Moldy and dirty grout joints. Shower curbs which are too tall and dangerous to step over. Cracked shower pans which leaked onto the floors below. And I haven’t even mentioned the constant maintenance. Who doesn’t love spending time with a scrub brush cleaning grout joints (sarcasm intended)?
If you’re looking to replace your old tile shower – the last thing you want to do is repeat the mistakes of the past. If your shower is screaming ‘replace me,’ the question becomes what mistakes do you need to stay away from this time? How can you get a new tile shower (or a look-a-like tile shower – more about this later) without the hassles your last one caused you?
In this article my goal is to give it to you straight. I’m going to tell you 6 things you shouldn’t do when you replace your old tile shower. These tips will help you get a nicer looking shower stall with less effort and maintenance from you down the road.
Imagine you go into Dillard’s. You find a Fendi, Gucci or Louis Vuitton handbag on Super Sale. You snatch it off the shelf. The exhilaration of pure fashion joy overcomes you. You bring your new-found prize possession home. You joyously pull it out of the bag in your closet. You try matching it with your existing wardrobe and nothing (and I do mean none of your pants, dresses, blouses or shoes) looks good with the new purse. The new bag is waaaaaay too nice to be ‘mixed up’ with your tired wardrobe. Now what do you do? You head back to the mall in search of a sharp outfit to go with your stylish handbag.
You may be asking, Mike, “what the heck does fancy handbags have to do with bathroom remodeling?” That is a darn good question.
Well – Deborah of Cleveland Ohio can tell you. You see while Deborah was upgrading her kitchen floors and countertops she also made a fateful decision to blow up her 30-year-old ‘Back to the Future’ (circa 1987) chipped and butt-ugly Formica countertops in her bathrooms. She replaced them with luxurious 1 ¼” thick Quartz surfaces. It sounded like a good idea…at the time.
The problem Deborah ran into is directly related to the handbag challenge above. The new countertops put her old showers to shame! Her contemporary and stylish vanity tops now lived side by side with a poorly functioning, builders grade faded and dingy fiberglass showers. ‘A’ and ‘B’ (the countertops and the showers) didn’t work together.
As Deborah told me, “Mike – the Quartz countertops made my existing dirty and yellowed fiberglass original shower look ridiculous!” Something had to be done.
While this fashion faux-pas was prompting Deborah to remodel her showers, this project HAD TO BE about more than fashion. The new showers needed to address function. Since Deborah and her husband are both in their 60’s (although she doesn’t look at day over 39! – my wife has taught me well), and they have no intentions of leaving this home (EVER), they wanted a shower which would not need to be replaced as they get older.
This new design had to address fashion and function. In this article we’ll look at the problems of Deborah’s existing showers. We’ll also see how fashionable product selections and a functional shower design were used to make everything work. Lastly – we’ll get Deborah’s input on a on how she came to appreciate her ‘no frustration’ bathroom remodeling contractor – Cleveland Design and Remodeling. (Note – I’ll have to fess up. This is a shameless plug here since I’m a member of the Cleveland Design and Remodeling and Bath Doctor team). However, I think our guys listened to, connected with and delivered a nice job for Deborah – but I’ll let her tell you why. Let’s dig in.
I was looking forward to a quiet – yet quick – dish of twice cooked pork from Billie Lee’s (my favorite Chinese restaurant in Columbus Ohio). It wasn’t as quiet as I expected this night (even though it was a slow night). 3 tables over I could hear loud and clear (and I wouldn’t describe myself as a “Snoop Doggy-Dog either!) an upper 60-year old couple describing to friends their recent home sales experience. They described how their home sold in less than 2 weeks. EVERY offer was above the asking price. They accepted a full cash bid. I thought to myself – wow – housing markets sure can change from year to year.
I’m not sure why this couple was selling or where they were moving to, but what I could figure out (and a crack detective I’m not) is their home was a hot. Also, I came to the conclusion if you’re buying a home in Columbus Ohio you’d better act quick – and don’t plan on finding big bargains either.
You may be in a stage in life where you’re kicking around, should I move or improve?
Perhaps you have to move because your existing home is too expensive, too big, has a bad layout or you’re being relocated.
Perhaps you want to move because your home is too small, or neighborhood safety is a problem, or the school system is going down the tubes.
Perhaps you never want to move. Even though your home doesn’t ‘live’ due to your mobility challenges you’ve told your family they’ll have to roll you out of here.
Whether you decide to move or improve isn’t a question I’m smart enough to chime in on (it’s one you’ll need to discuss with family, friends and a sharp realtor), but what I would like to discuss is what home improvements make sense if you (A) decide to move or (B) decide to improve and stay put.
The list of what you could do to improve your home is longer than you have time or money for. The list of what you should do to improv your home will be different if you decide to stay put or you decide to run, run as fast as you can. Below I’ll look at 5 smaller-scale, yet smart, home improvement projects should you decide to move, and 4 larger-scale projects if you decide to stay and improve. Note, I’m only looking at 4 because these ones will require a decent chunk out of your wallet to do.
At the end of the article I’d love your ideas on which projects should (or shouldn’t) be on your list. My ‘lists are purposely incomplete.’ Let’s face it – these lists could go on and on. Please add to your recommended project ‘to do list’ at the end of the article.
I was talking to Mark (a potential customer) who started venting to me about his bathroom remodeling project. He said, “Mike, planning this bathroom remodel is a pain in the rear. Too many choices, too few contractors. The budget is getting squeezed left and right. My wife Lisa has this urge to remodel. I wish her urge would just go away.”
Mark then said, “Mike as someone in the biz can you help Lisa and I figure out if we should – or shouldn’t – remodel this upcoming year? As you know I’m voting for “shouldn’t,” she is completely in the “should” category. I’d like the ammunition to bring Lisa over to my side.”
