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How to compare solid surface and cultured stone shower systems

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

How to Compare Solid Surface and Cultured Stone Shower System | Innovate Building Solutions | #SolidSurfacePanel #ShowerPanels #ShowerSystem

Mary called me and said, “Mike, I see you write a lot about solid surface shower systems. My mind is as confused about these systems as my 15-year-old daughter was shopping endlessly at 6 stores looking for a prom dress (and by the way she broke up with the guy 3 weeks later!). Ive checked out Onyx, Kohler Choreograph, Corian and Swanstone. I’ve also visited a cultured marble shop 25 minutes from my home. I wish I could tell you this research has made things clearer. I’m more confused than ever. Can you help?”

I told Mary, “I get it. The more you’ve learned, the more difficult the decision has become. Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll do is outline for you the most important questions to ask. Then I’ll throw my 2 cents in and give you my opinion on how these different manufacturers grade out in relation to these questions. Just remember this is just one guys opinion, so feel free to disagree.” Finally, I told Mary, “If I can figure it out solid surface systems, I’m sure you can too. After all you’re talking to a guy who took his wife to the movie Dumb and Dumber years ago and drove to the wrong theater (just a bit of irony in that, don’t you think)!”

Below you’ll find 5 questions to dig deeper and determine which product is best for you. I’ll also throw in a few links to other articles for more insight on cultured stone and solid surface showers. At the end, give me your opinions about these products and manufacturers. Chime in with questions you need answers to I did not address. OK, let’s dig in.

5 New Glass Block Wall Ideas to Add Impact to Your House

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Glass Block

New Glass block Wall Ideas to Add Impact to Your Home | Innovate Building Solutions | #GlassBlock #GlassBlockShower #GlassBlockWallIdeas

Glass block walls are so 80’s.

Glass block walls are a pain in the *** to install.

Glass block walls only fit in art-deco designs.

These comments USED TO BE true. This product has evolved from the clunky, wavy, monotonous 8” x 8” x 4” block stacked on top another. The architectural community is taking notice.

Proof positive of this re-invigoration is a recent article in Architectural Digest titled – Glass Blocks are Cool Again. Here’s Why You Should Take Notice.

If you’re still a sceptic – I get it. You may be asking, “Mike, why should I give a hoot about glass blocks? Why shouldn’t I listen to my builder who says they went out with mullets and big hair in the 80’s?” (BTW – if you think about it, how fashion-forward is your contractor anyway? They may be well versed in their ‘sticks and bricks,’ but I’ll bet money they aren’t hopping out of their mud-infested pickup trucks wearing Gucci loafers either).

In this article we’ll look at 5 glass block wall ideas which will blow the lid off your opinion of this product as a stuck in the mud (‘er mortar) building material. At the end let me know if you think I’m smokin’ something funny out of my glass block pipe – or if I’m on to something. A good debate never hurt anyone.

5 Condo Design Ideas for A Space Built Around You!

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Glass Block

Condo Design Ideas for a Space Built Around You | Innovate Building Solutions | #GlassBlockDesign #GlassBlockWall #GlassBlock

Are you entering a stage in life where your current suburban home, or active senior community, just doesn’t fit the lifestyle or mix of neighbors you want?

Are you kicking the curb (pun intended) on condo living, but aren’t completely sold it’s a fit for you?

Are you struggling to figure out how to inject style, life and personality into a ‘stuck-in-the-80’s-big-hair-shoulder-pad-looking’ condo which needs a swift fashion ‘kick-in-the-pants?”

Bob and Nona Pickering recently hit this stage of life. Their existing condo in an active senior community in the middle of “Go-Blue-Land” just wasn’t cutting it for them. (note: for those of you playing at home “Go Blue” land would be Ann Arbor, Michigan home of the University and Michigan. It’s a beautiful college town. Sorry for saying this Buckeye fans).

While this active-adult community was perfectly fine – they wanted a broad mix (and age range) of neighbors and less traffic (Ann Arbor can get crazy on game-day weekends). While Bob and Nona are both U or M grads – and big fans – game-day they can largely do without.

They wanted more time for golf and relaxing. They like the idea of being part of a larger development with a more variety of housing and people. So, the search for a new home and location began.

