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.
Since you’re reading this article you deserve a round of applause. Learning about shower pans is as sexy and ‘interesting’ as seeing your Mother in Law ‘attempting’ to imitate your teenage daughter’s hot new look. Not a pretty picture. Certainly not sexy.
Shower pans literally get walked on and ignored daily. They get no respect.
However, I’d argue they’re propping up the entire ‘show.’ The show is your fancy shower heads, niches, contemporary sleek wall panels, tile surrounds and body jets people do notice.
If your base fails, you’re in a heap of trouble. You can throw in the dumpster all the cool features above the base (and your dollars – literally – down the literal drain with it). Sure, you can ‘cheap-out’ buying a low-cost shower pan or ‘zone out’ with no thought put into the design of a shower base. However, if you take this route as they’d say in high school Latin class – caveat emptor (that’s a fancy term for ‘let the buyer beware.’).
There’s a huge (or hugely as Trump would say) price to pay for a shower pan which fails, is designed incorrectly or doesn’t work as a family member ages and their mobility goes in the wrong direction.
There are 2 pivotal questions in selecting a shower pan you need to get your arms around:
Question 1 – What are the biggest mistakes, blunders, pitfalls (insert your negative adjective here) when selecting shower pans? The more important question is this second one.
Question 2 – How can I avoid the problems posed in question 1 to save time, money and aggravation having to ‘re-remodel’ (not a word, but it happens in reality) or throw away a costly shower purchase?
The purpose of this article is simple. Answer questions 1 and outline the 7 biggest blunders I’ve seen in bad shower pan purchases through my years (when I started in the bathroom remodeling business I had more hair, and none of it was grey either!) Next, I’ll cover question 2 and give you tips to make sure you don’t fall victim to the mistakes in question 1.
I took the all-too-familiar call from James and his wife Linda.
Linda started out saying, “Mike – I HATE the ugly white fiberglass stand up shower in our hall bathroom, and the tile shower in the master is a mess. The grout joints are black and nasty. I’ve finally convinced James it’s time to blow up these 2 bathrooms now that the kids are “mostly” grown and out of the house (she mentioned her son Michael was on the 6-year college plan and almost ready to graduate). I am not going to deal with the maintenance or an ugly shower again. I’ve had it.”
James chimed in and said, “Linda and I went to the local big box store only to find the same crap we have right now. Lots of ceramic tiles. Basic cheap fiberglass shower pans and walls in stock sizes which won’t work for our tile shower. I am thinking about installing this job myself. I tried to ask the guy with the orange smock the steps to get this job done. He was clueless. Linda and I need your help with two things. First, what stylish, low maintenance products are out there? Second –I’m not sure what the right installation steps are. Can you help us?”
I understand where Linda and James are coming from. As a homeowner – no matter how handy or construction-savvy you are – you’re not researching shower products or installing a new shower every day (hopefully this will be the first and LAST time you do this). So – if you want a cool shower, which isn’t a pain to clean and maintain and don’t want to screw up the install (or have a contractor you hire mess it up either) you need to know the right steps to “get ‘er done” (as Larry the Cable Guy would say) right the first time.
In the article below I’ll look at 7 crucial installation steps I shared with Linda and James for a stylish low maintenance shower. For this project I would recommend to take your time. Be methodical. When you get this job done using the right steps, you’ll end up with the shower which is cool AND done – once and for all!
Isn’t it a pain trying to plow your way through the material choices and products in a bathroom remodeling project? What is the best type of shower base? Should you get a wall mounted vanity or a furniture grade unit which sits on the floor? Should you go with a single or double bowl vanity? The list goes on and on.
When it comes to remodeling a shower, I would argue the single most important decision is the shower base (or shower floor or pan as some call it). Why do I say the base is so critical? Well – the base is the foundation of the shower. Just like your home – if the foundation of your shower cracks or gets moldy “Houston, you have a big problem!”
Failure of your shower floor pan can cause leaking onto the floor below and result in needing to redo your entire shower (the glass enclosure, interior shower wall surround panels and base) and whatever additional repair work is needed in the level below. My Dad used to tell me, “Mike – don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.” Buying the cheapest pan you can find (or hiring somebody who doesn’t know what they are doing install a site built pan for you which fails) can have disastrous results (and be penny-wise and pound-foolish as my Dad used to say).
How do you keep the bathroom remodeling project you’re doing today from being a nightmare home improvement failure of tomorrow? It begins with asking the right questions. In this article, I’m going to give you the 5 critical questions you need to know to choose the right type of shower base. At the end give me your opinion which question you think is most important (and if there are other questions to add to the list).
