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:
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!
When you moved into your suburban family home 18 years ago you and John certainly weren’t financially set up to live in the lap of luxury (not that you are now either!). The boring, white shower stall in your first-floor master bathroom was already getting dull. It had some dirt and stain marks on the shower floor. The ugly thin-glass framed sliding glass door wasn’t quite falling off the hinges, but it wasn’t a thing of beauty either. You never knew cleaning the bottom track of this door would get you spewing out so many 4-letter-words a sailor would blush. The plastic shower tree you hung off the shower head isn’t a thing of beauty – but what they heck – it’s getting the job done (even though the soap and shampoo oozes out the bottom). You don’t complain.
You have had more than your share of costs to deal with raising Chris and Emily (you never imagined how expensive raising them would be). Now with the kids “almost” off the payroll (Emily already has her first “real” job as an Account Executive with a tech company and Chris is rounding into year 4 (lucky you – sarcasm intended) of his “5 year” college plan. The end of funding the kids is ALMOST in sight.
Now it’s time for you and John to finally enjoy more vacations and ditch the ugly master bathroom shower you’ve been putting up with for 18 years. But how can you get a shower which is fun, stylish, comfortable and low maintenance without draining your wallet and sucking up all your vacation funds?
In this article I’ll look at 7 smart ideas you can use to blow up your boring, white dirty-looking builders grade shower without using up all your mad money. We’ll take a “bottom up” (starting with the shower floor pan, then the wall surrounds and finally the enclosure) look at how you can transform your shower.
You’re strolling through Pinterest enjoying a rare quiet moment on your den computer. You feel bathroom envy bubbling up. Your mind starts to wander. You think about expansive luxury walk in showers, separate free-standing bathtubs, and beautiful chandeliers gracing the wide-open spaces. What would it be like to have a bathroom like that, you think. Then your 17-year-old son barges in and says, “Mom, what’s for dinner?” Now you’re grounded back into the reality which is your life.
You don’t have an expansive bathroom. You have a tight 5’ x 8’ space like most suburban Cape Cod, ranch or 2 story homes.
You don’t have space for both a free-standing tub and a shower (unless you can figure out how to bolt the tub in upside down on the ceiling and determine how to have water suspended in mid-air – that’s a bit crazy).
A chandelier also isn’t happening. You would probably walk into it with your 8’ high ceilings.
You want the luxury, style and low maintenance features of a walk in shower. You realize you’re stuck with a 5’ x 8’ space unless you get creative. Maybe you could blow out the wall into your son’s bedroom and make him sleep in the basement? That’s an idea. OK, maybe it’s not too practical.
The challenge becomes how can you design a walk-in shower which will work in your 5’ x 8’ suburban bathroom (or tiny loft apartment or cramped historic home for that matter)? In this article I’m going to give you 5 simple tricks to make a cool walk in shower possible even if you don’t have the benefit of the mega “Pinterest-esque-sized” bathroom you wish you had.
Shower remodeling can be a pain. There are so many decisions to make and the cost of mistakes can be high. Here’s just a few decisions you’ll have to wrap your head around:
What type of shower base (or floor pan) is best?
Should you tile the walls or use a shower wall panel system?
Where is the best location for the drain? What is the optimal spot to put the shower valve to turn on the water?
Should you DIY all, some or contract out this project?
Since shower remodeling is not your ‘day job’ (and it’s a project you may do every 10 to 20 years) it can be tough to get it right the first time. How do you make sure you don’t make errors which haunt you down the road?
One way to make sure you’re on the right path is to read these top 5 shower remodeling mistakes and the strategies to not repeat them on your job. I’ve seen them way too frequently and don’t want you to fall into the same trap.
Susan goes to neighborhood big-box store in search of shower wall panels to replace the tile shower she’s sick of cleaning. What she finds is NOT impressive. Plastic-looking, boring, wafer-thin white piles of junk she wouldn’t be caught dead with in her home. The guy in the orange smock was clueless on how to install these panels – once she was able to track him down. When she left – dejected and without a solution – she thought, “I guess this wouldn’t have worked anyway. The size of my shower is not a standard 36″, 48″ or 60″. I suppose I’ll settle for another high-maintenance tile shower.”
