When it comes to renovating or designing a bathroom, one of the key decisions you’ll face is what to use for your shower walls. Traditional tiles have long been the go-to option, but in recent years, bathroom wall panels, also known as shower panels, have gained popularity. They offer a different look, feel, and design for your bathroom, but like all areas of your bathroom design, there’s much to consider before making the choice.
There are cheaper PVC boards on the market too, so you might be looking at using those. We’re going to try to help you make your decisions here. Our advice is based on decades of experience and personal use of the products, so read on to discover the pros and cons of bathroom shower panels.
What are the cons of bathroom panels?
Bathroom panels are more expensive than tiles
The better end of the market (where you should be shopping for long life bathrooms) are not a cheaper option. Yes, you’ll be able to put one board up in a faster time than lots of tiles, but boards are not cheaper inch-for-inch.
Wall panels should be seen as a luxury in a cubicle or bath area to make a statement and the price certainly helps with that. They’re not the cheap option you think they are when you do the maths on buying and fitting.
There’s a limited choice of bathroom panels compared to tiles
When you’re looking for tiles, you’ll be spoilt for choice. You can find tiles of all colours, sizes, textures, and designs. The problem is rarely lack of choice.
Boards, however, are very limited. It’s not unusual to find only a handful of options with your local bathroom showroom and even the manufacturer’s sites list sub-50 designs. This might sound like a lot, but if you’ve ever shopped for tiles then you’ll appreciate that you go through hundreds of designs and styles to find the right one that fits with your look.
You’re limited on aesthetic choices with bathroom boards.
Ceiling height can be an issue
With tiles, the sky is the limit. You can tile up forever! But with bathroom boards, you’ll find that the max height for most of them is 2.4m and that can lead to problems with high ceilings. Having a join in the middle (or at the top or bottom) isn’t really the idea of bathroom boards although it can be done, but we think it ruins the sleek finish that they offer.
Tall bathroom? You might want to re-think bathroom boards.
Damage to your bathroom board? You have to replace it all!
We’ve all had accidents in the home and the damage needed to be repaired. If you damage anything in your bathroom then this will need doing quickly as water could cause more damage if it gets to places it shouldn’t.
Damage a tile? Ah, you’ll just be able to take the tile out and replace it with a new one.
Damage a bathroom board? Erm‚ you’ll need to replace the whole thing. It’s more expensive‚ far more expensive. Thankfully neither damaged tiles nor wall boards are a common problem. The boards we use most of the time have a core that doesn’t absorb water.
PVC is plastic and easy to damage
And it’s easier to damage too. Plastic is hard and brittle and even when you fit it well there’s more chance of a PVC board breaking than a solid and robust tile. Tiles are very forgiving on those bumps, scratches, and accidental whacks with the sports bag or electric shaver.
PVC can be more prone to cracks and scratches.
PVC flexibility can be a downfall
PVC boards are flexible, and the movement can sometimes mean that the silicon could break, leading to leaks. By the very nature of the product, you’re left open to a problem that you really don’t want in your bathroom.
What are the pros of shower panels?
Good quality shower panels do exist
Most of the PVC boards you see around are a little on the cheap side and not something you’d want to work with. PVC boards are aimed at the budget end of the market, so this potentially needs to be taken into account when pricing up your renovation.
Mermaid panels are fantastic because they come with a watertight 15-year guarantee. The material inside is WBP plywood, which, unlike ordinary plywood, is water-resistant. Bonded to this is a high-pressure decorative laminate which is impervious.
Nuance Boards are also really impressive and made from recycled products. The board is so well designed that after we tested it in here in the Alan Heath and Sons showroom, one of our members of staff was so impressed that he put it in his own bathroom! We took a piece of the board and immersed it in water for two weeks. It wasn’t affected at all, and no water was taken on by the product. Impressive.
They can be easier to keep clean
One of the main advantages of shower panels is their ease of maintenance. Unlike tiled surfaces, shower panels have no grout lines, which means no grime or mould buildup in those pesky hard-to-reach crevices. A quick wipe with a damp cloth is often all that’s needed to keep them looking pristine. Some even have antibacterial coatings, making cleaning easier!
Shower panels can be fitted over existing tiles
If you’re looking to quickly renovate and spruce up your bathroom without the hassle of removing old tiles, shower panels can be fitted directly over existing tile walls. This not only saves time but also reduces the cost of labour and materials. Keep in mind that this only works when teh wall tiles are solid; if they are loose, they will need removing.
Perfect for a unique finish
For those aiming for a modern and sleek bathroom design, shower panels could be a great way to go. They offer a unique and chic finish that can totally transform your bathroom into a stylish oasis, switching it up from the more commonly seen tiles.
To sum up
- Keep boards for single areas like shower cubicles
- The quality boards work out more expensive than tiling would but they’re fantastic
- You’re a bit limited on choice
- Most will only go to 2.4 meters
- Standard PVC boards are easier to damage which can be expensive.
However, if you opt for something high quality and stylish like Nuance or Mermaid panels, you’ll stand a greater chance of having something great in your bathroom that also gives a great talking point.
Need more help? Come and see us in our Coventry bathroom showroom. We have lots of live displays on show and an expert team who can talk you through them all.