Can You Put Bathroom Wall Panels Over Tiles?

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Wall panels offer a stylish alternative to bathroom tiles, and they can last longer than paint. It’s no wonder why they are becoming more popular with home building and remodeling. But what if you already have bathroom tiles installed? Can you place the wall panels over the tiles? We’ve researched the installation methods for bathroom wall panels to answer this question for you.

Yes. You can install bathroom wall panels over pre-existing wall tiles. In fact, installing the wall panels isn’t that difficult; it’s rather straightforward. The most important thing to note is that you’ll need to measure the tile area accurately before the bathroom wall panels are installed. This can make the difference between a great wall panel installation and one that develops problems later on.

Wall panels can refresh and invigorate your bathroom, and they have several advantages over wall tiles. Continue reading to learn more about the process involved with installing bathroom wall panels over tiles. And we will also the advantages of both wall tiles and bathroom tiles.

image of a domestic bathroom interior with toilet and bathtub, Can You Put Bathroom Wall Panels Over Tiles?

Steps To Install Bathroom Wall Panels Over Tiles

One of the best advantages of shower or bathroom wall paneling is that it offers a great long-term solution for decorating the shower area. Also, these panels are really easy to fit, require little maintenance, and won’t leak if they’re installed properly. Here are the steps to install them over tiles.

Things you’ll need:

  • Wall paneling
  • A trowel
  • Adhesive
  • A stud finder
  • A drill
  • Mounting hardware
  • Dry erase marker
  • Cleaning cloths
  • A level
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • A sponge

1. Clean the tile surface

Use a microfiber cloth or sponge to clean the tile wall with an all-purpose cleaner. It is important to remove all dirt and debris from the wall tile so that the wall panel’s adhesive will bond properly to the tiles.

Buy microfiber cloths on Amazon.

2. Determine the placement of the paneling

Grab a level and determine where the top edge of the wall panel will go over the tiles. Before doing this, you will need to measure the wall’s entire length to make sure that the wall panel has enough room to fit properly. If you are installing the wall panel to the ceiling, you can skip this step.

3. Mark the placement of the paneling on the wall tiles

Next, grab your dry erase marker and while holding your wall panel up to the wall, mark the area on the tile where the top edge of the panel will go. You may require assistance with this, as having someone else hold the panel for you will make it a bit easier to be precise with your marking. Remove the panel.

Buy a dry erase marker on Amazon.

4. Apply adhesive to the wall tiles

Now that you know exactly where your panel will go, apply adhesive to the wall tile all the way up to the line that you marked. You’ll want to cover the tiles’ entire surface area (that the panel will cover) with adhesive. Use a trowel or a caulking gun to apply the adhesive to the wall tile. It is best to use a zig-zag pattern across to tile to ensure a secure bond.

Also, be sure to place the adhesive around the perimeter of the wall tile area’s edges. This is extremely important, as you don’t want there to be openings where water can get behind the panel. This could cause leaks and other types of water damage to your bathroom and home.

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5. Position the paneling over the tiles

After you have applied the adhesive, place the paneling over the tile. Be sure to apply firm pressure across the surface of the wall panel, starting at the top of the panel and sliding your hands down the length of it to ensure a solid bond.

If you are using hardware to mount the wall panels instead of adhesive, be sure to locate the studs behind the wall tile before installing the panel. It’s best to use a carbide-tipped drill bit when drilling the pilot holes through the tiles (refer to the wall panel installation instructions for the proper spacing).

Buy a carbide-tipped drill bit on Amazon.

Are Shower Wall Panels Better Than Tiles?

It’s hard to say which bathroom wall option is the best, as it really depends on your taste and personal preference. Let’s discuss the advantages of both.

Advantages of panels

Here are some of the primary advantages of wall panels.

Easy Installation

Shower panels offer a quick and easy installation and can typically be installed faster than tile. With tile, you have to cut and place the tile one piece at a time. Installation can take anywhere from one to three days for tiles, depending on the bathroom’s size. Wall panels can typically be installed within a couple of hours.

