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

Trends and innovations from the 2024 KBIS (Kitchen & Bath Industry Show) and IBS (International Builders Show) Events

Opening Trends and Innovateions from the 2024 KBIS and IBS Events | Innovate Building Solutions | Bathroom Remodeling | Trends for the bath and kitchen industry | International Builders Show | Kitchen and Bath Show

Nothing…and I mean nothing…. stays the same. Not the bathroom products industry I’m immersed in. Not the home organization industry where my company designs and installs custom organization systems. And certainly not the remodeling and home-building products industries as a whole.

And this is exactly why I invest time and money to attend KBIS (Kitchen and Bath Industry Show) and IBS (International Builders Show) and ‘endure’ Las Vegas. And yes Vegas IS NOT my kind of town (I’m boring and don’t drink or gamble!).

However, here’s why I go:

  • I go to see the latest innovations in bathroom and home organization products.
  • I go to understand (and see) the latest trends (and think whether they’ll have staying power or not).
  • I go to build relationships and even engage in ‘friendly’ debates (and NOT the kind of debates people have on ‘Twitter/X’ discussing politics, where their opinion is ALWAYS RIGHT – ha! ha!) over the usefulness of different product designs.

But just as importantly, I want to educate you on what I’m learning because I know most of you ARE NOT bathroom geeks, or home organization geeks, like me. You’re a homeowner, contractor, or multi-unit property owner looking to make wise building product designs and get the biggest bang for your buck.

And towards this end, I’ve listed 10 trends and innovations I saw from my IBS/KBIS 2024 experience so you can learn – along with me – and make better remodeling or new construction decisions. At the end of this article, I’d love your comments on which trends, innovations, and products you liked and which you think ‘ain’t goin’ nowhere!’

So, let’s dig in.

Trend and innovation #1 – Wall panels are ‘ubiquitous’ (a fancy word I threw in, so you’d think I was smart) …..meaning they’re being used ‘all over the place!’

I started in the wall panel business focusing on tub and shower surrounds, but wall panels are being used far beyond that – as I could see at the show.

You’re now seeing wall panels increasingly used as kitchen backsplashes to save labor costs vs. tile.

You see wall panels used in laundry rooms to have a simple surface to clean.

And lastly, what was eye-opening for me, you’re now seeing wall panels (in this case panels being made by Fibo) built to replace drywall. Because let’s face it –there’s a lot of construction time and cost involved in drywall and it’s a messy and dirty process. These click-lock panels not only go up quick – but NEVER (yes you heard that right NEVER) need to be repainted.

Trend 1 click lock laminate wall panels Fibo Vito from Innovate Building Solutions | Cleveland Bathroom remodeling company | Shower Design Ideas | Bathroom Remodeling Trends

Does this trend pique your interest?

Trend and innovation #2 – More ‘labor’ is being done off-site vs. on-site (the introduction of pre-tiled shower pans)  

An interesting innovation I saw at the show was pre-tiled shower pans made by Muraflo. With tile shower pans, the tile has ALWAYS been installed at the job site. And while there have been massive improvements in the waterproofing systems used underneath the tile shower floor or walls (including systems like Wedi, Schluter, and, they all still require a tile setter to ‘do their thang’ finishing the shower pan at the job site.

And if you’ve had a job delayed because of tile setters or were AMAZED (and NOT in a good way) about the cost of installing a tile shower pan, you know installing tiles at the job site is NOT a ‘cheap date.’

So, given this challenge enter Muraflo. Muraflo is a pre-tiled shower pan available in standard sizes. The tiles are put over a waterproof substructure. The sample pans at the show looked nice. The biggest challenge though – IMHO – will be how the delivered price of this product will compare to the tile (and its base) being installed manually on the site.

Trend 2 pre-tiled waterproof shower pans | Innovate Building Solutions | Cleveland Bathroom Remodel | Shower Design ideas | Trends and Innovations

What do you think about this product? Would you buy a pre-tiled shower pan? Why or why not?

Trend and innovation #3 – Financing apps for immediate approvals

Whether you’re working with a contractor who is using a ‘direct lender’ (meaning working directly with a specific bank like EnerBank or GreenSky who I visited with at the show) or are working with an App like Hearth (who collaborates with 14 lenders to provide both zero interest rate credit cards and unsecured personal loans), the trend is clear that financing is an important factor in buying larger value remodeling projects.

