Creative Wall Panelling for Bathrooms

Bathroom Panels: Our top uses for this booming bathroom trend!

Panelled bathroom with marble

Wall panelling is a trend that can now be seen in just about every interior design magazine and on every home-focused social media account and is a great way to inject a little more personality into a room. Recreating popular and timeless styles including rustic timber cladding, contemporary slatted wood and large stone slabs, wall panelling is a brilliantly cost-effective way of updating a space and giving it a whole new feel. 
When it comes to bathrooms however, wall panelling is often forgotten – not least perhaps because it is often associated with wood, which isn’t the first material most of us think of it when it comes to a room so filled with moisture. Yet there’s lots that can be done with bathroom wall panelling; consider the following to give yours a new aesthetic.

Brighten a Small Bathroom

Many British homes have modest bathrooms, and second bathrooms in properties often come with space at a premium. It can be difficult to make a smaller room appear bigger; particularly when you’re building inward to it; but it can be done with wood panelling!
Installing white-washed rustic cladding on every wall brightens the room and helps provide a sense of depth that otherwise isn’t there. In a bathroom with tall ceilings, keep the panelling horizontal, but if the height is a little more squat, rotate the panels and lay them vertically. Contrast with colourful or patterned tiles for splashbacks to give a real eye draw to the bold finish.

Cover Up Damaged Plastering

Bathrooms are messy places, and it’s natural that over time they show signs of wear and tear with dents, holes, cracks, smears and stains across the walls.
Where plasterwork or paint is damaged or has simply deteriorated as the years have gone by, cladding the walls with tongue-and-groove timber wall panelling can cover up a multitude of sins and give a real refresh to the room. Providing none of the damage is serious, you can apply such panelling directly over a wall too; as long as it’s dry.

Use Panelling To Create Shelves

Wainscotting is the practice of panelling halfway up a wall rather than right to the top and is often used to box in pipes and insulation; but there’s another handy use for it.
Panelling halfway up creates a handy shelf that can be used for your essential products as well as candles, decorative items and plants (which often thrive in the damp environment of a bathroom) for extra storage. For the most effective aesthetic, contrast the panelling with the upper wall through either colour or texture so it really stands out, and coordinate the items on the shelf with the colour of the panels.

Unsure About Panelling? Fake It

Panelling isn’t for everyone, and if you’re not a confident DIY’er it may seem too drastic a step right away. Instead, fake it!
There are now a myriad of paints designed for bathroom use that are specifically designed to withstand the moisture and damp of an environment with so much water in. This means that you can get a little more creative with paint jobs in bathrooms, and paint in a vertical stripe in contrasting tones to mimic the look of panelling. If you like it enough, you can choose to go ahead and install the real thing at a later date.
If you prefer tiling, there is now wood-effect porcelain and ceramic tiles that can be laid in vertical or horizontal lines to imitate panelling; and these look great matched with floor tiles for a sleek finish (but be sure to match up your grouting lines!).

Create A Feature Wall

In bathrooms where you want to curate a ‘put-together’ look and feel, panelling can be used to make a statement wall.
Through the curation of a focal point with a feature wall that draws the eye, a compact or narrow space can appear bigger. The classical material for this is dark wood panelling contrasting with lighter walls, but you can mix and match textures and shades however works best for your tastes. For long rooms, make the panelled wall one of the slimmer ones so as not to crowd the space.

Consider Panelling Protection

The most commonly use panelling material for bathrooms is MDF; as it’s inexpensive to purchase and easily treatable with sealants to repel moisture. There is a common misconception that MDF doesn’t require protective treatment – and while there are moisture-resistant panels available, many will need sealing or will blow.
Other woods can be used, with plywood probably the most popular option. Whichever it is that you choose for your bathroom, it is critical that you treat it properly so it doesn’t deteriorate over time. Wood can be primed and painted, and extra care must be taken to the edges of the material to ensure secure sealing. 
PVC and laminate panels are also available and can be printed to look like other materials. These materials won’t need any extra protection as they’re already moisture proof, but you may wish to treat them with a product to protect against cleaning fluids.

Try Before You Buy

A full room being wall panelled can be a big commitment if you’re not 100% sure on it. Instead, consider installing a temporary option to see how you like it before you take the plunge on a large investment.
There are now a variety of adhesive panels and tiles available fairly cheaply that can be cut down to size as desired and simply stuck to a wall. This allows you to find a texture, material, colour and style you like while you find the exact look you like best.
If you’re looking to panel a bathroom – or just get advice on if you should – get in touch with your local Refresh Renovations office. Our renovations advisor will visit your home free and with no obligation to help you scope out potential improvements; and we’d love to chat to you about it!

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