How to measure your shower area for shower panels

Learn how many shower panels you really need

How to measure your shower area for shower panels
February 23, 2018 Michael Hawkins

Learn how many shower panels you really need.

Looking to clad your shower wall but unsure how many panels you need to buy? I will help you easily measure your shower for cladding, getting just what you need.

Cladding a shower area with decorative cladding is a great way to brighten up your bathroom and provide a clean, fresh look. It is a small relative cost outlay compared to tiling. Completely waterproof when installed correctly. Whats more it should not take you very long in terms of preparation and fit the shower panels onto your wall. Whats not to like?

It’s no wonder so many are now choosing PVC wall cladding as an alternative to tiles.

But how much shower cladding do I need to cover my wall? How do I measure my shower area to work out the wall dimensions? I’m worried I will order the wrong amount of shower panels!

These are common questions and concerns we receive. It is only natural. Let us explain how to easily measure your shower area in a few simple steps to get you on your way.

What you need

It is a simple task, so nothing too complicated is needed. Just a little bit of time.

As is often the case with DIY projects, the preparation is key. Measuring your shower area is pivotal to getting the preparation right. It is always good to put in solid foundations for any DIY project and planning is ALWAYS critical – your shower wall panels are no exception.

Often a bit of extra thought at this stage saves a whole lot of pain later on. Whether that be time or money.

All you will need to measure your shower wall is the following:

  • Paper – yes the back of a letter often does the trick!
  • Pencil (maybe a rubber eraser as well) or pen
  • Calculator – the one on your mobile phone often does the trick
  • Tape measure – longer the better to go the height/length of your longest wall, wider ones flex less making it easier too

As you can see the tools needed for measuring your walls are fairly standard and found in any regular home DIY toolbox.

Your existing shower area

Measuring up your shower area for cladding is very simple. Simply measure each wall width and height, one by one, taking note, wether that just be with a number or a little room plan illustration.

As long as the heights/lengths are lower than that of the cladding you plan to install to your shower wall, everything should be straight forward. Most panels come in lengths of 2600mm. You generally only have to worry about the width. Panel width can range from 200mm up, but often standard shower wall panels are 250mm. Bigger width panels such as 1000mm (1m) wide are easier to install as they cover more in one go, but are generally more expensive.

Pro Tip: When measuring any wall make sure to sample the lengths of a wall at various points to find the longest length. Walls can often run out of line and give varying measurements. You want the longest one.

Please note: Unlike flooring where offcuts of the flooring panels are used to make up the next sequence, this is often not the case in cladding a wall. Lets say the height of your shower wall is 2400mm (2.4m) for example. The panel you are looking to cut is 2600mm (2.6m). Once cut that leaves you 200mm (0.2m) of a panel spare as an off-cut that you can’t use. So when working out the square metre coverage you can’t work it out by pack/coverage coverage of using the length of 2600mm (2.6m). This is why when working out how many panels needed to always work with the width.

Simply divide your wall width measurements with the the width of the panels you intend to use.

Calculation for installing shower wall panels vertically

The most common way to install the panels on a wall is vertically. This means that the longest length of the panel exceeds the height of your wall. If it does not and it extends beyond the longest length of the panel you would have to source a longer length panel (maximum most come is 3000mm) or use a profile trim known as an H-joint to join 2 different panels together to make a longer length which is not ideal for your finish.

In most cases though standard panel lengths are more than enough to cover the height of your shower area from top to bottom. This makes it easy to calculate your panel usage with the following calculation.

(Wall width) ÷ (Panel width) = (Panel amount)

1500mm ÷ 250mm = 6 panels

Calculation for installing shower wall panels horizontally

If you intend to fit the panels horizontally, use the exact same calculation but with the ceiling height measurement instead. Be aware that you would be best having shower wall cladding panels that have a length greater than the width you are covering horizontally so you have no joints in your finished wall.

(Wall height) ÷ (Panel width) = (Panel amount)

2400mm ÷ 250mm = 10 panels (9.6 panels rounded up)

In this example we have to round up the number of panels to give us 10 as panels can’t be bought in fractional units of course. When dealing with quantities it is always best to round up. When working out totals it is often given to work out your calculations then add 10% to be safe for any miscalculations, mistakes or spares for in future. Often product is manufactured in batches and so colours, finishes can be inconsistent. It is best to make sure you have sufficient from the outset so all finishes match. For example 2 whites are usually never perfectly the same due to inconsistencies in processes/mixtures when manufacturing. You wouldn’t want one panel being different and standing out!

Preparation

So you’ve decided you would like to install cladding into your shower area, first you need to take into account what you currently have on the shower area walls as this will dictate how you fit your new cladding panels.

Tiles

To install cladding directly onto tiles the tiled surface has to be reasonably flat and sound so that the resulting cladded surface will also be flat, if there are tiles that are sticking out by a fair margin this could cause a problem with getting adequate support behind the panel and you will struggle to achieve a nice flat surface, it is best to remove these kinds of tiles to avoid any issues.

If part of your shower area is half tiled it is best to remove these tiles if you can and clad directly to the surface beneath it if it is still sound. You could also pack off the non-tiled half of the wall with plasterboard or waste cladding so that it would make the entire surface level the same, this is permitting you can trim off the edges so that the subsurface is hidden.

