painted wood pan­els

Think wood pan­elling is be­yond you? Here’s how to nail the look

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Pan­elling is a sim­ple way to bring ar­chi­tec­tural shape to plain rooms, while pro­tect­ing walls from wear and tear. Avail­able in a wide range of mould­ings, from sub­tle tongue-and­groove to grand pe­riod de­signs, there’s a pan­elling style for ev­ery bath­room.

Q What are the ben­e­fits? With­out a fo­cal point such as a fire­place, con­tem­po­rary rooms can lack char­ac­ter. One way to ad­dress this is by cre­at­ing a fea­ture wall of dec­o­ra­tive pan­elling. Be­sides look­ing fab­u­lous, pan­els are a quick fix for un­even, patchy walls. As long as the plas­ter isn’t blown, and you’ve dealt with any damp, pan­elling can be fit­ted over ex­ist­ing walls for an in­stant neat fin­ish. In the bath­room, it can be a warmer al­ter­na­tive to tiles.

Q Does it have to be MDF? Wood is the tra­di­tional ma­te­rial for wall pan­els but if you’re af­ter a mod­ern painted fin­ish, MDF is much bet­ter value and is ac­tu­ally very sta­ble. In wet, hu­mid en­vi­ron­ments like bath­rooms, it’s es­sen­tial to use mois­ture-re­sis­tant MDF. Painted well in an eggshell fin­ish, it will cope ad­mirably with splashes, but not to­tal im­mer­sion – so don’t use it in the shower.

Q Can I in­stall it my­self? It de­pends on abil­ity but there are DIY pan­elling kits. These tend to be Mdf­based (tim­ber re­quires pro­fes­sional skills and tools) and can be glued onto walls us­ing a No Nails-type ad­he­sive. If you need to work around win­dows or al­coves,

it may be worth hir­ing a car­pen­ter or handy­man – try rat­ed­peo­

Q How high should it be? The top of the pan­elling should sit ei­ther one third or two thirds of the way up the wall. Di­vid­ing it in half can make ceil­ings feel lower. Think about the height of win­dows and san­i­tary­ware, and don’t for­get to in­clude ac­cess pan­els to any iso­la­tion valves or cis­terns.

Q Any tips for a pro look? Most pan­elling spe­cial­ists sup­ply match­ing dado rails, which can be used to hide a mul­ti­tude of lev­el­ling sins, leav­ing a crisp fin­ish be­tween the pan­elling and the wall.

‘Go for pan­elling made from mois­tur­ere­sis­tant mdf that’s at least 9mm thick in or­der to achieve a de­cent look­ing pro­file’

Jon Made­ley, The english Pan­elling Com­pany.

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