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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

Grout Problems? Here’s 7 Foolproof Ideas to Eliminate Them from Your Bathroom

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Grout Problems and how to fix them | Innovate Building Solutions | #GroutProblems #TileShower #GroutJoints #bathroomremodel

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.

NASTY.

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.

15 Things Smart Bathroom Remodelers Never Do

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

smart bathroom remodelers never do | Innovate Building Solutions | #Remodeling #BathroomRemodel #SmartBathroom #BathroomRemodels

I know what a pain it is finding a bathroom remodeling contractor. As a matter of fact, I talked to a homeowner this week who said the wait time for a reputable contractor in her town was 2 years! Wow – 2 years, that’s crazy!

However, whether you’re doing a complete gut and bathroom redo or a makeover of your alcove with a bath to shower conversion, you’re investing a lot of money (likely in the range of $6,000 to $60,000). The stakes are high. If you hire an idiot, you could end up stranded with a job half-done trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces.

You need a smart bathroom contractor. Not necessarily one with the cheapest price, but one who knows their stuff and delivers value. You need a professional who knows how to run a project, work with you and is an expert in products and processes to get your job done efficiently and effectively.

So, in this tight labor market where do you find a needle-in-a-haystack contractor? During the quoting process how can you know if they’re someone you should work with, or can turn into the contractor from H-E-double-hockey sticks as your kids used to say?

Read 15 things smart bathroom remodelers never do so your money won’t go down the drain (OK – bad bathroom remodeling pun, but I’m sticking with it).

9 Questions You Must Ask Before Choosing a Waterproof Shower Wall Panel System

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

questions you must ask before choosing wall panel systems | Innovate Building Solutions | #WallPanels #BathroomRemodel #RemodelOnABudget

So, you’ve had it up to here (wherever ‘here’ is at) with your nasty brown or moldy tile grout joints or dingy yellowed fiberglass one-piece shower surround.

You’ve decided a waterproof shower or bathroom wall panel system is the way to go. However, the more you’ve compared what’s in the market the more confused you’ve become. What’s the best choice? Is it cultured marble and granite, acrylic or a PVC composite? Is it Kohler Choreograph or laminate wall panels? Too many choices. Every manufacturer, installer and supplier say there’s is THE BEST. What should you believe?

As a guy whose company installs regionally (in Cleveland Ohio) and supplies nationally a wide array of wall panels I wish I could tell you there was one system which trumps (oops – sorry for using this politically charged word) them all. If only it were that simple.

Here’s the reality.

There is no perfect wall panel system.

As I like to say, “Wall panels are like people. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, just like you and I (although my wife of 35 years – Rose – thinks I don’t have ANY weaknesses…. OK, I lied!).

So, in a nutshell here’s the only thing which matters.

At the end of the day (and at the beginning of the day for that matter), the perfect system is the one which works for you.

The best choice will fit your budget and décor, has features you love and is simple to install and clean.

My goal in this article is straightforward. I’m going to present 9 questions you need to ask, so you’ll make the best selection for you.

I’ll give you a money-back guarantee (oops, I forgot I didn’t charge you any money) these questions will help make the selection process easier for you. And if they don’t call our company and DEMAND more answers. Me and my team would be delighted to help you further (and my team will be less wacky than me – that’s a bonus for you).

So, let’s look at the 9 questions.

13 1/2 Frequently Asked Questions about Glass Block Basement and Bathroom Windows You Need to Know

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Glass Block, Windows

Opening Image - glass block basement and bathroom windows | Innovate Building Solutions | #GlassBlockWindows #BathroomWindows #Basementwindows #FloodedBasement

The Fall cold snap has arrived. If you’ve stepped into your freezing-cold cast iron tub/shower this morning you know I speak the truth.

Conversely, if you’re not ‘enjoying’ your drafty, ‘spooky-spider-infested’ basement windows when you’re doing laundry, I bet you’d be glad to have new windows. You’ve dreamed about a first-floor laundry room, but in the meantime, you’d be happy to make this ‘dungeon’ of a basement a bit better.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know your bathroom and basement windows have seen there better days. As a matter of fact, they saw their better days 20 years ago!

If you’ve ‘had it up to here’ (as Mom used to say) with rusted, rotten and drafty basement and bathroom windows I can feel your pain.

So, you’ve decided to ‘kick the digital tires’ and look into glass block bathroom and basement windows to replace your drafty, bug-infested, practically falling out ‘window gems’. You think glass block may be the answer. One problem is your contractor doesn’t seem to know squat about this product.

Like Colonel Nathan Jessup in my favorite movie A Few Good Men might say, you not only want the truth, you need the truth (in this case to determine if glass blocks windows are a sound solution for your basement and bathroom window replacements).

