Versatile style

Nicola Seymour of Marbrex explores the potential of decorative yet highly practical internal cladding systems over more traditional wall coverings – from reducing labour costs and timescales to ease of installation; long-term cleaning and maintenance

When it comes to creating a bathroom space consumers are naturally, and often unconsciously seduced by products and finishes that soothe the senses – from natural stone tiling to well-lit mirrors and atmospheric lighting; cloud bursting shower heads and deep, expansive baths.

On the other hand, public sector and private rental landlords are far more focused on the specification of appropriate and suitable products; working within the constraints of tighter budgets, planned maintenance schedules and resident responsibilities. Bathrooms and washrooms on a commercial scale are similarly affected yet many still require a hint of luxury; from multiple bathroom installations in a hotel development to washroom facilities in a leisure complex.

So how do architects and specifiers balance the demands of a wide and varied client base? The ‘one size fits all’ solution may well be debatable but there is one product that has the ability to create an idyllic individual bathroom while also fitting the bill for a social housing refurbishment; PVC-U panelling.


It’s sheer versatility that’s causing bathroom stockists across the country to report a rise in popularity of this simple yet high quality product. PVC-U internal cladding can be fitted to walls and ceilings and is ideal for bathrooms, washrooms, kitchens, utilities and even play rooms – where a wipe clean surface is essential. It is also suitable for all wet areas as the panels are waterproof and provide some insulation to help reduce condensation.

Reduced installation times

Keeping a tight rein on budgets and expenditure is all part of efficient site and project management. As an alternative to tiles, paint and wallpaper, one of the many benefits of PVC-U interior cladding is the ease and speed with which it can be installed. Taking around half the time required for tiling, it can even be fitted over existing tiles. Consequently this has far reaching benefits, in that a quicker and easier installation process would inevitably reduce both labour costs and associated timescales.

From bathrooms…

Bathrooms are havens for moisture, steam, and condensation, all of which encourage damp, leading to the build-up of ugly patches of black mould. Not only is this unsightly but it can cause long-lasting and degenerative damage both on and below the surface – be it floor, wall, ceiling or work surface, as well as having a detrimental effect on the health of the residents. Therefore choosing an appropriate wall covering or finish can be problematic – tiles remain the go-to product for the majority, while an influx of bathroom and moisture-resistant paints work elsewhere in the room.

However, one of the drawbacks of using tiles and grout in wet areas can be the build-up of water and moisture. To eradicate this issue interior cladding panels are available featuring an attractive tile effect. Giving the illusion of grout without actually using it, the panels stay clean, fresh and free from mould.

In line with current trends, tile effect panels come in a variety of arrangements including the de rigueur off-set tile formation. This style is very effective across an expanse of wall, perfect for a wet room or washroom.

For properties that require a more traditional touch, decorative wall panels can be used to create a panelled wood effect. This can run from the floor to a height akin to a dado rail or for a more striking look, the panelling can run floor to ceiling.

…To kitchens…

Traditionally splashbacks have been created using tiles, dependent on the surface finish of the tile these can often require a vigorous clean to remove traces of grease and grime. Add to this the problematic issue of keeping the grout clean, and keeping on top of any staining or black mould that may develop in areas such as behind the sink, and it is easy to see why PVC-U wall panels are becoming an increasingly popular alternative. On a day-to-day basis, residents and homeowners need only wipe the panels down with a mild detergent, likewise, the installer or contractor at the point of handover.

…­.And ceilings

Hard to reach, and largely out of sight, ceilings are often the ‘lazy’ area when it comes to redecoration and up-keep. Specifying PVC-U panels as a ceiling covering is an effective way of creating a sleek, uniform ceiling while also offering long-term benefits for the homeowner or landlord – saving on the associated cost and time of painting, decoration and general upkeep. Metallic effect trims and down lighters can also be added as part of the installation helping to achieve a more striking effect.

So whether it’s a social housing refurbishment contract or a one-off private residential scheme, stop and consider PVC internal cladding, and maximise the potential of this truly versatile product.