Even though you’re not ‘sleeping with the enemy’ in your bathroom, you know who public enemy #1 is in your bathroom. It’s your nasty tile grout joints.
These joints may be ugly and stained. They may be cracked and half-falling out. They may have caused your ceramic tiles to crack. They may be moldy and the cause of health problems. They may be the driving reason water leaked through your shower pan, through the ceiling and onto your new mahogany dining room table. They may be the reason you’re on your hands and knees ‘enjoying’ (sarcasm intended) working your scrub brush and basking in the fresh aroma of your favorite ‘chemical brew’ to clean up these joints again.
But, you continue to ‘put up with’ grout joints? If you haven’t thought about why you put yourself through this torture here’s 5 reasons I’ve seen to explain why you may stick with tile:
Susan goes to neighborhood big-box store in search of shower wall panels to replace the tile shower she’s sick of cleaning. What she finds is NOT impressive. Plastic-looking, boring, wafer-thin white piles of junk she wouldn’t be caught dead with in her home. The guy in the orange smock was clueless on how to install these panels – once she was able to track him down. When she left – dejected and without a solution – she thought, “I guess this wouldn’t have worked anyway. The size of my shower is not a standard 36″, 48″ or 60″. I suppose I’ll settle for another high-maintenance tile shower.”
Can you relate to Susan’s story?
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation, misconceptions and just bad input about shower wall surround panels in the market. Sometimes this bad information comes from contractors who want to do what they “always” do – give you a tile shower (of course they don’t have to maintain it). Employees at big-box stores are well meaning. However, it’s impossible for them to be an expert on the options and installation details of the 35,000 SKU’s (stock keeping units) in their store. When you look at the shower wall panels the big-box stores carry they are mass-produced and of low quality.
How do you sift through what’s fact and fiction about shower wall panels and get a system which will work for you and is nice enough you’d want them in your home?
I’m here to blow up the misconceptions in the marketplace. I’ve seen too many homeowners get “coerced” by contractors (or received bad advice from part-time retail employees) and make bad shower remodeling (tiles and panels) choices they are stuck with for years.
In this article my goal is to help inform you about “fake news” when it comes to shower wall panels. At the end feel free to add misconceptions #11,12, 13 and 14 you’ve learned during your research. As Joe Friday on the old TV shower Dragnet might say, my goal is to provide you with, “Just the facts, ma’am.” Let’s check out the top 10 misconceptions (they are in no specific order) about shower wall panels.
When Susan told you, she was sick and tired of cleaning grout in your master bathroom shower and YOU had to finally do something about it you weren’t exactly jumping for joy. Oh boy – another major remodeling project thrown onto your already too long honey-do list. As she made her remodeling demand known (loud and clear) you couldn’t help thinking you’d much rather be eating honeydew than doing the honey-do list!
You’ve been putting Susan off for years on this shower job. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to see your tile shower is a scummy, moldy mess. The shampoo bottles sitting on the floor aren’t exactly the safest thing either.
You resign yourself to the not-so-fun trip to the home center store. Before you go, you know the drill. You take measurements. You make a drawing of your tile shower. You already see problems (that’s a nice way of saying pain in the rear headaches you’ve got to deal with):
Headache #1 – The walls are ½” out of square (that’s par for the course for this house).
Headache #2 – There is a window smack dab in the middle of the back wall in your first-floor bathroom. You know Susan hates the privacy blinds in the shower.
Headache #3 – You’ve got 4 uncommon wall sizes in the shower and there is also no place built into your existing shower to store soap and shampoo.
You’re no rookie making this home center store trek. You’ve done remodeling in the three homes you and Susan have owned over the last 25 years. Now both of your “little girls” are off at college (wow – how time has flown).
You check out the standard fiberglass panels on the shelf and don’t see how any of them will work. Here’s the problems with these home center shower kits:
The wall panel sizes are rectangular and consistent in size (that’s what you’d expect from mass produced wall panels – but they won’t solve your out of square problem).
You don’t see any trim offered to work around the window. (you also have to figure out the window privacy problem. Susan is tired of the blinds in the shower).
All the shower wall panel kits are in standard sizes (60 x 32, 48 x 36, 36 x 36 etc.) which won’t work with your 4-wall custom sized shower.
The young dude in the orange smock you get to “help” you is clueless on how to make their products work with your custom sized shower. Houston – you have a problem!
A shower wall panel installation project can be a headache (especially with custom sized showers) if you don’t have a few “tricks” (AKA – products and installation techniques) up your sleeve. Below we’ll take a quick look at 5 little-known ideas to get rid of your shower wall panel installation headaches and get Susan the shower she wants (and you know she deserves – despite the fact you don’t really want to do it!). At the end of the article let me know if these tricks were helpful to you – and if you have any cool tricks up your sleeves to share as well.
“OK – I’ve just stumbled across your web page on stone solid surface shower wall panels and I’m praying it’s the answer to my two nasty bathrooms, Tammy said to me. I hate cleaning the tile shower walls in my master bathroom and the builders grade tub/shower plastic insert in the kid’s bathroom is yellowing, cracking and looks disgusting. I’m hoping this product is the answer for a nice looking surround which won’t be a pain to clean, Tammy continued. I have to warn you I have a lot of questions about this product!”
The conversation above about stone solid surface wall panels is not unique. Homeowners are looking for better alternatives to what’s commonly being used (tile and plastic fiberglass inserts) but aren’t too familiar with the options available. Traditional tile showers and one-piece fiberglass tub/shower inserts can look good after they are installed but the maintenance and their looks long term are less than ideal.
With your crazy schedule you may be hoping that there is a better option to get a nice looking shower you won’t have to be messing around cleaning all the time (after all you’ve got kids and parents to take care of and you want to carve out some fun time – imagine that!).
Let’s take a look at the 9 questions Tammy peppered me with. These are the most frequently asked questions we get about solid surface shower wall panels from most everyone.
Who uses a small alcove tub space for bathing anymore? The answer – practically no one because it doesn’t fit our fast-paced lifestyles. Who loves framed sliding glass doors or shower curtains around their bathtubs….probably very few because they are a hassle to clean. If you’re like most you’d like to ditch your tub for a walk in shower and assumed you didn’t have enough room….well think again. In this article learn how a tub can be converted into a curved glass block shower in 5 simple steps.