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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

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.

5 Annoying Problems with Kitchen Backsplashes (and how to fix them)

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Kitchen Remodeling

5 annoying problems with kitchen backsplashes and how to fix them | Innovate Building Solutions | #KitchenBacksplash #DIYKitchenBacksplash #KitchenDesign #KitchenRemodel

There are so many decisions and components in a kitchen remodel.  However, no single element injects style and personality quite like a kitchen backsplash. It literally (and figuratively) can create a splash (Ok, I get it, bad pun).

A backsplash can be like a statement piece of jewelry, or your favorite jazzy tie. It goes beyond the function of a backsplash (which is to make it easy to clean liquids which splash up on the walls). It adds a fashion statement everyone who visits your house can ooh and aaah about.

Although there’s lots to love about kitchen backsplashes, they can also be a pain. You may have experienced these backsplash hassles:

  • Stained and cracked grout joints.
  • Materials which are so expensive they have you asking, “You said it’s how much for that small area?”
  • Surfaces which are a cleaning nightmare.
  • Installation hurdles like outlets and stoves which increase the ‘degree or difficulty’ choosing the right backsplash.

The challenge becomes how can you get the stylish backsplash you desire while also getting one which is easy to clean and install, yet won’t force you to take out a second mortgage or tap into your kid’s college fund?

In this article, I’ll look at 5 annoying problems people deal with trying to choose the best backsplash. Then I’ll dish up practical ‘fixes’ you can use to overcome these problems.

11 Shower Remodeling Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Shower remodeling mistakes you don't want to make | Innovate Building Solutions | #RemodelingTips #BathroomRemodeling #GroutFreeShower #ShowerWallPanels

You’ve probably heard of FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out), but I’ll bet you haven’t heard of FOFO. FOFO is the Fear of Figuring it Out …on the fly…. while blowing your hard-earned money in the process. I would tell you about FOFO’s cousin (FOFU – the Fear of F***ing Up), but I stopped swearing 15 years ago.

When it comes to remodeling (and shower remodeling mistakes in particular) FOFO and FOFU (for those of you who swear) are waaaay too common. You know the following facts are true from past projects:

  • Fact #1) Mistakes can be costly.
  • Fact #2) Remodeling mistakes can make the project drag on longer than a painting project done by ‘Eldon The Painter’ (he was the painter who never left on the old TV show, Murphy Brown).

Nobody (whether you’re DIY’ing the job or using a contractor) wants to shell out extra dough when better planning could have helped you get your job done for less.

In this article it’s my goal (as a guy whose team has worked with thousands of homeowners and contractors) to give you practical shower remodeling tips to reduce your mistakes. I want to save you time, money and aggravation.

So, let’s look at 11 shower remodeling mistakes you don’t need to make.

7 Bathroom Decor Ideas to Create a Spa-Like Bathroom on a Budget

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

7 Bathroom Decor Ideas to create your spa like bathroom on a budget | Innovate Building Solutions | #BathroomDecor #ShowerBathroom #BathroomDesign

Cluttered. Outdated. Dingy. Dark. Depressing. Cramped.

Are these the words you’d use to describe your bathroom today?

It doesn’t take long for a bathroom to get out of hand. Curling irons, blow driers, and a massive array of beauty products littered on your tiny vanity counter. Tile showers with dirty, mold stained grout joints which scream out – GROSS! Pitted chrome fixtures which don’t exactly look ‘shiny and new’ but they do ‘boast’ (sarcasm intended) constant water spots (which are like nails on a chalkboard to you).

Even though you’d like to create the luxury spa-like bathroom experience like a day at The Ritz, your budget more closely resembles a Hampton or Holiday Inn.

You’ve wondered….is there a way to breath new life into this tired old bathroom? Can I give it a spa-inspired setting without blowing ALL the kids college fund in the process? The short answer is…yes there is.

In this article, I’ll present 7-bathroom décor ideas to create a spa-like bathroom on a budget. Some of these ideas only involve a trip to your local candle shop, Bed Bath and Beyond, or one of your favorite on-line stores. Other ideas are more extensive and would be included in a mid-priced bathroom remodeling project.

So, what have you got to lose? Read these 7 ideas and see which can help catapult your ‘ugly duckling’ bathroom into the relaxed, spa-like experience you’ve dreamed about.

