Introduction

Wall panelling is exploding in popularity!

The promise of a lack of grouting (to get mouldy) and a wipe clean surface (now available in a variety of designs) has people considering wall panelling rather than tiles when refurbishing their bathrooms.

mouldy grout

cleaning dirty shower and bathroom tiles with mould with blue cloth

There are 3 types of wall panelling:

1. Lightweight corrugated PVC

lightweight pvc panelling

2. Pressure laminated vinyl on an MDF / plywood core (like a laminate worktop essentially)

best bathroom panelling showerwall panels

3. Other: Acrylic / glass etc

wetwall acrylic

Lightweight PVC: Suitability

Lightweight corrugated PVC panels are the most cost effective panelling option and are the subject of this article.

Their lightweight nature (due to their hollow, corrugated core) means that they can potentially be installed on top of existing tiled installations in some circumstances.

I have written about the dangers of tiling over existing tiles before, but the lightweight nature of these panels mitigates many of these risks when compared to tiling over existing tiles or using heavier wall panelling such as Nuance, Showerwall, Multipanel etc.

This means that you can potentially save on installation costs as you do not have to strip the existing tiles and dispose of them (and possibly re-board the walls too)

(The boards are also cheaper too!)

They come in a variety of simple designs and PVC is completely waterproof so is suitable for shower areas.

However, corrugated PVC panels WILL dent if impacted (whereas the other types of panelling will not).

Top tip: 

Fitting shower seats or grab rails to this type of paneling is not recommended as the panelling can crush as the fittings are tightened up to it.

Case study: Installing PVC panelling over existing bathroom wall tiles

WARNING!

Just because a bathroom is tiled doesn’t mean you can panel it.

You have to ensure that the existing tiles are ‘welded’ to the wall & that the render is not blown – if the existing tiles are falling off or adhered to blown render you cannot clad over the top of them – the added weight will pull the whole lot off the wall – the panels, the tiles beneath them and the render beneath them!

After checking the current tiled installation was OK to use as a base, we gutted the bathroom and cleaned & degreased all the tiles:

We then treated the tiles with Eco Prim Gip:

This provided a key for the bonding plaster that was required to level the walls prior to applying the panelling.

These walls were dreadful!

After carrying out the necessary plumbing work to re-jig the bathroom layout we glued the wall panels to the walls.

PS Most panels are 2.4m high so they span the height of your room – if your ceiling is higher than 2.4m then this can cause an issue.

We also levelled & clad the ceiling with plain white PVC panels.

This meant that the customer would not need to repaint the ceiling (ever!) and ensured that they would have no issues with damp, mould or condensation.

We finished off the bathroom by adding a sheet vinyl floor and fixing the new toilet & basin.

in the middle of a wall rather than in the corner which is the usual place).

We then fit a radiator to finish off the room.

So what?!

Using this method of wall finishing saves you time and money with your bathroom installation (in theory).

This works off the assumption that:

  • you don’t have to pay the labour to strip the exiting tiles (or re-board the walls after).
  • you don’t have to pay the disposal cost for the existing tiles 
  • your existing walls are plumb & flat and that the panels can affix easily to the tiled surface without first levelling the walls – which these ones weren’t 

(large panels cannot be bent to walls that are concave / convex – whereas smaller tiles can follow wonky walls more easily.)

  • Cladding can be fitted much quicker than tiles so labour costs are less (though this is dependent on the point above.)

Where to buy

I use Bathroom Cladding Direct for my PVC ceiling & wall panelling. 

They’re great (and Geordie).

Fancy something similar or just want to find out what’s possible?

I’m currently offering a FREE bathroom consultation whereby I will personally come out to your house to meet you with the sole purpose of making sure you get the best bathroom possible.

We will discuss your requirements in detail, and together we’ll create a plan for your new bathroom, ensuite or downstairs loo that I know you will be delighted with.

By the end of our free 45 minute appointment you will have:

1) a new bathroom design & layout that works within the constraints of your house / space / heating system etc.

2) a breakdown of everything required to bring that plan to fruition including all the work schedule split down by trade (and there may be several needed) so you will know who you would need to hire.

3) how the work would need to be sequenced in order for it to run smoothly, and how long it would take.

4) an idea of how much you could expect to pay for the installation, and where you would buy all the best products locally. 

You are then free to use this information in whatever way you see fit, and you will be in a much stronger buying position as an educated buyer. 

Of course if you wish us to go to the next step, we can also provide you with a fixed price quote for a fully project managed installation with UKbathroomguru Ltd.

We would book in a fitting date and take a deposit and you’d be well on your way to a new bathroom.

Click here for your FREE consultation

Chris