How to fit Bathroom Cladding
One of the questions I get asked the most during the course of a working week is how to fit bathroom cladding. If I had a pound for every time Ive been asked that I’d be a rich man, but I’m happy to give away my advice free of charge.
Over many years of fitting cladding I’ve experienced a variety of different types of installations. Sometimes they require a different approach but most situations are relatively straight forward. Most DIYer’s are fully of capable of installing cladding themselves with a few helpful tips.
Ive put together this comprehensive cladding installation guide to help assist you. Hopefully this gives you the confidence to give it a go, saving you from hiring an expensive tradesman.
Below you will find a list of items and tools you will need to fit our cladding:
- Tape measure
- Screw driver or drill driver with appropriate bit
- Drill with a 5.5mm (for red plug) masonry drill bit (For hard surfaces)
- Silicone sealant & Grab adhesive
- Wood battens (if required)
What to consider before purchasing cladding and beginning the installation:
- Ensure you measure the area you intend to clad correctly. This is so that when you order your cladding you will receive panels from the same batch. Sometimes there can be slight variations in colour across different batches so make sure you use the same batch per installation.
- You will need external corner pieces for any internal or external corners of the room and around columns, windows and doorways.
- If you need to install panels end to end for example a ceiling that is longer than the panels you intend to fit, using a ‘H’ trim will provide a nice joint and hides any gaps where your panels will meet.
- If you’re installing ceiling panels as well as wall panels, you will need to purchase coving joints to cover the gap where the panels meet.
- Walls are not always level or straight, when installing the jointing trims avoid pulling the joints into any dips in the wall. This way you will create a flatter surface once cladded, sometimes a bit of packing underneath the profiles is necessary before fixing.
- If the wall is very uneven to an extent where packing under the panels will not work then the wall will need to have a batten frame built over the uneven wall to create a level surface.
- If the cladding is to be used in a very wet environment such as a shower enclosure or around a bath, we recommend sealing each joint of the cladding with a high quality silicone sealant for an extra watertight seal. This will provide better protection against water getting behind your panels and causing damp or damage.
- Ensure you always leave room for expansion around the entire area of the panels, for example leave a 3-5mm gap around panels in the trims.
How to cut cladding:
All of our PVC cladding can be cut with a utility knife, wood saw, jigsaw or hacksaw.
When using any hand saws, make sure you cut at a shallow angle. This will ensure you create a nice smooth edge.
To ensure a good straight cut use a combination square, or the handle edge of a wood saw and mark your line before cutting.
How to fix the trims and cladding to the wall or ceiling:
Depending on which type of surface you are fixing to you will need to use a fixing appropriate for that surface in particular:
- Brick – 5.5mm masonry drill bit and red plugs with 1 ½ inch x 8 screws or masonry nails where possible.
- Plasterboard – small wood screws no longer than 30mm
- MDF/Wood surface or batten frame – wood screws, nails or staples.
When screwing, drilling or nailing take into consideration possible cable runs from sockets or switches so that you do not damage them. They will either run directly horizontal or vertical from the outlet in each direction. Please consult a qualified electrician for further advice.
How to install PVC wall cladding
Step 1 – Getting started
If you’re planning on only cladding the walls then you may want to consider fitting end caps at top and the bottom of the wall, this way you have a but if leeway with the cutting and the edges don’t have to be perfect. If this is required you should fit these first before proceeding with the panel installation.
Carefully measure from floor to ceiling taking into account any dips or slants so that you can translate this over to your panel cut.
Please refer to our ‘How to measure walls for cladding’ guide for further information on this.
Step 2 – Fitting your first panel
When cutting the panels keep the angle of the saw as shallow as possible to ensure the smoothest cut.
If using a utility knife make sure you use something with a square edge such as a measuring square or wood saw to guide a straight cut along the panel face.
When fitting this first length of cladding you will need to take into consideration what trim you need to fit for where you are cladding up to.
If you’re cladding to an internal corner you may want to cut to length an internal corner trim so that this can be slotted on to the final panel before fitting. If you’re cladding up to a window you will likely fit the trim after the wall cladding is complete so you don’t have to worry about fitting the trim during cladding.
When fitting internal corner trims take into consideration any spacing needed for coving trims that are to be fitted later.
Once you have cut the cladding to size apply solvent free grab adhesive to the back of the panel and fit onto the wall, bending into any trims if necessary, give the panel a few firm pats along the entire face to spread the glue behind and even out the panel surface.
For advice on adhesives please refer to our guide on adhesives ‘the difference between solvent and solvent free adhesives’
If needed fix a few screws or staples into the lip of the panel to hold in place while the glue sets.
