The modern householder is constantly trying to maximise their free time. So products that take up this valuable resource are to be avoided at all costs. With this in mind, tile effect shower panels are a perfect choice.
Tiles have a nasty habit of looking grubby quite quickly. The tile surface will remain pristine but the grout turns mouldy and lets down the whole look. It takes time and effort to keep them looking their best. So rather than bleaching, scrubbing or raking out your old grout why not replace the tiles with something more modern? Something that requires no maintenance at all.
This article will provide all the information that you need on these shower wall panels. This will include details on the various sizes of panels, the materials used to make them and the range of designs available.
Tile Effect Shower Panel Designs
The pattern on the surface of a shower panel used to be applied by a roller system at the factory. But advances in digital printing techniques have meant that more complex designs can be created. The roller system was nowhere near as accurate and could result in grout lines not being in sync.
Two main categories exist when it comes to tile design – large tile effects and mosaic effects.
Both designs are really attractive and are big sellers because they are very popular with customers.
Designs that fall into this category are the ones that most closely resemble the look of a “standard” bathroom.
That’s not to say they are unattractive – far from it. It’s just that people expect to see tiles in a bathroom and that is what these panels deliver. And then some.
They are much easier to install than tiles and will remain looking pristine without ever having to get involved in any maintenance.
As well as fitting them conventionally it is also possible to stagger the grout line. This makes installation slightly easier and provides a more interesting look to the room.
Here are some more examples:
Mosaics look amazing in any bathroom design.
The big issue in showers is that the grout gets to look grubby very quickly. And this is particularly problematic with mosaic. The amount of grout in any given area is much higher with mosaic than it is with standard tiles.
Luckily, there are mosaic effect shower panels that can emulate the look very convincingly.
There are those that give the effect of tumbled travertine or examples that have crisp grout lines combined with white marble mosaics.
This type of tile effect shower panel has to be installed with a continuous grout line. So you need to check where your cuts will fall before you start to install them. Plan out each wall to ensure you don’t get caught out, especially in rooms with high ceilings. Here, you will have less room for error and will not be able to cut as much off each panel to line up the grout lines.
Here are some examples:
Shower Panels Sizes
Obviously, showers come in all different sizes and it is the same situation with panels. But there are two different schools of thought when it comes to lining a shower wall:
- The panel should be wide enough to cover the whole wall with no joins
- Smaller panels that slot together should be used
The largest shower panels tend to be 1200mm wide. This is more than adequate for most showers. But what if your shower is wider than this? For example, there are showers that are 1700mm wide that are designed to fit into the gap left by removing a bath.
Many panels have a tongue and groove jointing system to enable larger spans to be covered. But check with your manufacturer that they are suitable for use inside a cubicle. Bizarrely, some makes do not guarantee their use inside the enclosure.
There are joining strips that can be used but these are ugly and detract from the overall look.
The narrow panels are sometimes referred to as bathroom cladding. But they are also perfectly suitable for use inside showers. They have a few advantages over the large, wide panels.
This type of panelling is much easier to fit. This is especially important if you are refurbishing a shower area rather than starting from scratch. You will find that smaller panels are much easier to manoeuvre into place when working inside an existing cubicle.
Bathroom cladding is cheaper than the large shower panels. Not a major issue if you are only doing a small area but it can be if you are on a budget. If you are looking to redecorate the whole room then the difference can be substantial.
As they are cheaper they are also used more extensively and as a consequence, there is more choice.
On the downside, they will need sealing at each joint and they are not generally as robust as the larger panels.
Shower Panel Materials
You can line a shower with any material that you like providing it is waterproof. But some work much better than others so most manufacturers stick to tried and tested materials.
The most common things that are used for panels include:
- laminate panels with a wooden core
- Heavy-duty PVC panels
- Solid PVC sheet
- PVC bathroom cladding
- acrylic sheet
- laminate panels with a foam core
There are pros and cons for each of these materials and we have several articles that go into the construction of shower panels in more detail – including this one:
Not all of the materials listed above are available with a tile effect. This will be limited to the PVC panels plus the laminate panels.
There are some acrylic panels that have a tile effect routed into the surface but these are becoming less common. PVC sheet will be just one plain colour – usually white. Glass can obviously be clear or frosted. Their use tends to be limited to the component walls of a shower pod.
As mentioned previously, there are a few options when it comes to tile effects if you are working with the small cladding-style panels.
Some designs have two tiles across the width of the panel positioned at an offset (1.).
You then have the option of making them line up on every other panel (2).
Or you can fit them more irregularly to give more of a random effect (3)
Both patterns look good in our opinion but obviously, it is a matter of personal taste. Option (3) is a little easier from an installation point of view. The panels do not have to be cut in such a way as to ensure the grout lines are leevel.
Another option is to mix small and large tile effects. For this to work, you have to choose panels from the same manufacturer and the same range. It might also be advisable to obtain some samples first to ensure they fit together snuggly.
But some very attractive designs can be achieved using this technique. You can even mix and match different shades of the same panel to create your own unique design.
Using Shower Panels Above A Bath
Not everyone has a shower enclosure and for many, their primary location for showering is over the bath. Obviously, the same problem with tiles and grout can occur here. In fact, it is even more of a problem because baths tend to flex quite a bit when in use, causing grout to crack.
Shower panels work perfectly well in this situation. You can use the bathroom cladding style panel or the large sheet panels with equal success. The smaller, tile effect shower panels will be the more common choice here because they are so much cheaper. This size of the bath is such that you will have to join panels together regardless of which system you choose.
As has been shown, there are plenty of shower panels available with a tile effect design. There are also quite a few different options that you need to narrow down if you are thinking of buying shower panels for your own project.
But once you work through the sizes, materials and patterns you should be able to select a design that suits you perfectly.