7 Reasons Your Shower Wall Panel Systems Are Holding Your Bathroom Remodeling Business Back

Your shower wall panel margins are going south. You have higher material and labor costs. Competition up the wazoo (hey – what the heck is a wazoo anyway?). Higher lead-gen costs due to less calls from print ads and escalating PPC bids haven’t helped either.

You think back to the ‘good old days’ when your ‘bath in a day’ wall panel business was as lucrative as the vinyl replacement window business in the late 1990’s.

That’s NOT the world you live in today.

In the moments where you’re not running around like a chicken with your head cut off running your bathroom remodeling business you think, “Am I missing something? Am I stuck in a bathroom remodeling time-warp? Could the shower and bathtub wall panel system(s) I’m selling today be contributing to my crazy pace, yet slim profits? Are there more unique products which are simple to install to get my bath remodeling business rocking again?”

While ‘knowing what you’re doing with your current lines,’ and ‘being in the groove’ are comfortable, in this fast-paced world your remodeling business can get a little long-in-the-tooth faster than you can say, “This is not your Father’s Oldsmobile!”

If your shower wall panel business isn’t going the way you’d like, the time may be RIGHT NOW to step back and grade the ‘freshness’ of what you’re selling and installing. Are the ‘same-old, same-old’ products which you (and every other competitor) is using choking margins and putting a lid on sales growth? Could your stubbornness to stick with the ‘tried and true’ shower and bathtub wall panel products be holding your sales and profits back?

Step back and read the 7 reasons below and see if your shower and bathtub wall panel business need a ‘product makeover.’

Reason #1 your shower wall panel systems are holding you back – Everybody sells the same products   

Remember in the ‘good ‘ol days’ when bath-in-a-day acrylic systems were fresh? Your prospects were excited to hear about them. Now acrylic product differences are nearly indistinguishable and it’s simple for your prospect to shop the job around to everyone and their brother, and their brother’s brother who used to install for you?

Or think back to the 1980’s and 1990’s when cultured stone countertops and shower wall panels were the latest thing since sliced Wonder Bread or Orange Tang Instant Breakfast drink (OK, baby-boomers, am I dating myself with these references here or what?).

While bath-in-a-day acrylic and cultured marble are still around today (and available to almost everyone in town – including your local big-box store), these products aren’t the high-margin generators they once were.

Perhaps it’s time to see if there are any ‘new games (‘er products) in town which aren’t ubiquitous (OK – I threw in this big-word for ‘everywhere’ so hopefully you’d think I was smart. Is it working?).

Two ones I like are laminate shower panels and high gloss panels shown below. Have you seen them before? Do you think they look sharper than what you sell today?

Cracked cement laminate wall panels | Innovate Building Solutions | Innovate Builders Blog | #LaminateWallPanels #CrackedCement

Laminate Wall Panels

Fire engine red high gloss shower and bathroom panels | Innovate Building Solutions | Innovate Builders Blog | #HighGloss #FireEngineRead #BathroomDesign #RedBathroom

High Gloss Wall Panels

Reason #2 your shower wall panel systems are holding you back – Your existing wall panel system only comes in a gloss finish  

I’ll be the first to say there’s nothing wrong with gloss finishes. They’re vibrant. They pack a lot of punch.

However, there are downsides to gloss. One is they’re vibrant and pack a lot of punch. Some people want a subtle, relaxed look. Secondly, gloss finishes spot easily (think of your chrome shower fixtures).

Bathroom design today is leaning towards matte. Think about the number of customers choosing brushed nickel for faucets and shower heads.

If your shower wall panel system only comes in gloss (can you say acrylic shower walls) or the upcharge to bring the finish back to matte (can you say cultured marble) packs a big (and not in a good way) punch, you may be missing the boat.

Here’s 2 important reasons you need wall panels with sharp-looking, matte finished options:

  • #1 Matte gives you an organic look– Owners want ‘spa-bathrooms.’ Spa bathrooms are relaxing. Matte wall panels (like the rough wood bathroom panels below) are calming.

Rough wood laminate bathroom wall panels for a tile alternative | Innovate Building Solutions | Innovate Builders Blog | #LaminateWallPanels #ModernFarmhouse #TileAlternative #CleaningTile

  • #2 Matte finishes don’t show spots – Nobody likes spots (except on a Dalmatian). Less cleaning = A happy customer.
Don't get spotted walls in a bathroom like a dalmatian | Innovate Building Solutions | Innovate Builders Blog | #SpottedWalls #bathroomWalls #EasyBathroomInstall #DIYShowerRemodel

Reason #3 your shower wall panel systems are holding you back – It takes too many doggone people to install your current panels.  

