Ecofriendly tub and shower surrounds are becoming increasingly popular options for homeowners looking to make their bathrooms more sustainable. Choosing materials like recycled glass, natural stone, and composite wood can reduce your environmental impact without sacrificing style or performance.

What Makes a Tub or Shower Surround Ecofriendly?

There are a few key factors that determine how green a tub or shower surround really is:

  • Made from recycled/sustainable materials – Look for products made from recycled glass, composite woods like bamboo, natural stones like marble, or other materials that are renewable or repurposed. This reduces the need for virgin resources.
  • Low VOC emissions – Many surrounds are made with adhesives and sealants that off-gas VOCs, which are harmful air pollutants. Ecofriendly options use low-VOC or no-VOC materials.
  • Low maintenance – Surrounds that don’t require regular re-sealing, painting, or other chemical upkeep are more sustainable. Materials like recycled glass and composite woods often require less maintenance over time.
  • Locally sourced – Choosing materials that come from nearby reduces the environmental impact from transportation. Some companies even use locally recycled glass.
  • Durable & long-lasting – Sturdy surrounds with a long lifespan don’t need replacing as often, minimizing waste and resource use over time.
  • Moisture/mold resistant – Materials that withstand moisture well without warping, degrading, or growing mold cut down on the need for potentially toxic mold treatments.

Ecofriendly Tub Surround Options

Tub surrounds take a lot of wear and tear on a daily basis. Choosing an ecofriendly material that is durable and low maintenance is key. Here are some of the best green options:

Recycled Glass Tub Surrounds

Tub surrounds made from recycled glass crushed into tiny pebbles are a popular choice. The glass is combined with resin or cement to create decorative and functional panels.

Benefits of recycled glass tub surrounds:

  • Extremely durable and waterproof
  • Can contain up to 75% recycled glass
  • Available in variety of textures and colors
  • Resists mold growth
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Long lifespan – can last over 50 years
  • Made from an abundant recycled material

Potential drawbacks:

  • Heavy panels can make DIY installation challenging
  • Grout lines may need periodic re-sealing
  • Glass pebbles can be sharp – installed panels should be coated

Natural Stone Tub Surrounds

Sustainable stone materials like marble, granite, and travertine can provide a high-end look while being ecofriendly. Avoid potential deforestation impacts by selecting responsibly sourced stone.

Benefits of natural stone tub surrounds:

  • Elegant, luxury aesthetic
  • Each piece unique for one-of-a-kind look
  • Extremely durable and waterproof
  • Natural material needs very little processing
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Long lifespan – can last over 50 years

Potential drawbacks:

  • Expense – natural stone is one of the pricier options
  • Weight requires strong backing/framing
  • Grout lines may need periodic re-sealing
  • Quarrying stone can have environmental impacts

Recycled Composite Wood Tub Surrounds

Composite wood panels made from recycled bamboo, wood pulp, and other ingredients are moisture-resistant and sustainable. Look for tub surrounds with recycled content and no-added formaldehyde.

Benefits of composite wood tub surrounds:

  • Warm, natural wood look without deforestation
  • Durable, waterproof, and mold/mildew resistant
  • Easy installation with lightweight panels
  • Available in variety of wood grain finishes
  • Low maintenance – requires no sealing or painting
  • Long lifespan – can last over 25 years

Potential drawbacks:

  • Not as luxurious looking as stone options
  • Can show seams between panels
  • Scratches or gouges over time may need patching

Ecofriendly Shower Surround Options

Like tub surrounds, shower enclosures also take a beating. Ecofriendly materials will retain their integrity and appearance over years of high humidity and daily use.

Recycled Glass Shower Surrounds

Glass pebble shower surrounds retain their glittering appearance while saving resources by using recycled content. Large-format tile and panels are available.

Benefits of recycled glass shower surrounds:

  • Highly water-resistant and durable
  • Can contain up to 75% recycled glass
  • Resists ugly mold and mildew growth
  • Super easy to keep clean
  • Variety of colors and textures available
  • Large format panels speed up installation
  • Long lifespan – can last over 50 years

Potential drawbacks:

  • Grout lines may need periodic re-sealing
  • Glass pebbles can be sharp – coated panels recommended
  • Heavy panels make DIY install challenging

Natural Stone Shower Surrounds

Similar to tub surrounds, natural stones like granite, marble, travertine, or slate give a luxurious feel while being ecofriendly. Select stones from reputable quarries.

Benefits of natural stone shower surrounds:

  • Provides upscale, spa-like look and feel
  • Unique veining and colors for one-of-a-kind design
  • Extremely waterproof and durable
  • Easy to keep clean and maintained
  • Long lifespan – can last over 75 years

Potential drawbacks:

  • More expensive than manmade options
  • Grout lines may need periodic re-sealing
  • Weight demands extra structural support
  • Risk of environmental damage from irresponsible quarrying

Recycled Composite Wood Shower Surrounds

Composite wood shower surrounds with recycled content have the warmth and beauty of real wood without the environmental downsides. Look for durable, waterproof options.

Benefits of composite wood shower surrounds:

  • Provides natural wood look without cutting trees
  • Resists mold, mildew, and water damage
  • Easy to install and work around plumbing
  • Available in different wood grain finishes
  • Lower cost than stone
  • Long 25+ year lifespan

Potential drawbacks:

  • Not as elegant looking as natural stone
  • Can show seams between panels
  • May scratch or gouge over time

Cost Comparison of Ecofriendly Tub & Shower Surrounds

Here’s an overview of average costs for different green tub and shower surround materials:

  • Recycled Glass: $40-$100 per sq. ft. installed
  • Natural Stone: $60-$250+ per sq. ft. installed
  • Composite Wood: $25-$70 per sq. ft. installed

Recycled glass and composite wood surrounds are generally the most budget-friendly ecofriendly options. Natural stone carries a premium price but provides unmatched elegance.

