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Posts Tagged ‘laminate wall panels’

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 advantages 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.

7 Essential Things Most People Don’t Think about When Buying Shower Wall Panels

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Essential things people don't thikn about when buying shower wall panels | Innovate Building Solutions | #ShowerWallPanels #BuyingShowerPanels #BathroomProducts #HotBathroomIdeas

‘So, you’ve had it up to here’ (as Mom used to say) with dirty, ugly, moldy grout joints in your shower.

You’ve told your spouse, either this tile shower goes, or I do.

You’ve started ‘kicking the digital tires’ for a solution. You’re comparing different shower wall panels systems from acrylic to cultured granite to PVC composite to laminated wall panels. You’re almost ready to pull the trigger and plunk your money down.

However, there’s still something gnawing at you. You still feel you’re missing some details you need to make the right choice.

This uncertainly when buying shower and bathroom wall panels is common. Many homeowners (and even professional contractors) don’t have experience with the products out there. You’re a rookie and don’t want to screw up!

The question becomes how can you make sure you’ve thought of (almost) everything before you make the best choice for your project?

That question is what this article is looking to answer. My goal here is simple. I want to point out 7 essential things (along with a few pointers) most people don’t think about (but should) when buying shower wall panels.

I want you to get it right…. the first time.

So, without further delay let’s dig into these 7 essential things.

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).”

The Pros and Cons of Shower Wall Panels vs. Ceramic Tile

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

The Pros and Cons of Shower wall panels vs ceramic tile | Innovate Building Solutions | #CeramicTile #ShowerwallPanels #WallPanels #BathroomRemodelingonabudget

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.

7 Biggest Blunders with Walk in Showers (and How to Avoid Them)

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

7 Biggest blunders with walk in shower - how to avoid them | Innovate Building Solutions | #BathroomRemodeling #WalkInShower #RollInShower #ShowerAccessible

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.

7 Secrets about Glass Block Shower Walls Your Contractor Doesn’t Want You to Know

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Glass Block

 

7 Secrets about glass block shower wall - contractor | Innovate Building Solutions #GlassBlock #GlassBlockShower #GlassBlockInstallation #ShowerRemodel

Updated March 24, 2019

You’ve finally gotten a hold of Pauly Path-Of-Least-Resistance, President of Krazy Cool Contracting Inc. You’ve set up a Free in-home estimate for next Thursday. Your goal of upgrading the bathroom for you and your husband Bill – now that your 3 kids are (almost) out of the house – is about to become a reality.

Pauly’s the hard to get contractor in your small town. Despite his funny name (and company name for that matter) he’s known for high quality bathroom remodeling work and stands by his warranties. Your neighbors and friends have told you to use him.

Since the 3 other companies you’ve called haven’t even sent you a quote (after meeting with them a month ago) you’re ready to rock n’ roll with Pauly. He’s a shoo-in to get your job. This is a fact you’re trying to keep on the Q-T, so his price won’t force you to get a 2nd job!

Everything’s going well during your initial appointment until you break the news to Pauly. You tell him you want a partially colored free-standing walk in curved glass block shower wall. You also mention you want grout free wall panels and an easy to clean shower pan. You want simplicity at all costs (OK – maybe not at all costs) but certainly simpler to maintain is high on your list.

Pauly starts ripping off all the reasons he CAN’T do this job based on your product choices. Here are some things he rants about:

  • I don’t know how to do a glass block shower – and I don’t know any subcontractors who know their way around this material either.
  • I’ve never installed a curved glass wall of any sort (glass or glass blocks for that matter) before.
  • He asks, why do you want glass blocks? They’re out of style anyway.
  • You know the block wall will fall if it’s not supported on all sides.
  • Why do you want grout free wall panels? They look cheap and plasticky.
  • You mentioned wanting colored glass blocks. I have no clue where to find them.

After he’s done ripping off all the reasons it CAN’T be done you’re tempted to chime in with the trite motivational statement, “Can is just can’t without a T.” You bite your tongue and think better of it (after all he’s the best contractor in town and you don’t want to piss him off).

However, you’re not ready to give up on your glass block shower dream– and you’re prepared for his objections. You’ve got a list of 7 secrets (I’ve given you the cheat-sheet below) your chosen ‘path-of-least-resistance’ contractor, Pauly, may not want to know, but you can share to get him over to your side.

