Bathroom, Kitchen, Basement Design & Remodeling Ideas for the Nicest Home or Business on the Block
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
Maybe I’ve been in the glass block shower business for too long. I’ve been doing this since 1985 and started at the age of 11 (OK – I’m lying, but I’m going with it to protect my tender, not-so-young age).
When you’ve been doing something for a long time you hear a lot of misconceptions, assumptions – or I’ll call it what it is – crap.
If you’re kicking the tires on a glass block shower, I want to use this article to save you time. I want to use this article to help you dump bad information you get from your neighbor, your relative or contractor who has limited experience with this product.
In this article I’ll blow up 5 myths about glass block showers which IMHO seriously need to die.
At the end of the article post your comments and tell me either:
Mike, “I think you’re amazing. You really nailed it.”
Mike, “I think this advice is nuts!”
I need to add some stupid things about glass blocks to your list.
If your bathroom is stuck in a 1990’s ‘builders-grade’ time-warp we get it (and we see it daily looking at bathroom remodeling jobs also). A pitted bright brass 3’ x 3’ stand-up shower with flimsy doors. This shower feels like an old-fashioned phone booth. It stands next to a mega-sized drop-in Jacuzzi tub. This huge space-wasting dust collecting monster is never even used any more. The stained oak double-bowl vanity with raised paneled doors really looks dated.
Sure, this bathroom WAS hot…. back in the day. You’ve concluded its time to reinvent this behind-the-times space.
You’re not only looking for an updated bathroom design style which you’ll love using today, but one which will live well for many ‘tomorrows’ to come. What design style can that be?
I would argue that bathroom design style is contemporary.
In this article I’ll look at 7 reasons I (and my team) love contemporary bathroom design (and why we believe you will too).
(Highlighting cool innovations from the 2019 International Builders Show and Kitchen and Bath Show)
I consider myself to be a 100% Italian-American. My Mom and Dad are Italian. Their Moms and Dads were Italian. As far back as we know, all my family are Italian. However, when I eventually complete the ancestry kit I got for Christmas, I’m sure I’ll be wrong. Nobody is 100% anything.
If I were to buy a Ford Ranger, A Dodge Ram or a Chevy Silverado they all sound as ‘All-American’ as apple pie. However, it’s estimated approximately 50% of ‘American’ cars or trucks are made up with foreign parts. In fact, the #2 and #3 ‘American-made’ vehicles in 2018 where the Honda Odyssey Minivan and Honda Ridgeline pickup (isn’t that a Japanese company?).
You may ask, what’s your ancestry and cars and trucks have to do with an internationally-inspired bathroom and new product innovations from the International Builders Show? A lot, in fact.
You see, whether it comes to the car or truck you buy, your genealogy or the bathroom you’re looking to remodel the world of innovation and style is cooked up in a ‘world melting pot.’ If you ‘attempt’ to live your life as a ‘full-blooded’ American (like Opie and Andy Taylor and Aunt Bee from Mayberry R.F.D.) you’ll be missing out on great ideas, cost-effective approaches and trends developed around the world.
Not to be political here – but you need to keep those ‘border walls down,’ and those ‘international options open,’ if you want the coolest bathroom at an affordable price.
If your tile and fiberglass shower and tub wall surround panels today are a disaster, you’re not alone. Moldy, dirty tile grout joints. Yellowed, stained and cracked fiberglass. You know you don’t want to stare at (or deal with the maintenance of) these products any more.
So, you’re burning a digital trail on Google attempting to find a high-quality, high-style option to blow up the ugliness which is your shower wall surrounds today. Your ‘digital tire-kicking’ has led you to 3 common options:
Option #1 – Bath-in-a-Day acrylic wall panels – These 1/8” thick (or should I say thin) panels aren’t impressive. They’re pressed out of a mold (and look it). You can’t find a DIY kit to save your life (note- the reason for this is the ‘Bath-in-a-Day’ franchises want to come out to hard-close you in an old-fashioned Tin-Men-esque style).
Option #2 –Decorative PVC composite wall panels – These ¼” thick panels have many bold patterns. They’re simple to install. You’re just not sure if you want so much pattern in your walls – or if the designs fit your interior design theme.
Option #3 –Cultured marble or solid surface wall panels – These man-made 3/8” thick wall panels (which look like marble, granite and stone) are built like a tank. They’re durable. They’re rock-solid. That’s the good news. The bad news is they’re traditional – but you want a contemporary look. They’re heavy (a 60” wide panel will weigh about 130 pounds and takes 2 people to install). They’re an option, but their look and installation scare you.
You start to think, is there a contemporary, higher-quality, simple to install option which beats the ‘usual’ choices?
If you haven’t grown up in Europe you may be saying, “What in the ‘H-E-Double Hockey sticks’ (you’re using this term because this is a ‘family-friendly’ blog post) are laminated wall panels and why should I give a hoot?”
