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Posts Tagged ‘bathroom panels’

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.

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.

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.

How to Compare Cultured Marble vs. Laminated Shower Wall Panels

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Laminate vs Cultured Marble Shower wall panels | Innovate Building Solutions | #LaminateShowerPanels #CulturedMarble #BathroomRemodeling

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).”

11 FAQ’s about Laminated Shower & Tub Wall Panels You Need to Know (especially if other bathroom panels haven’t excited you)

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Laminate shower and tub wall panels you need to know | Innovate Building Solutions | #LaminateShowers #TubWallPanels #RemodelingTips

Updated March 31, 2019

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 panelsThese 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 panelsThese 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?

The short answer is – YES. That option would be…

Laminated shower & tub wall panels

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.

10 Assumptions about Shower Wall Panels You Need to Throw out Your Bathroom Window

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Assumptions about shower wall panels you need to throw out your bathroom | Innovate Building Solutions | #ShowerWallPanels #LaminateWallPanels #DIYBathroom #BathroomRemodel

Updated March 24, 2019

Just think about the assumptions and ‘old wives’ tales’ you heard growing up you know today are a bunch of hogwash. Here’s a few assumptions I’ve put in my rear-view mirror:

Assumption #1) If you eat watermelon seeds, you’ll grow a watermelon in your stomach. As a little kid (before seedless watermelons) I ate a tone of watermelon seeds and I haven’t grown a watermelon yet.

Assumption#2) Eating chocolate causes acne. Studies have shown it’s not the chocolate which is the problem, it’s the sugar and dairy in the chocolate. I wish I would have known this as a pimply-faced teenager. It’s cool to know today my “Hershey bar with Almonds pick-me-up strategy” won’t cause me to break out (especially since Mr. Hershey takes all the sugar out just for me).

Assumption #3) Eating carrots will improve your eyesight. While carrots do contain nutrients like Vitamin A, it’s been shown they have no positive effect on your eyesight. I’m calling my Mom right now to give her a piece of my mind (…. just kidding Mom).

The reality is we can’t believe everything our parents and friends tell us. We can’t believe everything we read. However, there is one source everyone can believe. We can believe all the political news on the Internet (a bit of sarcasm thrown in).

Just like you can’t (and shouldn’t) believe all the old sayings rummaging around in your head, you can’t believe the ‘half-truths’ and assumptions you’re hearing about shower wall panels (even from your contractor or the guy/gal in the orange smock at the big-box store). As a guy who has been in the shower wall panel installation and supply industry from (what seems like) the time Moses was a boy, when I think I’ve heard it all, I hear another gem coming from homeowners and contractors alike.

In this article my goal is simple:

I want to blow up the B.S. circulating about shower wall panels. Here’s how.

I’m going to list 10 assumptions about shower wall panels you need to throw out your bathroom window right now. Killing these assumptions will help you make sound purchases based on better information.

At the end, let me know other ‘false-truths’ you’ve heard you now know are full of it.

Maybe Shower Wall Panels aren’t a Crazy Idea After All…

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Maybe shower wall panels aren't a crazy idea after all | Innovate Building Solutions | #ShowerPanels #GroutFreeShower #BathroomRemodel

Updated March 24, 2019

Patty came into my office to look at a glass enclosure for a new tile shower she and her husband Mark were installing in their upcoming bathroom remodel. The appointment was going well until I said to Patty, “Have you ever considered using grout free shower wall panels instead of tile?”

Patty looked at me like I had a third eye.

She said, “Mike – you’re either a little crazy or you’re filming me for the next episode of America’s Funniest Videos. I told you, Mark and I are designing this bathroom to be the LAST to be the last one we do. This bathroom is going to be stylish. It’s going to work for us until they wheel us out of this place. Why would I even think about putting in colorless, plasticky, cheap and hard to clean (oh – and did I mention ugly) shower wall surrounds?”

I thought to myself (sarcastically), “Well – that idea went over well!”

The reality is Patty is right on the money with how most people think about shower wall panels. They’re thin. They look like cheap plastic. They’re boring. They’d hard to install. And lastly – and maybe most importantly – you can’t keep them clean.

There’s nothing more embarrassing than a ‘white shower’ which is now a dull gray or yellowish-brown color. That’s just one reason you’ve kept those ugly high-privacy curtains on your hall bathroom with the fiberglass tub/shower surround. You’re hoping no one will see how bad the interior shower wall surrounds and pan look behind the curtains.

In this article I’m going to give you 5 reasons why people don’t want to use grout free shower wall panels in an upgraded bathroom remodel. Then I’ll serve up new information to expand your knowledge (and possibly change your thinking) about why shower wall panels are a smart option instead of tile.

The No-Tile, Tile Shower & Bathroom Wall Panels – 5 Reasons You Need to Check Them Out

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

The No Tile Tile Shower and Bathroom Wall Panels | Innovate Building Solutions | #NoTileTileShower #TiledShower #BathroomTrends

Updated September 21, 2019

I had to laugh when I saw the following blog comment from Bobbi about our upcoming introduction of laminate wall panels (also called ‘The no-tile, tile shower).’ She wrote,

“Mike, you’ve mentioned the ‘No Tile, Tile Shower’ so many times, but it isn’t available in the U.S. yet. Now it’s time to cough up the goods! You’ve been teasing about this product for ages. I have multiple clients this would be ideal for.”