If you’re losing sales today because you can’t find enough good installers (or any installers) raise your hand. If you didn’t raise your hand, you won’t pass go (and get $200) and you’ll need to proceed IMMEDIATELY to your church!

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out a lack of people entering our industry is a BIG-TIME challenge. Since too many of our ‘sons and daughters’ are going into other fields, the influx of new talent is hampering our industry’s growth (as if I needed to tell you this – ha! ha!).

It’s due to this challenge wall panel systems requiring 2 people to install, is not the good. However, if you’re bringing in a 120 lb. 60” x 96” cultured granite back panel into a 5’ x 8’ bathroom, I don’t know too many people (or ANYONE for that matter) capable of putting that wall in alone.  

I bet you’d like to find a waterproof panel – which is stylish – and isn’t as flexible as a gummy bear (or an acrylic wall panel) and can be brought in and installed by one person. This is not an impossible dream.

The product solution for a one-person shower wall panel installation are laminated wall panels. At 2’ x 8’ x 3/8” thick (and weighing 26 lbs.) they can be put up by one guy or gal. That can provide scheduling flexibility not possible with other systems.

Simple to install with one person laminate wall panels | Innovate Builders Blog | Innovate Building Solutions | #WallPanels #LaminateWallPanels #EasyInstall

Laminate shower wall panels only take one person to install | Innovate Building Solutions | Innovate Builders Blog | #ShowerWallPanels #LaminateWallPanels #DIYInstallation #DIYHomeRemodel

Reason #4 your shower wall panel systems are holding you back – Your system looks ‘old-school’ and ‘cut out of a mold.’

While your Mother might have told you “Beauty is only skin deep, it’s what’s inside that matter,” this saying is ridiculous if you’re sales rep or design consultant is trying to excite a prospect to spend money with you on a remodel.

It’s not enough that your panels are 100% waterproof.

It’s not enough that your panels are built like a tank.

It’s not enough that your panels can be installed in a day.

No, your customer is looking for a design which is sharp as all-get out. They want surround walls which remind them of the Joanna Gaines Modern Farmhouse remodel they saw on TV. They want the Modern Minimalist look they saw in House Beautiful, Dwell, or Luxe.

If all you’ve got is molded wall panels which are waterproof, sturdy and quick-to-install, this may NOT BE ENOUGH to get the job. They’ll likely choose tile. And the reason they called you in the first place is they H-A-T-E grout joints.

However, they’ll go back to tile – and deal with the grout joints – if your panels don’t have enough beauty on the surface.

You need cool factor. You need high style. The surface of your panels has to ‘wow’ the inner Interior Designer in your potential customer. But how?

Glacier colored high gloss wall panels with a black tile floor pan | Innovate Building Solutions | Innovate Builders blog  | #HighGloss #GlacierColor #BlueShower #WallPanels

You need stylish wall panels. For example, ultra-modern, panels like these optical grade high gloss acrylic walls will create an impact (although not at a cheap price). If they want a contemporary look, stone tile wall panels with a textured top surface (and joints of a different color) could be the ticket so they don’t have to ‘relive the tile experience’ (‘er that’s an ‘experience’ with waaaay too much maintenance).

3D textured stone tile laminate bath and shower panels | Innovate Building Solutions | Innovate Builders Blog | #ShowerPanels #3DTexturedStone #TIleShower #TIleAlternative

Reason #5 your shower wall panel systems are holding you back – Your accessories are ugly.  

Do you really think ‘old-style’ corner caddies are a look which fits today’s homeowner? If you leaf through the pages of Better Homes & Gardens, Adore Home or Azure do you see any corner caddies being shown?

IMHO most acrylic or cultured stone wall panel accessories look old…at best. The ones with angular designs are more desirable, but certainly wouldn’t qualify as high fashion.

Ugly accessories hamper your sales.

The more fashion-driven the client, the more they’ll want an updated look.

You need shower wall panel accessories with cool looks and thought-provoking designs.

I think Kohler’s Choreograph line did a good job with this. The shelves can be moved up and down within the ‘accessory stack.’ Their designs are sleek and contemporary.

