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).
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.
I was super excited the team in our Cleveland location put in the blood (actual blood in the case of our Accounting Manager, Georgia), sweat and maybe a few tears opening our new bathroom remodeling showroom (which includes multiple lines of grout free shower and tub wall panels). What dawned on me after all the hard work the team put in is how difficult it is for homeowners (whether they live in Cleveland or anywhere around the country) to know where to go (whether they are “virtual shopping or going to a brick and mortar location) to see, price and get advice about shower or tub wall panels.
There are a lot of tile shops to see and learn about tile – but where are the showrooms to experience products to eliminate hassles associated with grouted products like tile and stone? Where are the people to help you so you don’t have to kill yourself and burn up your keyboard trying to get advice (and a good deal) on grout free shower panels? If you don’t “stumble upon” (pun intended) the right company you can (and often do) end up making a less than optimal choice (which ends up being limited by what the contractor tells you he is willing to do or what you can “uncover” with extensive internet research).
This inefficient buying process costs you time, money and aggravation. It can seem shower and tub wall panels are the best kept secret (even though there is a growing number of people who are dying to blow up their tile surrounds). In this article, my goal is to give you practical tips to save time and money in this process (even if you aren’t close enough to visit our Cleveland bathroom remodeling showroom).
At the end of this article let me know if any of these tips surprised (or helped) you. Without further delay let’s get to the 5 tips.
As Marilyn told me when she stopped into our showroom. “Mike this isn’t my first shower rodeo. When we were younger (yes, my hair was darker) Bill and I bought a fixer-upper special as our first house. The existing shower was a mess. We visited the guy in the orange smock at our local home center store. We settled on a flimsy, generic fiberglass shower kit and installed it ourselves because there was no way we could pay a contractor. Within a couple of years, it looked dingy and yellow.
Now things will be different. We’ve finally got the kids “mostly off the payroll” Not yet in the job of their dreams, but they are working – and we’re not “funding” them. It’s now time to put some enjoyment (and cut down maintenance – BIG TIME) into this bathroom remodeling project.
We want low maintenance just the low-budget shower kit we bought back in the day. Now we’re savvier and aren’t going to settle for junk! We’ve done our research and keep coming back to the solid surface shower kits as the best option for us. Bill likes the 3/8” thick walls and the fact that the shower pan is built like a tank. But I’m looking at different things.
We’ve worked like crazy for years. This time I’m getting style and pizzazz in this shower. We’re going to enjoy our hard-earned money. I’ll be spending less time cleaning the bathroom and more time getting out of “Dodge” and traveling. So, Mike, I want you to show me how I can accessorize this solid surface shower kit to make my bathroom special.”
Can you relate to what Marilyn was telling me? In the article below check out 7 tips I shared with Marilyn to dress up her solid surface shower. I’ll give this warning right up front and apologize to Marilyn’s husband Bill. This shower project will get a bit pricier with these solid surface shower accessory tips I’m going to give!
Isn’t the window in your shower a pain in the butt? I bet you’ve asked yourself on more than one occasion, “why the heck did a builder put a see-through window smack dab in the middle of our shower? Was the guy who built this home an exhibitionist? Didn’t he also know water would be hitting on the wood trim surrounding this shower window sill each and every day and eventually the wood will rot out?”
Now, you’ve got a problem. Everyone in your family is after you to do something about this deteriorated window trim. The challenge is where to start? What’s the right solution to fix this trim?
The other day I was talking to Jeff Spurio, a Shower and Window Design Consultant, and we were discussing how frustrating shower windows are for homeowners. While it may be tempting to rip down the old and put up some new trim (something certainly more waterproof than wood!), simply retrimming the window may not be the best solution to get your shower (or combined tub/shower unit) problems behind you.
As Jeff told me, “Mike – as in life – I guess we need to step back and see things in a wider perspective. See what’s going on not only with the window trim, but to think about questions like do we even have the right window and are the shower walls built to last?” As the old saying goes, “it doesn’t make sense to put lipstick on a pig.” It certainly doesn’t make sense to put new trim around a shower on its last leg or a window which doesn’t open or provides no privacy.
In this article, I’m going to give you some inside tips Jeff shared with me explaining how he helps people to not only think through selecting the right trim to use around shower windows, but most importantly to develop a solution to make sure their entire showering system (walls, window and trim) will perform well (and look nice) over the long run. Let’s take a peak at 5 ½ tips (yes – the ½ tip is important as well) Jeff shared with me to help you get the right window trim AND the right showering system.
Shower walls which are spongy, mold infested, cracking, have dirty tile joints or out of style are a real bummer to look at. What’s even worse is bad shower walls may be messing up your families’ health. For many people the options in shower walls are largely unknown, and in many cases their contractors and builders just want to install the “same old same old.” The common materials your contractors will often want to use are one-piece fiberglass shower surrounds (which are usually flat-out ugly – especially as your home ages) and/or tile (and you know the contractor who installed your tile IS NOT the guy who has to worry about cleaning it – that would be YOU!).
