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Community and Q&A

Bathroom Tile and Grout vs. Waterproof Wall-Panel System

beedigs | Posted in General Questions on

Zone 3, one -story slab-on-grade foundation all-brick home. In the bathrooms, we’re trying to see if there are better products to use besides the traditional tile and grout because grout has its cons.  Chanced upon a laminate bath and kitchen wall product called FIBO wall which is supposed to be better than using tile and grout.  Please share your opinion on which direction we should go.  If you vote for tile, what type of grout should we use? I heard epoxy grout is good but sometimes too good that it doesn’t allow some permeability for water vapor to escape.  Also, do we need some sort of subfloor on top of the slab before installing tile in bathrooms and maybe LVPs in other rooms? Worried about mold problems and want to avoid due to big health reasons.  So confused, but wana do this right.

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  1. charlie_sullivan | | #1

    No experience with FIBO, but I'm a fan of smooth surfaces for easy cleaning, rather than grouted tile. The other option is a one-piece or three-piece fiberglass shower stall or tub surround, usually plain smooth white, but if that isn't fashionable enough FIBO looks like a great alternative. It's similar to fiberglass reinforced plastic wall panels which are used more in commercial applications and are mostly plain smooth white, I believe, but with more aesthetic choices.

  2. seabornman | | #2

    There are plenty of solid wall panels to choose from, anything from thin acrylic to Corian. I've seen 30 year old showers with solid panels that look like they were just installed. Swanstone is a good product.

  3. user-2310254 | | #3

    FIBO sort of looks like a ZIP panel with a decorative facing. It might be fine, but I would worry about finding a qualified installer. Solid surface products, as Joel suggested, have been around a long time and are widely used.

  4. jberks | | #4

    Microcement is another option.

    I picked it up because I hate grout lines and the issues that come with it.

    Fibo looks cool, looks much easier and non-specialized to install like solid surface is. If they had availability in Toronto, I'd enjoy trying it out.


    1. beedigs | | #13

      il look into microcement; either microcement or do FIBO is good? if i do tile on the floors should i have anything else sitting right above the slab before i put on the tile

      1. user-2310254 | | #15

        It's a good idea to install a membrane that will decouple the tile from the slab. Schluter's DITRA products are well regarded.

  5. user-2310254 | | #5

    Don't want to hijack this thread, but I want to ask Jamie about the microcement. How did it perform? Challenges? Is it different from gypsum cement?

    1. jberks | | #11


      The challenges as the getting good at the install. it involves skill like you would with plastering. But if I managed to do it, it can't be that difficult. I've learned that if you can avoid niches, it makes the overall significantly easier.

      In terms of performance, so far no complaints. it's coated with a clear polyurethane that I've rubbed to a matte finish. It's been about 8 months, I'll have to ask the residents how easy it is to clean or any other feedback.

  6. brian_wiley | | #6

    I don't really have an opinion on the Fibo vs tile. If you do go tile, I'd say an epoxy grout is really nice for cleaning. We have Spectralock in our shower, and it's been incredible in terms of stain resistance. I also have FusionPro in our kitchen and backsplash area; it's held up equally as well.

    In terms of install, particularly with the Spectralock, be prepared to invent a few new swear words. Not sure if this is a DIY project for you; if it is, let me know and I can pass along a few more details that may be helpful.

    1. beedigs | | #14

      tnx for the heads up on the spectralock

  7. drewintoledo | | #7

    I’m intrigued. Are you doing your walls and floor in the product that you choose?

    1. beedigs | | #12

      at first i was thinking of doing just that, do both walls and floor...i’ll have to call FIBO and ask whether the panels can be used as flooring doesn’t seem like they mentioned it for flooring purposes, but have mentioned it could be used in the kitchen as a backsplash

  8. bigred | | #8

    Like any assembly, the best result comes from a good foundation. I would recommend you waterproof all of your walls before tile or any other surface. Schluter system is a good choice and will absolutely ensure you get no water vapor behind your walls. You can also use large format tiles to minimize grout lines. I used the epoxy grout for a partial re-grout of my shower and it is holding up well so far and doesn't seem prone to mildew, or at least so far.

    1. Expert Member
      Deleted | | #9


    2. Expert Member
      MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #10

      Which is one of the advantages of solid surface surrounds. Being entirely water and vapour proof they need no special substrate.

  9. Steelerman | | #16

    I am a Fibo Dealer in Asheville North Carolina and been selling their system for 5 years now.
    I’m also tile dealer and installer. Fibo is manufactured in Norway since the 1950’s. Most likely the oldest manufacturer of these products in existence. We have had great success with it and it’s not plastic panels. Here is our company information that you can contact me with questions.
    Ed Mertz
    Asheville kitchens and baths
    North Carolina

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