When Richard White was a contractor, he had an epiphany while installing tile for three bathroom remodels. It was taking him a long time to meticulously set the tile, and he thought, “We’re still setting tile the way we did when concrete was invented in 14 A.D.”
To address this lack of modernization, he designed a faster way to install tile showers and founded Innovant, in Moorpark, Calif.
The Innovant system starts with a sub-frame that attaches to wall studs with clips that can be adjusted for various on-center spacing. “Even if studs twist after install, it allows for the movement,” White says. Installers align the sub-frame using a proprietary tool, then attach factory-made tile panels. Marketing manager Mark Stalling says that the system essentially creates a box within the “imperfect” box of the existing framing.
Ease & Versatility
The panels are made of aluminum with a lightweight polycarbonate sheet that acts as a vapor barrier, so installation doesn’t require additional waterproofing. Panel edges have gaskets and lock together at the corners so tightly, White says, that the installation is almost waterproof in the corners as well. Installers finish seams with an epoxy grout.
The panels can be made of any tile in any pattern. Currently, the company offers panels for standard shower and tub configurations nationally, but will soon provide custom configurations as well.
Innovant ships the product, but plans to set up regional distribution. Remodelers can order online from innovvant.com. A CAD sketch is sent to the remodeler for approval.
The company ships a ready-to-install kit that includes the frame, panels, tools, screws, and epoxy grout. The remodeler can specify the location of fixtures and channels for glass doors, or Innovant can install fixtures at the factory.
Stalling says that installation price is comparable to high-end acrylic shower enclosures. However, since the installation cuts labor costs, remodelers will be able to complete bath jobs faster and without the need for tile subcontractors. “A traditional shower can take a minimum of a week to tile depending on the complexity,” White says, “This takes less than a day.”
Stalling says that the system creates a “recurring business stream” because remodelers can provide past clients or new homeowners with new panels to update the look or add universal design features.
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.
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