Answering Client Questions and Explaining Most Frequently Installed Niche Tile Options Used, 2014

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve grouped your most common questions here, along with detailed answers.

For questions about bathroom costs and pricing, see our Pricing Guide.








Q:  My tile shower pan is leaking and I need it fixed, but I don’t want to replace the shower walls.  Can you do that?

A:  This is a common question.  It seems like you could simply cut the old tile base out, correct the problem, retile the area, and call it a day.  In reality, it’s a little more complicated than that, especially if you want a “one and done” solution.

This is a shower floor pan that was re-tiled in 2023, and failed again with 1 year.

Poor contractor’s failed re-tile of a shower floor pan in Sugar Land, TX

The crux of the problem is that shower floors aren’t like car parts – they cannot simply be pulled and replaced.  This is because the waterproofing behind your shower walls and floor functions as an integrated whole.  It is therefore very difficult to spot-replace sections of a shower without creating long-term issues.

Trying to do this is akin to trying to take your pants off, while leaving your belt tied around your waist, then putting on a new pair of pants and hooking them into the old belt.  Sounds convoluted, right?  It is. 

There are some journeymen tile installers who will just replace a shower floor.  However, we have found that these shower pan repairs often fail within a year or two, when the homeowners reach out to us for a full shower replacement.

This is the case in the photo to the right, which is a recent client in Sugar Land, TX.  The previous shower base failed and was replaced by a contractor just before this couple bought the home in January, 2023.  By the fall of that same year, the new pan had failed and was leaking into the walls.  This is just one example of something we see all the time.

There are simply too many potential issues with seaming the old and new waterproofing behind your tile.  Matching old and new tile is also a concern, although purely an aesthetic one.  If you look closely, you can see the previous contractor was not able to match the old floor tile in the failed shower pan re-tile pictured here.  This has been the case for almost every repair project we’ve seen.

For these reasons, we insist on completing only full shower tear-outs and remodels.  This way, we can guarantee that your new shower will be a complete, watertight system built to the same high standards all the way around.  And, of course, we warrant all of our work so you won’t ever be in this position again.

If you want to avoid paying twice for the same project, consider investing the proper amount of money to solve this problem with an entirely new shower.  


Q:  Can a tile shower be properly waterproofed AND low maintenance?

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8-Ft. Shower In Progress With Schluter Kerdi Pan Exposed – Katy, TX

A:  Yes, tile CAN be waterproofed, low maintenance and long-lasting, assuming you hire the right professionals.

In fact, many “mud-set” showers built 50-70 years ago are still around and functioning today.  However, as part of the push for faster and cheaper housing construction, the “mud set” method has been largely forgotten and discarded by the tile industry.

Fortunately, there are new methods and products that are easier to teach and learn, which yield similar results.  One of these methods is the German-engineered Schluter®-KERDI system that we offer.  Although it takes years or even decades to master the art of tiling, we can train up a skilled tile setter on Schluter Kerdi within a day or two.  This system ensures you have a properly-waterproofed substrate to prevent water and moisture vapor from getting into the walls and wreaking havoc behind your beautiful finished tile work.

When built correctly with high-grade setting materials, tile is one of the nicest and best-performing surface coverings you can own.  In addition to Schluter waterproofing, we also use grouts that don’t require sealing, and 100% pure silicone in all shower corners.  Pure silicone, as opposed to plain old caulk, or even acrylic siliconized caulk, is completely inorganic.  This means it is not a food source for the pesky mold and mildew that loves to grow in showers.  We specify these types of materials because they increase durability and reduce your overall shower maintenance. 

We do a ton of tile work, and we do it differently – and better – than the vast majority of Houston contractors.  This is largely due to the fact that we adhere to TCNA guidelines (Tile Council of North America).  The TCNA has created, managed, and updated tile installation standards for decades, although most tile tradesmen do not own a TCNA handbook.  Many installers have never even heard of them.  This speaks volumes about the widespread lack of standards and training in the tile indsutry.  Buyer, beware!  Find out more on the TCNA’s website, tcnatile.com.

For homeowners who want tile showers, walls, and floors, we begin our process, as always, by offering guidance and education.  For example, if you’ve fallen in love with a beautiful stone tile that will need to be re-sealed every few years, and is going to be expensive to install, we want you to know this up front, and understand why.  We certainly have other tile options that are lower maintenance, and less expensive.  On the other hand, if the idea of any grout whatsoever is unappealing, you can choose solid surface to eliminate all grout from your shower.

We’ll do our best to help you find an attractive, long-lasting solution that works for you.


Q:  Can my current shower glass be re-used?

