‘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.
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).
In the United States (especially in the late 1980’s and 1990’s) cultured marble shower wall panels were hot. Builders and homeowners loved their 3/8” thick construction. They loved their durability. They loved the fact they look like marble slabs – at a far lower cost. You can even get a cultured marble vanity top or shower pan to match your walls.
In Europe (and especially in Norway) in the 1990’s a new wall panel product was born. This system would take the Euro bathroom wall surround market by storm. These units, called laminated shower panels, are also 3/8” thick. However, unlike its ‘molded’ brother cultured stone, which is made in big sheets, the laminate panels are 2’ x 8’ sections. They weigh 26 lbs.
Laminated wall panels have grown like wildfire. They’re now as popular as ceramic tile in Norway. They make up 1/3 of the bathroom wall surround market in this country.
It wasn’t until last year (when laminate panels were introduced in the U.S.) that these two wall systems would ‘face off.’ OK, it’s not exactly a ‘championship wrestling Battle Royale’ yet, but homeowners in the United States are now comparing and contrasting these two options.
The question I (and my team) get all the time now (since we design with both) is what are the advantages and disadvantages of each system? Which do you like better? Which would be best for my project? Which product is cheaper? (Note, actually they cost about the same, so this isn’t a big factor in choosing one over another).
While it would be simple to declare one the ‘winner,’ like in life, it’s not that simple. As I tell customers,
“Wall panels are like people. They all have their strengths and weaknesses.”
In this article my goal is to deliver this comparison in true Joe Friday from Dragnet fashion. I’m going to offer up “Just the facts ma’am, as Joe used to say (or sir, if we’re going to be P.C. about it).”
Whether you’re a first-time home, loft or condo buyer or are a ‘slightly graying’ 50+, empty nester (although you don’t admit being a day over 39) looking to enjoy the kid-free chapter of your life, there’s something cool about Industrial Chic design.
Maybe it’s the mix of old and new.
Maybe it’s the utility of an efficient design with the warmth of comfortable elements.
Maybe it’s the connection to organic materials like wood, steel, concrete, glass and exposed bricks proudly displayed on the inside.
It’s obvious reading architectural and design magazines this style is getting HOT, HOT, HOT! It’s being used by major developers doing ‘adaptive re-use’ projects (in layman’s/laywoman’s terms this is converting old commercial and industrial spaces into contemporary residential units). It’s being used by homeowner’s remodeling trendy urban lofts. Even those in the ‘burbs are looking to infuse this urban-downtown vibe into their family-friendly bedroom communities.
The question is if you love this look, is it possible to bring it alive in your bathroom remodel or new home even if you’re not moving into a downtown loft with 12’ ceilings, exposed concrete walls, or turn-of-the-century wood floors?
This article will show you 7 practical ideas to infuse your new or remodeled bathroom with industrial chic design – no matter if you’re a Millennial buyer decorating your first home in the suburbs or are a multi-family developer building new apartments or condos, or an empty nester moving into the heart of the city.
You’re tired of debating the subject with your husband Steve. You’ve argued whether it’s better to use a waterproof, grout-free shower wall panel system or opt for a completely customizable ceramic tile shower. You want the wall panels (after all Steve’s never picked up your way-too-used scrub brush) and he thinks the ceramic tile shower is far more stylish.
The question is, how can you end this debate? Do you and Steve really know all the points (and counterpoints), the positives and negatives of both choices? How can you wrap your arms around this debate and FINALLY get something done? You want to make a purchase and get on with your bathroom remodel.
In this article my goal is simple. It’s to give you the pros and cons of shower wall panels vs. ceramic tile. Sure, I’ll fess up and tell you I do have my favorite (and will reveal it at the end). However, there are things to like (and dislike) about each choice. Now, without further delay, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of shower wall panels vs. tile.
The popularity of acrylic shower pans cannot be denied (irrespective of whether you love them or hate them). If you’re building a new single-family home in the ‘burbs or renovating hundreds of hotel tub/shower units, acrylic bases are often the product of choice. And why shouldn’t they be? Here’s a few reasons this type of shower tray can be a smart solution:
You won’t have to deal with grout maintenance hassles.
These pans are lightweight and simple to install.
Acrylic is warm under your feet. You won’t need to invest in heated floors.
They don’t require resealing – EVER!
While acrylic isn’t the cheapest base (that ‘honor’ is with fiberglass pans), it’s still cost-effective.
While acrylic bases have a lot going for them, like you and I, they also have their weaknesses (sorry if I’m talking about these bases like they’re people – but bear with me – I’m not really going nuts).
These product weaknesses can create serious problems if you’re not knowledgeable and careful. That’s why I’m writing this article.
Acrylic shower pan problems are avoidable…if you know the 7 practical ideas I’ll present in this article. So, let’s learn about the 7 avoidable acrylic shower pan problems with ideas to make sure you get the right pan for your project.
Lisa was excited to tell me when she was on vacation, she experienced the neatest thing in the bathroom or her contemporary hotel room. It was a curbless, doorless walk in shower.
It didn’t have a flimsy shower door to clean (like her tired bathroom at home). It was safer for her husband Bill to walk into (even though he won’t admit it he’s gained a ‘few’ pounds since his football days of years gone by. His mobility isn’t ‘quite’ the same). Lisa went on to say, this shower would be perfect if her Mom and Dad – who are beginning to show their age – need to move in down the road.
Lisa – was excited to explore a walk-in shower for the bath remodel her and Bill are planning to do later this year.
Lisa went on to say when she shared her excitement with friends, neighbors, family and even a few contractors they started raining on her parade. They became the ‘Mr. and Mrs. Doubt-Fires – throwing doubt and rain on her fire and passion for this shower. Here’s some of the comments she heard:
With a walk-in shower you’ll get too much water on the bathroom floor.
You’ll be cold in there without a full glass enclosure or shower curtains.
You don’t have enough room for a walk-in shower.
Are you sure you can even do a walk-in shower since your master bathroom is on the 2nd floor?
She asked me, “Mike, should I continue to explore this idea, or blow it up before I get in too deep?”
I went on to tell Lisa I wish I could tell her all the doubts and fears her friends, neighbors, family members and even contractors told her was a bunch of crap. However, but I’ve seen my share of walk in shower blunders over the years. I know the following equation is one she wouldn’t want associated with her job:
(A poorly designed and built walk in shower) = (A bad walk in shower)
I then offered to share with Lisa the 7 biggest blunders (and misconceptions) I’ve seen with walk in showers. I didn’t want her to repeat.
Since Lisa liked these ideas, I thought I’d share them with you. I hope they make it clearer if a walk-in shower is right for your project.
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).