Bathroom cladding is designed to last for years and years. But sometimes fashions change or panels can get damaged accidentally. It is possible to replace individual panels (see our article on repairing cladding) but if no replacement panels are available then a makeover might be the only solution. So what do you need to take into consideration if replacing existing bathroom cladding?
Removal Of Fixtures
When replacing existing bathroom cladding you will need to work out what items can be left in place and which need to be removed.
A typical bathroom in Britain will have a bath, basin, and toilet. In this instance the basin and W.C. will need to be removed and put back in place. This is not too onerous a task for most DIYers as the pipework will not need to be altered. If there are service valves on the supplies to these items the job will be even easier.
It will usually be feasible to leave the toilet pan in place and just remove the cistern. Low level cisterns will be very easy to remove but close-coupled cisterns should come off just as easily. Leaving the pan in place means you will be able to flush the toilet with a bucket of water while the refurbishment is in progress.
The bathroom in this article had a back-to-wall pan and semi-recessed basin installed into a run of vanity units. In this instance these items can be left in place as the only area that needs to be re-panelled is the gap between the counter-top and the underside of the wall units.
Removing Shower Fixtures
Most bathrooms will have a shower of some sorts. Either a shower cubicle or a shower over the bath.
It is possible to remove an existing shower cubicle and replace it but it is a tricky process as large amounts of silicone sealant are used during the installation process. This means that the aluminium profiles can get bent when trying to prise them away from the wall. The silicone will then need to be cleaned off the frame before it can be re-fitted. So it is a very involved process. It might be worth considering keeping the shower tray but replacing the enclosure with new.
Over bath shower will either have a bath shower screen or a shower curtain. A shower curtain rail will be simple to remove while a shower screen will require cutting out as they are another item that are installed with copious silicone.
Removing Old Silicone
Bathrooms will need to be made waterproof. In most instances this will be achieved using silicone sealant. As mentioned above, shower items are heavily sealed. But baths, basins and even cisterns are regularly installed using silicone.
The seal around a bath is critical and will need to be removed and replaced as part of the installation process. But silicone has a nasty habit of wanting to stay put. The best way of removing it is with a very sharp blade. In our experience the sharper the blade the easier the job. So we would recommend getting hold of a scalpel from a craft shop. These are non-surgical versions of the ones used in operating theatres.
Swan-Morton make scalpels that are cheap and have a range of different shaped blades. A straight blade is perfect for slicing through seals while the curved blades are ideal for scraping off the stubborn bits that get left behind.
To get behind a bath screen a snap-knife is used with a new blade extended right out. This pushed behind the frame of the sreen and a sawing motion used to work your way down the length. If the frame is wide then this might be neccessary from both sides.
Removal And Replacing Cladding
One of the great benefits of bathroom cladding over tiles is that it can be recycled. Not only that, it can be re-used. If you are careful when removing the panels they should come off in one piece. This will depend on how they were fixed. If the panels were stapled in place then remove the staple with a screwdriver. Then panel will then come off whole.
If the cladding was stuck in place then some care is needed in their removal (if they are to be re-used). You can use a screwdriver, claw hammer, chisel and small crow-bar to lever the panels way from the wall and break the bond. Some panels may not come away without breaking. It all depends on how much adhesive was used and how effective the bond was.
If you want to re-use you new cladding in the future make sure you use a mechanical fixing rather than adhesive as this is the only way to ensure they come off the wall whole.
Can You Fit Panels On Top Of Panels?
Yes you can, but it is not ideal.
Bathroom cladding is decorative not structural. By fitting panels on top of existing panels you are doubling the thickness of the non-structural covering. This will make fixing things to the wall more of an issue than would be the case with a single layer.
There are certain areas where it is not really much of an issue. Between vanity units and a wall unit is an example that springs to mind. But in most cases it is easier to remove the existing panels and fit the new ones. You do not have to make the substrate a work of art. As long as it is relatively flat it will be suitable.