Unless you’re a remodeling contractor, buying a custom shower pan is a once-in-a-lifetime experience (or you might say, chore). However, here’s the problem. Making the wrong choice can not only be dangerous to your pocketbook but could cause you to ‘spring a leak’ into the floor below.
If this happens, you’ll be ‘re-remodeling’ (OK – it’s not a word, but plenty of people have lived through this nightmare) and redoing the whole doggone thing. Not a good day (or should I say weeks or months to get the shower back up and running).
So, whether you’re hiring a professional bathroom remodeling contractor or going to roll up your sleeves and DIY the job, you don’t want to be the victim of a shower base mistake which costs you an arm and a leg (and causes you to dip into your first-born-son-or-daughters college fund).
In this article I’ll layout out 9 dumb mistakes you need to know so this won’t happen to you.
Without further delay let’s check out the mistakes.
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.
Let’s get real. There’s no such thing as a perfect shower pan, just as there’s no perfect person. Shower pans are not a one-size-fits-all proposition.
There can be, however, a perfect shower pan for your specific situation.
Here’s the problem you’ve likely run into trying to find the perfect shower pan for your job. When you visit shower base manufacturers web sites what do you think they’re pushing? This is not a trick question.
They’re pushing their pans. They’re claiming their units are the ‘ultimate fighting warriors’ against all shower evils. They have the best pan known to man, woman and child (as if kids are even interested).
You’re left to sift through the B.S. You’re left to read on-line reviews (to the extent you have the time and desire to do this). You’re left to come to your own conclusions (even though you’re not a bathroom remodeling – or shower pan expert – and don’t play one on TV. Come to think of it, no one plays one on TV either).
As a guy who leads a business which daily is knee-deep in wholesaling and installing different types of shower bases, I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ (sarcasm intended) to see the good, the bad and the ugly in shower pans in our journey to make bathrooms great again (OK – if I’m being hones, most bathrooms weren’t great in the first place).
The goal of this article is simple. It’s to help you find the perfect shower pan for your situation. To do this we’ll look at different goals you may have. Here’s some popular shower pan goals. See if yours is on the list.
Goal #1 – You’re looking for a cheap base. You own a home in a not-so-great section of town you’re looking to flip. You need a pan which fits a tight budget.
Goal #2 – You’re looking for a base which is simple to clean. You’re tired of living your life scrubbing grout joints or staring at a dirty fiberglass shower pan you can’t get clean no matter what you do.
Goal #3 –You want a contemporary design. Most shower pans you’ll find are big, bulky and ugly. You’re trying desperately to find a design which looks modern.
Goal #4 –You need a roll in or one level shower pan. Sometimes a shower pan isn’t a want, it’s a need. A member of your family isn’t getting around like they used to. You need to find a pan which works but doesn’t like it belongs in a hospital room.
Goal #5 –You want a shower pan which is built like a tank. Since the last pan cracked and leaked onto your mahogany dining room table you vowed this will never happen again. This time you’ll look for a shower base built like a tank.
Goal #6 –You need a custom size. You don’t want to pay an arm and leg for it. So many shower floor pans – from walk in designs to odd sized tile showers to drains in weird locations – require custom sizes. You don’t buying one to cause you take out a 2nd mortgage, but you want a nice-looking shower which lasts and won’t be a pain to maintain.
So, now that you’ve checked out the 6 goals, let’s dig into the brutally honest guide to the perfect shower pan which will help you achieve you find the best one for your situation.
The moment before you crank-up your reciprocating saw, rent the jackhammer or bring out the hand tools to demo your old fiberglass or tile shower pan do you look down and say to your shower base, “I’m going to miss you buddy. I’ve loved our time together.” If so, you may need psychological help.
The words used to describe shower pans don’t come from a place of love. More common words would be its ugly, disgusting, moldy, dangerous (but not in a ‘Baker Mayfield’ of the Cleveland Browns sort of way), grimy, yellowed or grungy. Negative words about shower pans could go on and on.
No where on this list is beautiful, sleek, contemporary, durable, shapely and safe.
But let’s play a ‘what if’ game.
What if your shower can could be stylish and safe?
What if your shower pan wasn’t the ugly red-headed-stepchild (sorry red headed stepchildren out there) of your shower enclosure or roll in shower?
What if you could be as proud and thankful about your shower pan as you were when your son FINALLY completed his 6-year college plan, and picked up the long-sought-after sheepskin (are diplomas actually made of sheepskins?) from State U?