Grout-free

One of the biggest advantages of wall panels is that homeowners don’t have to worry about replacing grout that has become worn or cracked. Wall panels can be cut perfectly to fit the shower area, and when sealed properly, they are 100% waterproof. When grout becomes worn or cracked, it can cause water leaks–this isn’t something you have to worry about with wall panels.

Low Maintenance

Another great benefit of wall panels is their low maintenance. Cleaning bathroom shower tiles can be a headache, requiring a lot of elbow grease and scrubbing. On the other hand, shower panels have a flat surface (that’s grout-free), which can usually be sprayed down with a cleaner and wiped with a sponge. This means you don’t have to get on your hands and knees to scrub any accumulated mold away from grout. For the most part, all you need is a good all-purpose cleaner and a sponge for cleaning cloth to keep them maintained.

Buy all-purpose cleaner on Amazon.

Cost-effective

Initially, wall panels will typically be more expensive. However, if you consider the cost over the wall panel’s lifespan, you will find that it’s pretty cost-effective. Wall panels are less likely to crack or chip than wall tiles, which means fewer repair costs.

Advantages of tiles

Wall tiles also have their own unique advantages. Let’s discuss a few of them.

Ease of Repair

For the most part, bathroom tiles are fairly easy to repair or replace and can typically be done by one person. On the other hand, wall panels can be heavy, often requiring an additional person to help lift and remove or position them.

Easy to install on curved surfaces

If your bathroom walls have a slight curve to them, you may need to perform extra steps to install the wall panel so that it bonds properly. This may include applying epoxy or filler agents to the wall beforehand. Bathroom tiles are a bit easier to manipulate, as you can cut them to any shape to fit your wall’s curves.

Style Variation

Bathroom tiles also have more customization options than wall panels. Not only can you mix and match tiles, but you can also create different patterns for the bathroom wall. With wall panels, you typically have a single pattern for the entire panel.

Wall Panels Vs. Tiles – The Verdict

So which one is best? In terms of everyday maintenance, wall panels tend to reign supreme, as they don’t require more than a good wiping down every few days or so. In terms of initial cost, bathroom tiles may be the better option as they are fairly inexpensive. However, you may pay more for installation costs depending on the size of your bathroom. Both options have their own unique selling points, so it’s best to determine your project’s budget and consider each’s long-term benefits.

Are Shower Wall Panels Cheaper Than Tiles?

For the most part, wall panels are slightly more expensive than tiles when it comes to square footage. You can find a decent wall panel anywhere from $100 to $300. Bathroom tile can be purchased anywhere from $0.08 to $1.00 per tile, meaning that you can tile a 10-square foot area for under $100. Over time, however, wall panels can make up for their initial cost, as they will typically require fewer repairs than wall tiles.

What Are The Best Types Of Shower Wall Panels?

Shower wall panels can be made of a variety of materials. Here are a few options to consider.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is probably the most inexpensive wall panel option available. Its only disadvantage is that it can succumb to wear and tear over time, developing more scratches and scuff marks faster than other wallcovering options.

Acrylic

Acrylic is an affordable and popular choice for wall panels. Not only is it low maintenance and lightweight, but it is fairly resistant to cracking and chipping, making it a popular choice with homeowners. It also comes in a range of different styles, patterns, and colors.

Glass

If you don’t mind a bit more maintenance, glass panels can also be a great option. They also come in a wide array of designs and colors and can look amazingly stylish. These panels can be a little tricky to set up, so it’s generally recommended to have them professionally installed.

What Are The Best Cleaning Methods For Wall Panels?

The quickest and easiest way to clean your wall panels depends on the material of the panels. Acrylic, fiberglass, and porcelain panels can be cleaned using a mild all-purpose cleaner or any alkali cleaner. It is best to use a cleaning cloth or sponge to clean the surfaces and avoid abrasive scrubbers that may damage the material.

Wrapping Things Up

We hope that this post has provided you with how to install wall panels over bathroom tiles. Before deciding whether to install wall panels or bathroom tiles, it’s best to consider the pros and cons of both options.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

How To Remove Bathroom Tiles (7 Steps)

What Can You Put On Bathroom Walls Instead Of Tiles?

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