Bathroom cladding is continuing to grow in popularity as people love the maintenance-free characteristics and easy-clean surfaces that it provides. But what sort of designs are available and what kind of results can be achieved? If you need some bathroom cladding ideas then let us guide you through the options.
Marble Effect Cladding
This is by far the biggest selling design in the market. Each manufacturer has a bewildering array of styles, colours and sizes. You will always be able to find something to suit your ideals.
Light coloured marbles are the predominant choice for UK bathrooms as, in general, the dimensions of the average room are very small. Keeping it light helps with creating a sense of space. See our article 5 Design Tips For Small Bathrooms for more information on utilising colour in your makeover.
Darker colours, such as blacks or slates can also be used but consider using them in one specific area if the room is on the smaller side.
So with that in mind…
Adding A Feature Wall
Adding a feature wall is a great way to provide visual interest in a bathroom.
Some designs, such as very busy patterns or very dark colours, can be overpowering if used around the whole room. But if you limit their use to one wall they can really lift the look of the room. This is especially true if a plain finish is used elsewhere.
In this example a shower has a tile effect used along one wall of the shower. This is a very typical location for a feature wall. It delineates the shower from the rest of the bathroom.
Plain gloss white panels were used around the rest of the room which would have been a bit bland on their own. But by adding these tile effect along one wall the whole design is given a lift.
Tile Effect Cladding – A Great Design Idea
Many people just love the look of tiles. They are reluctant to move away from a design that has been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. Tile effect bathroom cladding is a perfect compromise: it has the look of tiles but has none of the drawbacks. There is no grout used – it is just part of the printed design. So no scrubbing or bleaching trying to keep it looking clean.
There are large tile designs available as well as smaller mosaic tile effects. Many of the current designs on the market use a digital printing process which gives the panel more of a 3D appearance . These have a grout line that looks very realistic but is actually completely smooth – something you will appreciate when it comes to wiping them down.
Combining Two Cladding Designs
Many manufacturers offer their panels in varying shades of the same basic design. This enables the various shades to be combined into different patterns that will be totally unique to your bathroom.
In the example here two tile effect panels have been used. One is light in colour while the other is darker. By mixing and matching an interesting result has been achieved.
You will be able to keep the overall scheme quite light by using the darker shade sparingly. This is important in smaller bathrooms as darker colours will make it feel more cramped and will not provide a sense of space.
It is important that you choose panels from the same manufacturer AND the same range. Not all panels will slot together seamlessly. And you need to be sure the joins are waterproof especially if using them in a shower.
See the following article for more information about using cladding in showers.
Add A Niche Or Two
You could add a niche or two if any of the walls in your bathroom are of a hollow construction.
These are a great way of providing a bit of extra storage for soaps and shampoos close to the area they are needed most. This helps reduce clutter around the bathroom which can really spoil the look of a room. You can line the surround of the niche with cladding and use a tile edge trim to finish off the external corners.
If the niche is being used inside a shower then a the bottom of the niche can be covered with a piece of PVC sill board. This is an L section profile that will lip over the front of the cladding. Install it so that the back is slightly raised. This will enable any shower water that lands on it to run straight off, over the lip and down into the shower.
Make sure all the other joints and seams are also sealed thoroughly to ensure no water can penetrate the niche. Use the best quality silicone sealant you can buy. Cheap sealant is a false economy because it will not last and you will end up doing it again.
A Natural Look For Your Bathroom
Travertine is a beautiful naturally occurring stone that is immensely popular in modern design. In its natural form it needs to properly sealed for use in bathrooms and this sealer needs to be re-applied over time. There are travertine effect panels available in a natural looking matt finish that look good from day one without the need for any maintenance.
Slate is another stone that looks amazing. Use it in a shower area to provide a striking contrast to the rest of the room. Or, if the room is large enough, it can be fitted around every wall.
As with all PVC panels they are perfect for use in showers. They slot together with a tongue and grooved edge to provide you with a waterproof surface. If you would prefer a one-piece panel there are panels that are 1mt wide that will be ideal for all but the largest cubicle.
Give Your Bath That “Built-In” Look
The acrylic bath panels that are supplied with most bathroom suites are not very good. They are very thin and are prone to cracking. Wooden panels are more sturdy but they also have downsides. Water can get into the MDF and cause it to swell up and become misshapen.
One solution is to make your bath panel out of cladding. This can be done by attaching it to a sheet of marine plywood. Or you can create a frame for the panels to be attached to.
Most acrylic baths have a slot underneath the rim that takes the bath panel. This will usually be wide enough for cladding to slot straight into.
You can make the panel in such a way that it can be removed if required. Choosing to use the same panel as your walls will give the bath a “built-in” look and will be a great improvement on a standard acrylic panel.
Wood Effect Cladding
Although this style of cladding is a hugely popular choice for ceilings it looks amazing on walls as well.
Natural wood is not the best product for use in bathrooms as it does not cope well with the moist conditions. Painting it can help but this will usually need refreshing every few years if the paint starts to flake or peel. You then have to sand it down and start again.
There is wood-effect cladding which will need no such maintenance. Not only does it need no painting it is totally waterproof. So it can even be used in showers. This is something that you could never achieve with a wooden panel.
It is light in colour and the grain itself is usually just a printed effect. This means there are no grooves crevices for dirt and soap to get lodged in. Just a smooth wipe-over surface that is 100% waterproof.
Period Style Wooden Panelling
Period style panelling is another option that is feasible with wood-effect cladding.
The traditional way of installing panels in this style is to fit half way up the wall. A dado rail is then used to finish off the top of the panels to hide the cut edges. There are many manufacturers who make dado rails (and other mouldings) in plastic. This enables you to continue with low-maintenance products throughout your installation.
You could use a wooden dado rail but this would need to be painted and might require on-going maintenance.
You could utilise a marble or white panel on the top half of the room using this traditional style. But the join between the panels and dado rail would be far from ideal in a wet area. It is not recommended that you use this decorating style in a shower area. But you could run the wood effect panels all the way up the wall with no join or dado rail.
Wall And Ceiling Cladding
Not so much of a design idea – more of a practical solution. Although it does look good as well.
Tiles have lots of problems associated with them, mostly caused by the grout. When used in damp conditions it can harbour mould growth. This then needs constant attention to keep it from re-appearing.
Bathroom ceilings can also suffer in the moist, steamy conditions of a bathroom. Paint can flake off and mould spots can appear on the surface.
So by choosing both wall and ceiling cladding as part of your design you will effectively eliminate these problems once and for all.
There are trims available to cover the join between the wall and ceiling. These are not part of the fixing system – they are purely decorative. But they also help with installation as you do not have to be anywhere near as accurate with your cutting. They can cover up a multitude of sins.
More Bathroom Cladding Ideas
And finally a few more photos of cladding in bathroom setting to give you some ideas of the range of colours and design on the market.