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Posts Tagged ‘laminated 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).”

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.

5 Reasons Bigger Isn’t Always Better When It Comes to Shower Wall Panels

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Uncategorized

Bigger isn't always better when it comes to shower wall panels | Innovate Building Solutions | #WallPanels #EasyInstallPanels #ShowerWallPanels #LaminateWallPanels

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).

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.

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.

7 Little Known Tricks to Make Your Shower Design and Installation Simpler

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Little known tricks to make your shower design and installation simpler | Innovate Building Solutions | #ShowerBase #InstallingAShower #InstallationTips #BathroomRemodelingTips

Updated March 31, 2019

Your days are crazy-busy. Now your spouse hits you with their desire (‘er that would be their DEMAND) for a new shower. They tell you your moldy joint, flimsy gold-framed shower enclosure with the teeny-tiny mosaic tiles on the floor has got to go. Worse yet – they’ve elected YOU to be the person to do this job.

You knew this day was coming. You’ve been given your marching orders. You can no longer put off replacing the shower in your master bathroom.

Your spouse wants a simpler, sleeker and easier to maintain system.

You know you just want it to be done (although if you’re being honest you know your current shower should have been replaced years ago).

You’ve started your research. The number of products and installation systems is mind-boggling.

How do you simplify your shower design while also making installing it easier on you? How can you find easy-to-work-with products which don’t cost you an arm and a leg or your first-born child? Although at times you wouldn’t mind giving up that first-born child who was cuter as a baby than she is as a sassy 16-year-old (OK – that’s a subject for another day).

You want to find short-cuts which won’t cheapen your finished project. That’s exactly what this article is about.

We’ll look at 7 little-known tricks to simplify the design and installation of your shower. We’ll dish out practical ideas to get you a cool, low maintenance system you can install WITHOUT pulling your hair out (what’s left of it). My goal is to get you back to more important things (like fishing, motorcycling, beer-brewing, watching sports etc.).

Let’s dig into the 7 little known shower design and installation tricks. We’ll start at the bottom (with the shower base) and work our way up.

6 Ideas to Rock a Small Minimalist Bathroom Design (without breaking the bank)

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

6 ideas to rock a small Minimalist bathroom design | Innovate Building Solutions | #BathroomDesign #MinimalistBathroom #SmallBathroom #CheapBathroomRemodel

Updated March 31, 2019

You’ve looked at one too many issues of Architectural Digest to put up with your crappy, outdated 5’ x 8’ bathroom any more. You’ve asked yourself what the heck was the guy who built this home thinking when….

  • He slapped in a fiberglass tub/shower unit which yellowed, scratched and now looks awful.
  • He installed a floor-based double bowl vanity which takes up half the room.
  • He had a tile guy install teeny-tiny mosaic tiles with huge grout joints which are a pain to clean.
  • He didn’t include a window. It now feels dark, dingy and closed-in.

You dream of a sleek, uncluttered, simplified minimalist bathroom. You’re unsure, however, if you can make this style work in your tiny space.

It’s simple to do anything with a big bathroom and a big budget, but how do you make a minimalist design work in a small space without tapping into your ‘Bill-Gates Trust Fund’ (oops, I forget Bill forgot to write you into his will…. yet).

This article will show you 6 practical ideas to rock a design for a small minimalist bathroom without busting your budget. Let’s dig in.

 

10 Assumptions about Shower Wall Panels You Need to Throw out Your Bathroom Window

Written by Mike Foti on . Posted in Bathroom Remodeling

Assumptions about shower wall panels you need to throw out your bathroom | Innovate Building Solutions | #ShowerWallPanels #LaminateWallPanels #DIYBathroom #BathroomRemodel

Updated March 24, 2019

Just think about the assumptions and ‘old wives’ tales’ you heard growing up you know today are a bunch of hogwash. Here’s a few assumptions I’ve put in my rear-view mirror:

Assumption #1) If you eat watermelon seeds, you’ll grow a watermelon in your stomach. As a little kid (before seedless watermelons) I ate a tone of watermelon seeds and I haven’t grown a watermelon yet.

Assumption#2) Eating chocolate causes acne. Studies have shown it’s not the chocolate which is the problem, it’s the sugar and dairy in the chocolate. I wish I would have known this as a pimply-faced teenager. It’s cool to know today my “Hershey bar with Almonds pick-me-up strategy” won’t cause me to break out (especially since Mr. Hershey takes all the sugar out just for me).

Assumption #3) Eating carrots will improve your eyesight. While carrots do contain nutrients like Vitamin A, it’s been shown they have no positive effect on your eyesight. I’m calling my Mom right now to give her a piece of my mind (…. just kidding Mom).

The reality is we can’t believe everything our parents and friends tell us. We can’t believe everything we read. However, there is one source everyone can believe. We can believe all the political news on the Internet (a bit of sarcasm thrown in).

Just like you can’t (and shouldn’t) believe all the old sayings rummaging around in your head, you can’t believe the ‘half-truths’ and assumptions you’re hearing about shower wall panels (even from your contractor or the guy/gal in the orange smock at the big-box store). As a guy who has been in the shower wall panel installation and supply industry from (what seems like) the time Moses was a boy, when I think I’ve heard it all, I hear another gem coming from homeowners and contractors alike.

In this article my goal is simple:

I want to blow up the B.S. circulating about shower wall panels. Here’s how.

I’m going to list 10 assumptions about shower wall panels you need to throw out your bathroom window right now. Killing these assumptions will help you make sound purchases based on better information.

At the end, let me know other ‘false-truths’ you’ve heard you now know are full of it.

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