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Bathroom, Kitchen, Basement Design & Remodeling Ideas for the Nicest Home or Business on the Block

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.

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 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.

A Brutally Honest Guide to Choose the Right Shower Wall Panels

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Brutally Honest Guide to choose the right shower wall panel | Innovate Building Solutions | #BathroomRemodeling #ShowerWallPanels #BathroomWallPanels

You’ve told your spouse either this old nasty shower goes, or they’re sleeping in the garage. You’re burning up your keyboard searching the Internet for the perfect shower wall panel system for your master bathroom. You’re SOOOO done with tile grout joints!

Every manufacturer, supplier and installer claim their system is the greatest thing since the invention of the Blackberry (oops – maybe a bad example there). Yes, their pictures are pretty. However, there’s so much sales hype on their web pages it’s hard to know what to believe.

You need to cut through the B.S. You need the straight scoop. You don’t want to buy a system only to find out later you paid too much, or it was a pain in the rear to install. You want to get going but not make a choice you’ll regret. This is (hopefully) the last time you’re remodeling this bathroom.

If this describes your situation, you’re exactly who this article is for.

Below, I’ll dish out 7 brutally honest shower wall panel tips to help you figure out the best decision for your job. You may ask why I’m writing this?

Well – you see I’ve been around the shower wall panel block before (not that there is such an actual block – otherwise, it would look kind of funny). My business has bought, used and sold 6 shower wall panel systems over the years. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the (mostly) ugly of systems we’ve pulled off to install better wall surrounds.

To tell you the truth, there’s even some wall panel systems my company has sold and installed my wife of 34 years (Rose) would never have allowed me to put in our house (yes – you can see who would be the driver of the remodeling bus in our house!). Not that these systems were bad or non-functional. It’s that systems like acrylic (which we used to sell back in our early wall panel days) look cheap and plasticky. You see, Rose ain’t goin’ for that!

So, my goal in this article is to, as Randy Jackson used to say, ‘Keep it real dog.’ I’ll give you 7 brutally honest tips (from my POV) to help you choose the right shower wall panels for your project. I want to save you time, money and aggravation with time-sucking Internet research.

7 Essential Things Most People Don’t Think about When Buying Shower Wall Panels

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Essential things people don't thikn about when buying shower wall panels | Innovate Building Solutions | #ShowerWallPanels #BuyingShowerPanels #BathroomProducts #HotBathroomIdeas

‘So, you’ve had it up to here’ (as Mom used to say) with dirty, ugly, moldy grout joints in your shower.

You’ve told your spouse, either this tile shower goes, or I do.

You’ve started ‘kicking the digital tires’ for a solution. You’re comparing different shower wall panels systems from acrylic to cultured granite to PVC composite to laminated wall panels. You’re almost ready to pull the trigger and plunk your money down.

However, there’s still something gnawing at you. You still feel you’re missing some details you need to make the right choice.

This uncertainly when buying shower and bathroom wall panels is common. Many homeowners (and even professional contractors) don’t have experience with the products out there. You’re a rookie and don’t want to screw up!

The question becomes how can you make sure you’ve thought of (almost) everything before you make the best choice for your project?

That question is what this article is looking to answer. My goal here is simple. I want to point out 7 essential things (along with a few pointers) most people don’t think about (but should) when buying shower wall panels.

I want you to get it right…. the first time.

So, without further delay let’s dig into these 7 essential things.

The 7 Biggest Blunders with Glass Block Bathroom Windows (and 7 Tricks to Fix Them)

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Glass Block

Glass block window in bathroom or shower installation | Innovate Building Solutions | #GlassBlockWindow #BathroomWindows #GlassBlockDesign

I’ve been around the (glass) block (OK, I know that’s a bad play on words) a long time. I started in this business in 1989 (I like to tell people I was only 11 years old at the time, but nobodies buying it). In these 30 years I’ve seen a lot of glass block bathroom window jobs. Some supplied and installed by my business, others not.

Glass block is thought of as a ‘masonry’ product (mortared together block by block with an old, grizzly mason). Homeowners and contractors struggle with masonry-built glass block windows. They’re not sure how to design their window. They don’t know how it should be installed into a framed opening (since most bathroom windows aren’t installed into concrete blocks or poured walls, like basement windows).

This lack of knowledge (and the bad information they get along the way) results in some UGLY-looking jobs which don’t last. My business has seen (and fixed) many of these ugly jobs (or you can call them blunders).

The fact is these blunders (AKA crappy jobs) didn’t have to happen. In fact, glass blocks can be simple to design and install…if you know a few tricks.

In this article my goal is simple.

First, I want to identify the top 7 blunders I’ve seen in my waaaay too many years in the biz.

Second (and most importantly), I want to give you practical ideas (or tricks), so you don’t fall in the ‘bad project’ trap. I want you to have a bathroom window which looks sharp and is designed, fabricated and installed to last (I was going to say to Infinity and Beyond, but that sounded too corny).

So, let’s dig into the 7 biggest blunders (and practical ideas to fix them) of glass block bathroom windows.

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