding can be used to tidy things up and complete the waterproofing by covering the  exposed outer edge of the wall. 

 

 

5. Caulk The joints

The final step in waterproofing is caulking the joints. There are a number of places where caulk should be applied. 

  1. Between the wall and shower basin
  2. Between the wall and ceiling
  3. Between the wall and the molding  
  4. Where any holes have been cut (e.g. the shower water valve)

For more information than you probably want about caulk and how to apply it, refer to my other post Caulk TalkIf you want to skip that, I recommend using a white mold-resistant silicone-based sealant such as GE Silicone II Kitchen & Bath Caulk. Make sure to apply the caulk to all joints and any exposed area such as the interior wall where the shower water valve sits.

 
_8090040-Edit.jpg
 

 

There you have it. A new shower wall for about $60!

 
_C140039.jpg