Who has unlimited money to spend on a bathroom remodeling project? If you’re like me you do not resemble this remark. You start doing your Internet research and see on Pinterest, Houzz or Google some cool shower doors, shower bases and shower heads and think, “do I have enough bucks to make this project happen?” Make no bones about it. bath remodeling is usually more expensive than you think. So now you may be asking, “Mike, the good news is…..?”
The good news is you can have smart contemporary, sleek shower door today which is cost effective IF you’re familiar with the right products and systems. You’ll need to plan smarter to get a cool, price-effective shower today (and glass shower door) for you’ll enjoy for many “tomorrows” in your home. Let’s check out 5 cutting-edge ideas to save on one critical shower component –your glass door.
Isn’t it a pain trying to plow your way through the material choices and products in a bathroom remodeling project? What is the best type of shower base? Should you get a wall mounted vanity or a furniture grade unit which sits on the floor? Should you go with a single or double bowl vanity? The list goes on and on.
When it comes to remodeling a shower, I would argue the single most important decision is the shower base (or shower floor or pan as some call it). Why do I say the base is so critical? Well – the base is the foundation of the shower. Just like your home – if the foundation of your shower cracks or gets moldy “Houston, you have a big problem!”
Failure of your shower floor pan can cause leaking onto the floor below and result in needing to redo your entire shower (the glass enclosure, interior shower wall surround panels and base) and whatever additional repair work is needed in the level below. My Dad used to tell me, “Mike – don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.” Buying the cheapest pan you can find (or hiring somebody who doesn’t know what they are doing install a site built pan for you which fails) can have disastrous results (and be penny-wise and pound-foolish as my Dad used to say).
How do you keep the bathroom remodeling project you’re doing today from being a nightmare home improvement failure of tomorrow? It begins with asking the right questions. In this article, I’m going to give you the 5 critical questions you need to know to choose the right type of shower base. At the end give me your opinion which question you think is most important (and if there are other questions to add to the list).
The aging problem has hit your Mom and Dad’s doorstep
Mom’s mobility and balance isn’t what it used to be (when she fell last year it created quite a scare for you and your brother Michael). Dad’s knees are so bad from his years of hard work at the plant, going up the stairs to their master bedroom has become a project. You and your brother can see the handwriting on the wall (even if Dad cannot). The family home they raised you both in is becoming a big safety hazard for Mom and Dad. You’re starting to do what all responsible brothers and sisters do today. The “behind-the-scenes” research and family meeting process has begun.
You’re debating if Mom and Dad should move in with you or Michael’s family and modify your home to fit their needs (perhaps giving them your first-floor master bedroom and you move upstairs). You know the bathroom with it’s 5” high tile shower curb is just one of the challenges you’ll have to eliminate IF you can get them to move in with you.
You’re also discussing if Mom and Dad would benefit from a move to an assisted living facility. At a cost $3,500/month you have no idea not only how they’re going to pay for this, but Dad will put up such a major fuss you can’t imagine this happening. Staying in their existing home is an accident waiting to happen. Something has got to give….and soon!
The decision is made for Mom and Dad to move in with you. Let the home modification process begin!
After way too many family meetings Mom and Dad have finally agreed to move in with you, your husband Bill and 2 kids (it’s not exactly how you planned your home living situation would evolve – but family has to come first). You, Bill needed got to do and know your existing bathroom “ain’t gonna cut it!” The custom tile shower with the 5” step over curb to get in is not happening with Mom and Dad’s mobility challenges. You’ve decided a ramped roll in shower is the answer… but is it really the best solution?
A ramped roll in shower has its drawbacks
While it’s not my goal to be the guy who rains on your parade and home modification game-plan, there are 5 negatives of installing a ramped roll in shower (it can be a good option – but it may not be the best option) you should be aware of before buying products for the bathroom remodel. Also, there are 2 little-known alternatives you should consider before making your final choice. Read below so you don’t waste money on the wrong selection for your parent’s current needs and your future needs.
If your bathroom vanity top is like most – it can be downright scary. Creams, makeup, hairspray and sticky purple medicines all fighting for space. Your countertop has to take a “lickin’ and keep on tickin’.” Since there are a lot of choices in vanity tops choosing one can be tough. One popular countertop material – whether you need a standard or custom size – is solid surface. You know when you are remodeling there are often too many choices. Selecting a bath countertop, flooring, shower enclosure or shower fixtures can blow your mind.
