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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.

Solid Surface vs. Ready for Tile Shower Pans – The Ultimate Showdown

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

Solid surface vs a Ready for tile shower pan - The Ultimate Showdown | Innovate Building Solutions

If you’re looking to do a standard (or custom) sized shower pan and want something nicer than the cheap generic plastic white styles at your big box store it can be hard to figure out what option is best. Two popular alternatives in upgraded shower bases vs. fiberglass are solid surface and ready for tile pans. Here’s reasons both options beat the pants off the low-end fiberglass you desperately want to replace now:

Advantages of solid surface and waterproof ready for tile pans over fiberglass bases

 They won’t yellow like fiberglass.

  • You can choose your drain location. You don’t have the cost of moving plumbing around.
  • You can create a custom shape to fit a curved design, custom NEO angle shape or an offset style pan.
  • These bases won’t flex and squeak when you walk on them – even if you you’re not built like Victoria Beckham, Gigi Hadid or an anorexic supermodel.
  • You can live life “in color.” You can either design your own tile pattern or choose from 51 varied solid surface colors.
  • You can get these bases clean. It can be nearly impossible to get dirt off the bottom of a fiberglass pan.

While both these shower bases have it all over fiberglass – the challenge I see is homeowners (and contractors) struggling to know how to choose between solid surface and ready for tile. In this article I’m going to pit both shower pans against each other in the ultimate showdown. At the end I’d like to get your take on which is best.

This shower pan UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) won’t get you bloody or gross you out. It will save you money. You won’t make a bad shower base selection you’ll regret in a space you use every single day.

Let the rubber cleaning gloves come off and the battle of the shower bases begin.

7 things you can do to add inspiration, color and “personopoly” to your shower

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

7 things you can do to add color and inspiration to a shower enclosure | Innovate Building Solutions

B.K. (before kids), I dreamed of owning a fire-engine red 2- seater convertible Mercedes sportscar. I can see myself speeding down the highway with my wife Rose without a care in the world (hey – this guy in the picture below even looks a bit like me!).

2 seater mecedes jdpower dot com

from www.jdpower.com

Oops – I just woke up!

I came close to achieving this cool sportscar goal when I was 29 years old (before our 3 kids showed up on the scene) and owned a candy apple red small BMW 318i. I enjoyed the color and style of a eye-popping car (within my more limited budget than the 2-seater Mercedes) before setting into my practical “SUV” life. Now, I have room to cart the kids around and boxes for work.

You may be asking, “Mike, what does fire-engine red 2-seater Mercedes and cool cars have to do with inspirational showers?” Well – I’ll tell you. The longer I go in life (Rose and I are actually getting closer to being “empty nesters” in a few years) I realize life should be lived out loud. Life should be inspirational and aspirational. It needs to be enjoyed – whether we’re taking a fun trip with friends and family, riding in an over-the-top sports car, or getting a cool shower which we absolutely love (without giving a hoot about resale).

A fun way to create inspiration in your bathroom is to add unexpected pops of color in your shower which capture your style and personality. My Dad coined the term “personopoly” for this. It is your monopoly on personality (there is only one you – so why not express it?). The heck with resale. The heck with what everyone else is doing. You’re going “Burger King” on the world. You’re going to “have it your way!”

In this article I’m going to outline 7 ideas to add inspiration – through color – into your shower design. You’ll not only be able to show your “personopoly” – you’ll enjoy a vibrant shower which is all about you.

At the end let me know which of these bold ideas you’re all over – and if any of them are “too out there” for you.

7 incredibly smart (and 3 incredibly stupid) shower designs you can learn from

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

7 incredibly smart (and 3 incredibly stupid) shower designs you can learn from | Innovate Building Solutions

The difference between a smart shower design and a not-so-bright one is with a smart design you want to spend time in the space. You’d like to linger and enjoy the relaxing message of the water. You want to sit on the bench seat and unwind after a long day taking in the ambiance of the lighting and décor. Conversely, a poorly designed shower will cause you to spew out a few choice words which got you in detention back in Junior High. A low-quality shower system makes life miserable. Its design makes the shower hard to use, and difficult to clean. It has a style which makes you feel you’re living in a throwback episode of The Brady Bunch or Leave it to Beaver (if you don’t remember those shows let’s just say they go waaaaay back!).

Whether you’re drooling over a cool, sleek, contemporary shower design you love in a magazine, Parade of Homes or friend’s house– or putting up with an elbow smacking, nightmarish decor, moldy unit you’re embarrassed to have anyone see – you can learn from good and bad shower designs to get the new shower of your dreams.

