Has the time come for a complete bathroom renovation, or perhaps you just need to fix the shower up? Whatever your reasons, it is important to know what you’re getting and that you are purchasing the best shower wall panel for the job.
To help you figure out which path to take, we have taken the time to create this detailed guide on shower wall panels.
It’s a complete buyer’s handbook on how to choose them, the various types, and everything in between.
We even have a little FAQ at the end to answer all of your most pressing questions, as well as some of our favourite models we have reviewed for you to check out
After renovating my bathroom last year, I felt like I would have benefitted from an article like this one. So here it is for you...
What are Shower Wall Panels Made of?
There are actually three main types of material for shower wall panels, and while you may find others out there, the three we go through in this section are certainly the best for the task.
This is usually the cheapest type of shower wall, and so is perfect if you are on a budget. This is because it is one of the most common synthetic plastics and can be reformed into numerous shapes – making it a versatile material to use.
These shower walls are also the lightest of the main three, due to the absence of a solid mass in the core; instead using what is known as a vertical cuboid construction.
Their low price does not affect the overall quality either, and you will find that they are just as reliable as some of the higher end products on the market.
They can be used in both residential and commercial environments
If you are searching for a very slim shower wall panel, acrylic is usually the one you want as they can be up to 5mm thinner than their counterparts. However, due to their dense construction, you will also find that they are heavier than the PVC panels on the market, and this is also due to the fact that the core is solid.
One of the benefits of acrylic is that they can come in a range of bold colours or be semi-transparent, giving you a little more variety when decorating your bathroom. They are just as durable and hygienic as the PVC models, but the increased weight and the material can mean that they are more expensive to buy and deliver.
Further Reading: Shower Enclosures for Low Ceilings
These are also known as MDF shower wall panels, so when you are searching for the laminated models, you might have this name pop up instead. These are the thickest and the heaviest walls on the market, and in many ways, they are the best one to go for when you are renovating your bathroom.
However, this does mean that they are usually more expensive to buy. The core of this particular type of wall also has a high-pressure laminated backing on both sides, which makes it incredibly waterproof.
You can pick from a massive selection of designs as well – everything from a marble effect to bespoke images that you supply to the manufacturer. It’s an incredibly versatile shower wall panel that really allows for your personal touch.
What Surfaces Can Bathroom Wall Panels be Fitted on?
Shower wall panels are often some of the easiest items to fit in your bathroom, and this is mostly because they are quite simple to fit on surfaces that might be deemed slightly uneven. They can also be fitted directly over existing tiles and wall coverings, which makes them hassle-free and a lot less stressful to install in your home.
Of course, a smooth and plastered wall remains the best surface. However, if you are fitting them in a commercial building, then you may find that they need to be attached to batons or to the stud wall.
However, the tradesman that you hire to do the work for you will be more knowledgeable on the topic. If you plan on undertaking a commercial task yourself, we strongly recommend you do thorough research in methods and regulations before you start the job.
What are the Benefits Over Tiling?
A lot of the debate over tiling vs panels is down to personal preference, because there are some that like to have a traditional tile in their bathroom, and others that prefer the easy maintenance that comes with shower wall panels.
There are some benefits to using the wall panels over tiling though, and we have listed each of the reasons below for you to consider:
Things to Watch Out for: A Watertight Seal Most of the Time
No matter which material you choose for your shower wall panel, they are going to be waterproof, and that is one of the big factors that draws people in.
You just have to be careful and ensure that the areas where the panels join are fully sealed to prevent any water from seeping through – especially when it comes to the corners. A lot of the time you can use regular sealant(though we suggest some great ones here) or some sealing strips that will help keep everything nice and watertight.
If you are using trims and joints, make sure that they are from the manufacturer of the panels to ensure that they not only fit properly, but that they also work as intended. Every corner and joint needs to be done, and there is no such thing as over-sealing in order to protect your walls.
Things to Watch Out for
Size and Format
You will find that you can buy the shower walls in either a panel format of strips, each of which is equally easy to install, with the strips being better suited to small areas that are in need of panelling.
Generally speaking, the average width for the wall panel will be around 1000mm, although there are some brands that will offer you something thinner than 600mm, and others that even go up to 1300mm or more. It all depends on the brand you choose.
Typically, the height ranges from 2000mm to 2400mm, as this is the standard height for most bathroom walls. It is possible to get taller panels custom made if needed. If you are just doing your shower, you shouldn’t need more than two (maybe three) panels and a joining trim.
Further Reading: Guide for Descaling Shower
Styles and Finishes
There are now a huge actually number of designs and styles available for shower wall panels, with the market really evolving over the past couple of years as tech and capabilities develop.
Even If you go with cheaper models and brands, you wont find yourself limited in terms of what you can get for your money
Brick designs are really popular at the moment as are monochrome, but all down to personal taste so you may be looking for bold and bright colours (if this expresses your personality, go-for-it).
As we mentioned earlier, you can even get some manufacturers to print a bespoke image on the panels for you to really personalise it, imagine what you can achieve here.
For many, the extra expense is worth it to create their dream shower, and honestly, the results can be amazing.
Tile & Brick Effect Bathroom Wall Panels
As we already mentioned, these are really exciting because they take away from the flat design of the wall panels and add a new dimension to them; creating the illusion of real tiles or brick on your wall can be super effective. We have a few example that we reviewed coming up shortly.
