Bathroom Wall Panelling - How to Master this Enduring Trend
Once limited to the expansive walls of stately houses, wall panelling or wall cladding has been revived and reimagined as a simple yet effective way to add character and depth to any home.
Whether you opt for traditional Georgian style wainscoting or the more contemporary wood slat wall, the trend for wall panelling has elevated the outdated paint or paper feature wall to another level. But in a room that requires materials that are both practical and aesthetic, introducing wood or porous natural materials to your bathroom is not without its challenges. Read on to discover all you need to know about bathroom wood panelling, bathroom panelling ideas and how to recreate this elegant trend in your home.
Benefits of Bathroom Wood Panelling
The first question on your mind may well be whether to use bathroom cladding instead of tiles in your bathroom. Tiled bathroom walls may be waterproof and easy to clean, but in the same vein tiles can be cold in bathrooms lacking insulation, while tile grout can invite discoloration and mould over time. More than just a decorative feature, wood panelling can offer a number of surprising benefits as an alternative to tiles in your home, even when used in your bathroom.
Wood has excellent heat retaining properties, so it's fair to assume that adding wood paneling to cold bathroom walls will add much needed warmth and insulation. From this perspective and many others, wood is a more energy efficient option over tiles.
Wood bathroom panels offer improved acoustics and are great for terraced houses or when you simply want some peace and quiet in your bathroom.
Bathroom wall cladding is in general easier and cheaper to install than tiles in your bathroom, equally they require fewer materials and less skilled labour.
Bathroom wood panels can not only be cleverly used to hide unsightly pipework and less-than-perfect surfaces, but they can also provide storage in the form of a half wall bathroom shelf or ledge- the perfect spot for bathroom essentials and even a print or two.
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Can wood panelling be used in a bathroom?
Contrary to popular opinion, wood can be used in bathroom spaces. Take some time to consider factors such as splash back and ventilation- wood panelling is best placed away from a shower enclosure and very wet areas. Always ensure you use wood that has been treated with a sealant or painted with a waterproof paint. Waterproof bathroom panels made from prepared MDF are also a great option.
Types of Wood Panelling
Surprisingly for some, bathroom panelling can offer much in the same range of choice as bathroom tiles, all the while making for a quicker and much more effective way to update a room.
Tongue and Groove Bathroom Panelling
Tongue and groove is not a type of panel design as such but rather a method of wood panel application. It refers to how each wood board fits into pre-cut grooves in the next panel. Also known as v-groove panelling, beadboard or ‘Butt and Bead’ tongue and groove applied bathroom panels create a beaded, Georgian effect between the slats that will add a touch of elegance to any bathroom.
Shiplap Bathroom Panelling
Perhaps the simplest type of wood wall panelling, shiplap walls feature vertical or horizontal timber boards that fit neatly together via an overlapping joint in the wood. A key element in the shabby chic trend, shiplap panelling has undergone something of a revival thanks in part to it’s robust Instagram credentials. Moving away from nautical and pastel tones, shiplap has been reimagined for the modern bathroom in vertical orientation and Scandi Noir tones of black, dark navy and charcoal.
Board & Batten Bathroom Panelling
Typically associated with Jacobean or Edwardian architecture, board and batten panels serve to make a real statement in even the most modern of bathrooms. Board and batten wood panelling features square wall panels placed against bare surface or MDF sheets. Contemporary interpretations of this trend feature a series of panels, truncated by square or slim rectangular spaces that create an elegant pattern and a stunning bathroom backdrop or accent wall.
Wainscoting Bathroom Panels
Perhaps the most ornate of bathroom panelling styles, wainscoting involves the use of moulding trim to create frames against the wall. This decorative style of bathroom panelling is typically seen as half wall panelling, and is perfect for bathrooms that lack ceiling height.
Wood Slat Bathroom Walls
Hand in hand with the trend for Scandi or even Japandi interiors, slat wall panels have seen something of a resurgence from their 70’s dark wood predecessor. Thanks in part to it’s simple installation, this minimalist wall trend has been seen in many an Instagram bathroom, to stunning effect. Slim cedar wall panels or oak wall panels, vertically aligned and sometimes stained are a popular and practical type of wood panelling for bathroom walls.
How to Style Wood Panelling in Your Bathroom
There’s no doubt that statement surfaces can have the negative effect of overwhelming a bathroom space. Bathroom panelling requires many of the other elements of your room to be subtle and minimal. So how do you style wood panelling in your bathroom, and what furniture and fittings are best suited to this of-the-moment trend?
The slim, uncomplicated style of the traditional bathroom washstand is the perfect foil for a statement panelled wall. Combining the warmth of wood with a chrome or brass structure brings contrast and character to a room. Our designer Zoe paired the Harrow washstand with a Edwardian rectangle board and batten wall for a look that is equal parts elegant and simple.
Floorstanding Vanity Units
While washstands are an ideal choice when installing a bathroom fitted against a panelled wall, opting for a complementary vanity unit on another plain wall mirrors the style throughout your bathroom. Why not choose a colour matched wood bathroom vanity unit and install opposite your panelled accent wall for a cohesive bathroom suite.
Wall Mounted Vanity Units
Make the most of your statement wall with a wall hung vanity. Floating units are ideal for smaller bathrooms where surface and floor space is at a premium. Likewise, a minimalist wall hung unit such as our System vanity complements more pared back slat or cedar walls especially well.
Fitted Bathroom Furniture
Playing it safe with bathroom panelling is all well and good, but why not throw caution to the wind and embrace this enduring style? Combining wood panelling with fitted bathroom furniture is a great way to make cold or lofty bathrooms cosier and more inviting, all the while maximising on bathroom storage