Some of the trendiest looks in bathroom design today are created with an unexpected material: bathroom wall paneling. Modern wall paneling is nothing like its predecessors. Today, you can find wall paneling in a vast array of materials and finishes, including everything from sculptural, 3D effects to more classic wood and stone looks.

In addition to being used in new construction and professional renovations, bathroom wall paneling can also be a great option if you want to refresh a bathroom and are looking for DIY bathroom ideas.

In this post, we’ll review the best waterproof bathroom wall panels, break down the different materials used, provide you with wall paneling ideas and answer some frequent questions about using wall paneling in the bathroom.

Types of Bathroom Wall Panels

If the words “wall paneling” conjure images of dark, tired and out-of-date walls in your mind, it’s time to think again. Today’s options are fresh, varied, easy to install and moisture-resistant. Waterproof bathroom wall panels are available in many different materials and styles. Common options for bathroom wall panels include:

  • Acrylic Panels: These are waterproof and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Acrylic panels are lightweight and can mimic the look of glass at a fraction of the cost. They are resistant to mold and mildew, making them a popular choice for shower wall panels as well as elsewhere in the bathroom.
  • PVC Panels: Made from plastic, PVC bathroom wall panels are highly water-resistant and affordable. They are also a good option for shower walls and are available in a wide range of finishes and styles, including those that look like ceramic tiles. PVC is also lightweight and easy to cut, making it ideal for DIY installation.
  • Laminate Panels: Laminate bathroom panels consist of a moisture-resistant core layered between high-resolution images of stone, wood, or tile, and a protective coating. These provide a durable and realistic look and are often used for full-wall coverage and are commonly used for faux stone wall panels, as well as mimicking other natural-looking materials.
  • Wood Wall Panels: Due to moisture sensitivity, marine-grade wood paneling or other specially treated woods are not as common in full bathrooms. However, they can be used in powder rooms or on ceilings to add a spa-like feel to the space. Wooden slat wall panels are particularly trendy and, as a bonus, offer acoustic benefits in addition to good looks.
  • Fiberglass Panels: These are typically used in prefabricated shower stalls and shower wall panels, and are appreciated for their durability and ease of cleaning. Fiberglass can also be found in flat panels for custom installations.

Get inspiration from Re-Bath’s Bathroom Design Styles >>

DuraBath™ is another option that offers a high-end natural look and durability. A non-porous material exclusively available from Re-Bath, DuraBath is completely waterproof, resists mold and mildew and is backed by a lifetime warranty. It consistently outperforms the acrylic materials used in DIY projects or by other bathroom remodeling companies. If you are looking for a quick project that will also deliver high-quality, beautiful results that will last for years to come, talk to one of our design professionals and enjoy a free bathroom remodel consultation.

Bathroom Wall Paneling Ideas for Style and Function

In addition to the common panel options listed above, homeowners can also choose more specialized panels for their bathrooms. Some, like acoustic panels, offer specific functionality. Other materials represent fresh new style options for decorative wall panels. Many are available as peel-and-stick panels, making them ideal for DIY projects.

Specialized and unique bathroom wall panel ideas include:

  • 3D Wall Panels: If you’ve ever admired a wall with unusual textures, such as an abstract geometric pattern or a honeycomb, you were probably looking at 3D wall panels. PVC is one of the most common materials used for 3D panels, however, other materials, including wood, are also used. 3D bathroom wall panels are available in multiple formats, including inexpensive peel-and-stick panels, as well as larger wall panels that are installed with nails and/or glue.
  • Wall Acoustic Panels: Acoustic panels are often seen on ceilings, but they are also available for walls. Some materials and styles, such as wood wall panels and slat panels, provide acoustic benefits. Acoustic bathroom wall panels are also commonly made from other materials, including fabric, styrofoam and rockboard. When choosing wall acoustic panels for the bath, take care to double-check the panels for moisture resistance.
  • Metal Wall Panels: Incredibly durable and long-lasting, metal wall panels are commonly made from stainless steel or tin. Many different finishes, from a burnished sheen to vintage and rustic looks, are available, meaning that metal wall panels can complement a range of aesthetic styles. If you’re considering metal bathroom wall panels, be sure to look for panels designed to be moisture-resistant.

Pros and Cons of Bathroom Wall Panels

Wall paneling in bathrooms has become a popular choice due to its aesthetic versatility and ease of installation. However, like any material choice, it has its pros and cons:

Pros

  1. Water Resistance: Most wall paneling options designed for bathrooms are highly water-resistant, which makes them ideal for wet areas.
  2. Ease of Installation: Paneling is generally easier and quicker to install than tiles, which require grouting and more precise placement. Panels can even be installed directly over existing surfaces.
  3. Easy Care: Many types of paneling are easy to clean and don’t require the regular maintenance that grout lines in tile do.
  4. Variety of Styles: Wall panels come in a range of materials and finishes, including patterns that mimic wood, stone, or tile.
  5. Cost-Effective: Depending on the material, wall paneling can be a cost-effective alternative to natural materials like stone or high-quality ceramic tiles. Installation of panels is correspondingly less expensive, as well.

Cons

  1. Durability: Some types of paneling, particularly the less expensive kinds, might not be as durable as tiles and can be susceptible to scratches and dents.
  2. Moisture Damage: While the panels themselves are water-resistant, if they are not properly sealed, certain types of paneling can be vulnerable to moisture, leading to mold and mildew issues in the bathroom, especially around seams and edges.
  3. Difficult Repairs: If a section of paneling is damaged, it might be more challenging to replace than individual tiles. Often, larger sections need to be replaced. This is especially true of peel-and-stick and other lower-quality types of panels.
  4. Possible VOC Exposure: Some synthetic panels, like those made from PVC, can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), especially when new.

DuraBath™ Wall Systems by Re-Bath

Exclusively ours, Durabath™ is a nonporous material that resists mold and mildew, giving you a space that is easy to maintain and clean. Durabath™ outperforms the acrylic material used by other bathroom remodeling companies and elevates the design of any bathroom.

Contact a Bathroom Remodeling Expert Today

When choosing wall paneling for a bathroom, it is essential to weigh these pros and cons against your specific needs, budget, and long-term plans for your home. Opting for higher-quality materials and professional bathroom remodelers can mitigate many of the drawbacks associated with cheaper products. Find your nearest Re-Bath and schedule a free design consultation today!