In this article my goal is to help you get your arms around that question by giving you information about 11 frequently asked questions about this product. You’ll see why 1/3 of the homes in Norway use these bathroom panels. You’ll see why they’re getting HOT, HOT, HOT in the United States as well. Let’s dig in.
Your days are crazy-busy. Now your spouse hits you with their desire (‘er that would be their DEMAND) for a new shower. They tell you your moldy joint, flimsy gold-framed shower enclosure with the teeny-tiny mosaic tiles on the floor has got to go. Worse yet – they’ve elected YOU to be the person to do this job.
You knew this day was coming. You’ve been given your marching orders. You can no longer put off replacing the shower in your master bathroom.
Your spouse wants a simpler, sleeker and easier to maintain system.
You know you just want it to be done (although if you’re being honest you know your current shower should have been replaced years ago).
You’ve started your research. The number of products and installation systems is mind-boggling.
How do you simplify your shower design while also making installing it easier on you? How can you find easy-to-work-with products which don’t cost you an arm and a leg or your first-born child? Although at times you wouldn’t mind giving up that first-born child who was cuter as a baby than she is as a sassy 16-year-old (OK – that’s a subject for another day).
You want to find short-cuts which won’t cheapen your finished project. That’s exactly what this article is about.
We’ll look at 7 little-known tricks to simplify the design and installation of your shower. We’ll dish out practical ideas to get you a cool, low maintenance system you can install WITHOUT pulling your hair out (what’s left of it). My goal is to get you back to more important things (like fishing, motorcycling, beer-brewing, watching sports etc.).
Let’s dig into the 7 little known shower design and installation tricks. We’ll start at the bottom (with the shower base) and work our way up.
You’ve looked at one too many issues of Architectural Digest to put up with your crappy, outdated 5’ x 8’ bathroom any more. You’ve asked yourself what the heck was the guy who built this home thinking when….
He slapped in a fiberglass tub/shower unit which yellowed, scratched and now looks awful.
He installed a floor-based double bowl vanity which takes up half the room.
He had a tile guy install teeny-tiny mosaic tiles with huge grout joints which are a pain to clean.
He didn’t include a window. It now feels dark, dingy and closed-in.
You dream of a sleek, uncluttered, simplified minimalist bathroom. You’re unsure, however, if you can make this style work in your tiny space.
It’s simple to do anything with a big bathroom and a big budget, but how do you make a minimalist design work in a small space without tapping into your ‘Bill-Gates Trust Fund’ (oops, I forget Bill forgot to write you into his will…. yet).
This article will show you 6 practical ideas to rock a design for a small minimalist bathroom without busting your budget. Let’s dig in.
Let’s get real. There’s no such thing as a perfect shower pan, just as there’s no perfect person. Shower pans are not a one-size-fits-all proposition.
There can be, however, a perfect shower pan for your specific situation.
Here’s the problem you’ve likely run into trying to find the perfect shower pan for your job. When you visit shower base manufacturers web sites what do you think they’re pushing? This is not a trick question.
They’re pushing their pans. They’re claiming their units are the ‘ultimate fighting warriors’ against all shower evils. They have the best pan known to man, woman and child (as if kids are even interested).
You’re left to sift through the B.S. You’re left to read on-line reviews (to the extent you have the time and desire to do this). You’re left to come to your own conclusions (even though you’re not a bathroom remodeling – or shower pan expert – and don’t play one on TV. Come to think of it, no one plays one on TV either).
As a guy who leads a business which daily is knee-deep in wholesaling and installing different types of shower bases, I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ (sarcasm intended) to see the good, the bad and the ugly in shower pans in our journey to make bathrooms great again (OK – if I’m being hones, most bathrooms weren’t great in the first place).
The goal of this article is simple. It’s to help you find the perfect shower pan for your situation. To do this we’ll look at different goals you may have. Here’s some popular shower pan goals. See if yours is on the list.
Goal #1 – You’re looking for a cheap base. You own a home in a not-so-great section of town you’re looking to flip. You need a pan which fits a tight budget.
Goal #2 – You’re looking for a base which is simple to clean. You’re tired of living your life scrubbing grout joints or staring at a dirty fiberglass shower pan you can’t get clean no matter what you do.
Goal #3 –You want a contemporary design. Most shower pans you’ll find are big, bulky and ugly. You’re trying desperately to find a design which looks modern.
Goal #4 –You need a roll in or one level shower pan. Sometimes a shower pan isn’t a want, it’s a need. A member of your family isn’t getting around like they used to. You need to find a pan which works but doesn’t like it belongs in a hospital room.
Goal #5 –You want a shower pan which is built like a tank. Since the last pan cracked and leaked onto your mahogany dining room table you vowed this will never happen again. This time you’ll look for a shower base built like a tank.
