Wood Panelling In The Bathroom
Timber, today, enjoys widespread popularity in being part of the continuing strong resurgent trend toward natural materials.
Whilst extensively used throughout the "living areas" of a house, many householders overlook the potential of timber panelling in the bathroom.
Here, timber will almost magically transform the "clinical" appearances all too often apparent in modern bathrooms - it will add warmth and texture as well as a touch of individuality - and, provided the panelling is correctly chosen, treated and installed, one can expect many, many years of maintenance free service.
Solid timber panelling is a designer's dream - it can be installed horizontally, vertically or given a contemporary slant with diagonal fixing.
Existing wall surfaces can be readily panelled over with simple home handyperson D.I.Y. skills and today's clear finish treatments ensure professional results each and every time.
There is a wide range of high quality solid timber panelling profiles and sizes, with species such as Western Red Cedar, California Redwood, Tasmanian Oak and Oregon being particularly recommended for their renowned durability. These kiln seasoned panellings, given correct installation and finishing, can be used with confidence in bathroom situations despite the high humidity and steamy conditions.
Some Important Things to Keep in Mind
- The installation of an exhaust fan in the ceiling or window of the bathroom to remove steam and so reduce condensation and inhibit surface mould growth, is recommended.
- In those areas likely to encounter direct wetting, finish the panelling at least two or three tile depths up from the edge of the bath. Above a shower recess, finish panelling at the top of the shower screen height. Similarly, don't butt panelling boards directly to the floor without adding at least a 75mm deep skirting board to help protect the panelling from picking up moisture through the end grain - water does have a habit of collecting on the bathroom floor particularly with young children about. It's wise also to use narrow, rather than wide boards - panelling manufactured from 100mm and 150mm boards are most suitable and should be secured to timber wall framing or battens at no more than 600mm centres (ideally 450mm).
- A combined nail and wall board adhesive fixing procedure is recommended. Whilst most panelling profiles can be "secret" nailed, the use of corrosion resistant panelling pins (such as special bronzed steel pins) is essential to avoid unsightly rust stains at fixing points, if exposed feature nailing is sought, you can't go past silicone bronze nails.
Most major timber merchants distribute timber panellings and carry a comprehensive range of fixing adhesives and nails, and their helpful staff can further advise on panelling selection.
Descriptive "how-to-install" literature is also readily available and also included in each pack of plastic shrink wrapped boards purchased. Remember too that timber panelling can be easily fixed to most wall surfaces using modern adhesive products.
Some Hints on Finishing
- Sealing or finishing of the panelling boards against moisture uptake is most important and essential. A minimum application of two coats, ideally three, is needed and you have the choice of matt, satin or full gloss final appearance.
- A polyurethane finish will effectively seal the timber from steamy conditions and provide a readily cleaned, low maintenance surface - stubborn marks are easily removed with a wipe down with methylated spirits. Wax and oil based finishes lack long term resistance to moisture and can be difficult to clean and are not recommended for bathroom use. It is strongly recommended that the first coat of clear polyurethane be applied to the individual panelling boards, both back and front, before installation on the wall; paying particular attention to the tongue and groove edges and the sawn ends, to prevent moisture entering the grain of the timber.
- Sawn textured panelling is not recommended for use in bathrooms as the textured surface will retain dust, talc etc. and thus would be difficult to maintain in a clean condition.
- Using solid timber panelling need not be an expensive project, providing adequate planning is done and advice on correct installation is sought. Give consideration to the final effect you want to create in the bathroom, decide whether the boards should run horizontally, vertically or on the diagonal. Remember, small bathrooms will feel smaller with vertical boards, and diagonal fixing will add an eye-catching feature. Don't overlook the ceiling, it can be timber panelled too.