Trend 3 - zero percent credit card financing through Hearth bath remodeling financing program | Innovate Building Solutions | Hearth Financial | Bathroom Remodel Finance Offering | Bathroom shower designWhat was neat for me to see was how quickly an owner can use an app (like the program) and input their information and do a ‘soft credit pull’ (which doesn’t affect your credit no matter if you choose to use credit for the project, or not) and see multiple financing offers they qualify for.

Trend 3 financing app with Hearth Personal Loans | Innovate Building Solutions | Bathroom Design ideas | Financial Bathroom Offers


While we all wish we had unlimited cash ‘lying around,’ it often makes more sense to finance a larger bathroom remodeling or custom closet project (or any project for that matter) when paying ‘cash’ doesn’t make sense. And it’s probably smarter than robbing a bank (although if you DO get away with it, it’s the ultimate 0% interest rate ‘financing’ – just kidding!).

Were you aware you could compare financing offers so easily? How will you fund your next home remodeling project? Would these new tools help simplify the process?

Trend and innovation #4 – Powder-coated metal garage cabinets can look cool, but make sure you can still open your cabinets with the garage doors shut AND your SUV parked inside

No matter how cool kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, or garage cabinets look they MUST (and I’ll repeat this again…they MUST) work in your space.

And when I saw these powder-coated metal cabinets below – which I think look very cool – I was intrigued (because I love bright colors!). However, when I looked ‘under the hood’ (‘er talked to the reps about the width and depth of these cabinets), I came to the conclusion they wouldn’t be a good fit for most homes my business does garage cabinetry designs for in Columbus Ohio.

Trend 4 image from | Innovate Building Solutions | Bathroom Remodeling | Garage Cabinets | Columbus Ohio Garage Stoage
Image Source:

And you may ask, “Mike, why is that?” Well, it’s because the double-door tall cabinets are not only 40” wide – but they’re 20” deep. What this means, practically, is when you open the doors you’ll need to add the 20” depth + the 20” for the door + the size of your body to be able to open them with the garage door shut (I’d estimate you’ll need 52” of total depth between the wall and your vehicle to access your things with a vehicle parked inside).

And when you add these 3 elements up – in most cases you WOULD NOT be able to open the garage cabinet doors with your SUV parked in the garage (and that’s assuming you have a standard depth garage of 20’ deep).

And if it’s ‘booty freezing’ in Columbus (or your town) in the winter (and you don’t want to pull out your SUV from the garage just to access what you need), that’s a detail you’d better understand. And I had a vigorous debate (quite frankly I think they thought I was nuts) with the representatives in this booth over this.

So, here’s my question for you. While I love the look of these cabinets, I think they’d be impractical because of the depth you need to open the cabinets and still keep the vehicles parked inside the garage. Do you agree, or are you not worried about having the vehicles in the garage when you’re using your garage cabinets?

Trend and innovation #5 – Some companies make a ‘living’ from ‘knocking off’ designs using cheaper materials and lower labor costs.

Let’s face facts, labor costs in the United States and Europe are more expensive than in China. And since labor costs are cheaper in China, many manufacturers in this country have excelled at copying designs made in other countries and making them with lesser cost materials (and lower labor costs) to create ‘look-alikes’ sold at cheaper prices.

And this year at the show, I definitely saw this trend. I saw a popular low-profile shower base design (which are usually made from engineered stone) being made in China with fiberglass materials (also called SMC – which stands for Sheet Molded Compound).

And while the SMC bases aren’t as solid as the engineered stone units, they are lighter and cheaper.

Trend 5 SMC shower pans from China credit | Innovate Building Solutions | Cleveland Bathroom Remodel | Trends in the Bathroom Industry | Shower Base ideas and Trends
Image Source:

What do you think of SMC shower pans made in China? Would you buy them vs. heavier, more expensive, stone shower bases made in Europe or the United States? Why or why not?

Trend and innovation #6 – Shower and tub wall panels are getting wider (and taller) for improved labor efficiencies.

I’m hearing it everyday from contractors, and our team hears it from consumers as well. People want a more cost-efficient project. And that holds true whether they’re buying a replacement shower kit vs. paying more for components separately, or a simple wall surround kit. They’re seeking quicker installation systems because labor costs are getting OUT OF HAND!

And in response to this challenge manufacturers ARE NOT resting on their laurels (and what exactly are laurels anyway??? That’s a funny word). They’re making wall panels wider and making tiles (or slabs) bigger.

