Deciding on the right shower and tub wall panels is tough enough, but it becomes ‘doubly-difficult’ when the two systems you’re comparing are newer to the United States market (even if one of them has been around the world market for over 26 years).
While Kohler Choreograph (also known as LuxStone) and Fibo laminate wall panels are both 100% waterproof, simple to maintain, respected brands in their country of origin (everyone knows Kohler in the United States and Fibo is used in 1/3 of the homes in Norway) and are an excellent alternatives to tile, this is where the similarities end.
As you’ll see below the Kohler and Fibo wall panels both have their strengths and weaknesses, just like you and I (note: even my wife of 35+ years thinks I have a few weaknesses…OK I’m lying, she thinks I have more than a few!).
You’ve told your spouse either this old nasty shower goes, or they’re sleeping in the garage. You’re burning up your keyboard searching the Internet for the perfect shower wall panel system for your master bathroom. You’re SOOOO done with tile grout joints!
Every manufacturer, supplier and installer claim their system is the greatest thing since the invention of the Blackberry (oops – maybe a bad example there). Yes, their pictures are pretty. However, there’s so much sales hype on their web pages it’s hard to know what to believe.
You need to cut through the B.S. You need the straight scoop. You don’t want to buy a system only to find out later you paid too much, or it was a pain in the rear to install. You want to get going but not make a choice you’ll regret. This is (hopefully) the last time you’re remodeling this bathroom.
If this describes your situation, you’re exactly who this article is for.
Below, I’ll dish out 7 brutally honest shower wall panel tips to help you figure out the best decision for your job. You may ask why I’m writing this?
Well – you see I’ve been around the shower wall panel block before (not that there is such an actual block – otherwise, it would look kind of funny). My business has bought, used and sold 6 shower wall panel systems over the years. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the (mostly) ugly of systems we’ve pulled off to install better wall surrounds.
To tell you the truth, there’s even some wall panel systems my company has sold and installed my wife of 34 years (Rose) would never have allowed me to put in our house (yes – you can see who would be the driver of the remodeling bus in our house!). Not that these systems were bad or non-functional. It’s that systems like acrylic (which we used to sell back in our early wall panel days) look cheap and plasticky. You see, Rose ain’t goin’ for that!
So, my goal in this article is to, as Randy Jackson used to say, ‘Keep it real dog.’ I’ll give you 7 brutally honest tips (from my POV) to help you choose the right shower wall panels for your project. I want to save you time, money and aggravation with time-sucking Internet research.
Mary called me and said, “Mike, I see you write a lot about solid surface shower systems. My mind is as confused about these systems as it was helping my 15-year-old daughter find a prom dress after looking through 6 stores (and by the way she broke up with the guy 3 weeks later!). I’ve checked out Onyx, Kohler Choreograph, Corian and Swanstone. I’ve also visited a cultured marble shop 25 minutes from my home. I wish I could tell you this research has made things clearer. I’m more confused than ever. Can you help?”
I told Mary, “I get it. The more you’ve learned, the more difficult the decision has become. Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll do is outline for you the most important questions to ask. Then I’ll throw my 2 cents in and give you my opinion on how these different manufacturers grade out in relation to these questions. Just remember this is just one guys opinion, so feel free to disagree.” Finally, I told Mary, “If I can figure it out solid surface systems, I’m sure you can too. After all you’re talking to a guy who took his wife to the movie Dumb and Dumber years ago and drove to the wrong theater (just a bit of irony in that, don’t you think)!”
Below you’ll find 5 questions to dig deeper and determine which product is best for you. I’ll also throw in a few links to other articles for more insight on cultured stone and solid surface showers (and I’ll even tell you about a wall panel product (laminate shower panels) I think is better than ALL of these cultured stone and solid surface shower units combined!). At the end, give me your opinions about these products and manufacturers. Chime in with questions you need answers to I did not address. OK, let’s dig in.
You’ve decided to venture out into the harsh-cruel world of bathroom remodeling for your own home or one of your rentals. You’re no longer willing to be a slave to an outdated, unsafe and flat-out ugly shower, tub, vanity, toilet – you name it. You desire the promised land of a Pinterest and Houzz-inspired bathroom. A space which is relaxing, well-light, safe for your family, with plenty of storage. This bathroom won’t have you on your hands and knees praying for a savior to liberate your hand from your scrub brush.
Making the decision to remodel is easy. Planning and doing the job -whether you hire a ‘professional contractor’ (you may debate if there is such a thing) or rolling up your sleeves and doing it yourself – is another thing.
You need guidance and support.
At times you need a savior to bail your butt out. Ouch!
How can you move from the vision of a beautiful spa-inspired bathroom, minimize the trials and tribulations of the construction process and be ‘saved’ from the nastiness which is your current space?
You could go into the Mojave Desert looking for a stone tablet with words of bathroom remodeling wisdom. I doubt you’ll find anything useful. You will locate funky lizards, cougars and tasty prickly pears (if you haven’t tried this fruit, you should – but I digress). Bathroom remodeling inspiration will be in short supply.
A better strategy – crank up your electronic tablet and put into practice the 10 Commandments of bathroom remodeling success below. Will they save you from all trials and tribulations along the way? I doubt it. They will get you a more inspired bathroom with less hassle along the way. Your friends and family may exalt you and your bathroom transformation – and even want to check out your ‘throne’ (I’m getting too flowery here). Let’s check out the 10 Commandments.
Do you have the June Cleaver throwback bathroom from the 1950’s, or maybe a “modern” 1970’s bathroom straight out of the Brady Bunch which are practically begging you for an update? You know you NEED a bathroom makeover so bad. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the partially rusted tub, pealed wood on the window sills, tired old particle board vanity with a dated laminate top and nasty looking grout in the shower. The challenge is what are you going to do about it? How can you update for a fresh, clean look? How can you create an updated design which takes advantage of the latest trends and keeps maintenance to a minimum? The question is – where do you start?
One excellent place to begin is to take a sneak peek at the products which are hot today and include these elements in your remodeled “bathroom of tomorrow.” In this article, we’ll look at what’s hot now (both in 2017 and now updated with some new ideas for 2019). At the end, I’d love to hear your “Siskel and Ebert” – two thumbs up or thumbs down on these products.
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.