Can You Fix Accessories to Bathroom Wall Panels?
This is such a big question, and the reason it is not in the FAQ section later on is because it is probably one of the top things that customers ask manufacturers before they buy.
The short answer is that yes, you can definitely fix accessories to the shower panels without issue. They have been designed to take things like the shower valve, riser rail, or a soap holder so you won’t have any issues with that.
However, if you are looking to attach heavier items (like a shower chair or grab rails), it is strongly advised that you install them onto a load bearing wall instead of the panel so that the weight can be fully supported without any risk.
So, there are some restrictions to the accessories you can fit, but the standard ones will be able to be installed without issue.
Products for Your Consideration
We are committed to finding the best shower wall panels UK for you, and that is why we have gathered a few of our favourite products for you to look at. Our top five are listed below for you to browse through at your leisure.
3 D Natural Brick Design
Offering a realistic design that complements the aesthetics of any bathroom, you have the luxury of being able to choose from six different 3D natural brick designs when you select this shower wall panel.
Made from PVC, they have been digitally printed to ensure the best possible QUALITY and are also waterproof and beautifully sealed to prevent damage as well as mould growth. There’s no need to worry about grout, all you need to do is attach it to the wall and you’re good to go.
The tongue and groove fittings hint towards a much higher-end price tag, but you will find that these panels are highly affordable. Lightweight for your convenience, installation is simple, and you will find that the light feel of the panels doesn’t compromise the quality or integrity.
The matt finish on these 10mm thick panels retains that realistic look and feel - steering away from the often cheap-looking gloss finishes that many budget panels provide.
Sparkle and Marble Effect
Who doesn’t like a touch of glamour? A sparkle and marble effect can feel unachievable on a budget, but these wall panels bring your dreams of sophistication to life - all without breaking the bank or leaving your bathroom looking cheap and tacky.
It uses a simple tongue and groove fitting that doesn’t just make installation easy, it also ensures a watertight seal that requires no grout and no hassle. Maintenance is a breeze too, just wipe down the panels to keep mould and mildew away effectively.
Made from PVC, it has a matt finish that still retains a glorious sparkle effect, and there are several designs to choose from. Suited to most standard bathrooms and with an excellent thickness of 10mm, it remains lightweight without skipping out on the quality.
We all deserve to have a bathroom that makes us feel good and relaxed, so why not allow yourself a taste of luxury?
Modern Carbon Effect
Bringing a sense of modernity and style to your bathroom space, the carbon effect is subtle and yet has a massive impact on the overall feel of the room. It uses the usual tongue and groove fittings to create an interlocking system that is fully sealed to protect your walls.
This waterproofing also means that you are reducing the risk of mould and mildew, with the only maintenance needed being a quick wipe of the panels when you have finished your shower. While they come with a grout line that could fool a plumber, the real thing is not needed.
The panels themselves are the perfect size to fit any standard bathroom, bringing the walls to life effortlessly. They are also 10mm thick, which keeps them lightweight during installation while also offering an excellent level of protection.
Why not take the time to give your bathroom a more contemporary feel with these stunning shower wall panels?
Grey Matt 8mm Concrete Style
It might not sound like the best style, but in reality, concrete can have the most exceptional aesthetic impact on a bathroom space. It creates ripples on the walls that are reminiscent of some tropical cave, making these panels something your shower NEEDS, and FAST.
The tongue and groove fitting mean that installation is effortless and quick, so your shower is ready for use in no time at all. Thanks to its water resistance, there is no need for grout either, saving you the messy part of the job and leaving you with nothing but a perfect finish.
A thickness of 10mm is standard, providing a lightweight feel without compromising the integrity and durability of the panels. They are also the ideal size for standard bathrooms, lining up against the walls perfectly.
Their low maintenance combined with how easy they are to install means that you are guaranteed a result that not only impresses you, but that pesky mother in law.
Executive Grey Tile Effect
For many, the executive bathroom is a concept that exists only in dreams. For you, it’s about to become a reality. This executive grey tile effect shower gives you the sense of importance you know you deserve, and at a low price you can easily afford.
Simple installation? You’ve got it with these panels, locking together comfortably in a tongue and groove style that doesn’t just make life easier for you - it also keeps your bathroom water resistant and free from mould and mildew spawning under the panels.
This is because the locking mechanism creates a fully sealed finish that doesn’t require you to mess around with grout. Making these panels low maintenance as well as lightweight and easy. Plus, their 10mm thickness means that you’ve got plenty of protection and a nice finished look.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best way to clean shower wall panels?
Can you put wet wall panels on top of tiles?
What is the best adhesive for shower panels?
Is there a waterproof paint for shower walls?
What is the best wall covering for a bathroom?
Can you cut shower wall panels?
Hopefully, this has been an informative adventure through the world of shower wall panels. Teaching you all about the do’s, don’ts, and everything in the middle.
Plus, the products that we have specially chosen and listed here should hopefully be an excellent guide when looking at which panels to buy, and which are going to work with your home and design plans.
We only pick the ones we trust and love, so you have our guarantee that you are getting a reputable and excellent quality result. We can’t wait to hear about your dream bathrooms and the panels you have chosen.
What did you think of our guide to shower wall panels? Did it tick all the boxes or leave you wanting more? We love hearing from you, so please feel free to leave us a message with your thoughts and feelings in the comment section below.