News from the Block, Innovate Building Solutions Blog
News from the Block, Innovate Building Solutions Blog
Bathroom, Kitchen, Basement Design & Remodeling Ideas for the Nicest Home or Business on the Block
Bathroom, Kitchen, Basement Design & Remodeling Ideas for the Nicest Home or Business on the Block

What’s the warranty of your tile shower surround or grout free wall panels?

Opening What’s the warranty of your tile shower surround or grout free wall panels | Innovate Building Solutions | Cleveland Ohio Bathroom Remodeling | Shower and Tub Surrounds | Grout Free wall panels

Have you ever been on the wrong end of a warranty claim?

And if I’m a bettin’ man – which I’m not – I’d wager your answer is a resounding Y-E-S!

Warranty claims – whether they’re for a custom tile shower or an appliance (and as you know refrigerators and dishwashers today ARE NOT built like they used to be) can be a ‘slippery slope’ where you end up ‘holding the bag’ in the end.

So, if you’re doing a shower remodel or building a new home, how do you make sure you go into the process with your eyes wide open? How do you make sure if you’re spending big bucks for a tile shower (or buying a cost-effective grout free wall panel or shower pan system) you know your contractors (or suppliers) won’t leave you ‘out to dry’ in a year, or two, or twenty if the product fails – or god-forbid, you spring a leak?

If this is your concern you’ve come to the right article.

And I must admit I’m AMAZED how many people spend $10,000, $20,000, or up to $30,000 on a tile shower and either get a skimpy one year warranty – or no warranty whatsoever! Crazy yes but believe me (as a guy whose been in the bathroom remodeling business since 1985 – and yes, I AM that old!) this is happening each and every day.

In this article I’ll give you 10 savvy questions to ask your bathroom remodeling contractor or material supplier to make sure you don’t get snookered (and that’s a weird word, isn’t it?) with a shower warranty which isn’t worth the paper it’s written (and that’s assuming it even IS written on paper), or to buy a shower system which was doomed to fail before the job began. Let’s check these questions out.

Question 1 to get a quality shower with a decent warranty – If you’re doing tile, what tile installation system is your contractor using?

If you’re doing a tile shower, you need to know all shower installation systems are NOT created equal. You can get a cheaper – ‘old school’ system like a mud-set pan with cement backer boards (built on site), or the ‘hot mop’ process popular in western states. And although these systems are cheaper –with most of them you’ll get ZERO warranty!

However, if you’re doing tile – and want a system which will hold up better (even if your contractor still only gives you a one year installation warranty), learn about the Wedi and Schluter systems (and no, I’m NOT a paid spokesmodel!). These systems use waterproof materials behind the grout joints and provide good manufacturer warranties (10 years plus).

Question 1 tile shower being installed with Schluter system credit Home Repair Tutor | Innovate Building Solutions | Cleveland TIle Company | Shower Design ideas
Image Source: Home Repair Tutor

Question 2 to get a quality shower with a decent warranty – Ask what’s the thickness of the wall surround material. And if it’s a thinner, will it have a shorter warranty?

As a generalization the thinner the wall surrounds (this is assuming you’re NOT using tile which is 3/8” thick), usually the shorter the warranty you’ll get.

Get Free Samples!

Click here to request free samples of our Laminated Waterproof Shower Wall Panels.

For example – if you go ‘cheap-cheap’ and use a bottom of the barrel material like FRP (Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic) panels which are thinner than .1” (yes, that’s wafer thin), expect a warranty which is 1 to 2 years long. And unless you’re doing a ‘fix and flip’ in a low-rent neighborhood, this can be a terrible long term investment.

When you go up the food chain with thicker panels – like cultured granite, you’ll find warranties range from one year to one manufactured (called Onyx) warrants their panels FOREVER. Yes, you heard that right, forever!

I personally like the 3/8” thick (just as thick as tile) wall panels from Fibo which have a lifetime warranty. And, beyond that, you’ll swear they’re real tile… unlike molded wall panels made of fiberglass, acrylic, or cultured granite (which look…. well…. molded and fake).