For example, Fibo Systems now offers 41” wide laminate shower panels. And I’m excited we’ve got the popular cracked cement and white high gloss with a stacked tile pattern coming on our next container due in March.

What do you think about the trends toward larger format tiles and/or wider shower wall panels? What are the advantages and disadvantages you see?

Trend and innovation #7– Do you want your shower base ‘plain’ or ‘with peanuts?’ (or more appropriately for this article, do you want your shower pan ‘with’ or ‘without’ a flange? 

I found it interesting when I saw my stone shower pan manufacturer from Spain was ‘sporting’ at the KBIS show a shower pan WITH a flange. You see all the pans we buy from them (and the only pans they’ve made up until now) have had separate flanges.

And the reason I’ve liked the separate flange is you can take (let’s say a 60” x 32” base) and use the same pan for a left or right drain location or use it as a corner shower – or enter on the 32” side if you’d like. It’s more ‘flexible.’ The same pan can be used in 5 configurations like you’ll see below.

Trend 7 same flangless shower pan can be used in 5 layouts | Innovate Building Solutions | bathroom remodel ideas | Shower pan

Trend 7 - 41 inch cracked cement laminate shower panels for a quicker installation | Innovate Building Solutions | Bathroom Remodel | Quick Shower Pan Install | Bathroom Remodel ideas

However, with that being said that’s NOT the traditional way pans have been sold in the United States. Most shower pans are sold with the flange integral to the base (which can provide ‘peace of mind’ to those concerned about leaking (although I don’t see it as a big concern, not everyone shares my opinion).

So –would you prefer, a shower pan with -or without – flanges? Would you only buy one type of pan or the other?

Trend and innovation #8 – The ‘devil’ – and the style – is in the details (and yes, shower drain strainer covers with fun designs can be cool)!

OK – I realize discussing shower drain strainer covers may NOT get me awarded ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World’ (a la the Dos Equis commercial) at the next party, but I’ll admit I hate, hate, hate an ugly round shower drain cover! It takes away from the looks of a shower base – whether it’s a stone shower pan or a tile shower base.

So – my interest (and bathroom geekiness) was piqued when I saw these cool tile shower drain covers from in the Schluter Kerdi system and these ‘disappearing’ color-matched shower stainer covers from Duplach.

Trend 8 Schluter Kerdi strainer covers including linear drains | Innovate Building Solutions | Bathroom Remodel | Wall Panels | Shower Base

Trend 8 stone shower pan with matching strainer cover Innovate Building Solutions | Cleveland Bathroom Remodel | Shower Base | Duplach Stone Drain

And what’s even cooler about these drains is……’ They always stay thirsty, my friend!’ …as they’re moving water down the drain. And yes, now I need to include this funny compilation of Dos Equis commercials below for your amusement, because shower drains CERTAINLY aren’t this funny!

So – which of these drain covers do you think looks the coolest (and if you’re commenting on this – maybe you AND I need to get out a bit more!).

Trend and innovation #9 – Bathroom wall panel ‘faux joints’ are getting more realistic

Molded fiberglass, acrylic, and cultured marble shower panels have ruled the bathroom wall panel market for years. And they still make up the ‘lions-share’ of wall panel products used in the United States. However, there’s one H-U-G-E (or ‘hugely’ as a former President might say) problem with them. That problem is…..

Molded wall panel faux grout joints look FAKE!

And I don’t know about you, but I’ve talked to tons of consumers, contractors, and multi-unit property owners alike, and a big drawback of grout-free wall panels to many is they look bad because of the fake faux grout joints.

And while this has been the case, the good news is there are innovations in wall panels that are taking this perception away.

For example, in cultured marble wall panels used (and purchased) in bulk for hotels, apartments buildings, and student housing – there are now panels where you’d swear the joint is ‘sandy’ just like a tile grout joint. However, the ‘sandiness’ is built into the panel and it’s a 100% grout-free panel that won’t cause leaks.

Trend 9 4x12 cultured marble wall panel with a gritty grout joint look | Innovate building solutions | Cultured marble faux tile pan | Shower design Ideas

Or if you’re a homeowner and are renovating a single bathroom – a stylish shower panel system made of laminate by Fibo is my go-to answer for realistic ‘faux grout’ joints with a three-dimensional quality.

