Waterproof wall panels yield benefits

From speedy installation times to improved long-term performance, opting for waterproof wall panels offers a true alternative to tiles for kitchen and bathroom projects. Here, Scott Beattie, Managing Director at Fibo, explains more on the benefits and why these products are the obvious solution.

Whether for a new build, or refurbishment project to attract new tenants, it is important to carefully consider methods that can make life as simple as possible for everyone – landlords, agents and tenants alike. When it comes to kitchens and bathrooms, tiles are often chosen to create a waterproof wall surface. Although they do the job, there are other, viable options available on the market that can offer the same, if not further benefits – and should not be overlooked.

The alternative

A true alternative to tiling is a laminate wall panel system. Quite simply, a wall panel system is a type of wall cladding that is 100% waterproof – if fitted in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions – made using high quality plywood core panels, bonded with high pressure laminates. High quality products will include a discrete, yet robust, waterproof tongue and groove locking system for a seamless finish, that can withstand both direct water spray and large temperature fluctuations, completely replacing the need for tiles.

Easy and cost effective installation

A key benefit of using these systems is the time savings they can achieve. 

For bathrooms refurbishments, for example, the job can be completed up to five times faster using panels, compared to tiling.

The installation process for wall panel systems does not require specialist tiling skills or expensive tile cutting blades and machinery. In fact, wall panel systems can be fitted by anyone capable with standard woodworking tools. For housing managers and landlords this opens up opportunities to save on labour costs and by removing delays on projects waiting for the availability of skilled tiler labour and installation, meaning tenants can move in quickly and disruption is minimised.

The panels can be fitted to almost any wall surface and the wall does not need to be prepared to the same extent as with tiling. The laminate wall system can be glued directly on to plasterboard or existing tiles, opening up more possibilities for landlords to refurbish their portfolio, without disrupting the tenant’s bathroom facilities for long periods – and with a lot less mess. 

Installers can also easily affix items such as mirrors, radiators and shower fittings to laminate panels, without worrying about the panels being damaged or cracking (as they would with tiles). It is also possible to drill holes in the panels to accommodate any pipework, or to install safety frames or other assisted living solutions. 

The size and ease of installation means installers can cover larger areas quickly. The standard panel size is 2400mm high and 600mm wide. This height will be large enough to cover the full wall height in most bathrooms – and other sizes are also available, to accommodate a wide range of projects.

But is it really waterproof?

If installed correctly, laminate panels from trusted manufacturers will be completely waterproof. For example, Fibo products feature a 7-layer birch core and an enhanced moisture barrier backing. The Aqualock system technology ensures a secure seal between the panels to create a seamless, waterproof joint. If all exposed plywood edges are fully sealed with a recommended polymer sealant – and fitted in accordance with the instructions – they are guaranteed fully waterproof. 

Landlords can be confident in the longevity of the system by selecting high-quality products that include a warranty. Fibo provides a 15-year guarantee that correctly installed panels will remain watertight and will not crack or delaminate.

A range of possibilities 

By opting for laminate panels, landlords and housing associations can choose from a wide variety of patterns and finishes, to suit every aesthetic and budget without compromising on quality.  Uniquely, Fibo can offer panels that include routered ‘tile lines’ as well as a variety of textured surface finishes to create a traditional look and feel of tiles. Tenants can enjoy a spa-like bathroom in a matter of hours without the time and expense of buying, delivering, cutting and installing real marble! In the private sector, this can contribute to an improved rental yield and attract new tenants. 

The panels also do not require grouting, which means that they are more hygienic and easier to clean – maintaining their ‘new’ look for longer and offering further benefits to the tenant. 

For bathroom and kitchen installations or refurbishments, opting for laminate panels rather than tiles can reap a number of benefits to housing associations, landlords and homeowners; from a faster installation process through to easier cleaning and maintenance, with no concession on the design. 

To find out more about the Fibo range of kitchen and bathroom waterproof wall panel systems, visit www.fibo.co.uk.