Can you relate to Susan’s story?
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation, misconceptions and just bad input about shower wall surround panels in the market. Sometimes this bad information comes from contractors who want to do what they “always” do – give you a tile shower (of course they don’t have to maintain it). Employees at big-box stores are well meaning. However, it’s impossible for them to be an expert on the options and installation details of the 35,000 SKU’s (stock keeping units) in their store. When you look at the shower wall panels the big-box stores carry they are mass-produced and of low quality.
How do you sift through what’s fact and fiction about shower wall panels and get a system which will work for you and is nice enough you’d want them in your home?
I’m here to blow up the misconceptions in the marketplace. I’ve seen too many homeowners get “coerced” by contractors (or received bad advice from part-time retail employees) and make bad shower remodeling (tiles and panels) choices they are stuck with for years.
In this article my goal is to help inform you about “fake news” when it comes to shower wall panels. At the end feel free to add misconceptions #11,12, 13 and 14 you’ve learned during your research. As Joe Friday on the old TV shower Dragnet might say, my goal is to provide you with, “Just the facts, ma’am.” Let’s check out the top 10 misconceptions (they are in no specific order) about shower wall panels.
Have you ever worked on a DIY shower project and realized (or your wife, husband or significant “utter” made you realize) you really screwed up? You watched the money get used up, and your aggravation made you want to throw up, when these errors occurred:
You tore out the old shower system, then measured and figured out you bought the wrong size shower kit.
You started using your new shower and determined you didn’t have enough space for soap and shampoo. Then you had to go out and buy a hideous, tacky, plastic “shower tree” to hang over the shower head.
You have to rip up the work you already completed because you installed the project in the wrong order.
The guy/gal you “worked with” at the store (who wasn’t helpful in the first place) is nowhere to be found (even after 4 desperate calls to the department in his store) to help you. You’re elbows and knee-deep in the job and can’t continue until you get an answer to your questions. The dude you know as “Bob W. in plumbing” is nowhere to be found.
DIY shower projects can be a pain in the butt!
The question becomes how can you save money doing a shower wall project yourself and live to tell about it without punching your walls in frustration? With the challenge of finding contractors– you need to know how to do projects yourself and still feel good about the end result (and meeting your budget).
Instead of going into this shower project blind now and getting ticked off later, you need to get “tipped off” now (read and learn tips which save you time and money) so you can sit back and enjoy your success (and relaxing shower) later.
I’ve seen (and heard) the frustration of many a DIY’er in my days. My goal in this article is to dish up 5 practical tips about shower wall panels (and the materials surrounding these panels) to save you time, money and aggravation. Let’s check out the 5 tips.
As a bathroom and shower remodeling geek I HAVE TO check out the Columbus Parade of Homes each year. It’s fun to see what the crazy designers and builders can do to inject personality, fun and function into their home designs. This year’s group of 9 homes did not disappoint. These homes were not the generic overly-beige Mid-Western drab spec home stuff you can tend see in the Central Ohio new home building market. There were drool-worthy kitchens, living rooms with cool Mid-Century modern styling, and relaxing bedrooms to give anyone a big case of house-envy (I’m glad my wife wasn’t with me otherwise she might have got the “urge to redecorate.” This urge can give me a bad case of hives – but I digress).
I completely enjoyed the bathrooms and showers in these homes. Maybe it’s because I’ve been in this remodeling world too long – or I’m a bit touched in the head (or both). However, I’m jazzed by cool looking showers and the products used to make them not only functional – but special and practical for people in any stage of life to use.
On an overcast Thursday afternoon, my trek through the homes began. I caught a crazy day because half-way through my tour it poured on me as I sprinted from house to house with my iPad taking pictures (I asked people in each home if the dryers in their homes were turned on to dry out my shirt – nobody took me up on that offer though. I guess the concept of a half-naked guy in their Parade Home wasn’t the ambiance these builders were looking for!).
