Galvanized Shower Surround: A Complete How-To

As we promised, here’s our complete run-down on how we installed our galvanized shower surround.

If you’ve followed us at all recently, you know we just upgraded our basement bathroom and took it from a dark and dated space to a clean, much-more-our-style type of place.

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Included in that complete redo was a new shower surround. Inspired by a few pictures we’d seen in magazines and across the web, we decided to go with a galvanized corrugated metal shower surround.

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We knew we loved the look of this (industrial, modern, simple), but when we started searching for how to actually implement our new idea, we came up decidedly short.

As we first do with any new project, we pulled out our go-to DIY sources and hit up our favorite websites for help. While we found a few discussions online on using galvanized metal for a shower surround, nowhere did we find very clear steps on how to implement it in our home. So, with a lot of trial and error, we muddled through it and came up with a system that worked for us. We’re pretty happy with the results, and we thought we’d share our process with you in hopes of helping out others out there with the same idea. Here’s the steps we took to make our galvanized shower surround. Keep in mind, this is what worked for us and might not work out for your space. Tweak as needed, but hopefully this will serve as a good launching pad for your project.

Things You’ll Need:

  • Sheets of Corrugated Metal – We ordered ours from a local chain hardware store. Other stores didn’t carry it. You may have to shop around a bit to find this, but odds are you can find it somewhere close by. Ours came in 3 foot widths at 8 feet long. Be sure to measure your space well and add about 5-10%.

  • Polebarn Screws – These will be used to attach the panels to the wall. They have a self-sealing rim around the head of the screw that, once pressure is applied, keeps the hole watertight. We applied screws in a grid pattern of 1 foot apart horizontally and 2 feet apart vertically, so use this formula with your measurements to come up with the number of screws you’ll need. Odds are they’ll come in a box for about $5, which will be more than enough for your purposes.

  • Aluminum Flashing – Figure out how much you’ll need by determining how many corners your sheets of metal will turn (in our case, four) and how tall your metal shower surround will be.

  • Caulk – We used a tube of white kitchen/bath caulk, clear silicone caulk, and aluminum flashing caulk in an aluminum color. We also used a tube of construction adhesive (Liquid Nails).
  • Trim – This part is a matter of taste but also necessity. Corrugated metal won’t sit flush against your walls, and the tops (and maybe bottoms) will probably need to be trimmed out to keep water from getting behind it. We used cedar as our trim.

  • Finishing Nails – We used these for our cedar trim.
  • Rust Inhibitor/Sealer – We used Rust-O-Leum Rust Inhibitor, which prevents metal from rusting without paint. You could also use a form of polyurethane or some other type of spray-on clear coat.

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Circular Saw
  • Drill
  • Hole Boring Drill Bit
  • Hammer

Steps:

  • Measure – The first thing you should do is measure the area surrounding your shower or bath to determine how many panels of galvanized roofing material you will need. Like I mentioned, the panels we purchased were about 3 feet wide by 8 feet long. Make sure you know the size of your panels and use those measurements to determine how many to purchase.
  • Purchase Galvanized Roofing Panels – Again, I ordered my panels from a local hardware store. It was really inexpensive, which makes this project even more desirable. Shop around. Look for metal fabricators or roofing supply stores if you’re stumped.
  • Cut the Panels to Fit – This is the tricky part. First, make sure you’ve measured well the space for the panels to fit. If your walls are pretty square, this could be an easier step. If they’re not (like ours!), then you want to measure and measure again! Transfer those measurements to the panels and create a pattern around which to cut.

    There’s a few ways you can cut these. At first, we tried a sheet metal blade on a jigsaw, but that didn’t work at all! It broke before cutting even an inch. We also tried tin snips, but that ended up working best for only the small cuts. Eventually we landed on using a circular saw with a plywood blade turned backwards. There’s something about putting the blade in the wrong way that made the easiest and cleanest cuts for us. A real word of caution here, though: Be sure to wear eye protection! It also wouldn’t hurt to wear long sleeves, long pants, and gloves. Cutting the metal this way creates a lot of sparks, and I ended up getting quite a few minor burns from it. Also, trim the bottoms to fit around your shower basin or bathtub. This is where the tin snips might come in handy!

  • Seal Galvanized Panels – Like I said above, we used Rustoleum’s Rust Inhibitor to prevent our panels from rusting. While these panels are designed to stand up to weathering, they will eventually rust. We’re hoping this keeps that at bay for a long time (if not indefinitely). We simply sprayed this on, wiped off the excess, and waited for it to dry. We plan to reapply once every year or so.

  • Cut Out Around the Knobs – If you have knobs in the wall of your shower, you’ll need to trim the roofing panels to accommodate them. Remove the handles and place the panel against the wall. Determine where the handles will go by leaning the panel against the pipes and trace around them. I used a hole boring drill bit in a 1.5” size to cut out for the knobs. This was also a bit tricky. I placed the panel on a 2×4 and clamped it in place while I pressed hard against the panel with the drill bit and made the holes.

  • Cut Flashing for the Corners – To ensure that water doesn’t get behind the wall panels and mold the wall, you’ll want to put flashing in all the corners. This can be bought in a roll at any hardware store. Simply cut the flashing down to the appropriate size for your corners and, using a straight edge (such as the edge of a tabletop), bend the flashing into a 90 degree angle.

  • Apply Flashing to the Walls – Using a little silicone caulk, adhere the flashing to walls in the corners. You may want to do this as you approach corners when applying the panels. The silicone might not be enough to permanently and instantly adhere the flashing to the walls, and if you apply the panels with screws over the flashing, it’ll be much easier to adhere it to the wall.

