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.
Even though you’re not ‘sleeping with the enemy’ in your bathroom, you know who public enemy #1 is in your bathroom. It’s your nasty tile grout joints.
These joints may be ugly and stained. They may be cracked and half-falling out. They may have caused your ceramic tiles to crack. They may be moldy and the cause of health problems. They may be the driving reason water leaked through your shower pan, through the ceiling and onto your new mahogany dining room table. They may be the reason you’re on your hands and knees ‘enjoying’ (sarcasm intended) working your scrub brush and basking in the fresh aroma of your favorite ‘chemical brew’ to clean up these joints again.
But, you continue to ‘put up with’ grout joints? If you haven’t thought about why you put yourself through this torture here’s 5 reasons I’ve seen to explain why you may stick with tile:
You’ve lived through a shower which was falling apart at the seams. You said you would not get fooled again. You’ve made these proclamations (sounds very official, doesn’t it?).
I’m done with dingy and moldy grout joints.
I will not put up with a cracked shower base which caused a leak onto our dining room table below.
I will not buy or own a home which has wafer-thin plastic wall panels. The last one yellowed and looked nasty.
I won’t own another ‘brown-ish’ shower pan I can’t get clean no matter what toxic solvent I use.
I will not get stuck cleaning the bottom track of a flimsy and pitted aluminum framed shower door ever again.
I will spend less money on disinfectants and fighting back mold problems in my next shower.
I will have a shower which will last me for the next 20 years – or it better, because as Dad used to say, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”
You’ve heard the old saying, “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.”
When it comes to shower remodeling, I will tell you (and I talk to people about shower remodeling every day) I’ve seen many people get fooled again. They have the best intentions to eliminate the nightmare which was their last shower. However, they get fooled and fall into ‘traps’ like these.
They tell their remodeler they don’t want a cheap-plasticky fiberglass shower. Then their remodeler does what remodelers always do and offer them an upgraded beautiful tile shower. As time goes on they find out they’re scrubbing grout joints until their arms are soar. They ‘traded off’ the difficult to maintain dirty, yellow fiberglass shower pan for another difficult to maintain tile shower.
They say they want a shower which will last for 20 years. Then after a life event happens (for example, Mom’s mobility takes a turn for the worse and she needs to move in with you) your cool almost-brand-new 5-year-old shower is getting ripped out accommodate her.
They buy a brand-new home (with the industry-standard-oh-so-impressive – sarcasm intended- one-year warranty) and love, love, love the cool features like the quartz countertops and Shaker cabinetry in the kitchen. They pay no attention to the one-piece fiberglass tub/shower in the boy’s bathroom with framed glass doors (it looked so pretty when it was decorated in the model home). In a few short years the bottom of the fiberglass pan is scummy (you don’t expect your boys to clean up after themselves now, do you?), and the doors are practically falling off. It looks like it’s time to remodel already -and of course, replacing a nasty looking shower 5 years later is not covered under your builders fabulous one-year warranty.
The question is – whether you are remodeling or building a new home – how do you make sure you don’t get fooled again with a shower which fails?
If the title of this article reminds you of the song by The Who titled, “We Don’t Get Fooled Again” – you might be an ever-so-slightly graying 70’s rocker like me. And I’ll fess up and say I’m a guy in the late 70’s who sported a ‘quasi-mullet’ as well. But no, I’m not sharing a picture of my mullet here. While this Who song was not exactly written with shower remodeling in mind, I’ve still included a video below to get you in the spirit of the ‘new revolution’ of a new shower – so you won’t be fooled again.
In this article I’ll present 5 foolproof ideas to help you get a stylish shower which looks sharp and lasts, so you won’t be fooled again. My list is not comprehensive. At the end of the article add your ideas 6,7 and 8. Let’s learn from one another.
Updated November 11 2018 (with 2 new bonus Do’s and Don’ts & 1 hot new product)
Figuring out how to remodel a shower can be tough. What products should you use to have a stylish space which won’t be a pain to clean? Should you hire a remodeling contractor or do it yourself? How do you figure out the best shower pan, wall surround material and type of entry to use? Who you gonna call (it probably won’t be Ghostbusters) for help and guidance so you won’t end up pulling your hair out (if you have any left at the end)?