Bobbi – had a right to ‘call me on the carpet’ for this one. I’ve been writing about these laminate panels since they blew my mind when I saw them at the International Builders Show in February of this year.

I had never seen a shower and tub wall panel system with the realistic look and feel of tile before (and as many of you know from reading my blog, I’ve seen quite a few grout free wall panel systems in my day).

Well – the time has come Bobbi for me to ‘cough up the goods!’

I’ve finally chosen  21 different laminated wall panel patterns I think will fit the United States market. There are styles to fit traditional, transitional, contemporary, modern minimalist, shabby chic or even Modern farmhouse designs.

I’ve finally got the wall panels on order and coming from Norway to our warehouse in Cleveland Ohio (they are due to arrive in late November).

I’ve finally got our laminate wall panel web page launched so you can see (and get a deeper explanation of what Bobbi told me I’ve been teasing about for too long).

In this article I’m going 5 reasons you should not only ‘give a hoot’ about these panels – but should seriously not only consider them to replace your ugly fiberglass one-piece surround or moldy tile shower – but also to use them ALL the walls of your bathroom as well.

Below – I’ll explain to you what all the fuss is about. At the end of the article let me know if you agree with my excitement (and Bobbi’s as well) over these panels or whether (in your humble opinion) you think I’ve been smoking something wacky!

5 ½ Little Known Secrets to Design a Handicap Accessible Shower Which Doesn’t Look Ugly!

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

5.5 Little known secrets to designa handicap accessible shower | Innovate Building Solutions | #HandicapAccessible #ShowerRemodel #BathroomWallPanels

Updated March 24, 2019

You and your husband have had ‘the talk’ about Mom moving in. You both know it’s the right thing to do. It certainly won’t be simple. Since Dad passed away 2 years ago Mom’s mobility has been headed in the wrong direction.

You worry about her living alone.

If only she would wear the panic-alert necklace you bought her last year.

If only you didn’t have to worry about her climbing over the tall tub rail. Entering a slick bathtub is an accident you don’t want to see happen.

If only she didn’t live 40 minutes away. Then you could check on her more often.

As Mom is aging – you’re aging too quickly also just worrying about her.

You and John have come to the conclusion Mom moving in with you the kids is the right plan. Mom has finally (after many long-nights of conversation) agreed. Giving up her completely independent lifestyle is not an easy thing to do. Now you need to make your home safe for her (since this is a key reason you’re making this move in the first place). You know the bathroom is the first place she’s at risk of falling. You know your one-piece fiberglass shower on the first floor isn’t any better than what Mom has today.

The ‘ADA showers’ you’ve seen look like a bad flashback to when you visited Mom in the hospital – yuck! You and John are looking for an answer to the question of how you can create a stylish accessible shower which doesn’t scream out ‘Mom or Grandma lives here!’

In this article my goal is to give you 5 1/2 practical (and little-known) secrets to design a contemporary and stylish accessible shower. At the end I’d love to hear your feedback which ideas can help your next project and other ideas you have I haven’t mentioned. Let’s check out these secrets.

5 Euro Bathroom Design Trends You Should Use Right Now

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

 

5 Euro Bathroom Design Trends You Should Use Right Not | Innovate Building Solutions | #NoTile #TileShower #ShowerPanels

Updated March 24, 2019

If you remember the song Smoke on the Water and can think back to when it was HOT to have a cassette player or ‘car phone’ (my first car phone cost $795 and boy was I cool), you know how quickly trends change.

Just like in music and technology, bathroom trends have evolved greatly over the last decade. You know this is true if you’re currently staring at 4” x 4” mauve colored tiles in your shower which are as up-to-date as the ‘Charlie’ perfume or Calgon bubble bath your Mom used to use. While your spouse may be OK with this time-warped bathroom, they’re not trying to clean the dirty, dingy, moldy tile grout joints. As a matter of fact, they don’t even notice the chipped-up porcelain bathtub either.

If you’ve ‘had it up to here’ (now, you’re even thinking like your Mother!) with This Old Bathroom you owe it to yourself to not only spruce up this tired space, but to design it to work flawlessly over the next 25 years as well. After all you know the problems an outdated bathroom has caused your Mom and Dad who are mobility challenged today. The question becomes, where do you begin tackling this project?

Even though I love our country as much as the next person, I will make the argument the place to start your journey to an updated bathroom is ‘across the pond’ – in Europe. You may be asking, “Mike, why Europe?” Here’s 3 reasons why:

  • Reason 1 – Europe has been setting the fashion bar – whether it’s designer dresses from Milan, fun fashion-forward tiles from Spain or Italy, or Scandi-chic cost-effective furniture from IKEA in Sweden.
  • Reason 2 – Europeans are used to living in smaller spaces. Since their homes and apartments are tighter they’re already ‘on-it’ designing bathrooms which work in little areas.
  • Reason 3 – Europeans realize a less complicated life is a good life (that’s why many countries in Europe have 1 month off for vacations). In bathroom design their designs are simpler and organic.

In this article I’ll show you 5 Euro bathroom design trends you need to consider in liberating your bathroom from its time-warped past (or at least, hopefully it’s past). Let’s look at these trends.

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