This picture was supplied by a customer who needed to a bath panel that would tie in with the colour of her floor tiles. Although they did not use cladding around the rest of the bathroom the chosen panels, with a black marble effect, worked well in the overall bathroom design.
The bath itself was built into a frame which was partially tiled and then the front of the framework was fitted with our panels. This would not be our choice of installation for several reasons.
Giving a bath this built-in look is extremely attractive and we can see why people go down this route. But any horizontal area, be it tiled or panelled, in a water-prone area will lead to problems. These problems might take a while to make themselves apparent but they will eventually.
Bath Panels And The Built-In Look
The front panel is not an issue here. The problem lies with the horizontal surface around the top of the bath. Unless the whole sub-structure is made from masonry, there will be movement. Only small amounts of movement but that is enough to cause problems. Grout will not tolerate any movement at all. As soon as it experiences it cracks. This allows moisture to get in and that is when the problems start to snowball.
Horizontal tiled areas also allow water to stand for prolonged periods. Continuous moisture is what mould thrives on so in these circumstances it will not be long before the grout starts to turn mouldy. This will eventually need to be raked out and re-applied which is not much fun and is a never-ending task as the mould will simply re-appear down the line.
Installation Of A Bath Panel
When making a bath panel from cladding products you will have a choice of installation methods.
The quickest and easiest way to install the panels is to fit them vertically.
Most acrylic baths have a slot underneath the rim that the bath panel can be slotted into. Bath panels vary in thickness so this slot is usually wide enough to take bathroom cladding of 5, 8 0r 10mm thickness. It is best to check this before you think about making your own panel.
Steel baths and cast iron baths do not have a slot so you will have to fix a batten under the rim as well as on the floor.
The panels are rigid enough to enable them to run vertically up into the slot or fixed to the two battens. They can be attached with adhesive, silicone sealant or mirror screws.
If you want to fit the panels horizontally you will need to fix the panels to a piece of thin plywood as they will not have sufficient strength to span the length of the bath without support.