I wish I could tell you there was one magic formula, a silver bullet, a one-size-fits-all shower remodel recipe. That would be nice, but it’s not reality. What I can (and will) say is there are things you absolutely need to ask yourself (the Do’s) and things you’ll want to stay away from (the Don’ts) like the plague which will either lead you to a victorious shower project or down the road to home improvement “h-e-double hockey sticks (as our kids used to say when they were young so they wouldn’t say hell). Without further delay, let’s dig in.
The Italians might have perfected the art of designing and manufacturing tile but these “Ohio State Buckeyes” (AKA Columbus Ohio custom builders) certainly have perfected the art of installing tile showers in unique ways. The gawkers (me included) through the 2016 BIA Parade of Homes are saying – wow!
As I quickly toured 9 of the 16 homes (I had 2 hours to “walk” – I moved fast- the show before picking up my daughter – definitely not enough time to take in this years’ Parade) I was blown away by the ingenuity of the custom builders in Central Ohio. I wish I could have visited all 16 homes – but life got in the way.
If you have a chance get out to this year’s show. If you don’t have the time I’m going to give you a deeper look a 7 1/2 cool and unusual tile shower design tips to ramp up your home – even if you aren’t building a $750,000 + new home (unfortunately most aren’t but wish we were!). You may wonder what the “½ tip” is. You’ll have to read the article to find out, but I’ll give you a hint, it’s my 2 cents of some cool things I didn’t see but I think are important ideas in shower design which matter for today’s families.
Shower walls which are spongy, mold infested, cracking, have dirty tile joints or out of style are a real bummer to look at. What’s even worse is bad shower walls may be messing up your families’ health. For many people the options in shower walls are largely unknown, and in many cases their contractors and builders just want to install the “same old same old.” The common materials your contractors will often want to use are one-piece fiberglass shower surrounds (which are usually flat-out ugly – especially as your home ages) and/or tile (and you know the contractor who installed your tile IS NOT the guy who has to worry about cleaning it – that would be YOU!).
Whether you’re looking to do a DIY remodel on your bathroom or hire a contractor it will pay you (especially in lower maintenance bills) to know how to make sure your shower walls are built to last (whether you’ve decided on a tile surround, fiberglass unit or one of many grout free shower wall panel systems). In this article I’ll give you 4 sure-fire strategies to make sure your shower walls will stand the test of time. Let’s dig in!
Question: Are shower wall panels cheaper than tile?
Answer: It depends.
You’re probably saying that answer is a cop-out….and you’re partially right. As the owner of a company who installs tile showers locally and wholesales 4 different types of grout free shower panels on a nationwide basis I know the answer to this question is not a one size fits all proposition. So let’s check out 7 factors to help you get your arms around this question for your shower.
Barrier free tile shower in Traverse City Michigan
“I love this shower so much I don’t want to get out of it!” exclaimed Devah Young of Traverse City Michigan. When Devah and Tom Young decided to remodel their bedroom and bathroom they had already renovated every other room of their home – they were no strangers to the remodeling process!
For this project their goals where to (1) make the spaces easier and safer to live in, (2) provide some unusual touches to make the project distinctively their own (3) to use materials which would perform well over the long run – all while doing the project at a cost effective price. Learn below how Devah and Tom were able to achieve these goals.
Pool house room addition with serpentine glass block shower wall
When the Mills family starting thinking about a creating a unique and functional pool house bathroom they were looking for construction products with style and substance. Working together with Larry Harp and Jon Innis of L & J Contractors of Cookville Tennessee (a high end builder and remodeler) the Mills family identified products to make a one of kind bathroom design that were also “smart” (meaning they provided long term ease of maintenance and kept costs down over the long run). Learn more below about the products used in this 1,800 square foot room addition project.
Close up of wedi waterproof wallboardDurock cement wall board for tile shower
Durock cement wall board under tile
In tub and shower remodeling often it’s what you don’t see (the wallboard system behind the wall) that’s as important as what you do see (the decorative ceramic or natural stone tiles inside the space). The reason is – water can be the enemy of long lasting walls. So – how do you fight against damage (mold/mildew/wall deteriorating) caused by water and condensation in a bathroom? Choose the right tub and shower wall backer system. This article will advantages and disadvantages of the 5 most used systems (in no particular order).