Is repairing damaged bathroom cladding possible?
Yes. There are several methods – however some are quite tricky.
Bathrooms tend to be be a bit of a sanctuary. So the walls of the room do not get bashed into when carrying furniture or kids crashing into them on bikes. There are no end of ways that hallways, living rooms and kitchens can end up with damaged walls but bathrooms usually escape these problems.
But problems can, and do, occur. So if you have damaged your bathroom cladding how do you go about fixing it? It will depend on the size of the damaged area, where it is located and whether you have any spare panels left over from your initial installation.
Filling Small Holes In Cladding
If the hole or damage is small and unobtrusive then the quickest fix is to simply fill the hole. If it is in a wet area (above a bath or in a shower) then you need to use silicone sealant. In other areas, you can use any type of filler. You can add some acrylic paint to your silicone to make a colour closer to your panel colour if required. There is a video on YouTube that shows you how to do this.
You can use the bag method described in the video or you can just use a filler knife or old credit card to smooth it into place. A colour test is a good idea to see how accurately you can match the colour. Underneath a cistern or behind a pedestal is a good area that will be mostly covered from view.
Covering A Hole With A Piece Of Scrap
When you install your bathroom cladding we always recommend that you keep a few spare panels and also a few off-cuts in case you ever need them in the future. If you have some off-cuts left over from your installation then these can be used to effect a repair.
There are two methods you can use to cover the damaged area.
The first option involves cutting away the back of the scrap panel away leaving you with a thin flat front surface. This can be cut to size and stuck in place with silicone. This leaves and obvious join line where the thickness of the patch will stand proud of the rest of the surface as shown in the photo below:
One way to overcome this is to cut a full-depth repair patch. Use the patch as a template to mark around the damaged area with a soft pencil. Cut out the damaged area carefully and sink the patch into the gap to the same depth as the panel surface. Use colour-matched silicone to stick and seal the patch in one go.
The second method is much more fiddly and the cuts need to be very neat and accurate. Colour matching the silicone will help cover the join.
Both of these methods will result in a visible patch. How obtrusive it is will depend on how neat a finish you achieve. Another factor will be the panel design. Plain colours will highlight the patch more than a heavily patterned one. If you have a marble effect panel then you could cut a more fluid, random patch shape that will be less obtrusive than a square one.
Repairing Large Damaged Areas
If the panel is damaged extensively then it needs to be replaced. Usually you would replace the whole wall but there is a method of replacing one panel in-situ.
Get the replacement panel cut to length and ready to fit. Score the back of the panel to enable it to flex along the full length. See our article on bending bathroom cladding for more information. Cut out the damaged panel fully. Sometimes it is easier to just smash it out with a hammer.
Check the tongue and groove of the adjacent panels to see if they are clear of any adhesive or staples. If the panels were installed using staples you will have to work out where they are along the length and cut a notch out of the tongue or groove to ensure the replacement panel fits around them. If it is not possible to clear the channels to accept the replacement panel then cut off the tongue and/or groove edges and just butt-join the cladding. Again, silicone sealant can be used to stick and seal in one go.