Steph Harris, Product Manager for Showerwall, discusses the growing consumer demand for bathroom wall panelling and why it’s a natural choice for installers.

Spending more time at home is encouraging consumers to look at new ways in which they can improve their living spaces. This is providing a great opportunity for installers and plumbers, with demand for tradespeople who can provide invaluable advice and skills remaining high. 

Offering a practical, decorative, and hygienic alternative to tiles, wall panelling is now one of the fastest growing markets in home interiors. It has really captured the imagination of homeowners who are keen to transform their bathrooms into sleek, stylish, and low-maintenance retreats. The panels are also quick and easy to install, which is making them a firm favourite with plumbers and installers too.

More design choice 

Long considered something of a low-cost and less inspirational alternative to tiles, bathroom wall panelling has undergone a transformation in recent years. Manufacturers have really upped their game, investing in design and product development and utilising advances in print quality and surface textures to revolutionise the market. 

As a result, there is now a truly stunning selection of sophisticated designs to choose from. Showerwall, for example, offers 84 different styles of panelling, including subway and hexagon tile designs, terrazzos, and minimalist prints.

Panels that replicate the beauty of natural marble and stone with the high performance and lower price point of a man-made material are also readily available from lots of companies. This has resulted in consumers now considering bathroom wall panelling as an aspirational product and the market showing impressive growth year-on-year. 

Perfect for use in shower enclosures, around baths, behind basins, or to create an eye-catching feature wall, panels provide a large, waterproof, and hard-wearing surface with near invisible joints for a seamless look. As there are no grout lines, your customers will find them super easy to keep clean and more hygienic than tiles, as there are no hiding places for mould, dirt, or germs. 

Fast to fit

High pressure laminate and acrylic wall panels are incredibly versatile and can really transform the look and feel of a bathroom space. They are ideal for a partial or full bathroom renovation and come in large formats, generally ceiling height, standing 2,440mm tall with a range of widths with 600mm, 900mm, and 1,200mm proving particularly popular. 

For optimum performance, you’ll find acrylic panels tend to be 4mm thick and HPL 10.5mm. This also ensures they are easy to transport, handle, and cut, which gives you added flexibility to cater for bathrooms of all sizes. Another key selling point is that, using simple joinery tools, panels can be fitted to a wall or on top of existing tiles by a sole installer in less than a day. 

One of the other advantages of wall panelling for the fitter is that there are no specialist wet trades required. This opens up the sector to plumbers looking to diversify and extend their offering, as well as tilers, joiners, builders, and bathroom retailer fitting teams keen to capitalise on this expanding market. 

And, as there is no grouting, there is no waiting around for it to dry, allowing you to get in and out quickly. In fact, we have found that, for most competent tradespeople, bathroom wall panels can be fitted in less than half the time it would take you to tile a like-for-like space, which would be beneficial for both you and your customers. 

Satisfaction guaranteed

In our experience, consumers also love the manufacturer’s guarantees that come with bathroom wall panelling – in Showerwall’s case up to 15 years – as it gives them added peace of mind. Across the board, brands are also looking for new ways to raise the profile of bathroom wall panelling even further. 

For example, we recently launched the Find a Fitter scheme, which is creating a recognised pool of professional installers, similar to those found in other trades such as tiling, to make it easier for consumers to find competent fitters. Such initiatives are good news for the sector as a whole and are providing a further boost to this growing market.