Removable adjustable shelves in a shower wall panel system | Innovate Building Solutions | Innovate Builders Blog | #SoupHolder #ShowerNiches #CornerShelf #ShampooHolder

Another product I think looks cool are these brushed stainless niches. They’re simple to clean and won’t show spotting like glossy niches.

Contemporary brushed stainless niche in a waterproof wall panel | Innovate Building Solutions | Innovate Builders Blog | #StainlessSteel #Niches #ShowerNiches #SoupHolder

Do your shower accessories add to – or take away from- a stylish, contemporary look?

Reason #6 your shower wall panel systems are holding you back – You’re missing the ‘high-end’ of the market

I’ll say it right up front I love, love, love middle income consumers. They’re straight-up with you. They appreciative of your work. They’ll even feed your crews during the job.  

However, there’s an entire other world of upper-middle to upper income homeowners. And standard wall panels (made of fiberglass, acrylic, or cultured stone) aren’t being used by this market. However, this doesn’t mean people who live in more expensive homes aren’t interested in grout free shower options.

They hate grout joints, just like your middle-income customers do.

The problem is the ‘usual’ suspects of products aren’t going to ‘cut the mustard with them.’ They’re demanding fashion-forward styles. If you want these jobs, you need to notch up your offerings.

Consider using marble wall panels, or perhaps high gloss acrylics or even sharp looking laminate bathroom walls.

High end luxury bathroom and shower wall panels | Innovate Building Solutions | Innovate Builders Blog | #LuxuryBathroom #ShowerWalls #TileAlternative

Why ignore the higher end market? They have money to spend also.

Reason #7 your shower wall panel systems are holding you back – Your pattern selections don’t fit your customer’s design theme

In the old days you ‘controlled the conversation.’ You controlled the looks a customer would see. Remember when they loved to look through your brochures?

Boy, how the world has changed! Before you (or your sales rep or design consultant) arrives, they’ve scoured the Internet. They know the look they want. They have Pinterest and Houzz pictures to prove it. In fact, they may be teaching you about options you’ve never seen before (I bet you can relate to a few of these research warriors).

Whether it’s a contemporary look, boho-chic, minimalist or transitionalist, they now how a sense of fashion which extends faaaaaaaar beyond your small town or neighborhood.

They want you to make the visions they’ve seen on-line a reality. The company which can make this happen (at a value they can afford), wins the job.

Cracked cement laminate wall panels simple bath columbus | Innovate Building Solutions | Innovate Builders Blog | Simple Bath | #SimpleBath #FiboWallPanels #Laminatewallpanels #ColumbusBathroom

The question is, are your shower and bathtub wall panels geared to fit modern interior design styles? Could you gain more sales if you had a broader selection of wall panels?


Since times are (generally) good, it’s easy to be complacent. It’s easy to do what you’ve always done. And there’s even a saying which is ‘if you do what you did, you’ll get what you got.’

Well – I’m here to tell you this saying is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!

If you do what you did (for long enough in today’s fast-paced world), you’ll get less than you got.’

If you want sales to grow and margin and profits to increase, you can’t simply do the ‘same-old, same-old.’ You need to innovate (before your competitor does).

Are your shower wall panel system(s) holding you back? Do you need to look into newer, better, simpler to install panels to realize another level of growth?

If you’re intrigued by this question and would like to explore options, I’d love to talk to you. I’d love to tell you I was a ‘completely neutral bystander’ writing this article…but I’m not.

I am a guy whose been around the ‘wall panel block’ (if there is such a thing) and is now wholesaling unique lines of I believe hold the key to taking market share away from tile and towards the wall panel industry. One of these lines are our laminated wall panels and the other (although it will be a small niche off our niche) are high gloss panels.

If you’d like to learn more about these products (and how to become a shower wall panel dealer of our laminate line) call and ask for Mike (that’s me) at 888-467-7488.

I’d love to learn about your business and tell you why I’m so excited about these products.


In addition, If you’d like to connect on LinkedIn, you’ll find me https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikefoti/

If you’re into Twitter follow me @Mike_Foti or my companies’ @InnovateBuild and @InnovateHomeOrg.


Mike Foti

Mike Foti is the President of Innovate Building Solutions.

Mike Foti

Mike Foti is the President of Innovate Building Solutions.