Whether you’re looking to do a DIY remodel on your bathroom or hire a contractor it will pay you (especially in lower maintenance bills) to know how to make sure your shower walls are built to last (whether you’ve decided on a tile surround, fiberglass unit or one of many grout free shower wall panel systems). In this article I’ll give you 4 sure-fire strategies to make sure your shower walls will stand the test of time. Let’s dig in!
“OK – I’ve just stumbled across your web page on stone solid surface shower wall panels and I’m praying it’s the answer to my two nasty bathrooms, Tammy said to me. I hate cleaning the tile shower walls in my master bathroom and the builders grade tub/shower plastic insert in the kid’s bathroom is yellowing, cracking and looks disgusting. I’m hoping this product is the answer for a nice looking surround which won’t be a pain to clean, Tammy continued. I have to warn you I have a lot of questions about this product!”
The conversation above about stone solid surface wall panels is not unique. Homeowners are looking for better alternatives to what’s commonly being used (tile and plastic fiberglass inserts) but aren’t too familiar with the options available. Traditional tile showers and one-piece fiberglass tub/shower inserts can look good after they are installed but the maintenance and their looks long term are less than ideal.
With your crazy schedule you may be hoping that there is a better option to get a nice looking shower you won’t have to be messing around cleaning all the time (after all you’ve got kids and parents to take care of and you want to carve out some fun time – imagine that!).
Let’s take a look at the 9 questions Tammy peppered me with. These are the most frequently asked questions we get about solid surface shower wall panels from most everyone.
You might have heard the saying “when life throws you lemons, make lemonade.” Sometimes a challenge can happen in our lives which not only affects us physically, but also emotionally. The key is to fight through life’s “lemons” (challenges) and to make some “lemonade” (personal victories).
An excellent example of making some “lemonade” is the story of Karen Lee Gast who suffered a stroke in November 2014. Not only was her physical mobility reduced (she now uses the assistance of a wheelchair) but she endured the mental challenge of seeing her independence reduced as a result of the stroke. Simple daily tasks (like showering on her own) – were no longer simple….and required the assistance of her daughter Julie (Morgan) who is of constant support to Karen.
While Karen is grateful for her daughter’s help (although Karen says she can be a wee-bit overprotective at times!) she wanted to regain more independence in her home and control over her life. This desire for independence led Karen to do an extensive bathroom remodeling in her home in Akron Ohio. Let’s take a look at why this remodel was necessary.
The old bathroom
After Karen’s stroke the existing master bathroom just didn’t work. Here were some of the problems with the old space:
The doorway was too small to comfortably roll the wheelchair in.
There were no grab bars to safely transfer from the chair into the shower.
The old stand up 3’ x 3’ fiberglass shower with a framed metal pivoting door was way too small and difficult to get into.
With these challenges Karen was not only not able to use the master bathroom (which is conveniently located right off her bedroom). She had to use a smaller bathroom in the home and could only shower on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays when her daughter Julie could come over to help her. This showering process in this old bathroom took one hour of each of their time. The bottom line was there was no way to make the convenient master bathroom an accessible space without extensive modifications and a full remodel.
In the article below learn 3 critical steps which transformed Karen’s bathroom into an accessible, low maintenance, safe and stylish room she can use without being dependent on others. This now allows her and Julie to do other things (or just spend quality Mom and daughter time together).
It is often said a “wise man (or woman) knows what they don’t know.” This quote can be particularly appropriate when it comes time to making decisions for your next remodeling project.
Fortunately the remodeling story I’m about to share has a happy ending because its owners (Mary Ellen and Pat Swinger of Fairview Park Ohio) know when to seek out referrals and listen to sound construction advice and when to roll up their sleeves for some non-glorious do it yourself elbow grease. The Swingers were able to reinvigorate and renovate 3 rooms of their home (a kitchen, laundry room and master bathroom) without breaking the bank by doing two things (1) investing their own time and effort and (2) allowing themselves to be guided by their remodeling contractor.
Let’s take a look below at these 3 remodeled rooms and see how the Swingers’ used DIY weekend warrior effort in conjunction with a flexible remodeling contractor (in this case the team of Cleveland Design and Remodeling) to achieve a winning project at an affordable cost.
When I use the term “solid surface” most people have no idea what I’m talking about. So the question you might have is, “why are you writing about stone solid surface shower kits when most people don’t even know what they are?” The answer is simple. These kits are durable, flexible and growing rapidly despite being relatively unknown. My goal with this article will be to grow your knowledge of this shower product.
What is stone solid surface exactly?
At this point you may want to know “what the heck is stone solid surface?”
……..It’s kind of like Corian………
Most people have heard of the countertop brand Corian made by Dupont. What they don’t realize is Corian is actually a man-made stone and epoxy aggregate (also known as stone solid surface). Basically “Corian” is to solid surface what “Kleenex” is to facial tissue…. it is a brand name which is synonomous with an entire product category.
With that being said this article is not about Corian or about countertops – it is about stone solid surface and its’ use as a contemporary low maintenance shower kit. Read further to learn 3 steps to take to evaluate selecting this material for your next shower remodeling project.