As Bob told me, “Mike, Nona and I found our condo in a strange way. As Nona was looking for a home for her sister they found one on a golf course with a décor which screamed out – D-A-T-E-D! Nona’s sister wanted no part of the extensive remodeling and redecorating challenge. Nona and I loved the golf course setting and proximity to Ann Arbor.

Our new condo is in Brighton Michigan (in the Pine Eagles subdivision within the Oak Pointe Community). It’s only 35 minutes from the University of Michigan and has view views of the golf course and a broad mix of neighbors.

We can still go and watch our Wolverines hopefully beat the Buckeyes (OK I’m an Ohio State fan so I had to throw the word ‘hopefully’ in there) but be outside the hustle and bustle of Ann Arbor.

The tired 1988 layout and décor had to go. Nona and I asked her sister if she would let us put a bid in on the home – since she was planning to pass on it. Our bid was accepted and that’s how this condo redesign journey began.”

In this article I’m going to highlight 5 condo design ideas Bob and Nona used to recraft their space around their needs and tastes. This project is an example of how a condo can combine good function (practicality) and good form (personality). Let’s check out these 5 ideas.

5 Myths about Solid Surface Shower Products You Need to Know So You “Won’t be Fooled Again!”

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

5 Myths about Solid Surface Shower Products You Need to Know | Innovate Building Solutions | #SolidSurface #WallPanels #BathroomTips

I’m going to keep it real dog (in the infamous words of Randy Jackson) and tell you up front most people are confused about solid surface shower products. They’ll ask me some of the following questions:

  • Isn’t this product a pain to install because the shower panels are 3/8” thick?
  • Wouldn’t a smooth solid surface material be too slipper to use for the shower pan?
  • Isn’t solid surface the same as cultured marble?
  • I’ve heard solid surface showers only come in standard sizes and my shower is custom sizes. Is that true?
  • I think I’ve seen solid surface showers before. Don’t they come in those white swirly patterns which went out along with big hair, mullets, shoulder pads and leisure suits in the 80’s?

The bottom line is – many people are confused about this material.

I’m here to tell you if I’ve been able to figure out solid surface (and explain this product to members of my team and customers), it ain’t that hard! Here’s what I’ll tell you about my level of “genius”:

  • I didn’t graduate “Magna-Cum-Rowdy” or Magna Cum Laude from college. I’m a proud Carnegie-Mellon University “Tartan.” A Tartan is synonymous with Scottish guys who wear plaid skirts. Now that’s hot. My Kappa Sigma fraternity brothers can tell you I had my share of fun and lost my fair share of brain cells (don’t tell my Mom this). I worked my butt off to get through, but didn’t exactly have a GPA that blew the roof off the place.

 

  • I wasn’t the top in my class in high school either. I owned the 41st highest GPA out of 82 people in at the private school I attended – Hawken School in Gates Mills Ohio. Sure, there were some smart kids there – but nobody was worried about competing with ME for valedictorian.

 

  • Nobody at the Apple “Genius Bar” is recruiting me. I’m sure they’re desperately looking for a 58-year-old guy with ever-so-slightly graying (I lied) hair to work side by side with the techno-savvy-20 somethings. I still have hope I’m going to get the call any day now begging me to join the “Genius Bar” team.

Despite my lack of “genius” I think I can help you dispel some of the mistruths and half-truths about solid surface products. I’ve been working with the stuff in my remodeling and nationwide product wholesaling business for years and have learned a few things along the way. So, let’s take a look at 5 myths about solid surface shower products you need to blow up and ‘not be fooled again’ (in the words of The Who for you 80’s rock band aficienados).

An Eye for Detail: 5 Tips for an Imaginative and Expressive Luxury Condominium

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Glass Flooring, Glass Floors, Kitchen Remodeling

Tips for a Luxury Empty Nester Condominium Home | Innovate Home Org | #Emptynester #GlassFloors #LuxuryCondo

Can condominium homes be more than a ‘stamped-out-of-a-box’ cookie-cutter structure where ‘personalization’ goes beyond 11 color choices of carpet and 7 countertop selections?

Is it possible to create a luxury condo home which is an extension of you? A place which is a composition of extraordinary spaces and unique products. A place which not only ‘documents’ your past, but creates memories for your future? A place close to a vibrant city – but far enough away you’re not fighting crazy-traffic every day?

