How To Fit A Bath Panel
Once you’ve installed your new bath tub, you’ll need to fix some kind of side panel to conceal the large open space underneath it. The exception to this rule is if you’ve got a roll top or clawfoot tub. Bath panels come in all sorts of styles and finishes, from clean and sleek white plastic to elegant wood, such as pine or mahogany. Some modern designs even include shelving or cupboard space.
Fitting a bath panel can make a huge difference to your bathroom’s appearance and can really complete your bathroom’s makeover. Panels can be purchased ready-made in standard sizes, or you could make your own. If you decide to do it yourself, you’ll first need to construct a frame to hold your panel and it’s important that however you attach your panel it can easily be removed in case you need to get to the plumbing under your tub.
The first step is to take accurate measurements of the height from the floor to the lip of the tub and the length of the bath (as well as the width, if you need an end panel too). You’ll need to take into account how thick your bath panel will be when positioning your frame, as it shouldn’t stick out from the lip at the top.
Then use 2in x 2in plywood and make a ladder frame, screwing the four side pieces in place and then adding a couple of upright pieces for support. If you need to make an end panel as well, follow the same principle. You’ll then need to screw the frame to the wall and floor.
Making Your Own Panel
Measure out the size of your frame onto your chosen material, such as MDF, which is a popular material for DIY bath panels as it’s inexpensive and versatile. Cut your side panel to size (and your end panel if required) using a jigsaw – a handy tip here is to cut just a tiny bit outside the line and then smooth down the edges with a hand plane. Then mitre the corner ends and attach the skirting to your panel with PVA glue and pins, or screws. Add this stage you can add mouldings if you wish, by gluing and pinning them along a pencil line at equal distance from each edge. Then your panel’s ready to paint. Start with a primer, then one or two coats of undercoat, and then apply the top coat in your desired color. You can then fix your panel to your frame using screws.
Using A Ready-Made Panel
If you’re fitting side and end panels, remember that the end one has to fit behind the side one at the corner joint. Hold the panels in position using a spirit level and use a pencil to mark lines on the floor where they will go. Remove the panels and mark a second line 1/8in inside the first. Then screw battens to the floor along this line, putting packing that’s the same depth as the flange beneath each batten, so the battens will butt up neatly to the inside of the panels. Put your panels in place and drills holes through into the battens, then secure in place using attractive looking screws. If you’re fixing just a side panel between two walls, it might be slightly too long, especially if the walls aren’t completely straight. If this is the case, you may need to make a small groove in the plaster at one end in order to fit the panel – this is a better option that trying to cut a very small piece off the end of the panel, which could damage it and affect its rigidity.