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Mike Foti

President of Innovate Building Solutions a nationwide supplier and regional (Cleveland and Columbus) remodeling contractors. Some of our product lines include glass counters, floors, backsplashes, glass blocks and grout free shower and tub wall panels

7 Crucial Steps for a Stylish Low Maintenance Shower Installation

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Learn 7 Crucial Steps for a Stylish Low Maintenance Shower Installation | Innovate Building Solutions #ShowerRemodel #WallPanels #ShowerInstallation

I took the all-too-familiar call from James and his wife Linda.

Linda started out saying, “Mike – I HATE the ugly white fiberglass stand up shower in our hall bathroom, and the tile shower in the master is a mess. The grout joints are black and nasty. I’ve finally convinced James it’s time to blow up these 2 bathrooms now that the kids are “mostly” grown and out of the house (she mentioned her son Michael was on the 6-year college plan and almost ready to graduate). I am not going to deal with the maintenance or an ugly shower again. I’ve had it.”

James chimed in and said, “Linda and I went to the local big box store only to find the same crap we have right now. Lots of ceramic tiles. Basic cheap fiberglass shower pans and walls in stock sizes which won’t work for our tile shower. I am thinking about installing this job myself. I tried to ask the guy with the orange smock the steps to get this job done. He was clueless. Linda and I need your help with two things. First, what stylish, low maintenance products are out there? Second –I’m not sure what the right installation steps are. Can you help us?”

I understand where Linda and James are coming from. As a homeowner – no matter how handy or construction-savvy you are – you’re not researching shower products or installing a new shower every day (hopefully this will be the first and LAST time you do this). So – if you want a cool shower, which isn’t a pain to clean and maintain and don’t want to screw up the install (or have a contractor you hire mess it up either) you need to know the right steps to “get ‘er done” (as Larry the Cable Guy would say) right the first time.

In the article below I’ll look at 7 crucial installation steps I shared with Linda and James for a stylish low maintenance shower. For this project I would recommend to take your time. Be methodical. When you get this job done using the right steps, you’ll end up with the shower which is cool AND done – once and for all!

Our top 10 remodeling blog posts of 2017 – Innovate Building Solutions

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Our Top 10 Bathroom Remodeling Blog Posts of 2017 | Innovate Building Solutions #Remodeling #Blog #Bathroom

(note – this blog post should be subtitled, “I Was Determined to Blow Up My Current Tub and Shower Stall in 2017)  

Thanks for your interest in my blog in 2017. Traffic doubled to over 50,000 visitors per month and one thing was painfully obvious – you do not like your current tub and shower stalls!

As you’ll see below 9 of the 10 top articles were focused on the pains, problems and solutions to fix the “wet spaces” (AKA your tub and showers) in a bathroom remodel. You wanted to learn how to get rid of step over shower curbs and climbing over tub rails which cause falls and hospital stays for family members. You wanted to learn how to stop having to clean tile grout – without resorting to cheap white plastic panels from your local big box store. You wanted to learn ways to get a stylish, low maintenance shower or tub without blowing your budget.

While 2017 was also the year of the Rooster in the “all important” Chinese Zodiac (and I will come clean and say I was born in 1960 – the year of the Rat– that’s not very flattering), for my blog 2017 was the year of the shower stall.

If you’d like to “blow up” your current tub or shower stall in 2018 (OK – maybe not literally) save yourself research time, money and aggravation by reading through our top 10 remodeling blog posts of 2017. We’ll build up to the top post at the end.

15 Reasons You Shouldn’t Remodel Your Bathroom (and 10 Reasons You Should)

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

15 Reasons You Shouldn't Remodel in 2018 (and 10 Reasons You Should) | Innovate Building Solutions #ShowerRemodel #ClevelandRemodel #BathroomRemodel

I was talking to Mark (a potential customer) who started venting to me about his bathroom remodeling project. He said, “Mike, planning this bathroom remodel is a pain in the rear. Too many choices, too few contractors. The budget is getting squeezed left and right. My wife Lisa has this urge to remodel. I wish her urge would just go away.”

Mark then said, “Mike as someone in the biz can you help Lisa and I figure out if we should – or shouldn’t – remodel this upcoming year? As you know I’m voting for “shouldn’t,” she is completely in the “should” category. I’d like the ammunition to bring Lisa over to my side.”

