Grout Problems? Here’s 7 Foolproof Ideas to Eliminate Them from Your Bathroom
Dark stains and mold ‘greet’ you in your morning shower.
You ‘get to’ mix up another crazy ‘brew’ of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and oxygenated bleach to try cleaning the dirt and yuckiness (not a word, but I’m using it anyway) from your shower and bathroom tile walls. You feel like you’re in 10th grade Chemistry class mixing bubbling elements once again (and that’s NOT a good thing).
Your nylon scrub brush is not supposed to be your BFF, but this tile shower is forcing you to ‘hang out’ together all the time.
Let’s call grout in your bathroom what it is.
It’s the enemy of the people. And that person is YOU!
You’ve told your spouse (or significant ‘utter) is no uncertain terms, you want grout joints eliminated, expunged, blown up (have I stated this strongly enough?) in the bath remodel you’re getting ready to do. However, the question is, how can you do this without using cheap plasticky products which look like dollar store specials?
That’s the challenge this article will tackle head-on. First, I’ll identify 7 places tile (and his evil stepbrother, grout) are used in bathrooms. Then I’ll give you practical (and stylish) alternatives to eliminate tile. Let’s dig into the 7 ideas.
Idea #1 – Eliminate grouted tile shower surround walls with groutless shower wall panels
In the old days the only way to replace a tile shower was with fake-looking fiberglass or acrylic shower walls or behind-the-times (but popular when mullets were the rage) molded cultured marble panels. While these products do eliminate grout, their ugliness factor has you saying, “There’s no way that stuffs going on my bathroom walls!”
Fortunately, product innovations in shower wall panels have put the ‘bad old days’ of these ugly options in the rear view mirror. For example, today one sharp option is ¼” thick PVC bathroom panels. They not only look like stone, but are lighter, simpler to install and there’s no need to seal them – EVER.
Another trend-setting product are 3/8” thick laminate panels. They’re 26 lbs. per section and 2’ x 8’ in size, so you can install them with one person. You’ll swear (assuming your Mother is not there to scold you) they’re real tile or stone. And they even have different colored faux joints embedded in the panels. That may be why they’re referred to as the ‘no-tile, tile shower.’
Idea #2 – Eliminate ‘old-school’ grouted shower pans and replace with contemporary acrylic or matte finished stone bases
If there is one place grout can cause you a HUUUUGE problem, it’s if you have a mortared (also called ‘mud-set’) shower pan. These hard-to-build, high-maintenance, time-sucking-to-install old-school pans are an accident waiting to happen (if you’ve experienced leaking through a ‘site-built’ cement-based tile shower pan, you know what I’m talking about).
It’s nice to know there are three stylish, yet-durable alternatives – which you can ‘take-it-to-the bank’ won’t leak. Here they are:
- Option 1 – Reinforced contemporary acrylic shower pans – These modern styled (check out the angular shower curbs) pans are reinforced with an MDF core underneath their acrylic ‘skin.’ They’re available in stylish shapes. Some even use curved glass so you have more elbow room. There’s also a product called a FlexPan which makes it possible to turn a custom shower base into a ‘standard’ (that’s industry code-word for less expensive) size to save you money.
- Option 2 – Matte finished cultured stone pans – These pans not only provide the durability of a man-made stone, but they’re matte white or matte black finish is on target with fashion-forward bathroom designs.
- Option 3 – One level grout free shower pan – Available in a 63 x 37 size (which can be cut for smaller spaces), this one level pan offers a seamless transition between your bathroom floor and your shower pan. They’re accessible with style.
Idea #3 – Eliminate grouted ceramic or porcelain tile bathroom floors with luxury vinyl plank or laminate flooring
Let’s face it. In bathroom flooring projects the tile industry is taking a beating. It’s impossible to find tile setters. It’s expensive to install tile. The grout joints between tiles are a pain to clean. Other than that -tile is great (sarcasm intended).
Luxury vinyl planks and simple to install ‘click-together’ laminate flooring is gobbling up market share. These materials are comfortable on your feet and easy to DIY (if you don’t want to spend so much money – or can’t find – a professional to do it for you). In addition, they’re cost-effective and easy to maintain (with no grout joints). What’s not to like?
