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Posts Tagged ‘easy to install wall panels’

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.

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!

How to compare grout free shower and tub wall panels – 6 options for easy to clean walls

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Red rouge high gloss shower wall panels

Fire-engine red high gloss acrylic wall panels

Updated November 9, 2019

If you’re tired of cleaning and repairing grout in your tub or shower enclosure you’re not alone! The hassle, time and expense of dealing with dirty, moldy grout joints is causing many homeowners to switch from tile to various styles of grout free shower wall panels (ranging from fiberglass, acrylic, high gloss acrylic, PVC backed composites, solid surface and laminated wall panels).

The article below will provide an overview of the features of these 6 types of grout free wall panels (ranging from color, pattern, finish and pattern options as well as ease of installation and sizing) and link at the end of the article for more in depth information.

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