Does this vision sound nirvana-esque (not actually a word, but I’m going with it), utopian and idealistically impossible? If you think so – think again.

Not when you combine the minds of architect/developer/home builder (that’s a lot of slashes right there) Jerry Sarno of Deer Path Farms in Hudson Massachusetts with Larry Koltys, a homeowner with a photographer-inspired eye for detail, artistry and technical flair. In this home you’ll see a uniqueness which looks NOTHING like the cookie-cutter-empty-nester condos pumped out by “ABC Production Builders Inc” (not an actual company, but you know what I’m talking about).”

In the 5 tips below, we’ll take a journey through the home of Larry Koltys and Dottie Lewis, which was built by Jerry Sarno of Deer Path Farms. We’ll look at some thought-provoking luxury home building tips which highlight fun and inventive products.

At the end of this article I’m going to ask you to ‘cast your ballot.’ No, I’m not asking you ANYTHING about your political affiliation. I would like to get your ‘vote’ on which product or feature in Larry and Dottie’s home you find the coolest.

I wish I could tell you Larry would turn over his home to the winner of this contest his new home – but I already asked him. He told me no. Bummer! I do have my favorite feature which I’ll unveil at the end.

OK – let’s check out 5 tips for an imaginative and expressive luxury condo.

 

5 Time Saving Tips You Need to Buy Bathroom Wall Panels

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

5 Time Saving Tips You Need to Buy Bathroom Wall Panels | Innovate Building Solutions

You’re fed-up cleaning black, moldy, nasty tile grout joints with your waaaay-too-worn scrub brush. You’re looking to eliminate this hassle once and for all with bathroom wall panels. You start your search with great expectations. You get on the Internet. You go to your local big-box store. Then ‘it’ creeps in. The ‘it’ is frustration (as your time gets eaten up). Finding the best bathroom wall panels is harder than you thought. You’re slamming into ‘brick-walls’ which look like the following:

  • Brick-wall #1 – You trip to the local home center store to ‘pick up some panels’ didn’t turn out as planned. All they stock are cheap ‘plasticky’ looking things you wouldn’t be caught dead with.

 

  • Brick wall #2 – You find the coolest bathroom wall panels EVER (need to say this in your best ‘Valley-girl’ voice), only to find out they’re only available in the U.K – unless you want to buy a container of them. But you’re not quite sure how the container is going to fit on your lawn and if you’re going to be able to sell your entire neighborhood these panels as well!

 

  • Brick wall #3 – You’ve got your credit card in hand and are looking to DIY this project. You make call after call and nobody will take your money. They will not sell you the panels. No – they will only supply and install the panels for you. You can’t afford professional installation, and besides, you’re comfortable doing it yourself.

 

  • Brick wall #4 – It takes an act of God to get samples. How can you make this decision if you can’t see, touch and feel the product? You don’t want to spend your hard-earned dollars on junk. Sure, they look beautiful on the ‘net. The challenge becomes what are you going to do if they are as flimsy as a house of cards after you take the shipment and the driver is long gone?

 

  • Brick wall #5 – Trying to find special sizes and pair them with a custom sized shower pan is as hard as getting Republicans and Democrats to agree on ANYTHING.

Can you recognize any of these brick walls in your search efforts thus far?

My goal in this article is to give you tips and strategies to blow past these challenges and successfully purchase the best bathroom wall panels for you. I’ll get you – quickly and efficiently – past these hurdles with 5 practical tips whether you want to do it yourself or have them professionally installed. Let’s check out these tips so you can throw out your tile scrub brush, get rid of your tile and not get stuck settling on generic-looking white plastic panels from your local home center store.

Warning: If you’re not careful an upgraded vanity countertop can turn into a complete shower remodel

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

How a shower remodel can have fashion function safety | Innovate Building Solutions| #ShowerRemodel #ShowerBase #ClevelandRemodel

Imagine you go into Dillard’s. You find a Fendi, Gucci or Louis Vuitton handbag on Super Sale. You snatch it off the shelf. The exhilaration of pure fashion joy overcomes you. You bring your new-found prize possession home. You joyously pull it out of the bag in your closet. You try matching it with your existing wardrobe and nothing (and I do mean none of your pants, dresses, blouses or shoes) looks good with the new purse. The new bag is waaaaaay too nice to be ‘mixed up’ with your tired wardrobe. Now what do you do? You head back to the mall in search of a sharp outfit to go with your stylish handbag.