Goal #6 –You need a custom size. You don’t want to pay an arm and leg for it. So many shower floor pans – from walk in designs to odd sized tile showers to drains in weird locations – require custom sizes. You don’t buying one to cause you take out a 2nd mortgage, but you want a nice-looking shower which lasts and won’t be a pain to maintain.
So, now that you’ve checked out the 6 goals, let’s dig into the brutally honest guide to the perfect shower pan which will help you achieve you find the best one for your situation.
You thought designing your new bathroom was going to be simple until you dug into the details. Finally, you’ve figured out your shower pan, wall surrounds and glass enclosure. It was a journey…to say the least.
Now, it’s time to choose a vanity. You thought, “How hard can it be to choose a vanity?” That was until you got into this next phase of the project.
You know your current vanity has got to go. Your bathroom feels cluttered. It’s 5’ x 8’ footprint is overpowered by a 25” deep double bowl floor-based vanity you know (and don’t love) today. Yes – it’s nice to have 2 bowls and a deep countertop. However, squeezing around your spouse first thing in the morning can make a grouchy person, grouchier. After all you’re not trying to re-live the dance called ‘the bump’ from the 1970’s at 6:30 AM while you’re rushing to get ready for work.
You’ve looked at pedestal and wall hung sinks. Since they give ZERO storage you know they aren’t right for you. After all, you desperately need space for lotions, potions, styling brushes and blow dryers.
The idea of a wall hung floating vanity is intriguing, but you still don’t have your arms around the advantages and disadvantages of this option.
This article is geared on helping you close your ‘knowledge gap’ to figure out if a floating vanity cabinet makes sense. While I wouldn’t recommend this style of cabinet for every bathroom, if you’d like a contemporary, simple to clean, and a not-too space consuming option, it may be perfect for you.
Let’s dig deeper into the pros and cons of wall hung vanities.
The moment before you crank-up your reciprocating saw, rent the jackhammer or bring out the hand tools to demo your old fiberglass or tile shower pan do you look down and say to your shower base, “I’m going to miss you buddy. I’ve loved our time together.” If so, you may need psychological help.
The words used to describe shower pans don’t come from a place of love. More common words would be its ugly, disgusting, moldy, dangerous (but not in a ‘Baker Mayfield’ of the Cleveland Browns sort of way), grimy, yellowed or grungy. Negative words about shower pans could go on and on.
No where on this list is beautiful, sleek, contemporary, durable, shapely and safe.
But let’s play a ‘what if’ game.
What if your shower can could be stylish and safe?
What if your shower pan wasn’t the ugly red-headed-stepchild (sorry red headed stepchildren out there) of your shower enclosure or roll in shower?
What if you could be as proud and thankful about your shower pan as you were when your son FINALLY completed his 6-year college plan, and picked up the long-sought-after sheepskin (are diplomas actually made of sheepskins?) from State U?
I’m here to announce there are cool and safe alternatives for ugly shower pans. You don’t have to put up with cheap, clunky, yellowed fiberglass shower bases any more. You don’t have to deal with teeny-tiny tiles with fat grout joints which get dirty, moldy and bring you (literally) to your hands and knees.
When you think about it, your shower base is THE FOUNDATION of your shower. If it fails, everything above it becomes garbage. Money down the drain (literally and with a bad shower pan pun thrown in for bad measure).
As Gene Kranz said in the movie Apollo 13, “Shower base failure is not an option.” (OK – maybe the shower base portion of the line was left out to keep the movie tighter).
In this article I’ll present 7 alternative solutions for standard-sized, custom and roll in shower pans. Don’t accept the first clunky fiberglass shower pan your remodeler grabs off the home center shelf. Don’t accept ‘old-school’ mud set tile shower floor pans which are a pain in the drain for you to maintain.
Elevate your shower pan. Choose these 7 alternatives.
Don’t you wish in life, and in bathroom remodeling, choices were simpler? While the Internet has delivered us a world of information, this hasn’t made selecting bath remodeling products simpler. In fact, it’s made selections harder.
Recently I could feel this painful decision-making process oozing into my headset while talking to Pam about her bath remodel. She was looking for input on whether to use matte or gloss finishes for her shower pan, shower wall panels, flooring and fixtures.
Having to choose between gloss and matte finishes made the product selection task even more complex. As Yogi Berra would have advised Pam, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Pam’s ‘fork in the road’ was determining the right choice between gloss and matte finishes.
To step back, you can think of a gloss finish as a shiny reflective surface. A matte finish can be defined as flat or non-reflective surface.
So, you may be asking, “What did you tell Pam?”
Like a ‘good politician’ (does one of those exist? Sorry for digressing), I told her ‘it depends.’ Depends on what, you may ask? It depends on the answers to 7 critical questions.
Read these 7 questions and at the end I’d love to hear your vote on what finish you think is best (don’t worry there won’t be a pop quiz). Would you choose matte or gloss for your shower pan, shower walls, bathroom floor and fixtures. As your Math teacher never said, “There are no right answers, but IMHO there are choices which make more sense than others.”