So is it Tiles or Panels for your Bathroom?

So you’re lying on the bathroom floor, legs resting on the carpet as you’re straddling the threshold of the bathroom and landing, propping your head up with both hands cupping your cheeks, pondering, Tiles, or boards on my bathroom walls?

We should probably start by taking a brief look at the ‘fors’ and ‘againsts’ of each if you’re to get a good feel for the products.

Panel Againsts

1)      They’re plastic, relatively thin plastic at that, so don’t expect too much in terms of robustness. The way I see it, if you’re happy with the impact resistance you get from a skimmed plastered wall, you should be OK with the durability of panels.Panel Damage - how2bathrooms

2)      Maximum length: Most rooms will be OK with the panels maximum length (usually 2.7m), but some of the older houses/apartments won’t be suitable for a panel length of only 2.7m as the ceiling height is too great.

3)      Some of the original panels were printed to gain the aesthetic finish. This is OK in most scenarios, but should you accidentally get any sticky tape on the panel surface, you’re likely to be removing the pattern with the tape!Sticky Tape Panel - how2bathrooms

4)      Again, and typical mainly with the older generation panels, UV stabilizers weren’t in use. Not such an issue if your bathroom doesn’t receive too much direct sunlight, however, if you are fortunate enough to have direct sunlight on your walls, expect discoloured and faded panels over time.

Panel Fors

1)      Don’t like keeping grout clean? You don’t have to with these beauties! The single biggest positive of the panel is the removal of grout from the bathroom, and we all know how hard it is to keep grout clean.

2)      Completely waterproof for all areas of the bathroom. Unlike tiles, which require water resistant adhesives and quality grouts to keep the water out, the panels can form a water tight seal with the unique tongue and groove feature.

3)      Generally cheaper, if taking in to account the supply and installation of panels versus tiles. Whilst some tiles are cheaper per metre squared of coverage, when factoring in the time your bathroom installer will take to fit them, panels come out a clear winner.

4)      Not an intended outcome in the design of the panel. That said, the composition of it, a front piece, a back piece and a collection of veins, extruded as a single piece sheet, mean that the panel with its pockets of air sandwiched between two halves actually has quite an impact on the overall warmth in the bathroom. A plus for those looking to shave a fraction off their heating bills.


So that’s your Panel ‘fors’ and ‘againsts’. What of the option of tiles I hear you say?


Tile ‘Againsts’


1)      Tiles take longer to fit than panels, meaning you get charged more in labour from your installer. Add to that the cost of quality bathroom specification wall adhesive and mold resistant grout and your costs are significantly higher with tiles. If you’re contemplating porcelain tiles instead of ceramic, you can add even more to the potential figure. Specialist adhesives, specialist cutters, specialist drill bits and even more time in installation.

2)      Grouts. We all hate grouts, and that’s because they appear dirty after a while. In fact, they are actually dirty. Grouts, and we mean all grouts here, are porous, meaning they absorb at some level. Once the dirt or grime is in, you’ll greatly struggle to remove it.

3)      You’ve got your swanky bathroom, just like you’d imagined it, now for the finishing touches. Hubby picks up the drill to hang the mirror cabinet and ‘crack’, the tile gets it! Now you’re fretting, have you got another tile? You want it putting on correctly, so that’s another call to the fitter and 2 hours charge!

4)      You never actually get a truly waterproof seal with tiles as you are using a water resistant adhesive, resistant being the operative and a porous grout.


Tile ‘Fors’


1)      There’s no denying the awesome finish you are capable of achieving with tiles, either ceramic or porcelain. It really has no equal except with the option of natural stones or marble type products.

2)      Generally more sturdy as a product.

3)      Although grouts do tire, the tiles are generally likely to be around, surviving everyday use, wear and tear, a lot longer than panels. It is not uncommon for us to encounter bathrooms with tiles upwards of 50 years in age. Could we say that about panels in 50 years?


So you’ve got the facts. You’ve also got the dream.

In summary, if you have no particular preference and a very limited budget is on your side, I’d steer towards the panel option for a well-priced, smart and relatively economical job that will last well.

If on the other hand a wow factor is what you require, keep in mind you will spend more and you’ll need a fraction more time on its upkeep, but tiles are definitely your choice.


Have you got a view on Tiles or Panels for the bathroom?




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