solid surfaced tub
Photo Keith Talley
Bathing Beauty
These old tiles walls got a face-lift with a solid-surface tub surround kit
Solid-surface kitchen countertops have been a favorite of designers and homeowners for years. The material is durable, stain-resistant and easy to clean. And because the color goes all the way through, the counter can take a light sanding if it suffers any nicks or scratches. Solid surfacing also works in the bathroom. Manufacturers offer vanity tops and vertical-grade solid surfacing that can be applied to tub and shower walls. It comes in 1/8- and ¼-in.-thick sheets that are glued to the existing wall. Specially designed molding creates a clean, finished look. Hiring a certified fabricator to cut and install the material will cost $700 to $800 for a three-wall, 5-ft. tub surround. But you can purchase a prepackaged kit (about $600) and install it yourself. Material Matters
For our bath, we covered up the old yellow-tile walls around a 5-ft. tub with Wilsonart's SSV. The -in.-thick material comes in two solid colors (white and almond) and two granite patterns (white and beige). We chose Frosty White, one of the solid colors. The trim, included in the price of the kit, is available in seven colors. This lets you pick molding and a soap dish that match or contrast the wall panels. Kits include a pair of 30 X 60-in. wall panels and a single 60 X 60-in. panel. Shower-wall kits with 6-ft.-tall panels are available for two-wall ($480) and three-wall shower stalls ($640). Our installation was a bit atypical: The SSV wall panels extend from the tub up to the ceiling. In most baths, they stop 18 to 22 in. short. But all the tools and techniques shown here are essentially the same for any SSV wall system. For this installation, we enlisted the help of Dwain Burton, national product specialist for Wilsonart International, the manufacturer of Gibraltar solid surfacing.
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