In this article, I’m not dumb enough to attempt to try to give input on all the components you may want in your remodel. I will look to give you feedback on one option, which is stone solid surface tops. I’ll dig in to give you concrete answers to your slippery questions about solid surface countertops. At the end of the article if you have more questions shoot them at me (if you have more input for others chime in with what you’ve learned).
It’s fun to look at the glass-like appearance of high gloss acrylic wall panels in a shower, kitchen backsplash or feature wall in an office and say, “Wow – that material is cool.” Yes –gloss wall panels are striking in appearance – but just like you and I – there is a lot more to know about them than is evident on the surface. While these panels fly off the shelves in countries like Australia and Japan – they are still new to homeowners and business owners in the United States (and a bit of a mystery).
In this article, I’d like to dig “under the hood” to give you some little-known facts (at least in the United States) about these fun and functional high gloss wall panels. At the end of the article let me know if you have any questions which weren’t covered in these 5 facts.
When you take a shower is it an elbow banging, sardine-stuffed-in-can, clown-jammed-into-a-Volkswagen type of experience? Maybe your shower is “functional,” but it’s not a place you enjoy. Since the bathtub is hardly ever used, showers now rule the bathroom landscape. Day in and day out they are the workhorses of our morning or evening routine. So why settle for a tiny shower which is uncomfortably small, outdated and/or a dark depressing?
This is the question Kerry Danielsen asked about the cramped 48″ x 32″ shower in her West Winsor, New Jersey home. The challenge for Kerry (or for any of us who are adventuresome enough to embark on a bathroom remodeling project) is how can I make my limited square footage work? How can I create a bathroom which is luxurious, comfortable and durable (after all who wants to spend good money remodeling a bathroom only to see it fall apart in a short time)?
Fortunately for Kerry she had a “trick” (‘er, or should I say a friend) up her sleeve to guide her through this process. This friend is also an award-winning architect (now that’s the perfect kind of friend to have during a building project), furniture designer and graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University (that’s also my alma-mater so that can’t make him too bad!). He is Jonathan Nelson.
When I talked to Jonathan and Kerry recently about the project Jonathan joked and said, “Mike – we basically created a shower with a bathroom attached!” The challenge becomes how can you create a spacious, luxurious larger shower in a smaller bathroom while providing enough space for a vanity, and toilet? You don’t want to end up looking like an episode from “Honey, I Shrunk the Rest of our Bathroom just to put in a Larger Shower!”
Let’s go on a journey to see how this bathroom remodeling project evolved from a good plan on a sheet of paper to a space which is not only built to last, but is built to be enjoyed …. each day.
If you’ve got a custom sized shower or tub and HATE tile you know what a pain it can be finding a long-lasting, good looking alternative \. You may struggle locating any decent looking panels which don’t know look like a cheap Home Depot special. Even if you do find a nice bathroom wall panel, then you get “the pleasure” (sarcasm intended) dealing with your stuck-in-the-mud general contractor who refuses to install anything but tile (another remodeling hurdle for you). If you decide to DIY this job you may not have the right tools or experience to cut the panels or end up breaking one and costing yourself more money (ouch!). The question is who you gonna call (Ghostbusters doesn’t do construction work) to figure this doggone project out?
Here’s a quick and painless solution for you. Read below about the 5 pains of custom bathroom walls panels. You’ll learn not only about the hassle of bathroom wall panels, but most importantly get ideas to fix these problems without pulling out your hair (or yanking out your husband’s few remaining hairs either).
Freddie sent me the pictures – and even a drawing – of his odd shaped shower and he was absolutely on the money when he said, “Mike – this thing is one of the funkiest bathrooms you’ll ever see. What were the last owners thinking when they created the weird angles in this space? Even though I’ve done a bathroom remodeling project or two in my past I’ve never encountered a beast like this shower. Can you help me figure this puzzle out?”
Unfortunately, Freddie is not the only one in this country with an odd shower which is funky with a capital “F!” It’s simple to identify and say – Man, that is an odd space – it’s much more challenging to get a game-plan to conquer this crazy shower and transform your bathroom into a functional, stylish and maintenance free place. Even after Freddie sent me pictures and a drawing it took 45 minutes on the phone to BEGIN to get a plan together to get this weirdness under control.
This brings up the question, “What do you need to know to tame a lion-sized bathroom remodeling challenge? What assistance is required to not only conquer this beast, but to create a space which is much better than the fungus-infested, dirty-grout, odd shaped shower you’re stuck with today?”