6 Things You Shouldn’t Do When Replacing Your Tile Shower

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

6 things you shouldn't do when replacing your tile shower | Innovate Building Solutions | #ShowerPanels #TiledShower #BathroomWallPanels #BathroomRemodel

Updated March 23, 2019

Old tile showers are a pain.

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.

11 Proven Ideas to Fix Your Small Cramped Bathroom

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling, Glass Block

11 Proven Ideas to Fix Your Small Cramped Bathroom | Innovate Building Solutions | #BathroomRemodel #SmallBathroom #TinyHomes #ApartmentBathroom

Updated March 24, 2019

Does your bathroom only feel a tiny bit more spacious than the last time you had the ‘pleasure’ (sarcasm intended) of ‘taking care of business’ in an airplane bathroom? Instead of enjoying your shower you’re used to banging your elbows against the shower doors. Bumping into the sides of the vanity cabinet is also something you’re all too familiar with. And we’re not even talking about the lack of storage and the risky proposition of climbing over the tub rail to take a shower. This small bathroom and tub/shower combo unit is an accident waiting to happen.

Bottom-line – your small cramped bathroom is dangerous, not stylish and a place you’d rather not have to use.

Moaning about small bathroom frustrations is simple. Figuring out what you can do about it is tough.

The question becomes, how can you fix/reinvent a small bathroom to not only be functional, but fashionable? As crazy as this may sound I believe this is not only possible, but easier than you think.

In this article I’m going to dish up 11 proven ideas to fix what today you may think is un-fixable – your tiny bath and shower. Some of these changes will involve more extensive bathroom remodeling. Others are cosmetic and lower cost. Pick and choose the ideas which make sense for you, but whatever you do, don’t ‘settle’ for your current space which is only a tiny bit better than an airport bathroom (at least in the airplane you still get one free drink and a small bag of pretzels!).

5 Little Known Secrets I’ve Learned Becoming a Bathroom Wall Panel Geek

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

5 Little Known Secrets I've learned becoming a bathroom wall panel geek | Innovate Building Solutions | #ShowerPanels #SolidSurfaceBase #BathroomRemodel

Update March 23, 2019

I never expected to become a bathroom wall panel geek.

I grew up a mini-Alex P. Keaton (for those of you not old enough to remember he was the young business-geek son on the sitcom Family Ties popular in the 1980’s – yes I’m dating myself here). My heart and passion were business and finance. The dream job I wanted when I graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University with my B.S. (it doesn’t mean what you think) in Business Administration was to get a job as a strategic planning consultant with McKinsey and Company (a hot consulting company).

That’s not how things worked out.

After 4 years doing the ‘corporate thing’ as a Product Manager at a cutting tool manufacturing company, my Dad let me buy (he floated me the loan actually) 50% of his glass block contracting business. Away with the 3-piece suit and fancy mahogany desk. Say hello to jeans and hanging out with ‘gontractors’ (that’s how you say contractors with an Italian accent).

I got into the bathroom wall panel business like most entrepreneurs. I morphed into it. Here’s how:

 

  • Glass block shower walls led me to offering shower bases to go with them.
  • Shower bases lead me to acrylic bathroom surround panels.
  • Acrylic bathroom surround panels lead me into 4 lines of wall panels (so far) – cultured granite, a decorative PVC composite line, high gloss panels and thin acrylic panels.

I started in bathroom wall panels with standard 1/8” thick acrylic panels – like you see from ‘one day bath’ companies Bath Fitter and Rebath.  Today, this line is a small part of what people are buying from us. The world has shifted. We have shifted with it.

With all this being said, my journey into bathroom wall panel geekdom probably doesn’t matter one iota to you (hey- what exactly is an iota anyway?). If you’re like most people, you’re confused researching the plethora (that’s a fancy word I threw in there to make you ‘think’ I’m smart) of choices in wall panels. You’re left to ‘sift through the rubble’ and figure out which bathroom or shower wall panel line will work best for you. Many homeowners are confused in this process. That’s why I wrote this article.

My goal is simple. Explain to you 5 little known secrets I’ve learned in my years educating, selling and (my company) installing bathroom wall panels (you wouldn’t want me installing, I might have the smoothest hands in the bathroom remodeling industry!). I want you to make the best choice for you the first time out.

Below you’ll find these secrets. At the end of the article let me know which ones have helped you and if any others are simply too ‘out-there’ for you (I can – at times – resemble that remark).

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