In these turbulent times, waterproof wall panels may offer social housing providers and local authorities a more effective bathroom walling solution, explains Nicola Lewis of Fibo.
This past year has been an unusual one for social housing providers and local authorities. Individuals across the sector have had their ability to work as before hampered by lockdowns and social distancing measures, and common tasks, such as repairs, maintenance and renovations, are now much more difficult to conduct. As such, those entrusted with these responsibilities must begin to find new ways to operate, which conform with the new normal.
Within the bathroom sector, waterproof wall panel solutions offer a suitable option. These systems provide a genuine alternative to traditional bathroom tiles and are more suited to the current climate.
Faster than ever
Given the current challenges that social housing providers and local authorities face, access to properties is more difficult and time-sensitive than ever before. Therefore, there’s now a significant incentive for those in the sector to adopt solutions that allow for faster and easier installation, such as waterproof wall panels.
In short, whereas standard tiles may take around five days to install, from wall preparation through to grouting, waterproof wall panels can be fitted in a matter of hours. This enhanced speed can make a major difference during this unprecedented moment, enabling those fitting the solutions to get on and off sites more quickly – and allow more installations to be completed in one day.
Better still, leading waterproof panel suppliers are able to manufacture solutions which are large enough to cover rooms, from floor to ceiling. As such, installers are able to complete large swathes of wall space in a single session.
Additionally, unlike standard tiles, waterproof wall panels can be affixed to any secure wall surface, meaning walls do not need to be prepared before application. The panels need not be mounted by individuals with specific tiling expertise either, as they can instead be handled by anyone with basic carpentry skills.
While installation speed is an important factor when specifying bathroom solutions for properties, it’s also essential to consider performance levels. In fact, it’s important to try and mitigate the need for repairs and maintenance by ensuring high-performing solutions are installed from the outset.
Waterproof wall panel solutions are able to excel within this area and provide performance levels that are equal to traditional tiling solutions, both in regard to watertightness and durability.
Additionally, when looking to find solutions that go above and beyond what has come before, social housing providers and local authorities should incorporate new multi-layered solutions, which come with extensive warranty agreements.
It’s also important to ensure that any chosen product has been PEFC certified as a minimum, as well as being certified under the ‘Class 2 Spread of Flame’ test, in accordance with BS 476-7: 1987.
Style with substance
The performance of a system is a major factor, but for some tenants the way a bathroom actually looks is more important to them. As such, social housing providers and local authorities must continue to deliver contemporary styling across their properties. In doing so, this will help to engender happier tenants, which in turn can lead to longer tenancy periods and may even help to grow referral business.
Thankfully, waterproof wall panel solutions make this easy to achieve and are available in a wide range of design options. Design versatility is especially helpful for local authorities who often operate an extensive portfolio of different social housing properties, which can greatly vary in style.
What’s more, thanks to new innovations in manufacturing capabilities, leading suppliers can now produce waterproof wall panels which feature a routed-in grout line, as opposed to it merely being printed on, offering a far more realistic tile look and feel.
The right option
Tiles are often seen as the only choice for bathroom installations, despite issues around the speed of installation, availability of skills, and maintenance.
Waterproof wall panels however are a high performing, reliable alternative, which social housing providers and local authorities should begin to adopt to ensure properties can be renovated quickly, with little disruption to tenants.
Nicola Lewis is marketing manager at Fibo