In this article, I’m going to take you on a journey to experience 7 incredibly smart – and 3 incredibly stupid – examples of shower design.  At the end let me know what you liked (and didn’t) about these showers. A shower design is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Get a design which not only works for you (and whomever you’re sharing this bathroom with) but also one which gives you pleasure, at a budget you can afford. Let’s check out the incredibly smart, and some not so smart, examples below.

A DIY glass block shower experience made possible with Egyptian pyramid building ingenuity

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

A DIY glass block shower experience made possible with Egyptian Pyramid building ingenuity - Innovate Building Solutions

You may be wondering, “What does building a glass block shower have in common with Egyptian pyramids?” That would be a logical question. Sometime when you take on a custom shower project with heavy materials (in this case a beefy solid surface shower base and custom prebuilt glass block shower wall sections), just like the building of the Egyptian pyramids, the construction feat can pit mankind (or womankind) in a mental battle with materials they want to use.

The weight of the materials was one of the challenges facing JR in a 2 year-long design and installation of a custom glass block shower. He invested time planning, measuring (remeasuring) designing securing products and then building a grand glass block shower unlike any others I’ve seen. It’s size, design and shape were not only unique – but the project was done without a full-time general contractor leading the way (now that’s a risky proposition).

A project like this takes a special person (OK – John’s not your average guy). It takes a focus on design, planning and some special “engineering” along the way (some anticipated – and some solutions figured out “on the fly”). In the video below I’ll let John share with you his DIY custom glass block shower and solid surface base experience (and what it has to do with Egyptian pyramid building).

Now that you’ve watched John’s video, I’ll share the 5 D’s to get you to the top with a unique glass block shower experience for your home (even if you’re project is not as grand as John’s). At the end John and I would love to get your opinions of his glass block shower. I want to hear your questions if you’re struggling with the steps to make this project a reality.

Can’t find a contractor? Maybe it’s time to DIY your bathroom remodel

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

Can't find a contracor - Maybe it's time to DIY your bathroom remodeling project | Innovate Building Solutions

Finding a general bathroom remodeling contractor is becoming a needle in a haystack process in cities, suburbs and rural areas across the United States. You may be wondering why are contractors such a pain in the butt to find today? Think about these trends and political factors impacting housing and remodeling:

  • You and I aren’t encouraging our sons and daughters to get into the skilled trades – the push is towards sexier fields like high-tech and health care.
  • The new home market is growing fast – but home building starts have been slowed by the ability to find installation crews.
  • Tighter borders are making it difficult for skilled contractors to enter the United States.
  • The repeal of the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program could result in more qualified young skilled workers being forced out.
  • Recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida will put further strain on an already thin construction labor pool. While funding will be made available – getting these regions back up to speed will be delayed by people qualified to do the work.
  • Unemployment is at historically low levels and existing home prices are going up so more people are staying put and remodeling.

While I’m not an economist (and certainly don’t play one on TV) IMHO (in my humble opinion) this contractor problem is only going to get worse over the next few years. The question is, if you can’t find a contractor (or have a tight remodeling budget) does it make sense to go down the scary path of redoing the bathroom yourself? To help you get your arms around this question I’m going to dig into two subjects:

  • Do you have the 3 T’s it takes to DIY a bathroom remodeling project?
  • How should you go about a DIY bathroom remodeling project to maximize success and minimize pulling your hair out?

5 Must-Do Fall Home Improvement Projects to Cut Your Heating Bills

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Basement Remodeling, doors, Glass Block, Windows

5 must do fall home improvement projects to save heating costs | Innovate Building Solutions Cleveland and Columbus Ohio

I stepped out of my hotel room in Columbus yesterday with a short-sleeved shirt (I’m still in a summer mind-set). The wind was blowing. It was cold, breezy and 56 degrees. I thought, “Why didn’t I check the weather on my phone this morning? Does the summer have to blow by so fast?” I suppose that was Mother Natures’ way of saying to me, “Hey Dude – you live in Ohio. The one thing constant about the weather here is it’s going to change!”

Unfortunately, the decline in temperatures is also joined at the hip with higher bills from the oh-so-friendly heating company. Before the utility company gets you (and I) with high heating bills, now is the time to do the right home improvement project this Fall before you get a bad news bill delivered into your mailbox this Winter.

