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How to update your acrylic shower, tub enclosure on the cheap

There are budget- and time-friendly ways to refresh

There are budget- and time-friendly ways to refresh the appearance of your tub or shower surround. Credit: Dreamstime

There's one holdover that's common to a lot of bathrooms and that instantly dates your bath: the acrylic shower or tub enclosure. It's expensive and troublesome to remove this piece. However, updating the enclosure is an easy and inexpensive project for most homeowners. So if the trouble and expense of removing your acrylic tub or shower surround isn't for you, there are budget- and time-friendly ways to refresh its appearance.

Door magic

If you have silver or gold trim on the door enclosure, your tub will instantly take you back to the '80s. Update the trim by replacing the doors and frame with a new set trimmed in oil-rubbed bronze or silver with clear glass. To take it up a decorating notch, replace the doors with a frameless pair that opens in the center. This change will set you back a few hundred dollars but will go a long way toward updating your bathroom.

Another option is to remove the doors altogether and replace with a shower curtain. This is a very easy job for the average homeowner. It merely requires removing the metal surround and doors.

Start by removing the doors first, then popping off the top bar. Next, remove the screws inside the vertical tracks and then the bottom track. Run over any residual caulk with a plastic caulk remover tool, and use a melamine eraser sponge to remove any stains or excess caulk. Fill the screw holes with a dab of waterproof caulk.

Once the doors have been removed, you can add a shower curtain, or you can dress it up a bit more by hanging two curtain panels on either side of the tub and a clear or white shower curtain behind. Add in tie backs, and your bathtub will be beautified and positively spalike.

Add tile

One way to really update your enclosure's look is to add a tile surround. A tile surround that goes from the tub enclosure sides and rear up to the ceiling or even halfway up the wall will have great impact.

When you do this project, carry the tile around to the outside of the tub about 4- to 6 inches. This gives the illusion of a tiled bath and will upgrade your bathroom look quickly. Instead of using real tile that has to be cut, go for peel and stick tile squares. These are simple to cut with a utility knife and look terrific.

Update the apron

The front of the tub is another area where you can make an update that gives your bath a fabulous look. Using 1-by-4 lumber, you can create a faux front with beadboard or panels that looks expensive; it can be done in an afternoon. Top the front with a ledge made of a PVC board, or really give it an upgrade with a stone or quartz countertop material. Check with a local stone yard for an extra piece that can be added for your ledge. It's a great look for a low price.


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