Trend 9 fibo laminate 3d textured slate close up wall panel | Innovate Building Solutions | Wall Panel System Wall Panels | Shower Design Ideas

So, do you think these ‘new generation’ (although I’ll admit this technology has been around for YEARS in Europe, is newer to the United States) faux grout joints could get you to use grout free wall panels on your next project? Why or why not?

Trend and innovation #10 – If you want to be ‘in vogue’ follow tile trends.

Even in my ‘advanced age’ of 64 (and how exactly did I get this old anyway?) I’m trying NOT to look like an ‘old guy.’ And fortunately for me, I’ve got my wife Rose to ‘nudge’ me when my clothes are looking a little ‘long in the tooth.’

And even though it’s good for me to have the benefit of my wife’s fashion advice, you may not be so lucky to have a ‘fashion coordinator’ (or can’t afford a fancy schmancy interior designer) to coordinate your new bathroom remodel.

And if this is the case…AND you don’t want to remodel your new bathroom with ‘yesterday’s products,’ you may be wondering how you can make sure to get a fashion-forward (yet not too trendy) bathroom remodel?

I’d recommending reading articles or asking industry professionals about tile trends. In my walk-through of the KBIS/IBS show I stopped at a number of tile booths (even though my company actually sells wall panels to compete with tile) and I asked, ‘So, what’s hot in the market today?’  

Don’t get stuck in a fashion time-warp and still assume white subway tiles with a Modern Farmhouse vibe is the coolest thing since the Internet! From the feedback I got at the show, hot looks include shaped tiles or wall panels with hexagon, chevron, herringbone, or stacked subway tile looks.

Trend 10 tile trends from KBIS show 2024 | Innovate Building Solutions | Shower Wall Panels | Tile Shower Patterns | Bathroom Wall Panels

Do you agree with me, that tile trends should lead your wall surround choices for your bath remodel or new home?

What do you think about the trends and innovations from KBIS and IBS 2024? Do you need help with a bathroom or home organization project?

So, what’s your opinion on the trends, innovations, and new products discussed above? Do you have strong feelings (positively or negatively) about the 10 trends and innovations discussed above? Do you think my POV is off base? Please comment (positively, or negatively), below.

And most importantly – can I – or my team (and yes, you’ll be glad to know MOST OF THEM are less wacky than me) help you with your bathroom remodeling or home organization projects?

If so contact one of our Bathroom Specialists at 877-668-5888 or fill out a Free Estimate Form.

If you’re working on a garage cabinetry or custom closet in Columbus, and live in Central Ohio, call Innovate Home Org at 614-545-6888.

And if you’re a bathroom contractor, a kitchen and bath showroom, or a multi-unit property owner (or buyer) looking to purchase bathroom products or custom shower kits or stylish shower walls call me at 888-467-7488 or visit the wall panel dealership or multi-unit wall panel supply areas of our site.

And lastly, if you’re looking for A Cleveland or Akron bathroom remodeling contractor to professionally remodel a bathroom for you, call 216-531-6085.

Thanks for reading and getting a glimpse of the trends and innovations I saw at the 2024 KBIS/IBS show. There’s so much innovation happening it’s impossible for anybody to keep up with it all – but I’m learning as quickly as I can and sharing what I’m learning with you. The best to you with your project.



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

Comments (4)

  • Lucinda – great question. There is a flange supplied with the shower pan – because you do need one. It’s just that the flange is installed separately so you have the flexibility to put the flange parts anyplace you’d like.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog – and if me, or my team can help further call us at 877-668-5888 – Mike

  • I would not buy any product from China if it could be avoided, so no, I wouldn’t buy the knock – off shower pans manufactured there.

  • Thank you for the article, sounds like an interesting show to have attended. You mentioned that your stone shower pan manufacturer sells a pan without a flange so the shower entry can have 5 configurations. Without a flange, how do you seal the connection between the pan and the wall? Is the flange a separate item to add on? My husband and I will be remodeling our master bath in a year or so, and the shower pan has us stumped. Entering on the narrow end is the best option for the tiny layout of our space, but so far I’ve not found a pan without any flange so that could be possible. We’ve only looked at the big box stores at the moment. This is going to be a DYI job, learn as we go, so obviously if I sound like I don’t know what I’m doing, that is true. Cost is the main inhibitor for us, so keeping it very reasonable and still getting the options we want is a big challenge. So far, I’m enjoying your blog. Thank you!

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