I’m a guy who has owned a glass block business since 1985 (I don’t want you to think I’m old so let’s say I started in the business at the age of 9). My company has put in over 750,000 glass block windows in the Cleveland and Columbus Ohio markets. Over the years I’ve learned a couple of things about these windows I’d like to share with you.

My goal in this article is simple. I’ll give you ‘the skinny’ on glass block windows by answering 13 ½ frequently asked questions. I want to make sure you’re not duped by a contractor or interior designer with misinformation I hear all the time about this product.

Let’s dig into the FAQ’s.

5 1/2 Rookie Mistakes DIY’ers Make Remodeling a Shower (and how to prevent them from happening to you)

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Rookie mistakes diyers make remodeling a shower | Innovate Building Solutions | #DIYShower #RemodelingShower #BathroomRemodel

The saga of a DIY shower remodeling job gone wrong

It sounded like a good idea in the beginning. You were determined to save money. Everyone knows you’re a bit frugal (OK – if we’re being downright real, you’re more than a bit cheap – saving money is practically religion for you). So, you took on remodeling your shower.

Now, however, you’re living in the muck of the ‘never-ending-shower-remodel.’

Your spouse is hoppin’ mad. You’re hearing the constant chirping how you should have hired a pro (even though the best contractor in town was soooooo busy they couldn’t start for 4 months). It hasn’t been any fun sharing your kids messy cramped hall bathroom. It’s got to end soon…. doesn’t it?

You’ve made so many rookie mistakes. These mistakes have gobbled up your time and eaten into the money you ‘thought’ you were going to save. If you only knew 2 months ago what you know today. Your wallet would be fatter, and you would have put a bow on this job by now.

While you’ve never cried over spilled milk, you’ve certainly felt like crying over the lost dollars associated with this shower remodel.

But wait…there’s hope…if you haven’t started yet!

While taking on a do-it-yourself shower remodel isn’t as fun as Chip and Joanna make it look, and you know there will be unexpected ‘crap that hits the fan,’ I’ll tell you with a better planned project you can avoid the project from ‘H-E-double-hockey-sticks.’

Yes – I hear waaaaay too often the rookie mistakes you’ll read below. These problems DO NOT have to be your problems. You don’t have to watch (literally) your money going down the drain (Yes – bad bathroom plumbing pun intended).

As the cheesy commercial would say….

Don’t let this happen to you.

Below I’ll outline 5 ½ (and yes – you’ll have to wait until the end to see the ‘1/2’ tip) rookie mistakes I’ve seen with DIY shower remodels. However, more importantly dish up practical advice so you won’t repeat them and waste your time and money. OK – let’s dig into the tips.

How to Compare Kohler Choreograph to Fibo Laminate Shower and Tub Wall Panels

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

How to compare Kohler Choreograph vs. Fibo Laminated Shower and Tub Wall Panels | Innovate Building Solutions | #KohlerProducts #BathroomProducts #Laminatewallpanels #GroutFreePanels

Deciding on the right shower and tub wall panels is tough enough, but it becomes ‘doubly-difficult’ when the two systems you’re comparing are newer to the United States market (even if one of them has been around the world market for over 26 years).

While Kohler Choreograph (also known as LuxStone) and Fibo laminate wall panels are both 100% waterproof, simple to maintain, respected brands in their country of origin (everyone knows Kohler in the United States and Fibo is used in 1/3 of the homes in Norway) and are an excellent alternatives to tile, this is where the similarities end.

As you’ll see below the Kohler and Fibo wall panels both have their strengths and weaknesses, just like you and I (note: even my wife of 35+ years thinks I have a few weaknesses…OK I’m lying, she thinks I have more than a few!).

In this article, I’ll present the advantages of each product and brand. At the end, I’d love to hear your opinion on which you’d choose  for your next bathroom remodel or renovation of a vacation home rental bathroom.

9 Reasons You Shouldn’t Build a Tile Shower

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Opening - tiled shower | Innovate Building Solutions | #TileShower #GroutFreePanels #BathroomRemodel

OK – I’m not writing this to take down the tile industry, and I’m certainly not arrogant enough to think this post has that kind of power.

However, I’ve been on the receiving end of countless homeowners (and even bathroom remodeling contractors) calls who are ‘sick and tired’ (as my Mom used to say) of problems with tile showers. They’re desperately looking for better solutions.

Admittedly, a tile shower can look beautiful once its finally completed. However, how long will it hold up? Will it be a pain to maintain? Will you be protected by a warranty if the shower pan or walls leak?

When it comes to those looking for a richer-looking showers tile is the A#1 top choice… but should it be? And even if you’re sold on tile, are there installation approaches and materials you should use to get a better finished product which lasts longer?