I’m here to announce there are cool and safe alternatives for ugly shower pans. You don’t have to put up with cheap, clunky, yellowed fiberglass shower bases any more. You don’t have to deal with teeny-tiny tiles with fat grout joints which get dirty, moldy and bring you (literally) to your hands and knees.
When you think about it, your shower base is THE FOUNDATION of your shower. If it fails, everything above it becomes garbage. Money down the drain (literally and with a bad shower pan pun thrown in for bad measure).
As Gene Kranz said in the movie Apollo 13, “Shower base failure is not an option.” (OK – maybe the shower base portion of the line was left out to keep the movie tighter).
In this article I’ll present 7 alternative solutions for standard-sized, custom and roll in shower pans. Don’t accept the first clunky fiberglass shower pan your remodeler grabs off the home center shelf. Don’t accept ‘old-school’ mud set tile shower floor pans which are a pain in the drain for you to maintain.
Elevate your shower pan. Choose these 7 alternatives.
You and your husband have had ‘the talk’ about Mom moving in. You both know it’s the right thing to do. It certainly won’t be simple. Since Dad passed away 2 years ago Mom’s mobility has been headed in the wrong direction.
You worry about her living alone.
If only she would wear the panic-alert necklace you bought her last year.
If only you didn’t have to worry about her climbing over the tall tub rail. Entering a slick bathtub is an accident you don’t want to see happen.
If only she didn’t live 40 minutes away. Then you could check on her more often.
As Mom is aging – you’re aging too quickly also just worrying about her.
You and John have come to the conclusion Mom moving in with you the kids is the right plan. Mom has finally (after many long-nights of conversation) agreed. Giving up her completely independent lifestyle is not an easy thing to do. Now you need to make your home safe for her (since this is a key reason you’re making this move in the first place). You know the bathroom is the first place she’s at risk of falling. You know your one-piece fiberglass shower on the first floor isn’t any better than what Mom has today.
The ‘ADA showers’ you’ve seen look like a bad flashback to when you visited Mom in the hospital – yuck! You and John are looking for an answer to the question of how you can create a stylish accessible shower which doesn’t scream out ‘Mom or Grandma lives here!’
In this article my goal is to give you 5 1/2 practical (and little-known) secrets to design a contemporary and stylish accessible shower. At the end I’d love to hear your feedback which ideas can help your next project and other ideas you have I haven’t mentioned. Let’s check out these secrets.
Perhaps you find yourself in one of these situations and are kicking around a barrier free shower system:
Mom is not moving around so well. You’re considering having her live with you. You’re not sure how to make your home and bathroom safe.
Your spouse got hurt at work. Climbing over the tub to take a shower is an accident waiting to happen.
Your son was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. He’s now in a wheelchair. Life won’t be the same. You need to design a shower which works for him and won’t add to his (already) frustrated state of mind.
In my years helping people with one level, walk in and barrier free showers, I’ve experienced all 3 situations above.
Life happens. Reduced mobility gets in the way of living the way you’d like. Showers and bathrooms by their nature (as wet spaces) can be dangerous to people with (and without) problems getting around.
When you’re faced with mobility challenges – whether it’s a natural part of the aging process, an accident, or a temporary health bump in the road – figuring out the perfect shower system can be a hassle. You may be asking questions like these:
What do I need to know about safe shower systems? More importantly, how can I get up to speed QUICKLY?
Should I trust my contractor? They ‘seem’ like they know what they’re doing, but they’re also in a big rush to get to the next appointment. They only offered me one option. Is it the right one?
Do I have to cut into the structure of the home (i.e. the joists below the floor) to make a barrier free shower?
My goal with this article is simple. I want to get you up to speed quickly, not only on barrier free shower pans, but more importantly I’d like you to view one level showers as a system of products (not just a single component that slapped into the bottom of your bathroom floor) which makes showering for someone with limited mobility simpler. I’d like to give you a deeper level of insight beyond the the ‘old-school-methods’ (used by too many contractors IMHO) of dropping the floor and pouring concrete.
Simply, I want to make sure you don’t make the 9 mistakes I’ve seen people end up ‘living with’ after it’s too late when a barrier free shower is done wrong. Let’s check out the 9 mistakes so you don’t fall into them. I’ll start with the shower pan and work my way up.
This article isn’t written to dis(respect) remodeling contractors and companies. Hey – the reality is I’m earning a living in this world. I’m a guy who designs, sells, wholesales and launches new remodeling products into the market – and I’ve been doing this since 1985 (man – that makes me sound O-L-D!).
