Installing tub or shower surround panels with adhesive can give your bathroom a quick and easy makeover. With just a few tools and some time, you can transform your old, worn-out tub and shower area into a fresh, updated space. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to install tub or shower surround panels using adhesive.

Gather Materials and Tools

Before starting any project, it’s important to gather all the necessary materials and tools ahead of time. Here is what you will need to install tub or shower surround panels:

  • Tub or shower wall panels – These come in various materials like PVC, acrylic, polystyrene, etc. Choose panels that are waterproof and durable.
  • Tub surround adhesive – Choose a panel adhesive specifically meant for wet areas. Make sure it can strongly bond surfaces like tile, fiberglass, acrylic, etc.
  • Caulk and silicone sealant – To seal all joints and gaps. Choose mold resistant options.
  • Utility knife – For cutting panels to size.
  • Level – To check that panels are going on straight.
  • Stud finder – To locate studs behind walls for extra support.
  • Protective gear – Gloves, goggles, masks to keep safe from debris and fumes.

Prepare the Installation Area

Before installing any new panels, you need to make sure the existing tub/shower walls are prepped properly:

  • Clean thoroughly – Use a tub and tile cleaner to remove built-up grime, soap scum and mildew. Rinse and let dry fully.
  • Remove old caulk – Scrape away all the old caulk from corners and seams with a putty knife.
  • Fill any holes/gaps – Use caulk or filler compound to patch any holes or open gaps in the walls.
  • Sand rough areas – Lightly sand any extremely rough or uneven spots so panels sit flush.
  • Wipe away dust – Use a microfiber cloth to remove any remaining dirt and dust.

Measure and Cut the Wall Panels

Tub and shower surrounds come in standard sizes but you will still need to measure your space and cut the panels to fit properly:

  • Measure wall dimensions – Note the length and height of all wall surfaces. Include any odd angles.
  • Mark cutting lines – Transfer your measurements to the backside of panels and use a square to mark cutlines.
  • Cut with utility knife – Use heavy duty blades and carefully score and snap panels along cutlines.
  • Test fit – Have someone hold panel up to check it fits correctly before actually adhering.
  • Sand cut edges – Use fine grit sandpaper to smooth any rough cuts.

Apply Adhesive and Mount Panels

Once prep work is complete, it’s time to apply the adhesive and mount the tub surround panels:

  • Read adhesive instructions – Follow all guidelines for prep, application, open time, etc.
  • Apply adhesive to wall – Use a v-notched trowel to spread a uniform layer on the backwall surface.
  • Apply adhesive to panel – Also spread adhesive evenly across the back of each panel using the trowel.
  • Mount panel – Line up panel carefully and press firmly from top to bottom for strong adhesion.
  • Use a level – Check sides are plumb and top/bottom are level as you mount panels.
  • Use temporary braces – Place braces against panels until adhesive sets fully to prevent slipping.
  • Seal all joints – Apply a thin bead of silicone caulk between all panel joints for waterproofing.
  • Let cure – Allow adhesive to fully cure based on manufacturer directions before using shower.

Helpful Tips

  • Read and follow all adhesive manufacturer instructions closely.
  • Work slowly and carefully during adhesive application for best results.
  • Make sure wall surfaces are clean and smooth before applying panels.
  • Have someone help hold panels in place until adhesive sets.
  • Avoid heavy steam or direct water contact until adhesive fully cures.

Installing new tub surround panels with adhesive is an easy upgrade that can make your bathroom look brand new. Just take your time, measure carefully, and follow all product directions. In just a weekend, you can enjoy a refreshed and stylish new tub and shower area.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of adhesive should I use?

Look for panel adhesives specifically formulated for wet area walls like showers and tubs. They will be mold/mildew resistant and give a stronger bond.

How long does the adhesive take to cure?

Check manufacturer guidelines, but most panel adhesives take around 24-48 hours to fully cure. Avoid direct water contact until it sets completely.

Should I replace drywall before installing panels?

Not necessarily. As long as your existing drywall is structurally sound, the panels can be mounted right over it with adhesive.

What’s the easiest way to cut surround panels?

Use a very sharp utility knife and metal straightedge. Score the panel face several times before snapping it. Sand cut edges smooth.

Can I mount my showerhead directly to panels?

No, showerheads should be mounted to solid framing or blocking behind panels. Use appropriate anchors and screws.

How do I prep tile or fiberglass walls?

Clean thoroughly with a tub/tile cleaner, scuff sand any glossy areas, and fill any chips or open gaps with caulk.

Should I use silicone or acrylic caulk?

For a waterproof seal, use 100% silicone caulk between all panel joints and in inside corners. Avoid acrylic caulk.

How long will surround panels last?

High quality PVC and acrylic panels can last 10-15 years or longer with proper installation and care. Keep caulk joints in good shape.


Installing tub and shower surround panels with adhesive is a relatively simple project that can make a drastic difference in the look of your bathroom. With the right preparation and by carefully following all product instructions, you can achieve a seamless, waterproof installation. Just take your time measuring and cutting panels and make sure to thoroughly prep and clean the existing tub and shower walls first. In just a weekend, you can have a brand new-looking tub surround using this easy adhesive panel installation method.