Question 2 thicker Fibo laminate shower panels Innovate Building Solutions | Cleveland Remodeling ideas | Shower Design | Bathroom Remodeling Ideas

So – ask about the thickness of the material and the warranty. This is – generally – a place where thinner IS NOT better (and maybe that’s why there’s still no market for ‘Jenny Craig Wall Panels!’).

Question 2 Jenny Craig thinner wall panels credit | Innovate Building Solutions | Cleveland Design and Remodeling | Home Remodeling ideas | bathroom remodeling on a budget
Image Source:

Question 3 to get a quality shower with a decent warranty – How long has this wall panel, tile, or tile grout been on the market? How long has your contractor been around? What’s their ‘rep’(utation)?

While it can be fun getting the ‘whiz-bang’ new product, the question is has it been tested in the ‘real-world.’ Make sure you’re not the ‘Guinea pig’ whose going to be the ‘laboratory rat’ for a shower YOU THOUGHT was going to last a long time, but failed AFTER the warranty ran out (it’ll be like a lobotomy for your wallet).

Ask how long the company supplying the product has been in business. Ask how long your contractor has been doing bath remodels using their recommended products and processes. And even if you’re using a (relatively) new product in this country, ask if the product has been sold in international markets for years (for example, I love the laminate wall panel line below which has been sold in Europe for 41 years – but is newer to the United States). So, while it’s new here, it’s not new.

Question 3 smokey blue subway tile wall panels Innovate Building Solutions | Cleveland Remodeling Ideas | Shower Design | Wall Panels DIY

Also – check reviews. Let’s face it – salespeople will be salespeople. Many tell you what you want to hear, but they’re talking out of their rear! Letter your ‘fingers do the walking’ and read on-line reviews.

Question 3 customer reviews about warranty coverage | Innovate Building Solutions | Reviews | Wall Panel Reviews | Laminate Wall Panel Reviews

Question 4 to get a quality shower with a decent warranty – Ask how dependent the quality of the waterproofing will be based on the guy/gal installing the job?’

You may love, love, love the rep who sold your bath remodel. And he/she could be the greatest guy/gal ever (said in a Valley girl voice), however the more your installation is dependent on the individual skills of the person doing the job – the less your sales rep matters to your long-term satisfaction with your shower.

Get Free Samples!

Click here to request free samples of our Laminated Waterproof Shower Wall Panels.

The better way to buy a project you know will be guaranteed to last is to look for companies who use modular (as opposed to component based) systems.

For example, if you’re dead-set on tile (even though the labor warranty will likely be limited – a one year tile installation warranty is most common), if possible buy systems which are preassembled (as opposed to pieces-parts).

For tile bases there are premade ready for tile shower pans which only require tile and grout be applied to the top… and are 100% waterproof out of the box!

Question 4 ready for tile shower pan for curved glass blocks | Innovate Building solutions | Ready for tile shower base | Cleveland Tile Shower Remodel

If you go with tile walls – use waterproof wall backer products like Wedi and Schulter. It’s what most professional tile setters use today.

For grout free wall panels – looks for thicker 3/8” systems with a successful industry track record.

Question 4 thick black hexagon shower surround panels | Innovate Building Solutions | Bathroom Remodeling | DIY Shower Wall Panels | Bathroom Remodeling

Question 5 to get a quality shower with a decent warranty – Ask if your products have a ‘vanishing’ (‘er depreciating’) warranty.

If you’ve never heard of a warranty which ‘vanishes,’ they’re more commonly known as depreciating warranties. They have less and less value as the years go one. They depreciate over time. That’s not a warranty from a manufacturer with confidence in the longevity of their stuff. DO NOT buy a product with a depreciating (or vanishing) warranty.

Question 5 depreciating warranty like burning money | Innovate Building Solutions | bathroom remodeling ideas

Question 6 to get a quality shower with a decent warranty – Ask, can I get it in writing?’

A verbal warranty isn’t worth JACK!

The only warranty where you have anything to come back on is a written warranty. So, if your contractor says, “Hey lady (or dude), don’t worry, we’ll be here for you,” even if they’re the best intentioned person, they’ll likely forget what they told you and you’ll have a hard time making a warranty claim if it’s not in writing.