Remodelers and remodeling companies (mine included) are simply a group of people. We each have our own strengths, weaknesses, points of view and depth of knowledge. We have been brought together with the goal of successfully completing (and supplying) jobs for you. We want to minimize problems along the way – and make a few bucks while we’re at it. Perfect we’re not -just ask our wives, husbands, significant others and fellow employees. The only person who ‘may’ think we can do no wrong is Mom – but even she wonders from time to time.
It’s because of our humanity (our imperfections) that I would tell you there are times you shouldn’t listen to us. Crazy – huh? Yes, you heard that right, I said it, don’t listen to us (I hope my kids aren’t reading this now).
There are times you shouldn’t take our word for it.
There are times you need to challenge us.
There are times you need to check us out to make sure we’re ‘legit’ (or in the words of the infamous hip-hop artist MC Hammer – ‘too legit to quit….your job.’
You need to make sure you find a good remodeler (there is no such thing as a perfect remodeler). One who will work with you. One who won’t dictate the terms, conditions and products you’ll use on your job (it is your job, now isn’t it?). Before entering into a remodeling contract, you need to know the strengths (and limitations) of your contractor, when you should listen to them, and when you shouldn’t.
The goal of this article is simple. It’s not to slam contractors (we’re an easy enough mark as it is). It is to give you a realistic perspective on how to choose, and work with your contractor so your project goes smoother and – most importantly – you get what you want.
Let’s look at 5 reasons you shouldn’t listen to your contractor and 5 simple strategies for your project to go smoother.
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.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to “age in place.” I want to keep moving. Be active, vibrant – no matter what my age is. If you’re unfamiliar with the term aging in place it refers to someone who wants to stay in their home as long as possible (usually this is an “older” person – and I don’t want to include myself in this category).
When I think of the term “age in place” it feels like some dude getting old in one place. Aging… kind of like a stone. That is not my plan – even though I’m 57 with more than a few gray hairs. I’m looking to be active and enjoy my kids (and somewhere down the road – although not too soon – the grandkids). I plan to continue to beat my 22- year-old son in 5K races (my competitive streak still runs strong). I’m looking to have fun – laugh more and be serious less. More wackiness is a good thing in my book.
I want my home to work for Rose (my wife) and I today, and live well for us tomorrow. I know I could “end up” in an assisted living or even nursing care facility (and there could be a time where this is the best place for me to live).
Still I don’t want to age in place. I want to thrive in the place of MY choosing! I want to not only “control” (whatever that means) my destiny, but enjoy a home which is sleeker, cooler, better thought out – and fun to live in. Yes – I guess I want it all (ha! ha!).
The challenge becomes as an almost empty nester, and baby boomer (or just call me a dude who is 57 but can look 37 after my $9.99 bottle of hair coloring), how can I design my home (and master suite area) to work for Rose and me for a long time?
In this article I’ll look at 5 simple strategies to design a master suite area to go beyond aging in place to thriving in place. At the end of the article I’d love to hear your thoughts (and ideas) on how to thrive in place.
B.K. (before kids), I dreamed of owning a fire-engine red 2- seater convertible Mercedes sportscar. I can see myself speeding down the highway with my wife Rose without a care in the world (hey – this guy in the picture below even looks a bit like me!).
Oops – I just woke up!
I came close to achieving this cool sportscar goal when I was 29 years old (before our 3 kids showed up on the scene) and owned a candy apple red small BMW 318i. I enjoyed the color and style of a eye-popping car (within my more limited budget than the 2-seater Mercedes) before setting into my practical “SUV” life. Now, I have room to cart the kids around and boxes for work.
You may be asking, “Mike, what does fire-engine red 2-seater Mercedes and cool cars have to do with inspirational showers?” Well – I’ll tell you. The longer I go in life (Rose and I are actually getting closer to being “empty nesters” in a few years) I realize life should be lived out loud. Life should be inspirational and aspirational. It needs to be enjoyed – whether we’re taking a fun trip with friends and family, riding in an over-the-top sports car, or getting a cool shower which we absolutely love (without giving a hoot about resale).
A fun way to create inspiration in your bathroom is to add unexpected pops of color in your shower which capture your style and personality. My Dad coined the term “personopoly” for this. It is your monopoly on personality (there is only one you – so why not express it?). The heck with resale. The heck with what everyone else is doing. You’re going “Burger King” on the world. You’re going to “have it your way!”
In this article I’m going to outline 7 ideas to add inspiration – through color – into your shower design. You’ll not only be able to show your “personopoly” – you’ll enjoy a vibrant shower which is all about you.
At the end let me know which of these bold ideas you’re all over – and if any of them are “too out there” for you.