  • Apply Galvanized Panels to the Walls – Once the flashing is installed, you’re ready to apply the galvanized panels to the walls. For this, I used Polebarn screws, which are special screws with a self-sealing rim around the head. When firmly attached to the panels, a rubberized ring creates a watertight seal. We applied these every 1 foot horizontally and every 2 feet vertically.

  • Trim the Tops of the Panels – For our surround, we used 1×4 cedar planks to trim out the top. Corrugated metal panels won’t sit completely flush against the wall, and to keep water from leaking behind them, we felt it was important to have a way of capping them off. We used cedar because of its imperviousness to rot, and we sealed it with a deck stain. You may want to use polyurethane or some sort of marine seal if you choose to go this route. We simply cut the cedar boards to fit, applied liquid nails to the backs, and attached them to the wall with decking screws and trim nails. I used decking screws to attach the rear trim piece to the wall and covered over the screw heads with the adjoining trim pieces. Then, we used trim nails to attach each portion of the cedar trim to the other.

  • Caulk! – Finally, you’ll want to caulk all the seams and corners. We ran large seams of clear silicone caulk in all of the inside corners and where panels overlapped. We also used aluminum caulk on the tops of the panels where they each met the cedar board above. Finally, I used Shower caulk in glossy white to fill the space between the bottom of the galvanized panels and the shower surround.

Depending on the size and shape of your shower and if you decide to continue the galvanized panels outside of the shower area, like we did, you may end up with some pretty sharp corners. On the outside of our shower, we had two panels meeting, which created a bit of a dangerous situation. To solve this, we used plastic corner guards, picked up at that hardware store. We used a plastic hammered silver spray paint to coat them, giving them the look of galvanized metal. Then, we used some of our caulk to adhere them to the corners to cover the sharp edge.

It’s also worth noting that others (like these guys) have used Z-channel as a water barrier around the bottom of the galvanized panels. This is probably a very efficient way of prevent water behind your panels. Like I said, this is just what worked for us – experiment a bit and come up with a solution that fits your needs.

That should do it! Hopefully this will get you well on your way to creating your own galvanized shower surround. Do us a favor, though. If you try this, please let us know and give us any tips on things you did differently or things that worked better for you. Good luck with it!

25 Comments

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25 responses to “Galvanized Shower Surround: A Complete How-To

  1. Michael Hilldale

    Thanks for taking the time to show how you did your corrugated metal shower. We’re building a cabin in NC and doing the same.

    If yo have more pic’s to share especially of the bottom of the wall and shower floor that would be helpful.

    Thanks

    mlh

    • Peggy

      Doing the same in my place in NC… could you possibly pass on any additional photos [per your request to author] and/or additional hints? Thanks in advance, Peggy

  2. Ang

    Hi! Could you post where you got the lovely basket hanging on the wall above the sink? TY!

  3. Kristen

    This is very helpful! How is it holding up? Any problems with rust?

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  5. This is amazing! I had to feature it in my latest post on galvanized project ideas! I can’t believe how bright it makes the space look – perfect for a basement bathroom!

  6. Kilea

    The shower looks awsome!! How do you seal around the handles? We are wanting to do something similar, but are stuck at the faucets! Thanks a million!

  7. maureen

    how much did this project cost you approximately… would you do anything differently??

    thanks for posting this!

  8. Denise

    Thanks for the great instructions. I had seen the galvanized idea in a book a few years ago and always wanted to do it. Finally we took out the tub in our one and only bathroom, put in a large swan stone shower base and did the galvanized wall thing. I Love it! We never used the tub and with busy lives and no kids this look fits our lifestyle. The big problem was, it started a domino effect … to a new floor, counter top, vanity doors, lighting, vessel sink and I’m not done yet… going for that industrial loft look.

  9. does it the water deposit ? and will it be hard to clean

  10. i am doing this right now. my biggest problem is what to do about where the metal meets the tub??? it is so sharp and since the metal is corrugated . . trying to come up with the correct type of material to trim it with is a huge challenge. can you tell me what you did to trim out the bottom of the metal? thanks so much!

  11. Jarret H

    Almost a year later, how is this holding up? I thought I was being clever and unique when I bought my galvanized for a project like this in my shower… looks like I am not clever or unique.

    Just curious as to how the galvanized is holding up and if there is anything that you think you would have done differently if you were to do it again?

    Your project looks fantastic!

  12. matthew klarich

    Hi there! Love this project! In fact love it so much we’re doing it in our shower! The one question I have is: Where did you get the fasteners? The polebarn screws? I’ve been looking but haven’t found them anywhere!

    Thanks!
    matthew

    • Hi Matthew,
      Are you a midwesterner? If so, we found them at Menards. Hope that helps.

      • matthew

        Thanks for getting back to me! I’m in the South, Tennessee, I was able to find the screws at Lowe’s. They were the screws for doing a metal roof. In the end, I wound up not using screws, I was fearful of compromising the metal and allowing for leaks. This is our master bath so it will gets lots of use. I’ve been using construction adhesive designed for adhering drywall to metal studs. Our use is the opposite, adhering metal roofing material to the drywall. Sounded like a perfect fit! We also, used the roofing material known as 5V instead of the wavy corrugated material. Not to mention we did the whole shower stall in the metal – 4 walls. It’s looking amazing and even though I’ve been working at a snail’s pace I’m about 2 days from completion. What a fun project!!!!

      • Cool. We’d love to see pictures if you’ve got them.

      • matthew

        Would love to share pics of mine, how would I get them to you??

  13. Rhonda O.

    Hi, we are planning to do this in our shower, and i’ve been wondering what you use to clean yours.

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