I told Mark, “I don’t want to get in the middle of any family squabbles over remodeling. I’m not the “Dr. Phil of Remodeling,” besides I’ve got way more hair than him. However, as a supplier and remodeling contractor I’ve seen remodeling projects which have gone well – and others which were so wacked-out the owners wish they never started. Let me think about this. I’ll put a list together of “should’ s and shouldn’t’ s – and try keep you out of divorce court, or the Peoples Court, over a simple bathroom!”

As I got to thinking about this my crazy mind went in a bunch of directions. Included below is the list I prepared for Mark and Lisa. I hope you enjoy it, and learn a couple of things along the way. If you have any additional reasons (fun or serious) why you should (or shouldn’t remodel) add them in the comments at the end of the article. If they’re humorous give me a call – I like a good laugh.

How to overcome your boring builders-grade white shower stall

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

How to Overcome the Boring Builders-graded White Shower Stall | Innovate Building Solutions | #ShowerSystems #WhiteShowerWalls

When you moved into your suburban family home 18 years ago you and John certainly weren’t financially set up to live in the lap of luxury (not that you are now either!). The boring, white shower stall in your first-floor master bathroom was already getting dull. It had some dirt and stain marks on the shower floor. The ugly thin-glass framed sliding glass door wasn’t quite falling off the hinges, but it wasn’t a thing of beauty either. You never knew cleaning the bottom track of this door would get you spewing out so many 4-letter-words a sailor would blush. The plastic shower tree you hung off the shower head isn’t a thing of beauty – but what they heck – it’s getting the job done (even though the soap and shampoo oozes out the bottom). You don’t complain.

You have had more than your share of costs to deal with raising Chris and Emily (you never imagined how expensive raising them would be).  Now with the kids “almost” off the payroll (Emily already has her first “real” job as an Account Executive with a tech company and Chris is rounding into year 4 (lucky you – sarcasm intended) of his “5 year” college plan. The end of funding the kids is ALMOST in sight.

Now it’s time for you and John to finally enjoy more vacations and ditch the ugly master bathroom shower you’ve been putting up with for 18 years. But how can you get a shower which is fun, stylish, comfortable and low maintenance without draining your wallet and sucking up all your vacation funds?

In this article I’ll look at 7 smart ideas you can use to blow up your boring, white dirty-looking builders grade shower without using up all your mad money. We’ll take a “bottom up” (starting with the shower floor pan, then the wall surrounds and finally the enclosure) look at how you can transform your shower.

5 Simple Tricks to Design a Walk in Shower for a Tiny Bathroom

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

5 simple tricks to design a walk in shower in a tiny bathroom - Innovate Building Solutions #Bathroom #Shower #WalkInShower

You’re strolling through Pinterest enjoying a rare quiet moment on your den computer. You feel bathroom envy bubbling up. Your mind starts to wander. You think about expansive luxury walk in showers, separate free-standing bathtubs, and beautiful chandeliers gracing the wide-open spaces. What would it be like to have a bathroom like that, you think. Then your 17-year-old son barges in and says, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” Now you’re grounded back into the reality which is your life.

You don’t have an expansive bathroom. You have a tight 5’ x 8’ space like most suburban Cape Cod, ranch or 2 story homes.

You don’t have space for both a free-standing tub and a shower (unless you can figure out how to bolt the tub in upside down on the ceiling and determine how to have water suspended in mid-air – that’s a bit crazy).

A chandelier also isn’t happening. You would probably walk into it with your 8’ high ceilings.

You want the luxury, style and low maintenance features of a walk in shower. You realize you’re stuck with a 5’ x 8’ space unless you get creative. Maybe you could blow out the wall into your son’s bedroom and make him sleep in the basement? That’s an idea. OK, maybe it’s not too practical.

The challenge becomes how can you design a walk-in shower which will work in your 5’ x 8’ suburban bathroom (or tiny loft apartment or cramped historic home for that matter)? In this article I’m going to give you 5 simple tricks to make a cool walk in shower possible even if you don’t have the benefit of the mega “Pinterest-esque-sized” bathroom you wish you had.