If your home is not very energy efficient (OK –if we’re keeping it real you’d say it leaks like a sieve) think through which of the following 5 must-do Fall home improvement projects need to be on your list. If you don’t think about this now, you could get stuck with “Joe’s-Quick-And-Dirty Home Improvement Company” whose been on the Angie’s List – naughty list instead a reputable high-quality replacement window and door contractor to do your job.

5 mistakes (to avoid like the plague) building a glass block shower wall

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

5 glass block shower wall installation mistakes to avoid like the plague | Innovate Building Solutions

Do you get an idea in your head and are determined to do it despite the naysayers all around you? When you came up with the idea for the glass block walk in shower the doubters came out in force. Here’s some of the “input” from the doubters you’re already had to put up with:

  • Why do you even want this shower – didn’t they go out of style?
  • Who are we going to get to install this wall? Finding a mason in our town is like finding a needle in a haystack!
  • A curved glass block shower wall – that’s gotta cost a ton of money. There’s no way we can afford that!
  • I don’t see how we have enough room for a glass block shower in our tiny 5’ x 8’ bathroom.
  • As the Rolling Stones once said Honey, “You can’t always get what you want – but you can get what you need – and in this case, that’s a basic shower we’ll pick up at the big box store.”

Sometimes life should be about getting what you want (not just what you need)– even in a bathroom remodeling project. However, it’s impossible to get ‘er done without the drive to figure out what you need (having a plan) and then locating the right products, systems and installation approach to make it happen.

Since glass block showers are not a “run of the mill” home improvement project (they are a specialty shower wall system) you need to do your homework so you don’t have the “nightmare on Elm Street” remodeling project you wish you never started (if that happens those naysayers will have a field day with you).

If you really want a glass block shower, you’ll need to know how to navigate the landmines which can derail your project. Below I’ll give you the straight-scoop about mistakes (and myths) I’ve seen in my 32 years in the glass block industry (wow – this really makes me sound like an old dude!) with this type of installation. This project is completely do-able – but you don’t want to fall into any of these 5 traps below.

Why settle for a tiny shower?

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

 

Why settle for a tiny shower | Innovate Building Solutions

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.

4 Super-Practical Tips to Prevent Flooding through Basement Windows

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

4 super practical tips to prevent flooding through basement windows | Innovate Building Solutions

Has your basement ever flooded? Maybe your home sits low in relation to the street level and you’ve got nasty old basement windows which aren’t prepared to stop a fly let alone a bunch of rain crashing down at one time. If you’ve been the unlucky recipient of a flash flood and were the “winner” of rain or storm water in your lower level– you know what a pain it is to dig out. Drenched carpets, furniture ruined, paneling and finished wall destroyed. Floods are a mess to clean up.

Your basement problems today

Your basement walls, windows and land around your home needs to protect against floods. However, in many cases your windows, walls and land are not prepared to do the job. The first problem is most basement windows are the red-haired step-child of your home. They are cheap single pane metal or wood framed windows the original builder put in years ago. They “offer” virtually zero insulation value. They are rotten, rusted but perfect for Halloween with their dirty spider infested spookiness. Do you want to deal with these windows or would you rather they just go away peacefully?

Another problem is the land and window wells may not be equipped to handle a lot of rain at one time. The earth around your home has moved. Your lawn and landscape beds have settled and not in a good way (as a 50 something year old guy it kind of reminds me of my gut). The window wells are filled with leaves, gunk and junk. The walls, windows and ground around your basement leave a lot to be desired.

The opportunity your basement can provide

If you have a home though, you know it’s nice to have a light filled basement. Basement windows can bring light into your lower level rec rooms, man-caves and hobby and crafting rooms. They can make finished rooms look bright and airy (if the windows aren’t rusted shut or in such bad shape you don’t dare to open them). In addition, the basement is a low-cost opportunity to add space for you, your family and your hobbies (note: it’s much cheaper to remodel a basement than to do a room addition).

A remodeled Cleveland Ohio basement adds lower level living space | Cleveland Design and Remodeling a division of Innovate Building Solutions

The lower level can also be the perfect place to create a cool room for your teenagers to hang out (versus being God-only-knows where with their friends) or a fun man cave or hobby room. It is an important place to store valuable furniture, books, family pictures and equipment. Whether you have a beautifully remodeled finished basement or just want to make sure your things don’t get waterlogged you’ve got to develop a game plan to protect again the elements messing up your things.

The question becomes what can you do fix leaky basement windows, deal with a messed-up landscape and protect your finished lower level from being damaged by Mother Nature? Check out these 4 practical tips to button up your home so you won’t be digging out from a rainwater problem you could have avoided.

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