7 Practical Tips to Save 50% with a DIY Shower Remodel

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Pinterest - Opening - Practical tips to save money by doing a diy shower remodel | Innovate Building Solutions | #DIYShower #BathroomRemodeling #CheapShowerPanels #BathroomPanels

DIY shower remodeling can be a pain. There I said it. Yes, I bet you were probably thinking it.

It’s a long and winding road. It doesn’t always (OK it NEVER) goes exactly as planned. Does that sound like real life to you?

While you have vision of the finished bathroom, there will be twists and turns you never anticipated until you ‘open up the patient.’ In this case the patient is your shower and bathroom.

You may be debating should I (or shouldn’t I) do my own shower or bathroom remodel? You may be wondering do I want to (or do I need to – to make the budget work and get the cool products I’d like) tackle this project?

There are a ton of moving parts. There are a number of construction skills involved in a bathroom remodeling. Deciding to hire a professional contractor (and in case you haven’t noticed the guys/gals doing this work today are in HIGH DEMAND and commanding top dollar) or DIY this job is no small matter.

In this article I’m going to take you on a journey. It’s the journey through a 3-year (yes you heard that right 3 years – although Troy wasn’t sleeping on the job, he could only work on it during weekends and vacations) DIY bathroom remodel done by Troy and Lora-Jene Daniel of Davidsonville Maryland. It’s a bathroom which now has the following:

  • It uses fun (and low maintenance) new products. Check out the 2’ x 4’ polished Italian tiles below.

 

  • It offers thoughtful and design-conscious variations on established products. The curved glass block wall with the tile border rocks the newly remodeled space.

 

  • It’s designed to last. The barrier free waterproof tile shower pan WILL eliminate the leakage nightmare of the old shower. In addition, it will be easy to use no matter how nimble (or not) the Daniel’s are down the road.

It’s a project, quite frankly, Troy and Lora Jean would not have done through a bathroom remodeler because it would have been too expensive.

In this article, I’m going to share 7 practical tips (6 of which Troy shared with me, one I added myself) which saved Troy (and can save you) over 50% vs. hiring a contractor. Will all of these tips apply to you? Maybe or maybe not.

However, I will guarantee you this. If you use at least a few of these tips, you’ll not only save money but will be keep your marriage (or relationship) intact in the process. While I haven’t found an official stat showing how many people have gotten divorced or ended up on the latest episode of Homicide Hunter in the process of a DIY bathroom remodel, I’m betting there’s a few!

Let’s get to the tips.

9 Dumb Mistakes You can Avoid When Choosing a Shower Wall Panel System

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Dumb Mistakes you can avoid when choosing a shower wall panel system | Innovate Building Solutions | #BathroomRemodeling #ShowerRemodeling #ShowerWallPanels

I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was 28 years old. My wife and I were cash-strapped first-time homeowners. I bought new carpet for a bathroom floor 3 times. Yes, you heard that right. I bought the same carpet 3 times because I made dumb mistakes and cut it wrong 2 previous times. My wife, Rose can tell you how mad I was.

Any of us who does home improvement (or bathroom remodeling projects) has a ‘blooper real’ of stupid mistakes (even if we don’t publicly ‘fess up’ to them). These screw- ups may be accompanied by some ‘choice words’ (which Mom might still wash our mouths out with soap – BTW does anyone do that anymore? – if she heard them). In addition, these remodeling mistakes suck up money, delay the project and are painful to deal with.

No one likes going back to the store (whether it’s the ‘big box’ down the road or making another on-line purchase etc.) and dishing out more money because we messed up.

It’s for this reason I wrote this post. I’ve seen (and had to console many homeowners and remodeling contractors alike) when they’ve made dumb mistakes buying or installing shower wall panels or the accessories which go with these panels.

My goal in this article is simple. I’m going to identify 9 dumb mistakes with shower and bathroom wall panels. Then I’ll offer up ideas to make sure you’re not a ‘victim’ of them, and help you save money and aggravation along the way. Let’s check out the 9 dumb mistakes.