Question 6 written bath remodeling contract to protect yourself | Innovate Building Solutions | Cleveland Design ideas | bathroom remodeling DIY

Question 7 to get a quality shower with a decent warranty – Ask if the warranty is transferrable.

Quite frankly I don’t see what the big hang up is with transferring a warranty, but I’ve seen plenty of ‘bath in a day’ acrylic companies which DO NOT have transferrable warranties. And if you want to transfer the warranty because you’re selling your home, if its just 3 years after you completed the bath remodel you may be S.O.L. (and no, I’m not spelling S.O.L. out because this is a family-friendly blog!).

I think non-transferable warranties are simply a manufacturer’s ploy to get out of obligations down the road.

Insist on transferability… especially if a move may be on your horizon.

Question 8 to get a quality shower with a decent warranty – If you’re doing a tile shower, ask what type of grout your contractor is using.

Using the wrong grout on a tile shower (for example using smooth unsanded grout) can be disastrous.

Since grout joints are porous (and some more than others) – using a better grout which minimizes moisture into the backer board behind the tile, is smart.

Better grouts include urethane grout and epoxy grout. Although I’ll warn you both are more of a pain in the neck, and time-consuming, to install and cost more than sanded grouts.

Question 8 urethane grout for a tile replacement shower | Innovate Building Solutions | Grout for tile shower bases | Bathroom remodeling ideas | Cleveland Bathroom Remodel

Question 9 to get a quality shower with a decent warranty – Is the warranty shorter if the project is in a residential or commercial setting?’

Generally commercial shower warranties (for tile or grout free wall panels and bases) will be shorter than residential warranties because they tend to take more abuse (and yes, that’s even true if you have teenage boys… OK, maybe not!).

So, if you’re doing a commercial project see what the warranty will be for your job.

Question 9 commercial kitchen simple to clean Fibo wall panels | Innovate Building Solutions | Cracked Cement wall panels | DIY commercial Wall panels

Question 10 to get a quality shower with a decent warranty – Ask, who is covering what?’

Let’s face it – when you’re dealing with ‘lesser’ contractors or manufacturers – when the proverbial (you know what) hits the fan, they’ll be running as quickly away from the problem as the Gingerbread man!

Question 10 contractor running from problems faster than Gingerbread man

So, the key to you – (before you spend money) is not only to assess if you’re dealing with quality companies (by checking online reviews), but it’s also to see who is responsible for what.

Will your warranty claim be a ‘one call does all situation’ where your contractor/installer will handle all the coordination, or will they ‘pass you off’ to the manufacturer to try to ‘duke it out’ and get your problem resolved?

Will you end up in the middle of a ‘he-said/she-said’ situation where everyone is pointing fingers? Are you getting a sick feeling you’re going to be footing the bill?

Do you feel more confident you know the right questions to ask to get a decent shower warranty? Are you looking for recommendations for shower products AND contractors who will do you right?

I know it’s scary enough deciding on the right products for a shower remodel – and that’s even before you start worrying about future warranty claims. But in those famous Latin words (caveat emptor- which means ‘let the buyer beware’), you’ve got to make sure you’ve got your bases covered.

And you won’t regret being more thorough – and thoughtful before buying products and/or signing on the bottom line for a remodeling contractor to do your job.

And if you’re looking for high quality bathroom products – and reputable contractors to guide you, the Bath and Shower Specialists at Innovate Building Solutions would be delighted to help.

Call Innovate Building Solutions at 877-668-5888 for wholesale product supply of grout free shower wall panels, pans, and glass doors. And if you’re looking for an Akron or Cleveland shower replacement project – call 216-531-6085.

Or if it’s after hours, request a Free Design Consultation.

And if you’re looking for a contractor to assist you (anywhere in the United States)– ask for an Innovate Building Solutions installing dealer in your local area.

Thanks for reading… and putting up with my wacky humor.




Mike Foti

President of Innovate Building Solutions a nationwide supplier and regional (Cleveland and Columbus) remodeling contractors. Some of our product lines include glass counters, floors, backsplashes, glass blocks and grout free shower and tub wall panels

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