Freddie sent me the pictures – and even a drawing – of his odd shaped shower and he was absolutely on the money when he said, “Mike – this thing is one of the funkiest bathrooms you’ll ever see. What were the last owners thinking when they created the weird angles in this space? Even though I’ve done a bathroom remodeling project or two in my past I’ve never encountered a beast like this shower. Can you help me figure this puzzle out?”
Unfortunately, Freddie is not the only one in this country with an odd shower which is funky with a capital “F!” It’s simple to identify and say – Man, that is an odd space – it’s much more challenging to get a game-plan to conquer this crazy shower and transform your bathroom into a functional, stylish and maintenance free place. Even after Freddie sent me pictures and a drawing it took 45 minutes on the phone to BEGIN to get a plan together to get this weirdness under control.
This brings up the question, “What do you need to know to tame a lion-sized bathroom remodeling challenge? What assistance is required to not only conquer this beast, but to create a space which is much better than the fungus-infested, dirty-grout, odd shaped shower you’re stuck with today?”
My goal in this article is to give you practical tips to get your arms around this project – whether your man (or woman) enough to tackle it as a DIY’er – or plan to bring a contractor in (note – if you look for a professional contractor you’ll need to find one who likes a challenge, knows what they’re doing, won’t demand your first- born child or force you to take on a second job to pay for this remodel to ‘get ‘er done). Let’s look at these 5 ½ tips (the ½ tip is the cherry on the top) and stop putting up with the nastiness that is your strange shower today!
Figuring out the right shower pan to use can be a pain. Do you get a traditional shower base with a 4 to 5” step over curb? Would a low-profile curb (which is 1 ½” tall) be the ticket or would it allow water to spill out onto the bathroom floor? Could you ditch the shower curb entirely and choose a ramped entry or one level wet room?
I’ve talked to thousands of homeowners over the last 20 years (wow – has it been that long?) about shower pan options, and I’ll tell you the case for blowing up the shower curb (having no threshold at all) has never been stronger! In this article I’m determined to lay out 5 compelling reasons you should seriously consider going with a curbless shower for your next bathroom remodeling project. Let me know at the end of the article whether you agree with these reasons or whether I’m all wet (OK – that’s a bad attempt at bathroom humor).
“I just hate the tile floor in my shower!” Jenny said to me. “You don’t see anyone else in my family on their hands and knees cleaning this nasty grout. I’m thinking about a stone solid surface shower pan, but I’ve got to warn you Mike I’ve got a lot of unanswered questions.”
Jenny’s comments to me are not uncommon. Most homeowners are sick of grout or tired of dealing with the inability to eliminate the discoloration and dirt off their builders-grade fiberglass base. Who has time (let alone the desire) to mix up vinegar and warm water, spray grout joints, then take a stiff brush and scrub the doggone floor? Who wants the frustration of not being able to get a fiberglass shower base clean? Is this really where you want to spend your time? Can you say, “NO WAY!”
These maintenance frustrations have many owners in search of a better solution. One growing option is the use of stone solid surface shower pans – but somehow they seem a bit shrouded in mystery. In this article we’ll unmask the mystique behind this product and look at 9 questions Jenny asked me (OK – she asked even more but in the interest of time I hope you don’t mind I left a few out!) which I bet a bunch of you have as well.
It’s easy to have a fantastic looking shower if you have unlimited funds…but unfortunately most of us don’t live in that world! The challenge becomes how can you get a high end (champagne) look if you’ve got a more modest (beer) budget. In the article below I’ll outline practical tips to consider for your next shower remodeling project. While I will tell you these ideas aren’t going to use the bottom of the barrel products – they will provide you and your family with a shower that is stylish, durable and easy to maintain to allow you more time to enjoy the shower vs. maintaining or repairing it.
If you’re tired of a fiberglass pan you can’t clean, an acrylic base you can’t make a custom design, or a mortared tile shower floor which is cracked and leaking it may be time to consider a solid surface or an expanded polystyrene ready for tile pre-manufactured base. In the article below explore the similarities and difference in these two shower pan materials to guide you to the best product selection for your application.
Do you hear the phrase “high style” and think expensive? Well, with the Fleurco line of glass shower or tub enclosures, you can create stylish solutions for most any budget. Whether you are remodeling your bathroom or building a new home, Fleurco products offer a wide range of options from a high end frameless intelligent hinged system, a mid priced semi-frameless sliding or pivot door to a low priced value line.
The Fleurco products have much to offer. Here are some of the highlights