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.
When it comes to a bowl of Graeters Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, in my book bigger is always better. My wife Rose (who is also a Doctor), has a slightly different opinion. She thinks my obsession with the big bowls of ice cream I eat at the end of the night is a bad idea. She brings up the fat content. She mentions my cholesterol. She mentions grams of sugar.
I say to my ‘delusional self,’ where’s is Rose coming up with all this crap anyway?
When it comes to shower wall panels (much like my desire for big bowls of chocolate chip), it’s assumed by professional contractors and DIY homeowners that bigger is always better. However, this simply is not the case.
In this article I’m going to dish out (no – you’re not getting my ice cream), 5 reasons you should pause before assuming bigger one-piece shower wall panels are best for your next bathroom remodel.
At the end of the article, let me know if you agree that smaller can be better (in shower wall panels, not in my ice cream consumption).
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.
You’re fed-up cleaning black, moldy, nasty tile grout joints with your waaaay-too-worn scrub brush. You’re looking to eliminate this hassle once and for all with bathroom wall panels. You start your search with great expectations. You get on the Internet. You go to your local big-box store. Then ‘it’ creeps in. The ‘it’ is frustration (as your time gets eaten up). Finding the best bathroom wall panels is harder than you thought. You’re slamming into ‘brick-walls’ which look like the following:
Brick-wall #1 – You trip to the local home center store to ‘pick up some panels’ didn’t turn out as planned. All they stock are cheap ‘plasticky’ looking things you wouldn’t be caught dead with.
Brick wall #2 – You find the coolest bathroom wall panels EVER (need to say this in your best ‘Valley-girl’ voice), only to find out they’re only available in the U.K – unless you want to buy a container of them. But you’re not quite sure how the container is going to fit on your lawn and if you’re going to be able to sell your entire neighborhood these panels as well!
Brick wall #3 – You’ve got your credit card in hand and are looking to DIY this project. You make call after call and nobody will take your money. They will not sell you the panels. No – they will only supply and install the panels for you. You can’t afford professional installation, and besides, you’re comfortable doing it yourself.
Brick wall #4 – It takes an act of God to get samples. How can you make this decision if you can’t see, touch and feel the product? You don’t want to spend your hard-earned dollars on junk. Sure, they look beautiful on the ‘net. The challenge becomes what are you going to do if they are as flimsy as a house of cards after you take the shipment and the driver is long gone?
Brick wall #5 – Trying to find special sizes and pair them with a custom sized shower pan is as hard as getting Republicans and Democrats to agree on ANYTHING.
Can you recognize any of these brick walls in your search efforts thus far?
My goal in this article is to give you tips and strategies to blow past these challenges and successfully purchase the best bathroom wall panels for you. I’ll get you – quickly and efficiently – past these hurdles with 5 practical tips whether you want to do it yourself or have them professionally installed. Let’s check out these tips so you can throw out your tile scrub brush, get rid of your tile and not get stuck settling on generic-looking white plastic panels from your local home center store.
My Dad used to tell me, “Mike, you can’t fit 10 lbs. of s*** (insert swear word here) into a 5 lb. bag.” My Dad was quite the creative guy (both in his fun use of words and in business – which was his passion). If he was alive today to experience the tiny home, mobile home, RV and converted bus movements, I could hear him amend his quote to add, “You can, however, fit more than 10 lbs. of coolness into a tiny home bathroom with only 5 pounds of space!”
Owners of tiny homes, mobile homes, converted buses know that ‘great minds DO NOT think alike.’ (note – I love this saying from Lawrence School – a school for kids with learning differences both of my boys attended).
Great minds create, innovate, figure out a way when everyone else says, “No way dude!”
When it comes to tight bathrooms in mobile-friendly vehicles (whether they are on land or ‘sea’) you’ve got to think outside the confines of the boring, white 32” square fiberglass one-piece shower (which will look like 10 lbs. of s*** in a few years anyway).
You need to find creative materials for your shower which will work day in and day out.