Step 3 – Fitting the rest of the panels
You can now cut each panel the same height providing the floor and ceiling are level, if not measure each panel to fit. Your panels use a tongue and groove system to interlock together similar to laminate flooring, we recommend using a small amount of clear silicone sealant on the jointing grooves if the panels are to be used in wet areas, this will ensure the best possible watertight seal.
If you have had to fit battens to the area because the surface is not level. instead of silicone you will have to secure the panels with hard fixings such e.g. screws, staples directly to the battens.
Step 4 Fitting the corner/final panel
For the final panel measure the height and if necessary the width while allowing for the fitting of the end trim/corner trim in your measurement.
This panel will normally be glued into place as previously shown, fitting it can prove to be more difficult than the previous panels, we recommend using a wallpaper stripping blade or similar tool which will allow you to ease it into the previous panel.
Firmly press all over to spread the glue and secure the panel.
Ensure that that all panels are fitted square and vertical by checking each stage carefully.
How to install ceiling cladding
When it comes to cladding your ceiling you can fit directly to the surface providing it is reasonable level and flush, if there’s a lot of dips or high peaks, such as a very bumpy artexed ceiling, fitting a batten frame first would solve this issue.
Fitting a batten frame for a ceiling
First create a level line all around the outside edge of the room, this is so that once you fit all of the battens you can follow this line and you will end up with a nice level ceiling after it is cladded. Drill and plug all of your battens around the level line, then fix a battens across the width of the room, we recommend a batten every 500mm if possible.
Fixing the edging trim
The next step is to prepare the edging trims to overlap in the corners, this is the best method as mitering the corners could create unwanted gaps.
Once cut to length attach the trim to the ceiling or battens on 3 sides of the room,
for now do not fit one of the trims as this will be fitted when you come to fit the final ceiling panel.
Cutting the first board
Cut your first panel while keeping the saw blade shallow to provide a smooth edge,
remove the tongue on the first panel so that it will slide comfortably into the trim.
Flex the first panel into each of the side trims and then slide into place. You may want to use some dabs of glue on the back of the panels along with screwing.
Fix the board at even points across the panel lip or each place it hits the batten with either staples or screws.
You can then go on to cut the rest of the panels to the required length sliding them into the previous panel utilising the tongue and grooves securing in place after every panel.
Fitting the final panel
The final panel will need to be cut down to fit the required gap left over, glue the final trim onto the panel once cut to size, and use some good quality grip adhesive to secure the final panel in place and slide into the previous panels tongue and groove, ensure each end is tucked into the side trims securely.
If required, cutting and installation of downlighting is very easy with our pvc cladding, ensure all cables are installed in place before the cladding is fitted.
We recommend hiring a qualified electrician to install any and all cabling required for lights, switches and sockets.
Fitting panels with external angles and windows with reveals
If you’re planning to fit cladding around a door frame you have a few options:
- Cut the panel as neat as possible between the cladding and the door frame then cover with a bead of silicone.
- Using an End cap to finish around the frame, this will give you the option of having a coloured edge (chrome/white/black) and a bit more freedom with the accuracy of your cut edge.
- If you are fitting new architrave around the door frame you can fit your cladding so that it will be covered by the architrave eliminating the need for an End cap.
Fitting around a window with reveals you may want to:
- Use one of our External corner or Angle trims to continue your cladding into the reveal and finishing off around the window frame with silicone.
If you intend to fit cladding into your window reveals as well, you can utilize any left over cuttings of cladding, this will save you money and prevent any waste of materials.
Fitting around sockets and switches
If you need to fit your cladding around any sockets or switches simply mark around the socket once your panel has been measured and cut to fit the wall, then cut the hole out with a stanley knife or multi tool.
You may need to buy some longer socket screws to fit the faceplate of the socket or switch back to the wall, be sure not to over tighten the screws as this could damage the cladding.
Fitting around baths and shower trays
Before fitting your cladding to a bath make sure that you have adequately silicone sealed around your bath.
Try to cut the cladding so that it is as close to the bath edge as possible while maintaining a proper level.
Fitting cladding around an existing basin or toilet
We recommend hiring a qualified plumber to remove your basin and toilet prior to fitting cladding and to carry out any additional works if you’re not competent enough to do so.
When dealing with existing extractor fans you can remove the front faceplate of the extractor fan to reveal the fixing screws, remove these screws and pull the faceplate out of the hole.
If possible you can cut your cladding around the hole neatly and refit the fan in the same position.
If this proves to be difficult, it may be necessary to hire an qualified electrician to remove and refit the fan for you.
Multitool power tool
These handy gadgets are an excellent tool to use for difficult cuts around sockets or window reveals.
Mitre saws are a quick and precise method of cutting the mitres out of your trims, much quicker than using a square edge.
Small hand planer
This small handheld planer is great for trimming the edges of your panels after cutting.
Silicone profiling tool
This is a nifty little tool used for smoothing silicone around wet areas such as baths and shower trays.