What To Put On Ceiling Above Shower? (Complete Material List)

Last Updated on December 22, 2023 by Web Operator

shower leak

So, you’re thinking of remodeling your shower area, but you’re worried about experiencing maintenance issues in the future. You’ve decided how you wish to install the walls and plumbing, but what do you put in for the ceiling above your shower? Advice from experts and research into building regulations will guide you through the process.

Good materials for a shower ceiling include acrylic panels, fiberglass, metal tile panels, sealed gypsum, glass inlays, drywall, and cement board. These materials have some degree of water resistance and may be decorated in a variety of ways, such as tiling or covering them with paint.

Knowing which materials are practical for a ceiling above the shower is one thing, but also, you will have to consider how you will install it, what it will cost, and how the finished product will look. For this purpose, you will have to consider the durability and maintenance issues related to the materials used, waterproofing regulations, and ease of installation.

Which Materials Are Best Used For Your Shower Ceiling?

pvc ceiling

The different materials commonly used for ceilings in wet areas of the house have varying degrees of water resistance. It is worthwhile considering what would suit your individual needs best based on their durability and water resistance characteristics:

Type of MaterialWater Resistance
Acrylic SheetsEntirely waterproof.
Aluminum Composite Panels (ACP) Entirely waterproof components.
Bricks and MortarPartially water-resistant but can be penetrated by damp unless sealed.
Cement Board, Drywall, and Green BoardPartially water-resistant but likely to sag and get moldy unless covered by protective membranes.
False GlassEntirely waterproof, hardy non-crystalline glass.
Metal Ceiling TilesMost often made from waterproof materials, such as chrome, copper, or galvanized iron.
PaintNot water-resistant unless semi-gloss paint is used. Susceptible to mold growth in areas of condensation and vapors.
Polystyrene Ceiling TilesHighly water-resistant but may let some condensation through with continued exposure.
PVC PanelsEntirely waterproof.
Sealed Gypsum(Plaster of Paris)Highly water-resistant and light when properly sealed.
Tiles(Ceramic, stone such as granite or marble, porcelain)Highly water-resistant, but some vapor seepage may occur through grout or caulking, and mold may grow in untreated backing substrates.
Water-Resistant FiberglassEntirely waterproof.
Wood CladdingPartially water-resistant, especially when protected with special varnish or paint.

The Durability Of Shower Ceiling Materials

In addition to how resistant to water the materials above are, their durability could influence how effectively they serve as the ceiling for your shower. 

Sturdy materials, such as drywall boards, cement boards, sealed gypsum panels, acrylic, and PVC panels will be easier to install and less likely to damage when doing maintenance nearby, while glass is likely to crack or break completely.

More durable materials:

  1. Acrylic sheets
  2. Aluminum Composite Panels
  3. Bricks and mortar
  4. Cement board
  5. Ceramic and stone tiles
  6. Drywall and green board
  7. False glass
  8. Fiberglass
  9. Metal ceiling tiles
  10. PVC panels
  11. Sealed gypsum
  12. Wood cladding

Less durable materials:

  1. Glass
  2. Polystyrene tiles (also very flammable)
  3. Porcelain tiles

The Cost Of Building Your New Shower Ceiling

shower ceiling

How much money one is willing to spend on your shower ceiling would likely be a decisive factor when considering the material usage. More expensive materials might look elegant and may even be sturdier, but budgetary constraints will determine how realistic your new dream shower is.

More affordable materials for your ceiling include fiberglass, ceramic tiles, wooden cladding, and drywall. However, they may need to be covered in semi-gloss paint, and their material substrates may need to be waterproofed by cover membranes to prevent moldy, rotten ceilings in the future. Acrylic panels, Aluminum Composite Panels, and PVC are also relatively cheap, and they are inherently quite resistant to water vapors and condensation.

On the other end of the spectrum, tiles made from stone and glass ceilings may be more expensive, but they can make your bathroom feel more elegant and appealing. And, if they are properly caulked and sealed, they may also be quite sturdy. Decorative bricks can also be used to make a shower surround and ceiling but could cost upwards of $3 per brick, excluding the price of mortar and labor.

If you plan on attaching items to your shower ceiling, be sure to use an effective sticking agent. The type and costs of caulking, sealant, or glue used could determine whether your tiles stay fixed on the ceiling or give you an unpleasant surprise while you’re singing at the top of your lungs. Equally, if you would like to install waterproof electrical lighting in your shower, do not skimp on the costs of a trained electrician.

Building Regulations For Shower Ceilings

While International Residential Code requirements stipulate that shower surrounds must consist of water-resistant materials at least up to 72” from the floor and that the ceiling itself must be at least 80” from the floor, there are no stipulations on the materials to use for shower ceilings. But the materials used for the surrounds, and the size of the shower, may influence your choice of materials for the ceiling.

Additionally, the distance between the showerhead and the shower ceiling might limit your options of acceptable materials, depending on the building regulations in your area. Regulations routinely require 3-to-6 inches of water-resistant materials above the showerhead, even if those 3-to-6 inches turn out to be the ceiling. In such a case, some materials are excluded.

Electrical lights are permitted in the shower if they are moisture-resistant, adequately housed, and situated at least 8 feet from the bottom of the shower stall. Often safety regulations require that lights that may be exposed to wetter areas of the home have wiring that is attached to a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet (GFCI).

Why Do You Need To Waterproof Your Shower Ceiling?

shower ceiling waterproof

You need to waterproof your shower ceiling to prevent damage from vapors and condensation that cause rotting and mold to your ceiling and its backing substrates. This will prevent damage to the structure of your home and will keep your bathroom ceiling looking clean, strong, and beautiful.

Global building regulations mandate that water-resistant materials build up all sections of a structure that may come into frequent contact with water vapor and condensation. This is a safety requirement since water exposure may cause direct structural damage leading to collapse or fungal growths that may cause illness.

If your shower area includes any electrical lighting, it is a matter of life and death that their installation is entirely waterproof. Any contact between water and electrical wiring may cause electrical shocks and even fire.


While renovations to your home might be exciting and stimulating for your creative side, bear in mind that there are reasonable restraints that you must adhere to when installing a new ceiling for your shower. Your budget, practical considerations, and building regulations could stipulate the type of materials you can use for your project.

Water-resistant materials are essential when building areas frequently exposed to water, such as the shower. The ceiling may house lighting and decorative features, but the importance of the installation method cannot be emphasized enough. Always keep safety in mind and find a balance between beauty and budget.

Also Read: Best Grout for Shower: Tips and Recommendations

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Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.