A: There is a 99.9% chance your old glass will not be reusable for your new shower.  This is because the old glass, regardless of age, will not fit the exact dimensions of the new shower.  Your existing tempered glass enclosure was sized to fit your exact current shower dimensions as-is, down to the 1/8” inch in most cases, and will break if it is cut or modified.  This is not simply a Houston “thing;” international building codes require all shower glass to be safety-tempered.

Even if your new shower will be the exact same size as the old, something will be at least slightly different; whether curb height, wall tile thickness, the exact angle of the new tile, etc. This means the enclosure would have gaps in certain areas, or be too large in others, which is not good.  With this in mind, we always plan on disposing of your old shower glass and ordering fresh glass with a new shower remodel.  Until someone invents a method to cut tempered glass (!), this is what you should expect when remodeling your shower.


Q:  Do you offer anything easier to clean than standard tile, that isn’t a “faux”-looking product or thin plastic?

Onyx shower and tub surround remodel, Dec. 2023

A:  Your lowest-maintenance options are our solid wall systems (such as Onyx Collection).  With these, each wall is made of one slab of material, rather than many small pieces, as with tile.

Eliminating maintenance is impossible, but our slab wall systems are usually easier to maintain than standard tile.  Your slab wall choices range from 3/8” solid surface panels to custom thin stone slabs which can be backlit for a unique, modern look.

We don’t install things on top of old tile, and we don’t offer acrylic “one day bath” systems.  These are often wrongly termed solid surface, when in fact they’re only sheets of plastic with a faux-look printed surface.  “One-day” bath installs involve a number of quality compromises in the name of speed, and that’s not what we do.

If you want to stick with a tile shower, but still want to cut down on cleaning, there are several things we can do to reduce maintenance.  One is using a solid shower base with zero grout, while keeping tile for the walls.  Another idea is to reduce the size of the grout lines while increasing the size of the tiles.  Finally, we offer high-end grouts which are easier to maintain than standard grouts, and we exclusively install pure silicones for all corners and joints.

Here’s a photo of a simply-styled Onyx shower remodel and tub surround we built, with a subway tile look.  This material works well if you’re looking for a solid-performing product at a value price point.

Check out our Shower Materials section for more information on the shower wall material options we offer.  


Q:  What kind of problems can potentially be found during my project?

A:  Here is a list of things we’ve run into over the years during remodels.  This list is not comprehensive!

  • Black mold (major)
  • Termites
  • Rotten subfloor
  • Rotten wall studs
  • Roof leaks that manifested in the bathroom
  • Building inspectors mandating that wall-mounted gas heating units and ceiling fans be removed from bathrooms, and smoke detectors throughout a home be converted into hard-wired
  • Multiple drain breaks under the foundation
  • Rusted-out cast iron drain pipes that filled with mud and caused a backup into the shower
  • Hollowed-out voids under a slab – no idea how these happened but a small, continuous drainage leak may have been the culprit.
  • AC drain line “gunk-up” that created a smell in the wall near a shower we remodeled (unrelated to the remodel).
  • Holes in an exterior wall created by failing siding on the outside of the home
  • Seriously improper electrical work – one example is “hot” wires that were just hanging out in the attic and zapped one of our project managers.
  • Some of the worst plumbing work imaginable.  A kindergartner could have done a better job.
  • Poor waterproofing from previous contractors

…and the list goes on.

We know how to handle these things when we run into them, but often times they are not forseeable.  Of course, these issues can cause delays and necessitate additional costs to resolve.


Q:  Will you install something over my old tile?

A:  No.

If you have rotted studs, pest problems, mold, or plumbing issues, these will persist after your new plastic cover-over or spray-on is installed.  Since we are in the business of doing things correctly, rather than cheaply, we do not offer thin plastic “cover-up” products that do not address potential issues behind the walls.  Give us a call if you’d like to discuss a complete shower or bathroom remodel, with a full tear-out and rebuild using dust-conscious work practices and higher-quality building materials such as tile, stone, or solid-surface slabs.


Q:  Do you offer a warranty?

A:  Yes we do, and we’re here to help.  If you have any trouble with a product or system we’ve installed, give us a call and we’ll get you taken care of.  For most of our products, the manufacturers will send us a replacement part, and we’ll schedule your installation once it arrives in our hands.


Q:  I’m only looking to replace a countertop and sink fixture in my guest bathroom, and I want to leave my existing cabinets alone.  Is this too small a job for you?

A:  We are happy to do these smaller projects.  While we often replace vanity tops as part of larger jobs, we do offer standalone vanity and vanity top replacements in Houston proper.  We can help you select materials, inluding the countertop, sink, faucets, and any new hardware or accessories that are part of the project.


Q: We have elderly relatives moving in soon, so we need a standard-sized tub taken out and a walk-in shower installed.  How quickly can you turn something like this around?

