Wallboards, shower wall panels, waterproof bathroom panels - whatever you want to call them, they are the latest big thing in the bathroom world. The idea of cladding your bathroom walls rather than painting or tiling them is nothing new, but since the 1930s here in the UK we have been slavishly devoted to our tiles. There's nothing wrong with tiles, but there are also five key reasons why you should probably choose wallboards if you're making over your bathroom soon.
One of the main disadvantages of traditional tiles is that they need to be fixed to a smooth and even surface in order to get the best results. If you live in an older property with wonky walls or have had to chip off old tiles with a chisel before putting new ones up, you either have to accept that you're going to have an uneven finish, or put in hours of filling and sanding before starting the job. If you're getting in a tiler to do the job for you, this obviously means it'll cost you more. Wallboards come in large sheets and are designed to be applied over a variety of different surfaces. If your wall is a little uneven or has minor imperfections, it won't matter. They can also be fitted over the top of existing tiles. As the fitter is dealing with large sheets rather than smaller tiles, he can complete the job far more quickly than fixing up individual tiles.
Discoloured and chipped grout can make even the most expensive bathroom look shabby and cheap, and replacing the grout can be a nightmare. Painting it over can be a quick fix, but again it is time consuming and expensive to have to keep buying specialist products to deal with dirty grout. Wall boards don't use grout at all. As they are sold in large sheets you may not have to have any joins in boards at all, but if you are covering a larger area, they are joined by metal strips which are far easier to keep clean. Wall boards are very simple to keep clean too; all you'll need is a basic bathroom cleaner, some warm water and a cloth.
It would be wrong to say that wall boards are cheaper than tiles because in many cases they are not. However, it's important to factor in all the additional costs you'll incur when replacing tiles such as the adhesive, grout, special tools, cutters and so on. Wall boards can be cut with a standard saw, and although you will need adhesive, the other costs are minimal. Shower walls are much quicker to install than tiles, so if you are paying a tradesman at an hourly rate, you'll make considerable savings. You can expect to pay between £100 and £150 for a panel measuring 1.2m x 2.4m which compares favourably to tiles. Remember too that you can use offcuts of wall board elsewhere in the house for splashbacks or anywhere else you would usually have tiles.
There are many different companies offering waterproof shower panels these days and there is a huge range of different designs. You can choose from panels designed to look like wood, stone or tiles, plain coloured panels, panels with patterns or shiny, high gloss panels. Most of the large DIY stores and bathroom retailers are now stocking a range of panels and many more are available online. Take a look around and you're bound to find something which is to your taste.
One of the main benefits of tiles is that they can last for decades, but if you look after your shower boards there is no reason they shouldn't be equally as durable. They don't require any maintenance at all, the only rule is to steer clear of bleaches and other strong chemicals when cleaning as this can discolour them. Stick to a simple bathroom spray or non-abrasive cream cleaner and they will look great for years to come.