5 Cutting-Edge Ideas to Use 3D Textured Designs in Your Home Today

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

5 cutting edge ideas to use 3D textured designs in your home today | Innovate Building Solutions

If you’ve decided to build a new home – or remodel an existing one – you’re probably motivated by the words of famous TV chef Emeril Lagasse to “kick it up a notch.” Out with – boring, old, ugly, stained, chipped countertops, walls, ceiling, showers and enclosures. You want to be in with – fun, functional, low maintenance and cool items to leverage hot style trends. You don’t want to bust your budget in the process. What’s I’m seeing is hot, hot, hot in progressive remodeling project today are 3D textured products. You may be asking why are 3D textured products sizzling in today’s marketplace? Consider the following:

5 reasons why 3D textured designs are hot

  • (1) We’re living in a 3D high-tech world today – 3D printing, 3D televisions, 3D pens and 3D objects of all types are growing at a breakneck pace.

 

  • (2) Three dimensional products are easier to get and install – If you’re looking to do a bedroom feature wall or a grout free shower system there are simple to install premade panels to make these projects a breeze to do.

 

  • (3) Packing more style into smaller spaces – Given the increasing cost of land, permitting fees and a desire for simpler spaces – our homes for the first time in decades are getting smaller (the Mega-Mansions of the 2000’s is dead). However, our homes are getting cooler with more function and style per square foot.  3D walls, ceilings, counters and enclosures are part of our desire for more “cool-factor.”

 

  • (4) Hide scratches – When a countertop or wall is smooth it’s easy to see every little scratch. 3D textured building surfaces hide some ills which come from the beating your home “lives through.” Not everyone in the family treats your home with TLC (if you’ve got teenage boys like me you know what I’m talking about).

 

  • (5) Creating a focal point – Many people hire interior designers because they not only want colors and textures to work together, but they want to create an impression. You’re looking for a wow when entering the room. 3D textured surfaces do this. They are an element which is not like surrounding walls, floors and counters. A featured wall. A backlight glass counter. An interesting ceiling. Something unique – which will cause people to ask you, “Where did you get that?”

Enough about the reasons why 3D walls are getting popular, strap onto your seat and check out these 5 cutting-edge ideas to add cool-factor into your home today:

The 5 biggest shower remodeling mistakes (and how to not repeat them on your job)

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

The 5 Biggest Shower Remodeling Mistakes (and How To Not Repeat Them on Your Project) | Innovate Building Solutions #Shower #Remodeling #BathRemodeling

Shower remodeling can be a pain. There are so many decisions to make and the cost of mistakes can be high. Here’s just a few decisions you’ll have to wrap your head around:

  • What type of shower base (or floor pan) is best?
  • Should you tile the walls or use a shower wall panel system?
  • Where is the best location for the drain? What is the optimal spot to put the shower valve to turn on the water?
  • Should you DIY all, some or contract out this project?

Since shower remodeling is not your ‘day job’ (and it’s a project you may do every 10 to 20 years) it can be tough to get it right the first time. How do you make sure you don’t make errors which haunt you down the road?

One way to make sure you’re on the right path is to read these top 5 shower remodeling mistakes and the strategies to not repeat them on your job. I’ve seen them way too frequently and don’t want you to fall into the same trap.

The Top 10 Common Shower Wall Surround Panel Misconceptions

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

The Top 10 Shower Wall Surround Panel Misconceptions | Innovate Building Solutions

Susan goes to neighborhood big-box store in search of shower wall panels to replace the tile shower she’s sick of cleaning. What she finds is NOT impressive. Plastic-looking, boring, wafer-thin white piles of junk she wouldn’t be caught dead with in her home. The guy in the orange smock was clueless on how to install these panels – once she was able to track him down. When she left – dejected and without a solution – she thought, “I guess this wouldn’t have worked anyway. The size of my shower is not a standard 36″, 48″ or 60″. I suppose I’ll settle for another high-maintenance tile shower.”

Can you relate to Susan’s story?

Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation, misconceptions and just bad input about shower wall surround panels in the market. Sometimes this bad information comes from contractors who want to do what they “always” do – give you a tile shower (of course they don’t have to maintain it). Employees at big-box stores are well meaning. However, it’s impossible for them to be an expert on the options and installation details of the 35,000 SKU’s (stock keeping units) in their store. When you look at the shower wall panels the big-box stores carry they are mass-produced and of low quality.