You may be asking, Mike, “what the heck does fancy handbags have to do with bathroom remodeling?” That is a darn good question.

Well – Deborah of Cleveland Ohio can tell you. You see while Deborah was upgrading her kitchen floors and countertops she also made a fateful decision to blow up her 30-year-old ‘Back to the Future’ (circa 1987) chipped and butt-ugly Formica countertops in her bathrooms. She replaced them with luxurious 1 ¼” thick Quartz surfaces. It sounded like a good idea…at the time.

The problem Deborah ran into is directly related to the handbag challenge above. The new countertops put her old showers to shame! Her contemporary and stylish vanity tops now lived side by side with a poorly functioning, builders grade faded and dingy fiberglass showers. ‘A’ and ‘B’ (the countertops and the showers) didn’t work together.

As Deborah told me, “Mike – the Quartz countertops made my existing dirty and yellowed fiberglass original shower look ridiculous!” Something had to be done.

While this fashion faux-pas was prompting Deborah to remodel her showers, this project HAD TO BE about more than fashion. The new showers needed to address function. Since Deborah and her husband are both in their 60’s (although she doesn’t look at day over 39! – my wife has taught me well), and they have no intentions of leaving this home (EVER), they wanted a shower which would not need to be replaced as they get older.

This new design had to address fashion and function. In this article we’ll look at the problems of Deborah’s existing showers. We’ll also see how fashionable product selections and a functional shower design were used to make everything work. Lastly – we’ll get Deborah’s input on a on how she came to appreciate her ‘no frustration’ bathroom remodeling contractor – Cleveland Design and Remodeling. (Note – I’ll have to fess up. This is a shameless plug here since I’m a member of the Cleveland Design and Remodeling and Bath Doctor team). However, I think our guys listened to, connected with and delivered a nice job for Deborah – but I’ll let her tell you why. Let’s dig in.

Should you move or improve? A Spring Guide to the right Home Improvement or Renovation Project

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Kitchen Remodeling, Windows

Spring Guide to the Right Home Imrpovement or Renovation Project | Innovate Building Solutions | #HomeRemodeling #SpringHomeImprovement #ClevelandRemodeling

I was looking forward to a quiet – yet quick – dish of twice cooked pork from Billie Lee’s (my favorite Chinese restaurant in Columbus Ohio). It wasn’t as quiet as I expected this night (even though it was a slow night). 3 tables over I could hear loud and clear (and I wouldn’t describe myself as a “Snoop Doggy-Dog either!) an upper 60-year old couple describing to friends their recent home sales experience. They described how their home sold in less than 2 weeks. EVERY offer was above the asking price. They accepted a full cash bid. I thought to myself – wow – housing markets sure can change from year to year.

I’m not sure why this couple was selling or where they were moving to, but what I could figure out (and a crack detective I’m not) is their home was a hot. Also, I came to the conclusion if you’re buying a home in Columbus Ohio you’d better act quick – and don’t plan on finding big bargains either.

You may be in a stage in life where you’re kicking around, should I move or improve?

Perhaps you have to move because your existing home is too expensive, too big, has a bad layout or you’re being relocated.

Perhaps you want to move because your home is too small, or neighborhood safety is a problem, or the school system is going down the tubes.

Perhaps you never want to move. Even though your home doesn’t ‘live’ due to your mobility challenges you’ve told your family they’ll have to roll you out of here.

Whether you decide to move or improve isn’t a question I’m smart enough to chime in on (it’s one you’ll need to discuss with family, friends and a sharp realtor), but what I would like to discuss is what home improvements make sense if you (A) decide to move or (B) decide to improve and stay put.

The list of what you could do to improve your home is longer than you have time or money for. The list of what you should do to improv your home will be different if you decide to stay put or you decide to run, run as fast as you can. Below I’ll look at 5 smaller-scale, yet smart, home improvement projects should you decide to move, and 4 larger-scale projects if you decide to stay and improve. Note, I’m only looking at 4 because these ones will require a decent chunk out of your wallet to do.