You need to think about fun materials which will show your unique sense of style and personality. After all you didn’t get into a mobile-type home just to have a generic place to rest your head at night.
You need to think of products you can install yourself (or pay some buddies with a good steak-dinner to help you install) which won’t break the bank (or if they do break the bank, it will be worth it).
In this article, my goal is to show you 5 ½ ‘not-butt-ugly’ shower ideas which will put the WOW into your tiny mobile-friendly bathroom. These ideas will work whether you’re building a new tiny home, remodeling or retrofitting an existing Airstream, houseboat or even a full-sized bus. Although I’m presenting 5 1/2 ideas here for you –your imagination is limitless – so at the end of the article I’d love to hear your comments about other cool shower ideas you’ve seen. Give me your opinion on whether the ideas I’ve presented deserve an enthusiastic thumbs-up or a rousing thumbs-down.
I took the all-too-familiar call from James and his wife Linda.
Linda started out saying, “Mike – I HATE the ugly white fiberglass stand up shower in our hall bathroom, and the tile shower in the master is a mess. The grout joints are black and nasty. I’ve finally convinced James it’s time to blow up these 2 bathrooms now that the kids are “mostly” grown and out of the house (she mentioned her son Michael was on the 6-year college plan and almost ready to graduate). I am not going to deal with the maintenance or an ugly shower again. I’ve had it.”
James chimed in and said, “Linda and I went to the local big box store only to find the same crap we have right now. Lots of ceramic tiles. Basic cheap fiberglass shower pans and walls in stock sizes which won’t work for our tile shower. I am thinking about installing this job myself. I tried to ask the guy with the orange smock the steps to get this job done. He was clueless. Linda and I need your help with two things. First, what stylish, low maintenance products are out there? Second –I’m not sure what the right installation steps are. Can you help us?”
I understand where Linda and James are coming from. As a homeowner – no matter how handy or construction-savvy you are – you’re not researching shower products or installing a new shower every day (hopefully this will be the first and LAST time you do this). So – if you want a cool shower, which isn’t a pain to clean and maintain and don’t want to screw up the install (or have a contractor you hire mess it up either) you need to know the right steps to “get ‘er done” (as Larry the Cable Guy would say) right the first time.
In the article below I’ll look at 7 crucial installation steps I shared with Linda and James for a stylish low maintenance shower. For this project I would recommend to take your time. Be methodical. When you get this job done using the right steps, you’ll end up with the shower which is cool AND done – once and for all!
Maybe I’ve been in the bathroom remodeling business too long but I actually think shower enclosures can be sexy. I might have looked into a few too many multi-functioning spa-shower heads, sleek deluxe wall panels and even drains with LED lights and my brain has gotten mushy with visions of stylish new showers. Even though I am more than a bit passionate (OK – maybe a bit touched) about shower enclosures, there is nothing sexy about a shower enclosure which has failed!
Does your existing shower resemble these remarks?
A cracked and yellowed fiberglass pan which even after calling on a higher power you can’t get clean.
A tile grout job which is failing so miserably you may have to resort to begging the grout doctor to come back and repair it one more time.
A drain which well – just won’t drain. Now you’re even thinking about buying stock in Draino because it has to go up in price from all the bottles you’ve bought at your local grocery store.
Yes – a newly designed sleek shower can be sexy – but your old shower may be so “un-sexy” you feel the need to (pun-intended) “throw in the towel” on it! If you’ve gotten to the breaking point with your existing shower, don’t only look at what’s sexy and new in shower products (although that’s a lot of fun). You need to take a look at the nuts and bolts of why showers fail so you won’t go down this “bad shower road” again.
In this article I’m going to challenge you to take a look at 5 “non-sexy” tips to make sure your next bathroom remodeling project doesn’t lead down failure lane. So let’s roll up our sleeves and look at these tips so you can (as Larry the Cable Guy would say) get ‘er done right the first time.