My goal in this article is to give you practical tips to get your arms around this project – whether your man (or woman) enough to tackle it as a DIY’er – or plan to bring a contractor in (note – if you look for a professional contractor you’ll need to find one who likes a challenge, knows what they’re doing, won’t demand your first- born child or force you to take on a second job to pay for this remodel to ‘get ‘er done). Let’s look at these 5 ½ tips (the ½ tip is the cherry on the top) and stop putting up with the nastiness that is your strange shower today!
At midnight, I received the all too familiar email. It said,
“Mike, my general contractor is extremely hesitant to work with the (you fill in the blank) product (in my business I could fill in this blank with unique products like wet room systems, grout free shower wall panels or glass block showers or windows). I desperately want this product in my remodeling project. I’m crushed. How do I convince him to use this new product….to innovate on my project? I’m completely frustrated. I don’t want to have to beg get what I want – but I will if that’s what it takes!”
Have you ever resembled this remark in the middle of a kitchen, basement or bathroom remodeling project? Contractors are not known to be the most progressive ‘tools in the shed’ – and in the busy market of today it’s much easier for them to tell you, “hey lady we don’t know anything about that product.” Asking them to innovate can be as hard as asking the shyest person you know to give a speech about physics to a group of egghead scientists. Neither request is likely to be fulfilled – unless you know how to influence them in a way they want to help you get what you want.
This is not an easy mission, but you’ve got no choice but to accept it if you want to get the home renovation project of your dreams (money alone will not convince your contractor to do a project they are uncomfortable installing). A quality contractor doesn’t want to stick their neck, pocketbook and reputation out if they don’t know what the heck they’re doing. They will be responsible to come back to fix what’s wrong if something goes sideways for you – and they aren’t eager to take the risk.
How do you get your competent (in this article I’m assuming they are competent – if not, you have other bigger problems!) – yet conservative general contractor to go out on a limb and install a cool or important new product you’ve just got to have? To get something new it’s time to turn back to some good old fashioned advice. This timeless advice was adapted (with a twist) from a book originally published in 1936 (and has sold over 30 million copies) from Andrew Carnegie called How to Win Friends and Influence People. In this article let’s look at 4 common sense tips (with a little psychology thrown in) inspired by the work of Andrew Carnegie to influence your contractor (or anyone for that matter) to get what you want.
George Vickroy said to me, “Mike this was the hardest DIY remodeling project I’ve ever done, but I’m getting so much more than I expected back from it!”
Doing a DIY bathroom remodeling project can be a pain. Plumbing, electrical, drywall, heating, heavy materials you’ve got to lug in and out of the home. The need to get constant input from the people leading you along the way. You have to have so many skills to – as Larry the Cable guy would say “get ‘er done” – it can be downright mind-boggling. The challenge becomes once you’ve decided to bite the bullet and tackle the job how do you pull yourself through it? How do you prevent from leaving a half-done trail of a “job-almost-well-done?” You don’t want your family asking, “So when are you going to finish the bathroom exactly?”
When I visited George and Tena Vickroy’s house to take pictures of their new bathroom (we worked together on the glass block walk in shower and solid surface shower pan in this job) it was amazing how George and I started reflecting on how our Dad’s advice was still ringing in our heads today (and in my case my Dad passed away 28 years ago!) – even while toiling through a bathroom remodel.
Maybe George and I got nostalgic about our Dads because we’re just a tad bit older (I’m 57, but think I can look 37 at any time after I use my magic $9.99 bottle of Miss Clairol for men hair coloring. I also think being “delusional and happy is a good thing- but I digress). Maybe it’s because as you get older you start to realize how much you don’t know. Maybe it’s because Dad had a lot of wisdom – but when we were young we sometimes blew him off and said to ourselves, “What does the old man know anyway?”
In the article below I’m going to show off the DIY bathroom remodeling project George did in conjunction with his wife Tena, his son Clayton, son in law Mike, friend Neil and even a former student KC Weber. We’ll look at this project through 6 thoughtful words of wisdom from our Dad’s. At the end of the article let me know if any of these “Dad-isms” (not sure that’s a word, but it should be) ring true with you. I know Dads can also be wacky (yes, I do resemble that remark – ask any of my 3 kids and they will back that statement up) – but sometimes the “old man” knows a thing or two, or six.