At the end of the article I’d love your ideas on which projects should (or shouldn’t) be on your list. My ‘lists are purposely incomplete.’ Let’s face it – these lists could go on and on. Please add to your recommended project ‘to do list’ at the end of the article.

6 Truly Remarkable Things about Glass Floors and Stairs

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Glass Flooring, Glass Floors

6 remarkable things about glass floors and stair treads | Innovate Building Solutions

You’ve reached the stage of life where you’re not afraid to express yourself.

You’ve reached the stage of life where you’re not going to put up with bad design.

You’ve reached the stage of life where you can finally spend some money on you, your wife or significant other (not just the kids anymore).

These qualities of expressing yourself, demanding remarkable design and having a few dollars to splurge on yourself, fit homeowners who use glass flooring and glass stairs to a tee. If they were looking for cheap, boring and run of the mill they WOULD NOT be installing a horizontal glass feature.

Yes – owners of glass floors will use glass bridges and decks for ordinary reasons (moving light from one level to another)– but usually they are installing this product to create an extraordinary experience. And when you look at it– shouldn’t life be about creating extraordinary experiences anyway?

If you’ve ever walked on the glass floors at the CN Tower or the Tinamen Mountain in China, you’d know ‘pedestrian’ would not describe that experience!  Wild, wow – (or, it could make me pee my pants) would be more fitting – depending on your perspective.

While glass flooring is a remarkable product, many people are confused by them.  IMHO (In My Humble Opinion)– they are a ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not” flooring system if there ever was one.

In this article I’d like to take you on a ‘glass floor and stairs’ walking journey. You’ll learn 6 things which are truly remarkable about glass floors and stair treads. At the end there will be a quiz. No, it won’t be the dreaded ‘pop quiz’ you sweated over in Junior High math class. In this quiz, I simply want you to tell me which of these 6 points is most remarkable to you. Now – let’s step out onto the glass floor ledge (sounds exhilarating and scary – doesn’t it?) and see what’s so cool about these floors.

 

5 Surprising Reasons You Shouldn’t Listen to Your Remodeler (and five strategies for your project to go smoother)

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Basement Remodeling, Bathroom Remodeling, Exterior Remodeling, Home Organization & Storage, Kitchen Remodeling

5 Surprising Reasons You Shouldn't Listen to Your Remodeler with 5 Strategies for Your Project to Go Smoother | Innovate Building Solutions

This article isn’t written to dis(respect) remodeling contractors and companies. Hey – the reality is I’m earning a living in this world. I’m a guy who designs, sells, wholesales and launches new remodeling products into the market – and I’ve been doing this since 1985 (man – that makes me sound O-L-D!).

Remodelers and remodeling companies (mine included) are simply a group of people. We each have our own strengths, weaknesses, points of view and depth of knowledge. We have been brought together with the goal of successfully completing (and supplying) jobs for you. We want to minimize problems along the way – and make a few bucks while we’re at it. Perfect we’re not -just ask our wives, husbands, significant others and fellow employees. The only person who ‘may’ think we can do no wrong is Mom – but even she wonders from time to time.

It’s because of our humanity (our imperfections) that I would tell you there are times you shouldn’t listen to us. Crazy – huh? Yes, you heard that right, I said it, don’t listen to us (I hope my kids aren’t reading this now).

There are times you shouldn’t take our word for it.

There are times you need to challenge us.

There are times you need to check us out to make sure we’re ‘legit’ (or in the words of the infamous hip-hop artist MC Hammer – ‘too legit to quit….your job.’

You need to make sure you find a good remodeler (there is no such thing as a perfect remodeler). One who will work with you. One who won’t dictate the terms, conditions and products you’ll use on your job (it is your job, now isn’t it?). Before entering into a remodeling contract, you need to know the strengths (and limitations) of your contractor, when you should listen to them, and when you shouldn’t.

The goal of this article is simple. It’s not to slam contractors (we’re an easy enough mark as it is). It is to give you a realistic perspective on how to choose, and work with your contractor so your project goes smoother and – most importantly – you get what you want.

Let’s look at 5 reasons you shouldn’t listen to your contractor and 5 simple strategies for your project to go smoother.

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