How to Remodel Your Shower on a Budget (without buying junk)

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Uncategorized

How to remodel your shower on a budget without buying junk | Innovate Building Solutions | #AcrylicShower #BathroomRemodeling #ShowerRemodel

You dream of owning the luxury shower you saw on Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines. You saw an article in House Beautiful with a shower to die for. It had marble floors, Brizo fixtures, Toto toilets and you thought to yourself, “With this shower it won’t look like I live in generic ‘builder-special’ (sarcasm intended) home anymore.”

These luxury showers and bathrooms you see on TV or in fancy magazines, while completely drool-worthy, aren’t your reality!  

Maybe your life resembles the following …

Example #1) You’ve started your family and now have a two-year-old. You stretched to buy the home in the walkable neighborhood. You want to kick up your version of This Old Bathroom (‘er that would be your master bathroom). Money is tight, but you still want it to look cool. But how?

Example #2) You’re getting close to becoming an empty nester (which sounds weird to say). You plan to be in this home another 5 years. However, the bathroom in your ‘Chevrolet-esque’ neighborhood doesn’t justify ‘Mercedes-Benz’ shower products.

In addition, you’re tired of moldy, brown grout joints, the dated builders-grade shower pan and flimsy framed shower doors. However, you’re not going to sink a lot of bucks into a fancy bathroom remodel. How can you improve this shower on a budget, but not have it look cheap at the end?

In this article, I’ll tackle the hard question…the how. We’ll look at how to remodel your shower on a budget (without buying junk) and not have to do the following:

 

  • Have your 2-year-old run around without diapers because you spent all the money on the remodel.

 

  • Put off adding money into the already-too-small college fund for your 14-year-old daughter because your budget was blown up on the shower remodel.

 

  • Spend ALL your kid’s inheritance pretending to be your own version of Joanna Gaines or Tim ‘The Tool Man’ Taylor (if you remember him).

While I’m (partially) joking about the three points above, it just makes good common ‘cents’ (OK – bad play on words, but I’m goin’ with it anyway) to be thoughtful (and careful) with how and where you spend money on your next shower remodel.

In this article I’ll share 7 practical tips to stretch your shower remodeling budget – without buying junky products (do flimsy framed shower doors and fiberglass shower surrounds ring a bell?) which are as disposable as your last pack of razor blades. Let’s check out the 7 tips.

How to Compare Acrylic vs. Laminated Shower Wall Panels

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Comparing acrylic vs laminated shower wall panels | Innovate Building Solutions | #AcrylicShower #BathroomRemodeling #ShowerPanels #LaminateWallPanels

I remember when our company got into the bathtub and shower wall panel business 15 years ago. All the rage was the quick to install ‘One Day Bathroom’ with acrylic wall panels. The manufacturer promoted an in and out process. Simply take 3 sheets of acrylic. Cut them to size. Adhere them with butyl tape over ceramic tile walls and voila, in one day, your customer has a new shower or tub surround.

They told us this would be a simple (and profitable) job.

And the truth is it is simple and profitable for the contractor doing it. However, here’s the question…and it’s the only question (in the end) which matters.

Are acrylic tub and shower ‘makeovers’ which go over tile the best option for the owner of the home?

The (somewhat) straightforward answer to this question is yes, no and maybe (right now, you’re likely thinking, “Mike – what kind of a B.S. ‘Switzerland-like’ answer is that?). But, in actuality there are a number of factors you need to look at when you’re comparing whether to get a low-cost acrylic wall panel system vs. a higher-end product like laminate shower wall panels.

OK, if you’re not familiar with laminate wall panels I’ll step back and tell you they’re approximately 2’ wide x 8’ tall x 3/8” thick waterproof wall panels. They have a laminate front (which can have tile, stone and marble patterns), are applied on a marine grade plywood backing with a vapor barrier on the rear surface. This product is used extensively in countries like Norway where you’d find it on 1/3 of the bathroom and shower walls. It’s also growing by leaps and bounds in the United States today.

Since you’re likely not a shower wall panel installer or salesperson (and likely don’t play one TV – and neither does anyone else to the best of my knowledge) it can be difficult knowing how to compare acrylic and laminate wall panels. You just know you want the best bathroom surround system for your job. This is exactly the reason I wrote this article.

Below I’ll look at the advantages of laminate wall panels vs. acrylic.  Second, I’ll turn the tables and we’ll peek at the disadvantages of acrylic wall panels vs. laminate.

At the end, I’d love your opinion and/or additional questions so you can get your arms around your best choice.

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