How do you sift through what’s fact and fiction about shower wall panels and get a system which will work for you and is nice enough you’d want them in your home?

I’m here to blow up the misconceptions in the marketplace. I’ve seen too many homeowners get “coerced” by contractors (or received bad advice from part-time retail employees) and make bad shower remodeling (tiles and panels) choices they are stuck with for years.

In this article my goal is to help inform you about “fake news” when it comes to shower wall panels. At the end feel free to add misconceptions #11,12, 13 and 14 you’ve learned during your research. As Joe Friday on the old TV shower Dragnet might say, my goal is to provide you with, “Just the facts, ma’am.” Let’s check out the top 10 misconceptions (they are in no specific order) about shower wall panels.

So Much To Be Thankful For

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Personal Reflections from Mike

 

Warning – This post is not about home remodeling. It’s about reflecting and being thankful for today.

Mike Foti Thanksgiving Celebrattion Being Thankful my Blessings - An Inspirational and Motivational Post

I’m so excited for Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday. Our dinner includes my sister in laws world famous (OK – I’m exaggerating, but not by much) Greek-style chestnut stuffing. In fact, I don’t let her in the house until she turns the stuffing over to ME! My sister Venera makes a killer classic cheesecake. My brother in law Gulio’s takes control of two fried turkeys (he resembles a master scientist in his meticulous cooking process). And I can’t forget Rose making my (almost) brother in laws Mark’s favorite – baked brie with cranberries on the top. Yum!

There will be laughter. Lots of laughter.

There will be candles burning and a table setting fit for a King and Queen (no King and Queen have shown up yet…maybe this year).

After dinner I will be manning my “battle station” (AKA the kitchen sink) along with Mark. We will be hand washing the fancy stem wear and huge platters which only come out on special occasions. I love doing this job (yes – I’m weird). The kids (note: these “kids” range between 15 years old and 29 years old now) will be playing Candy Land (a fun traditional my daughter Jade looks forward to).

While all this food, family camaraderie and cheer are fantastic – this IS NOT what Thanksgiving is about to me.

Thanksgiving for me is about reflection. Reflecting on my too-many-too-count blessings. As someone reading this post you are part of these blessing as well – even if I’ve never met you before yet (read on to find out why).

I hope my blessings (I’m an eternally optimistic glass-half-full guy) help you find good things to embrace in your life today (even if you’re going through tough times).

5 Little Known Tips to Build a Glass Block Walk in Shower for the First Time

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

5 little known tips for building glass block walk in shower for the first time | Innovate Building Solutions

Can you remember being the new kid of the block? How about starting your first job as a green-behind-the-ears (OK – maybe there wasn’t moss growing behind your ears) 16-year-old? Trying out for the football or basketball team and the other kids were so much BIGGER than you? How about pledging a fraternity or sorority and wondering (back in the days of hazing) what “hell night” would be like?

Being a rookie, a beginner, a new comer, a pledge, an apprentice – or even called a “tenderfoot” (that’s a funny word) is an exciting, yet fearful adventure.

Home improvement projects done for the first time can bring back the fears you experienced in the “Wonder Years” of your youth (my life was practically joined at the hip with Kevin Arnold if you remember him on this show).

95% of the people I advise on building a glass block walk in shower are rookies, first-timers. It doesn’t matter if they are roll-up-your-sleeves DIY homeowners or grizzled professional contractors who have lived through more than a few drain holes and literally “sweated” in more valves than they can count.

You know it’s possible to build these cool looking showers. Your spouse (or customer) has shown you countless images she’s been pinning the daylights out of on glass block showers on Pinterest. Now she wants YOU to make it happen for her.

Ouch – how are you going to turn this glass block shower picture into a reality without creating the nightmare on Elm Street bathroom remodeling project?

Just like in the old-days of your youth you’ll need to find the right tools, kits, advice, systems and sage advice to make it successfully out the other side of your first-time glass block shower project.

Building a glass block shower wall is not difficult – IF – you use these 5 little-known tricks. Let’s check them out.

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