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Should You Use Bathroom Panels Instead of Tiles?

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Tiling your bathroom is so popular that often it’s seen as the only option. Nearly every bathroom you’ve been into will have been tiled in one way or another. But there is an alternative to tiling your bathroom and it’s called wall boarding.

Wall boarding is like it sounds – board for your walls. Essentially these boards are waterproof and take the place of tiles. But are they a good idea? Are they a cheaper alternative? Or are they a passing trend?

Here’s what Gary from Alan Heath & Sons has to say about them…

Should You Use Bathroom Panels Instead of Tiles? The reasons for and against

Price – do you get what you pay for?

Wall boards for your bathroom are cheaper than tiles. The cheaper boards on the market are plastic and hollow section boards. They won’t be as well-built or as durable as the more expensive options, as you’d expect. The finish on the less-expensive wall board will be either printed or stuck onto the plastic, which we don’t feel will be as robust as it could be.

The clear advantages of choosing a cheaper wall board for your bathroom will be the cost.

The disadvantages though will be the potentially reduced life span and the overall look and feel of the finish. You really do get what you pay for with the finish on these boards. The budget boards are also not as strong, leaving the boards to reply on the strength of your wall and plastering, so it’s not always ideal.

 

Quality wall boards for your bathroom

When you look at the premium end of the market the quality is apparent.

The more expensive wall boards can be made from a water and boil-proof plywood board.  The board is approximately 10 or 11mm in thickness, which has a laminate similar to a kitchen worktop bonded to the board.  

Another design is a wall board made from a recycled product that can be immersed in water, and yet won’t soak any of it up (trust me – we’ve tested it!).  Again, this board has a laminate bonded to the front of it. This type of wall board is the same thickness as the other board we offer.

In both styles the wall boards are thicker than the budget plastic wall boards and are heavier and more robust. They’ll certainly make a more stable wall too as the plastic boards will flex and move.   

Both of our wall boards also come with a 15-year guarantee so that gives you an indication of the quality. It’s worth a thought.

 

Mermaid board?

Over the years we’ve used the Mermaid Boards for bathroom installations but we now tend to opt for Nuance wall boarding. Nuance wall boarding is now our main range as we prefer the styles on offer. That said, this is a personal preference and many customers are more aware of the Mermaid wallboards.

 

Wall boarding your bathroom – the advantages over tiling

The main reason we find that customer like wall board is that there’s no grout needed. This is a plus point for any bathroom as grout can discolour over time and gives you more maintenance to deal with.

It’s also a cleaner look for your bathroom and makes for less visual noise without those interfering grout lines. Many choose wall boards for this reason.

Cleaning a bathroom wall board is a lot easier too. When you clean your tiles you have to work around the grout lines, but a wall board doesn’t dip into a grout joint like they do on a tiled wall. There’s just a silicone line around the edges of the board to seal the joints.

One of the wall boards we stock is called Mermaid. A Mermaid wall board can even be used in a steam cubicle. We have one at home and it’s perfect for a very moist environment!

 

Disadvantages of PVC wall panels

Plastic panels, by the very nature of them being plastic, means that they’re brittle. The plastic used in the panels is not very thick, so the manufactures make them hollow to add thickness and a little rigidity to them.

Even with this ‘bulking out’ of the product it’s still a thinner board than the ones we use. Due to their brittle nature they will be a lot easier to damage.

We’re also led to believe that cutting some of them is more difficult as they’re easy to crack. Although we can’t confirm this one as we haven’t tried ourselves, it does make a lot of sense to us based on our years of bathroom fitting.

 

Shower panels instead of tiles?

Your point of view on this will determine whether or not you class wallboards and panels as an advantage. Some customers love the idea of no grout joints (line) and the patterns that the wallboard offers. If you like this clean look then they are more suitable for your taste.

We personally prefer the simplicity of a wallboard in the shower area/cubicle and then tiles and the standard grout lines on the outside of the cubicle, in the rest of the bathroom.

Tiles have more character which is enhanced by the grout joints and is almost something you expect to see in a bathroom setting. That said, in wet shower areas the boards can’t be beaten!

 

Bathroom wall covering instead of tiles

It might seem like an easier way to cover your bathroom walls in a waterproof and protective way, but if you have a room that has lots of boxing or recesses then it is possibly easier to use tiles.

When you opt for tiling your bathroom you can be very accurate with tiles and a tile cutter.  Cutting the boarding (which will be in one large sheet) needs to be done very carefully and of course you’ll end up with more waste from a large board than you would from a small tile. If you cut a tile incorrectly, or it breaks, it isn’t such a problem as you can just grab another.

 

Are bathroom wall boards cheaper than tiles?

People often expect that wall boarding their bathroom will be cheaper than tiling it. It can be, if you go for the budget boards… but we wouldn’t recommend that.

In our case it isn’t cheaper at all – it can be more expensive. But we don’t sell it on price; we sell it on the low maintenance and the huge design benefit they can offer.

10 years after your bathroom has been fitted the wall boards look so much better as they stand the test of time with very little maintenance.

We should point out though that although you can clad a complete bathroom with wall boards, we find that it is best used in a shower cubicle, rather than all over. Some tiles may be old fashioned with their grout lines and extra care attached to them but they offer far more variation over a whole room.

But, when it comes to the cubicle in your shower or bath if you have the option we would always have the boards.

 

So there you go… to board or not to board? This is the question!

Our advice is don’t cut on the budget but don’t board your whole bathroom. Wall boards are a superb product but aren’t as simple to work with. Sometimes the humble tile is needed and there’s a reason tiles are popular.

If you need help or advice deciding which option would be best for you then do pop into our Coventry bathroom showroom and ask us for some advice. We’ll be happy to help.

 

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