In this article I’ll focus on frustrations surrounding tile showers, and alternatives you need to research if you hate grout (which is the evil-stepbrother or stepsister to tile). I’ll also provide examples of better performing products to use instead of tile (or improved products to use with tile, is you’re set this is the way for you to go).

Let’s check out the 9 reasons you shouldn’t build a tile shower.

How to Convert a Tub into a Low Maintenance Walk in Shower

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

How to Convert a Tub into a Low Maintenance Walk in Shower | Innovate Building Solutions | #TubShower #BathroomRemodel #RemodelingDIY #RemodelOnABudget

Even though he won’t admit it, it’s not easy for John to climb over the tub to take a shower.

And though you will forcefully admit it (and complain about it also), cleaning the scummy grout joints which are barely keeping together your dated 4” x 4” powder blue ceramic tile bathtub surround is a task you can do without.

You’ve had it with this sad excuse for a tub/shower ‘system’ (if you can call it that). You’d like to convert your tub into a shower before something bad happens to John, or you throw your tile scrub brush through a wall.

The problem is, you’re unsure how to get started. You don’t know the best products and designs for a walk-in shower. You’re not sure how to create a space which is safe for John (although you’re certainly not telling him this is one of your motivations), but also one which oozes style and reduces cleaning time. The reality is bathroom and shower remodeling are not what you do for a living.

You know you need help. Where do you start?

If this describes your situation (even if you don’t have a stubborn spouse named John or Joan for that matter), you need to read on. In this article I’ll dish up 5 practical ideas to convert your tub into a walk-in shower to add style, safety and reduce how often you have to clean it. I’ll also make sure these ideas won’t force you to take out a second mortgage.

Let’s dig into the ideas.

5 1/2 Practical Ideas for a Stylish Shower on a Tight Budget

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Practical ideas for a stylish shower on a tight budget | Innovate Building Solutions | #BathroomRemodel #ShowerDesign #BathroomDesign #StylishBathroom

Your existing yellowed, stained, partially cracked (and not very clean-looking) fiberglass builders-grade shower is a disaster. It needs to be replaced.

Sure, in a perfect world (OK, it’s not the world you’re actually living in) you’d pay the highest-rated (which is usually the most expensive) bathroom remodeler in town to redo your shower (and entire bathroom if you have the money). They would transform your ugly-duckling space into a drool-worthy shower which would grace the pages of House Beautiful or Better Homes and Gardens.

Now, I’ll have to interrupt this vision for a ‘cold-splash’ of reality.

Your Budweiser-like ‘beer-budget’ (and seemingly never-ending expenses of your 2 kids and spouse) isn’t helping you one bit to fund your Dom-Perignon-champagne-esque bath and shower remodeling tastes.

You need a new shower but can’t afford to break the bank (OK – your kids have already done an excellent job of that anyway) making it happen.

The question is, how can you get a stylish shower on a tight budget?

To help you attack this challenge head-on, you’ll find 5 ½ (OK – the ½ idea is to add some intrigue) practical ideas to get a cool shower if your budget isn’t exactly ‘Bill-Gates-esque!’ Let’s check out the ideas.

How to Compare Ceramic Tile Surrounds vs. Laminate Shower Wall Panels

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Opening image shabby chic shower wall panels | Innovate Building Solutions | #BathroomRemodel #ShowerWallPanels #TileShower #CeramicTile

Tile is such an established building material. It dates back more than 25,000 years. That’s a Ripley’s Believe it Or Not stat you don’t even have to pay $14.99 admission to learn.

Tile is the great, great, great Grandfather of shower surround surfaces. It’s a fun, inventive and versatile material. On the other hand, it can be a pain to clean. It can be a pain to install. It can be a drain on your wallet.

It’s because of these downsides of tile new materials (like laminate shower wall panels discussed in this article) are looking to ‘bump tile’ off its bathroom throne (OK – that’s a bad pun – I know!).

If you’re not familiar with laminate wall panels they were invented over 25 years ago in Norway. They’re 3/8” thick. The thickness of most tiles. They’re approximately 2’ x 8’ in size. They’re used in shower, tub and bathroom walls to provide a waterproof, yet stylish surround. They install like laminate flooring. They click and lock together. However, unlike laminate flooring they also are adhered and waterproofed with a hybrid polymer sealant.

In this article we’ll take a look ‘under the hood’ (or in this case under the grout joint or wall panel) and compare the advantages of laminate wall panels vs. a tile shower and vice versa.

At the end there will be a quiz (but don’t sweat it – you won’t be graded!) to see which system you’d like to use for your next bathroom remodeling project.

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