I’m going to “keep it real” as Randy Jackson used to say on American Idol about this topic on where to buy DIY shower and tub wall panels. I’m biased. I’m a passionate nationwide wholesaler of bathroom wall panels who “competes” with Home Centers (actually, Home Depot, Lowes and Menards don’t even know who I am) on a daily basis. One division of our business works with DIY’ers who want to install their own (or buy their own) shower and tub wall panels. The #1 reasons homeowners want to DIY (or BIY – Buy It Yourself) is to save money in the remodeling process – and for most people, remodeling projects end up more expensive than they originally thought.
While buying anything from an independent entrepreneurial company can make you “feel good” to support the small business community vs. the big box stores, “feeling good” is not a reason enough to shell over your hard-earned money to any business. If buying from the guy or gal in the orange, green or blue smock is the smartest decision for you – by all means – do it!
But before you rush out to your local home center store and start purchasing the first set of DIY shower wall panels off the shelf you can find, my goal is to give you a more thorough way to make the best decision for you (note – for your reference I have personally sold thousands of different types of wall panels to consumers across the country since the inception of our company in 1977. They’ve come a long way from the days of boring white acrylic and fiberglass units. I’ve learned a few things along the way I’m looking forward to sharing in this article).
In this article my goal is to give it to you straight. 5 reasons you shouldn’t buy DIY shower and tub wall panels from a Home Center and 3 reasons you should (ouch – it hurts me to say that!). Let’s dig in.
You’re excited to begin your DIY shower remodeling project. You’ve finally got the time to crack open the box with the shower kit you picked up at your local home center store 6 months ago (you’ll finally be able to get your wife off your back about getting this project done!). You remember asking the clerk with the bright orange smock, “Is everything I need in the box?” While half-listening to you and “helping” another customer he says half-heartedly, “Ya, ya, ya – everything’s in there.”
You start tearing the box open. You’ve got the 3 standard sized shower wall panels (you think, “I hope they’re the right size???”), but where is the rest of the stuff? Your mind starts swirling and you’re hearing the not-so-silent voice of your wife saying, “Don’t you think we should hire a pro to do this job? Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” A bit of uncertainty creeps in.
Has this home improvement scene ever resembled you?
There is nothing more frustrating than realizing you’re unprepared to do the remodeling job you told your family 6 months ago was “under control.” Now you’re missing God only knows what. The “helpful clerk” with the orange smock is probably on to his next part time job! Ouch.
You’ve got to find a way to pull this remodeling project out of your butt and save face. Who wants to spend big money on a professional remodeling contractor if you can do it yourself? It would be nice to have some extra bucks to go to the game or buy some golfing gear with the money your going to save by DIY-ing it.
If you’re starting a bathroom remodeling project, you want to make sure your (supposedly) DIY-friendly shower remodeling kit has everything you need so you’re not scrambling all over town trying to find the right parts. Six months later you’re not even sure you’re using the right components to make a shower. Will the shower look nice? Will it function properly?
Here’s what you need to do NOW. Get out your pad (or IPad), paper and a pencil and check out the 8-part DIY shower remodeling kit checklist so you don’t get caught with your “remodeling pants” down.
So you’ve decided you’ve had it with cleaning the grout of your tile shower or don’t like how flimsy your builder-grade fiberglass surround is and want to upgrade to a decorative shower wall system you can install yourself. What’s nice with today’s product offerings is you don’t have to sacrifice style with a DIY shower panel installation (you can finally go beyond the plain boring white smooth panels). The classic, fun and decorative affects you find in tile (like border and accents) or even wood (crown molding and wainscoting) can now be added in durable and easy to install shower and tub wall panels.
The challenge is choosing the best system which will provide you with the look, functionality and price which fits your budget. Below I’ll look at 3 steps to guide you through this process (note: in this article I’ll focus on 3 system I’ve found are the easiest for DIY owners to work with (1) PVC composite system which looks like natural stone (2) solid surface panels and (3) a luxury Serica composite wall material.