A:  We understand that life sometimes creates time-sensitive remodeling needs, and we try hard to help clients in a “pickle.”  This type of project is called a tub-to-shower conversion, and we build these all the time.  Depending on the scope of work and materials desired, there are situations where we can accommodate these requests quickly.  Please bear in mind that a tight time horizon will limit your material choices.

If you are in this kind of situation and need service fast, call us to discuss your project, and we will do our best to work out a solution for you.


Q: We need a shower remodel with a very low height step for my mother, who is almost 80 years old.    What is the lowest height you can build the step?

A:  We can build your step, or threshold height, anywhere from 0” to 5” high, depending on the style and material of the shower floor you select – and we offer tile, cast iron, and solid surface shower bases.  Some of our clients need a roll-in or ramped threshold for handicapped or wheelchair accessibility, and we can accommodate this as well.  In these safety-oriented situations, all our solutions include non-slip floors for maximum “grip” – without sacrificing ease of cleaning.


Q:  I own a restaurant that needs some tile work.  Do you offer commercial bath and tile work?

A:  Yes, we offer bathroom and tile work for nicer restaurants, hotels, offices, retail spaces, and senior care facilities.  In fact, we have worked for a Houston-area Dillard’s and the Hyatt Regency in downtown Houston.

In general, many commercial spaces could use some professional help from detail-oriented folks like us.  Poor tile work is very noticeable to your clientele, and it’s a major eyesore forever (until you fix it!).  From this perspective, it is ABSOLUTELY worth spending the extra money to have proper tile work the first time.

At Simplicity, we use high quality materials and proper installation techniques, so there won’t be any trouble down the road.  If you ever have a problem, we will take your call and address any issues.  If that level of dependability, reliability, and quality are more important than a cheap bid, we’re the team for the job.


Q:  Do you offer glass repairs, glass replacement, re-caulking, fixture and faucet repairs, tile repairs, or cultured marble repairs?

A:  We do not offer these services, which we consider repair work.  As a bathroom remodeling company, our specialty is remodeling, not repairs.


Q:  We remodeled another bathroom a few years back, and the work took months.  Is that normal?

A:  No, unless we’re doing a large or detailed project like a master bathroom.

This question usually comes from customers who have experienced a disorganized or inexperiencedcontractor.  When these contractors run into problems they don’t know how to address, they often punt.  Meeting a reasonable timetables with your bath remodel is a function of two thing.  The first is your contractor’s organization and project management skills.  The second is his or her experience and know-how when it comes to potential issues and how to address them.

We recommend working with a professional company that will provide you with a single point of contact throughout your remodel.  This person should be expected to communicate clearly and explain any problems which are encountered.


Q:  Can we purchase our own materials and just have you install everything?

 A:  We prefer to provide everything.

Candidly, when homeowners buy their own materials, especially tile, this approach has historically been problematic.  It just makes things wasier if we provide all of the major fixtures and materials for your job.  This way, you can depend on us to ensure that everything is sized and ordered correctly for your exact application, and the logistics are on us.  This is why you hire professionals – to ensure snags and hassles are minimized, and details are managed properly.

Here’s an example of why this can be an issue.

Some time ago, we worked with a client who had purchased a certain high-gloss ceramic tile from a discount house.  We told them this tile’s finish would likely crack and flake at the edges when cut.  However, they asked us to “do our best” to build their shower with it.  We found out that this was a discount tile for a reason.  Our cuts made the finish flake badly, exposing an uneven, unattractive orange-brown ceramic base color underneath.  The client ended up having us paint the exposed edges of the tile, so this wasn’t a great cost-saving option after all.

We will go to great lengths to avoid these kinds of situations through up-front, informative conversations.  Just as with any other professional, you’ll likely have a better outcome if you stick with trustworthy guidance and expertise!


Q:  How do I start the process?

A:  Our first step is to schedule a phone consultation to discuss your needs, wants, goals, and budget – and most importantly, what you’re looking for in a remodeler.

We’ll listen to what you’re trying to accomplish, then ask a few questions of our own; if you’d like, we can then move on to step two – an on-site consultation.

You can simply give us a call to start, or fill out a form on our Contact page.  Here is a detailed description of our complete Process.

At our site visit in your space, we’ll dive deeper into feasibility and space planning, and discuss concepts and ideas.  We typically conclude our meeting by offering you either a proposal for work or a proposal for design.  Once the proposal is approved, we’ll get started with selections, ordering, and project execution planning.

For larger and more involved projects, you’ll likely want our design team involved early to get your project moving in the right direction.


Q: Do you offer financing or payment plans?

A:  We offer financing through our lending partners, and can help you apply online or by phone.  Please contact us for details.

Simplicity Bath