Combining Bathroom Cladding And Tiles

Cladding is designed to be low maintenance. So you should fit as much as possible in your bathroom if you want an easy life. But there are occasions were you end up combining bathroom cladding and tiles.

If you have a small area that needs attention and do not want the expense and hassle of a complete makeover then a limited area can be given an update using cladding.

You might want to use panels as a contrast wall, leaving the rest of the room unaffected. Panels are great in this situation as they can go up over your existing tiles without any fuss. You just need to ensure the tiles are clean, dry and free of any soap residue.

Shower cubicles are an area that a regularly covered with cladding. It is here that the grout is put under the most testing conditions. The high moisture levels enables mould to take root in poorly applied or specified grout. See our article on using bathroom cladding in showers for more info.

This article will list the situations where using a combination of products might be beneficial together with details of the practicalities involved.



bathroom ceiling panel lighting

Limiting Panels To A Specific Area

The obvious instance where panels are limited to a specific area is if a feature wall is planned. With this design technique three of the rooms walls are decorated in one style while the fourth is covered with a different finish.

Tiles, panels, wallpaper and painted plaster are used for feature walls. It could be that you have tiles on three walls and you would like to use cladding on the fourth. Alternatively you could panel three walls and the leave the fourth free for your feature.

We would always recommend using panels on the majority of the walls purely because this will provide the maximum benefit to you in the long run.

Usually the feature wall will provide a contrast in shade and colour to the rest of the walls. If the colours and contrast are too similar the effect is lost and the feature wall will just blend into the background.

Dark colours are a great for feature walls as they provide dramatic visual impact while not making the room too dark. Reversing this design (with three dark walls) will have the opposite effect and less effective.

In the example shown there are light coloured tiles around the room while the wall above the bath has a dark slate effect panel used as a feature wall.



Mosaic Grey Panels In A Shower

Showers – The Ideal Environment For Cladding

If you have tiled the whole of your bathroom then you will already know that keeping the grout clean in the shower area is a real headache.

Grout is known to have shortcomings – pin-holes and gaps resulting from poor application will allow water to get through. This will see the grout turn mouldy and eventually the tiles themselves will work loose.

Because cladding can be installed directly on top of tiles it provides a quick and easy solution to the problem.

In this photo we can see a situation where the homeowner has opted to revamp their cubicle but leave the rest of bathroom as it is. A mosaic effect cladding has been used inside the shower cubicle providing a waterproof, maintenance-free covering that will bring years of trouble free service. There are plastered walls rather than tiles in this instance but the concept is the same – only repair the areas that need improvement. This saves time, hassle and of course money.



black and white bathroom design

Joining Onto Tiles

In the majority of cases cladding will be installed over existing tiles. But if combing bathroom cladding with tiles as part of a new installation then you need to factor in some other issues.

Tiles are thinner than most panels so you need to take this into consideration if fitting them both on the same wall. It might be possible to apply the tile adhesive slightly thicker than standard to “pack out” the tiles to the same level as the panels. Alternatively fit a cover strip to conceal the join or you just live with the “step” where one product meets the other.

If you are covering complete walls with one material then the panels will only meet in the corner. A silicone seal should be used here as the corner trims designed to be used with panels are not suitable for use with tiles.

Another option is to use equipment (such as a shower cubicle in this instance) to create a boundary between the different surfaces. By containing the cladding within the shower the different thicknesses become irrelevant and are not really noticeable.

The Floor/Wall Join

There is no trim available for joining wall panels to floor tiles. So the best solution is to simply seal the join with a good quality silicone sealant. This method is also used if there is vinyl flooring in the room.

Capping Trim can be used at the bottom of panels but it is not something that we recommend. As it is an inverted U section it will act like a trough. If used in a wet areas it could lead to water being conveyed behind the wall panels to area where there are no seals.

If you have been inaccurate with your cutting you should use a flat piece of white PVC. Sttick it in place at the foot of the cladding to act as a skirting. Cut a flat piece of plastic from  any of the standard trims. Just score the trim and it will snap cleanly.

Wetrooms pose different problems and the solution will depend on the type of floor covering that you are using as part of the installation. We have a separate article on wetrooms here.




bath panel 2

Joining On To Ceiling Panels

There are several options that can be employed when fitting a panelled ceiling with a tiled wall. The most popular option is to use a Coving Trim.

This is a two part trim that will aid in the installation process. It does this by covering up the cut edge of the cladding. As the trim is over 30mm the cut can be a lot less accurate than would be the case without the trim.

A Capping Trim is another option and performs the same function as a coving. The main difference is that it is less bulky so results in a neater finish.

If you are confident of your cutting skills you can just cut the ceiling panels tight to the existing wall. And then seal with a good quality silicone sealant.


ceiling panels

The Disadvantages Of Combining Bathroom Cladding And Tiles

The obvious disadvantage of not opting for an all-cladding design is the amount of maintenance you are leaving yourself with.

Even if you just limit the tiles or other wallcovering to just one wall it will not have the maintenance-free quality of bathroom cladding. So you need to factor this into your plans. Put simply the more cladding you install, the less work it will be for you in the long run.

Cladding is inexpensive and is totally recyclable. If installed with mechanical fixings it can even be re-used elsewhere if you ever desire a change.

Combining bathroom cladding and tiles is easily achieved but not something we would recommend unless your budget cannot stretch to a full refurbishment.