Idea #4 – Eliminate nasty tile niches with ‘slide-in’ stainless steel inserts or corner glass shelves
Do you dare peek into the crevasses of your custom-sized niche in your existing tile shower? If you can stomach the view, you’ll likely see stained grout joints or worse yet – the ‘M’ word…. mold! These niches were not only hard (and time-consuming) for a tile setter to build, they’re a pain in your rear to clean.
Here’s two quicker, better, faster ideas for you.
First, to lick (OK – not literally) the niche problem, use a stainless steel recessed niche. When you combine them with grout free shower panels you’ll get a stylish, simple to clean shower which is ‘no-muss, no-fuss.’ It’s also nice to use niches if you have a small stand up shower to conserve precious (yet lacking) square ‘inch-age.’
Another stylish choice is glass floating shelves.
Idea #5 – Eliminate tile wainscoting or tiled bathroom walls with grout less wall panels
So, you bought the traditional cape code or colonial home for its character. Then you lived in it for a few years and you learned the code-word for a home’s ‘character’ is high maintenance. Now you’re ‘sick and tired’ (as Mom used to say) of cleaning teeny-tiny tiles and grout joints in your wainscoting or bathroom walls.
Those 4” x 4” tiles which were lovely when you decided to buy this ‘classic’ home, now have you spewing words which would make Mom wash your mouth out with soap (does any parent even commit this act of cruelty today?). You’ve got better things to do than clean bathroom walls and wainscoting.
Here’s a solution to your problem.
Extend the grout free wall panels beyond your shower and into the bathroom.
One product which does this masterfully are laminate wall panels. You’ll get rid of grout cleaning FOREVER and can do it with style.
Idea #6 – Eliminate grouted tile bench seats with solid surface slabs or a fold down seat
It’s wonderful to relax or shave your legs on a tile bench seat. What isn’t wonderful is cleaning little mosaic tile grout joints again and again. Yuck! If you’re desperately looking for a better solution, they do exist.
One option is solid surface bench seat topers. They’re thick, durable and a breeze to wipe off.
Another option is sleek acrylic fold down seats. They’re contemporary and take up so little room you can even use them in a tiny 3’ x 3’ stand up shower.
Idea #7 – Eliminate expensive (and hard to install) vertical accents and horizontal tile borders with grout free laminate panels or decorative PVC border trims
Aren’t tile borders and accent trims a pain to install? Here’s the main steps in the installation process you’ll need to work through if you choose tile:
- Hang the hard to cut cement board (or install an expensive extruded polystyrene backer system).
- Measure, layout and cut your tiles.
- Screw up your starter board so your tiles won’t sag when they’re being installed.
- Spread the thin set
- Clean everything off.
And this is just the installation hassles. We haven’t even gotten to the cleaning process of tile borders or accent trims. You get the ‘pleasure’ (sarcasm intended) of enduring the little joints year after year. While these borders and accents look sharp initially, the ‘eventually’ of cleaning them will become your life.
Fortunately, you don’t have to put up with this crap! For the accent trims use laminate shower wall accent pieces. These 1’ x 8’ x 3/8” thick panels click, lock and seal together. They go up in minutes. Not in hours and days like tile accent trim.
If a horizontal border is the look you want, decorative PVC trim borders are glued to the finished panels. As a guy I work with would say, “Easy-peesy-lemon-squeezy!”
Bottom line. Borders and accent trims don’t have to be a pain in your rear! Leave that pain to someone else who chooses tile.
So, have I convinced you it’s not only possible – but do-able (with style) – to eliminate grout in your bathroom?
The reality is grout free shower panels, bases, flooring, accessories, seats, and accent trims have come a long way.
Don’t put up mixing exotic ‘brews’ of weird cleaning solutions to clean tile grout joints. Stop fighting with mold and mildew.
Take the plunge and blow up grout in your bathroom.
If these grout free bath and shower options confuse you, we’d love to help. Click the links or call the numbers below and me (or a member of my staff – note – they’re really smart and not as wacky as me), would love to help you.
How can I (or a member of my team) help?
Please call 877-668-5888 (for nationwide wholesale supply of grout free wall panels, shower pans and glass enclosures). If you’re looking for a local installing dealer of laminated wall panels or bathroom remodeling our contractor network can help. For a local shower design and installation call 216-658-1280 in Cleveland or 614-252-3242 in Columbus for shower and bathroom supplies.