I told Mark, “I don’t want to get in the middle of any family squabbles over remodeling. I’m not the “Dr. Phil of Remodeling,” besides I’ve got way more hair than him. However, as a supplier and remodeling contractor I’ve seen remodeling projects which have gone well – and others which were so wacked-out the owners wish they never started. Let me think about this. I’ll put a list together of “should’ s and shouldn’t’ s – and try keep you out of divorce court, or the Peoples Court, over a simple bathroom!”
As I got to thinking about this my crazy mind went in a bunch of directions. Included below is the list I prepared for Mark and Lisa. I hope you enjoy it, and learn a couple of things along the way. If you have any additional reasons (fun or serious) why you should (or shouldn’t remodel) add them in the comments at the end of the article. If they’re humorous give me a call – I like a good laugh.
Lynda and Tom – a super nice couple in their 50’s living in the Columbus Ohio burbs (can you say O-H-I-O – yes I’m a OSU Buckeye fan) – came into my showroom with their floor plan for a bathroom remodeling project. They want to make the bathroom larger and have a double bowl vanity top. They are going to increase the size of the window for improved natural light. They plan to move the tub from one side of the room to another to improve the layout. They came to see us to look at grout free tub wall panel options.
They told me they decided on a bathtub again because (as everyone knows) you have to have at least one tub in the home (all realtors and many family members backed up the need for at least one tub). Given this “commonly held truth” they planned to keep the tub in the newly remodeled 1st floor bathroom.
As a nationwide supplier of shower and tub wall panels (and local Cleveland bathroom remodeler) who has worked with countless tub to shower conversions I can’t even think of one time I’ve worked with someone on changing a shower into a tub. “Why the heck is that?” Why are people overwhelmingly getting rid of bathtubs and dusty useless “soaking tubs” home builders insisted on putting in homes in the late 90’s and early 2000’s? Do you really have to have a tub in a home for resale? Conversely, should you even give a hoot about resale?
In this article, I’m going to do two things. First, I’ll give you 4 good reasons a shower is a better option than a tub. Second, I’ll offer up 7 practical advantages of a shower over a tub. At the end of the article I’d love to hear your arguments and if you think I’m a bit nuts (yes – even my wife, kids and fellow co-workers would say I resemble this remark from time to time!).
Freddie sent me the pictures – and even a drawing – of his odd shaped shower and he was absolutely on the money when he said, “Mike – this thing is one of the funkiest bathrooms you’ll ever see. What were the last owners thinking when they created the weird angles in this space? Even though I’ve done a bathroom remodeling project or two in my past I’ve never encountered a beast like this shower. Can you help me figure this puzzle out?”
Unfortunately, Freddie is not the only one in this country with an odd shower which is funky with a capital “F!” It’s simple to identify and say – Man, that is an odd space – it’s much more challenging to get a game-plan to conquer this crazy shower and transform your bathroom into a functional, stylish and maintenance free place. Even after Freddie sent me pictures and a drawing it took 45 minutes on the phone to BEGIN to get a plan together to get this weirdness under control.
This brings up the question, “What do you need to know to tame a lion-sized bathroom remodeling challenge? What assistance is required to not only conquer this beast, but to create a space which is much better than the fungus-infested, dirty-grout, odd shaped shower you’re stuck with today?”
My goal in this article is to give you practical tips to get your arms around this project – whether your man (or woman) enough to tackle it as a DIY’er – or plan to bring a contractor in (note – if you look for a professional contractor you’ll need to find one who likes a challenge, knows what they’re doing, won’t demand your first- born child or force you to take on a second job to pay for this remodel to ‘get ‘er done). Let’s look at these 5 ½ tips (the ½ tip is the cherry on the top) and stop putting up with the nastiness that is your strange shower today!
Isn’t the window in your shower a pain in the butt? I bet you’ve asked yourself on more than one occasion, “why the heck did a builder put a see-through window smack dab in the middle of our shower? Was the guy who built this home an exhibitionist? Didn’t he also know water would be hitting on the wood trim surrounding this shower window sill each and every day and eventually the wood will rot out?”
Now, you’ve got a problem. Everyone in your family is after you to do something about this deteriorated window trim. The challenge is where to start? What’s the right solution to fix this trim?
The other day I was talking to Jeff Spurio, a Shower and Window Design Consultant, and we were discussing how frustrating shower windows are for homeowners. While it may be tempting to rip down the old and put up some new trim (something certainly more waterproof than wood!), simply retrimming the window may not be the best solution to get your shower (or combined tub/shower unit) problems behind you.
As Jeff told me, “Mike – as in life – I guess we need to step back and see things in a wider perspective. See what’s going on not only with the window trim, but to think about questions like do we even have the right window and are the shower walls built to last?” As the old saying goes, “it doesn’t make sense to put lipstick on a pig.” It certainly doesn’t make sense to put new trim around a shower on its last leg or a window which doesn’t open or provides no privacy.
In this article, I’m going to give you some inside tips Jeff shared with me explaining how he helps people to not only think through selecting the right trim to use around shower windows, but most importantly to develop a solution to make sure their entire showering system (walls, window and trim) will perform well (and look nice) over the long run. Let’s take a peak at 5 ½ tips (yes – the ½ tip is important as well) Jeff shared with me to help you get the right window trim AND the right showering system.
You may be asking what’s up with all these Euro designs in kitchen, bathroom and even closet remodeling projects today? Are we being brainwashed by all the IKEA hacks on the Internet? As someone who is knee-deep in the remodeling industry I can tell you the Euro design trend is really heating up. So why is this move to European styles so hot?
In the article below we’ll look at 4 reasons this Euro design trend is gaining steam and why you may want to jump on this bandwagon for your next remodeling project.