Many homeowners find recycled glass to be a good middle ground – providing a touch of luxury and uniqueness at a reasonable price point. Composite wood surrounds offer an affordable green option for those on a tight budget.

Key Questions to Ask When Choosing an Ecofriendly Surround

Here are some important questions to get answered when shopping for any green tub or shower surround:

  • What percentage of recycled content does it contain?
  • Is it made with any VOCs or added urea-formaldehyde?
  • Does it resist mold and mildew growth?
  • What is the estimated lifespan – how durable is it?
  • How much maintenance does it require?
  • Is it waterproof enough for shower and wet areas?
  • How heavy are the panels for ease of installation?
  • Does the company source materials locally or responsibly?
  • Is there a warranty provided? For how long?

Getting clear answers to these questions will help you select the right ecofriendly surround material for your bathroom, your budget, and your needs.

Design Ideas for Ecofriendly Tub & Shower Surrounds

Green tub and shower surrounds allow you to add personality while doing something positive for the environment. Here are some ways to incorporate ecofriendly materials into your bathroom design:

Spa-Inspired Natural Stone

Create a relaxing, zen-like vibe with slabs of natural stone in creamy hues. Opt for large-format tiles or panels to minimize grout lines. Add natural touches like bamboo shelving, rope hooks, and live plants.

Bold & Vibrant Recycled Glass

Make a vibrant statement with multi-colored recycled glass pebbles or tiles. Mix glass mosaic sheets on the shower floor with large format panels on walls. Continue the color scheme with towels, shower curtains, and accessories.

Rustic Recycled Wood

Use composite wood panels made with recycled content to create a relaxing, rustic look. Mix horizontal and vertical boards, or play with chevron and herringbone designs. Embrace the wood theme with reclaimed lumber shelves, tree stump stools, and organic textures.

Urban Industrial Recycled Glass

Cool urban lofts call for shiny recycled glass tiles or panels in gray, black, and metallic hues. Lean into the aesthetic with a black stone tile floor, towel racks made from pipes, and subway tile accents.

Minimalist Marble

Embrace the elegance of polished marble slabs in soft whites and grays to cultivate a minimalist oasis. Keep the Zen mood going with floating wood shelving, green plants, and sleek chrome or matte black fixtures and accessories.

Installation Tips for Ecofriendly Tub & Shower Surrounds

Properly installing ecofriendly tub and shower surrounds ensures they last for years while retaining their moisture resistance and visual appeal. Here are some key tips:

  • Inspect panels or tiles for any damage prior to installation. Many have a protective film coating to peel off only after everything is properly mounted.
  • Make sure the framing & backerboard are reinforced sufficiently – materials like stone and recycled glass are quite heavy.
  • For tubs, run panels past the tub lip so water flows over panels versus getting trapped behind.
  • Use panel adhesive formulated for the specific surround material to join panels or tiles.
  • Carefully grout using a flexible, mold-resistant grout designed for wet areas.
  • Seal all joints thoroughly with a waterproof silicone caulk matching the grout color.
  • Take time to cut holes for plumbing fixtures precisely so walls fit up snugly around them.
  • Avoid abrasive scrub brushes and harsh cleaners which can damage surfaces.

Hiring a professional installer is highly recommended to ensure surrounds are properly integrated into bathroom walls and fixtures for optimal durability and appearance.

Caring for Ecofriendly Tub & Shower Surrounds

The right care regimen keeps green surrounds looking like new while extending their lifespans. Follow these maintenance tips:

  • For regular cleaning, use gentle soap/detergent and warm water. Avoid abrasive scouring pads.
  • Periodically re-apply sealants around fixtures, joints, and grout lines to prevent moisture intrusion.
  • Check for gaps, cracks, loose tiles, or other damage that allow water in – repair immediately to prevent worsening.
  • To remove soap scum and hard water deposits, use white vinegar or special glass/stone cleaners.
  • For molded or mildew, scrub with hydrogen peroxide or oxygen bleach solutions, then let dry fully.
  • Avoid letting puddles or standing water sit on surrounds after bathing. Use a squeegee to wipe excess water off.
  • Read manufacturer instructions for proper care guidelines specific to your chosen material.

Sourcing Ecofriendly Tub & Shower Surrounds

Finding retailers who offer green tub and shower surround materials in your area may take some digging. Here are some sourcing tips:

  • Specialty plumbing showrooms – Upscale kitchen & bath showrooms frequently carry recycled glass, composite wood, and natural stone surrounds.
  • Tile & building material suppliers – Stones like marble or slate can be purchased as tile. Larger suppliers also carry composite wood and recycled glass tiles and panels.
  • Big box home improvement stores – Some carry ecofriendly surrounds or can special order them for you. Selection is often more limited than specialty retailers.
  • Online direct ordering – Buying directly from manufacturers online can provide the widest material selection and custom sizing options. Just account for higher shipping costs on heavy materials.
  • Thrifting and salvaging – Check architectural salvage warehouses for discarded natural stone slabs, vintage clawfoot tubs, and other materials to creatively repurpose.


Creating an eco-friendly dream bathroom is possible thanks to the many green tub and shower surround options now available. Sustainable materials like recycled glass, natural stone, and composite wood offer durability, beauty, and responsibility.

Choosing surrounds made from recycled, locally sourced, and low-VOC materials minimizes your environmental impact. And properly installing and caring for them ensures they’ll provide a soothing sanctuary from everyday stress for years to come.

With some research and planning, you can have the bath space you’ve always envisioned while feeling good that it came together in a green and clean way. The planet and your body will thank you!