Bathroom Decoration – Wall Panels

Creating a bathroom style that is contemporary yet practical can often prove difficult, especially where wall coverings are concerned. Many households opt for tiles because there is low awareness of alternative solutions. Tiles are available in ever more differing styles but they do require a certain amount of ongoing maintenance to keep the grout clean and over time the appearance of the grout will diminish. However waterproof wall panels are becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to bathroom tiles. In addition to being attractive and easy to maintain, they also offer many other advantages to the installer and end user alike.

Wall panels are manufactured in different formats and sizes to suit shower enclosures, domestic steam rooms and full bathrooms. They can often be supplied as complete kits that include all required profiles, sealants and accessories.

Wall panels are quicker and easier to install than wall tiles, which can be tricky. It can take several days for the adhesive and grout to dry with tiles, wall panel installation is much simpler and can be under taken by most competent Diy-ers. As panels are dry the potential for mess is minimised, no grouting means that once the installation is complete, a room can be used immediately, this also stops the development of bathroom wall mould that is often found in between tiles and is a real nuisance and soon ruin the look of a bathroom. Normal woodworking tools can be used to install the wall panels doing away with the need to buy specialist tools to be used for one job. To ensure that wall tiles are fitted straight a laser level is usually needed, with wall panels a standard spirit level is sufficient.

Wall panels are made by bonding a decorative high-performance laminate to plywood to give a surface that is 100 per cent waterproof, because of the material that they are constructed you should have no problems to fix mirrors or other bathroom fittings unlike tiles which require the use of a special drill bit and more often than not results in damage to the tile. Some panels also feature a water-resistant WBP plywood substrate and a balancer laminate to the reverse to stop moisture from penetrating through the back of the board.

Due to the size of the product large areas of wall can be covered in a fraction of the time it would take to tile. A single 2,400mm by 900mm panel covers the same area as 216 (100mm) tiles.

Panels can be fitted to most types of bathroom wall, including brick, concrete, plasterboard, studwork and even over the top of existing ceramic tiles [ = 2] Whatever the surface, it is important that the walls are even and provide a suitable fixing for screws, plugs and adhesive.

The internal and external profiles of panels usually require no sealant. Some panels feature an innovative two-part 'Click-Seal' profile system which ensures that the wall panels are correctly fitted together.

The design incorporates a PVC section on the back and a PVC colour co-ordinated or polished chrome aluminium face. The two parts simply click the two panels together and a self-adhesive barrier tape creates a watertight joint. When fitted together tongue and grooved edges reduce the need for joining strips and mean that fixings can be neatly concealed. The outer edge of the panels is fitted with an edging profile to create a neat and co-ordinated finish. Conventional tile installations often result in leaks as the seal between the bath or shower tray and wall breaks down over time, the bottom seal system on wall panels accommodates the expansion and contraction of the panel and ensures that this does not happen.

Panels are very easy to clean and just need wiping with a damp cloth to keep them looking as good as new. Unlike wallpaper or paint, that can peel or flake, and tiles that can crack and chip, panels are durable and are unlikely to suffer any damage – even after a number of years.

So before you rush down to your local tile superstore consider using wall panels as an economical, hard wearing, low maintenance and attractive alternative.