If you’re a remodeler or builder and want practical advice on remodeling products, industry trends, marketing and sales tips to grow your business (and cut day to day hassles), read my newest blog – Innovate Builders Blog. It’s packed with ideas you can use now. Click here to Sign Up for the Innovate Builders Blog.
If you’re in the building business, click here if you’d like to learn how to become a shower wall panel dealer or call and ask for Mike at 888-467-7488.
If you want more advice (or like wacky humor) follow me on LinkedIn @MikeFotiLinkedIn or on Twitter @Mike_Foti or my companies @InnovateBuild or @InnovateHomeOrg.
Janis – my gut feeling is you’ll need to remove the panel to get at the mold which is underneath it – however you can also call a local glass door shop to see if they have any other ideas for you first.
Hi, I have a fixed panel and open swing door glass panels to my white tiled shower (18yrs redone). The rubber seal eroded away on bottom of fixed panel and is black underneath now. Have tried bleach, etc. and nothing works to remove/clean it out. Does the panel need to be removed? What do you suggest?
Susan – thanks for your question. Our company either will wholesale materials direct (for DIY’ers) or we sell through a network of authorized installing dealers (who don’t inventory – but do install our products). We don’t have stocking distributors, but do have ‘installing dealers’ or can wholesale direct. How can we assist you next? If you want to contact us call 877-668-5888. Thanks – Mike
Interested in your shower panels.
Do you have a west coast distributor?
Cost list for your products would also be nice.
Judy – thanks for your questions and comments. I’m going to have Terry with our office who has been helping you follow up on Monday, but I’ll also look to answer some of your questions here. We would be happy to send you samples so you can see, touch and feel the product. Although there’s not a ‘section’ on our site comparing our laminate wall panels to solid surface materials I have written a blog post on this topic and have included a link on it below. It looks at comparing ‘cultured marble’ (which is similar to solid surface) to our laminate system. :
All of the sheets will be held together with the ‘tongue and groove’ sections, but on the end of the panel there are screws used (which are covered with the trim to hold the end piece in place. If you don’t want to use any screws on this end piece you can also use construction adhesive to hold this panel in place).
We feel very good about the longevity of this product. It has been used in Europe for over 26 years and while newer to the United States is in no way a new product. Our Norwegian manufacturing partner uses state of the art equipment to build these panels and we’ve had great success with the materials.
Let us know if you have any additional questions – Mike
Thank you for this email and all the information. I did receive your voice mail and try to call you back but forgot about the difference in time. Will try you again on Monday. I would like to see a sample and wonder why there wasn’t a section comparing your laminate product to Mystera or Corian. I would like more information about how your panels are installed. I saw a picture of someone using screws and aluminum brackets to hold the side of the sheets not connected to another sheet with the tongue and groove. Is that how they are installed? Hope not.
Please send me the free remodeling guide and also a free sample of your product. I have laminate on several of my floors. That in the sewing room has only been in about 3 years and already it looks awful. The laminate in the sunroom has been in about the same amount of time and it still looks fantastic. They both cost about the same but are different brands. How can I tell how yours will hold up?
Thank you for your help.
Dan – I really appreciate your honest feedback. I did (at one time) ‘kick around’ the idea of an ecommerce site (with pricing), but quite frankly the concept of it scared me from a number of points of view. In most cases we are helping people on what they want (so if it was ecommerce they might buy too much (and need to return it) or too little (and we’d have too much shipping costs).
In addition, we can sometimes figure out ways to use the material better so someone knows the most efficient way (or can recommend alternate materials if someone’s first choice is outside their budget). With all this being said – if you’d like pricing on something – feel free to email us what you need and we’ll make a point to get back to you within 24 hours (or call us – we ALWAYS love to talk to customers). I’m glad you like the ideas in the posts – and most appreciate you letting me know your point of view – Mike
Mike, while I enjoy your articles, it drives me nuts that I cannot find pricing anywhere. And no, it won’t help to have someone call me and talk to me every time I wonder how much something costs. Don’t you have a pricelist somewhere for all these great ideas you write about? Thanks, – dan