Below you’ll find my summary of 6 shower trends I saw live at the Parade – and 3 new ideas I didn’t see this year (and hope to find on display next year). At the end of the article I’d like to ask you to do me a favor. Comment on which trends you think would help you existing home the most (or you’d want in a new home). If you think any of these trends are a waste of time, money or space – give me your 2 cents on that also. Quality debate is cool. At the end of the article, I’ll also give you my vote for the coolest shower from the show.
Lynda and Tom – a super nice couple in their 50’s living in the Columbus Ohio burbs (can you say O-H-I-O – yes I’m a OSU Buckeye fan) – came into my showroom with their floor plan for a bathroom remodeling project. They want to make the bathroom larger and have a double bowl vanity top. They are going to increase the size of the window for improved natural light. They plan to move the tub from one side of the room to another to improve the layout. They came to see us to look at grout free tub wall panel options.
They told me they decided on a bathtub again because (as everyone knows) you have to have at least one tub in the home (all realtors and many family members backed up the need for at least one tub). Given this “commonly held truth” they planned to keep the tub in the newly remodeled 1st floor bathroom.
As a nationwide supplier of shower and tub wall panels (and local Cleveland bathroom remodeler) who has worked with countless tub to shower conversions I can’t even think of one time I’ve worked with someone on changing a shower into a tub. “Why the heck is that?” Why are people overwhelmingly getting rid of bathtubs and dusty useless “soaking tubs” home builders insisted on putting in homes in the late 90’s and early 2000’s? Do you really have to have a tub in a home for resale? Conversely, should you even give a hoot about resale?
In this article, I’m going to do two things. First, I’ll give you 4 good reasons a shower is a better option than a tub. Second, I’ll offer up 7 practical advantages of a shower over a tub. At the end of the article I’d love to hear your arguments and if you think I’m a bit nuts (yes – even my wife, kids and fellow co-workers would say I resemble this remark from time to time!).
When Susan told you, she was sick and tired of cleaning grout in your master bathroom shower and YOU had to finally do something about it you weren’t exactly jumping for joy. Oh boy – another major remodeling project thrown onto your already too long honey-do list. As she made her remodeling demand known (loud and clear) you couldn’t help thinking you’d much rather be eating honeydew than doing the honey-do list!
You’ve been putting Susan off for years on this shower job. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to see your tile shower is a scummy, moldy mess. The shampoo bottles sitting on the floor aren’t exactly the safest thing either.
You resign yourself to the not-so-fun trip to the home center store. Before you go, you know the drill. You take measurements. You make a drawing of your tile shower. You already see problems (that’s a nice way of saying pain in the rear headaches you’ve got to deal with):
Headache #1 – The walls are ½” out of square (that’s par for the course for this house).
Headache #2 – There is a window smack dab in the middle of the back wall in your first-floor bathroom. You know Susan hates the privacy blinds in the shower.
Headache #3 – You’ve got 4 uncommon wall sizes in the shower and there is also no place built into your existing shower to store soap and shampoo.
You’re no rookie making this home center store trek. You’ve done remodeling in the three homes you and Susan have owned over the last 25 years. Now both of your “little girls” are off at college (wow – how time has flown).
You check out the standard fiberglass panels on the shelf and don’t see how any of them will work. Here’s the problems with these home center shower kits:
The wall panel sizes are rectangular and consistent in size (that’s what you’d expect from mass produced wall panels – but they won’t solve your out of square problem).
You don’t see any trim offered to work around the window. (you also have to figure out the window privacy problem. Susan is tired of the blinds in the shower).
All the shower wall panel kits are in standard sizes (60 x 32, 48 x 36, 36 x 36 etc.) which won’t work with your 4-wall custom sized shower.
The young dude in the orange smock you get to “help” you is clueless on how to make their products work with your custom sized shower. Houston – you have a problem!
A shower wall panel installation project can be a headache (especially with custom sized showers) if you don’t have a few “tricks” (AKA – products and installation techniques) up your sleeve. Below we’ll take a quick look at 5 little-known ideas to get rid of your shower wall panel installation headaches and get Susan the shower she wants (and you know she deserves – despite the fact you don’t really want to do it!). At the end of the article let me know if these tricks were helpful to you – and if you have any cool tricks up your sleeves to share as well.