If you choose to remove the tiles make sure any broken plaster board or any major damage to the surface is repaired and made good for the cladding to stick to, this is so that the cladding will have no dips or any weak points in its surface.

We recommend using silicone adhesive if you are fitting panels directly to tiles as it adheres to the tiles better and is more sticky, making it easier to work with the panels when getting them to adhere to the surface.

When fixing the panels in place use screws and aim for the tile grout lines.

Old cladding

If you happen to have cladding installed already and you’re simply updating the colour or style with a new one, we recommend removing the old panels before proceeding with installing the new ones as this will ensure the cladding is installed to a good solid surface rather than being doubled up with old cladding.

Make sure that when you remove the old cladding that you remove any large clumps of adhesive or silicone along with it so that this will not interfere with installing your new panels.

Newly built shower area

If your shower area has been newly built or re-boarded, then you can simply fit the panels directly to the boards no skimming required, we recommend first making sure that the pipework for your shower has been first fixed before covering the surface with cladding.

Prepping the area

Once you have made the shower area surfaces sound, be sure to remove as much of the old silicone adhesive from your tray as possible, as sometimes the newly cladd surface won’t be as deep as a previously tiled wall for example, which would result in flaky unsightly old silicone being visible where the panels meet the tray.

We recommend purchasing a silicone removal tool and removing as much of the thick of the silicone as you can first, then apply some silicone sealant remover (available at most DIY stores) to the remaining silicone, this will have to be left for a certain period of time before it will work through the silicone, please consult the user instructions that came with the sealant remover for recommended working time.

The more silicone you can remove with the removal tool the better as this will reduce the amount of times you have to reapply the sealant remover.

You will more than likely have had to remove your shower bar/unit in order to fit cladding make sure that you have removed any nuts and olives from the pipework so that you won’t have to create a bigger hole for the pipe to fit through.

Remove any large bumps or lumps of old adhesive from the surface area.

We recommend resealing the shower tray before as well as after the cladding has been installed, this ensures that no water will find its way through.

Providing adequate support for fitments

If you intend to install any new fitments, you must ensure the subsurface is sound and can take the weight of what you intend to fit, the subsurface will also dictate what kind of fixings you will use for your fitment.

For a solid wall subsurface you can use plugs and screws like you normally would if it were a regular uncladded wall, just make sure you drill through far enough so that you can fit the plug all the way through past the cladding and into the solid surface underneath.

If you intend to install anything load bearing in the shower area but the sub surface is plasterboard we strongly recommend fitting timber supports behind the plasterboard so that it will provide adequate support. If installing a new shower enclosure the tray will take most of the weight so plasterboard fixings would be adequate to hold the enclosure in place.

DO NOT affix anything to the cladding only, you must always ensure fixings go through to the subsurface, the cladding will not support any fitments.

Shower Pipework

When installing your cladding over existing or new shower pipework, you should always take into account the type of cladding you are installing, if your cladding has a particular pattern such as a tile effect you may want it those designs to line up with the shower bar/unit’s centre.

To achieve this start by marking the centre point between your shower pipes, for bar showers the measurement between the pipe centres tends to be 150mm, so 75mm from either of the pipe centres (hold tape measure over the centre of the pipe end), mark this onto your subsurface.

All you need to do now is to decide how you would like the panel to fit over this pipework, if you want the end of a panel to line up with the centre point, start by drawing a pencil mark every 250mm (this measurement may change depending on your panel width) towards the corner of your shower area until you reach the end, the spacing between your final marking and the wall will be the width you need to cut your first panel, as you will be working away from the corners.

If however you would like a panel to be centralized over the shower pipework, mark half of your panel width away from the centre and a full panel width from then on until you reach the corner, and repeat the steps from the previous method.

For electric showers use the same method but this time take into account the location of the shower unit itself, mark its centre point and work away from that.

Making sure everything is water tight

As previously mentioned we recommend resealing the shower tray before fitting the cladding and then adding another silicone seal where the panels meet the tray once they have been fitted.

When installing your cladding you should apply a bead of silicone along the inside of each trim before fitting a panel into it, this will ensure no water will work its way behind the panels and soak through the subsurface.

Before installing your shower bar/unit seal the opening where the pipework protrudes with silicone, this will prevent any water getting behind the pipe covers and the panels through the opening.

When it comes to sealing up your enclosure/screen, silicone should be applied to the outside of your enclosure only, this is because your enclosure is specifically designed to allow any water to drain back down into the shower area and down into the waste, if you were to seal the inside as well then any water that may find its way into the space behind the channels would cause the silicone to go mouldy and black, the water can also become stagnant causing bad smells, so remember to only seal the outside of your enclosure. You should always refer to the manufacturer’s installation manual that comes with your enclosure (if new) during fitting.

When it comes to smoothing off your silicone beads there are a variety of methods, the most basic being the tip of your finger running continuously from the starting point to the end.

Pro Tip: Try spraying some soapy water onto freshly applied silicone before you smooth it off, the soapy water will prevent the silicone from sticking to your fingers or any smoothing off tools you use resulting in an evenly applied and smooth bead.

This is where we would suggest a pro tip to the readers to solve an issue they may have.

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