painted wood panels
Think wood panelling is beyond you? Here’s how to nail the look
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 ratedpeople.com.
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.