If you’ve ever experienced a cracked shower pan which destroyed the ceiling and room below, or a mold-infested concrete tile base which caused eye, throat, skin or nasal irritations and costly doctor visits, you know a ‘cheap’ shower pan can be quite expensive. Ripping out showers, repairing ceilings, putting in new subfloors and doing mold remediation isn’t anybody’s idea of a good time.
If you’re looking to replace a way-too-small yellowed, cracked and creaky fiberglass shower base or a water-saturated mud-set tile shower pan with a custom solid surface shower pan, you have to ‘get it right’ once and for all. You need the facts. You don’t want to become a victim of replacing a bad shower all over again.
My goal in this article is to give you, as Joe Friday on Dragnet used to say (now I’m showing my age), just the facts ma’am (or sir to be politically correct) about solid surface shower pans. What are the frequently asked questions? What are the not-so-frequently asked questions people should be asking? I want to help you figure out if this pan is right for your next job. Let’s check out these 7 facts to save you research time, cost and aggravation.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
Frank and Sandy Hicks are no strangers to the remodeling process. They have completed many projects on a part-time basis in the evenings and weekends during the 44 years Frank served as a full time air traffic controller. I was so impressed with their custom home with an open floor plan in the countryside in Lancaster Ohio. This home is a testament to Sandy’s interior design inspiration and Frank’s construction expertise.
Although Frank and Sandy’s home is beautiful their needs and styles have changed during the years they have lived in this home. They had grown tired of their dark, cedar-lined guest bathroom with a small 3’ x 3’ fiberglass shower in the corner of the room. As Sandy said to me, “The time had come to lighten up and brighten up this space.” Using Sandy’s eyes for design and Frank’s knowledgeable construction hands learn 5 tips you can use to brighten up and open up your guest bathroom and create a spa-like atmosphere.
Is stepping into your existing shower pan an experience you’d like to avoid? Dirty grout, cracked tile shower bases and fiberglass surrounds which have yellowed and cannot be cleaned are just some of the challenges owners have with their old shower pans. If you have these problems upgrading to a solid surface shower pan can be the solution. Solid surface is a stone-like material formulated with specialized crystals and resin which provides a rock hard surface which looks beautiful and is built to last. In the article below explore 5 ½ tips to design the right solid surface shower pan for your project.
In many basement level showers owners will simply place ceramic tiles directly over a pre-sloped concrete floor – but what do you do if the floor cracks and water spills out into the other finished parts of the basement? Such was the challenge facing one of the customer’s of our Cleveland Design and Remodeling division. Learn below how this couple was not only able to fix the flooring problem by choosing a solid surface shower base – but also were able to reduce maintenance and add style with a complimentary colored solid surface wall and a prefabricated glass block shower system.
If you’re looking to convert a tub into a shower (or remodel an existing shower) and the drain location has proven to be your enemy when looking for a shower base you’re not alone! While the price points of standard shower bases (which are most frequently made of fiberglass or acrylic) are enticing – the problem is their “standard” (non-changeable) drain locations may not match with where your existing drain hole is located.
In this article I’ll explore 3 high quality shower base options which will eliminate the expensive plumbing costs and hassle associated with moving a drain location to accommodate a standard shower base.