Showers & Bathrooms


How To Fit Tongue & Groove Paneling To A Bathroom Wall

Fitting tongue and groove paneling to the wall is a nice touch that can give your bathroom a whole new look, and is a great idea if you want to give your bathroom a makeover without replacing your main fixtures.  An attractive way to use paneling is to fit it just up to dado level, so you have a contrast between the wood and the painted wall.  You can decorate your paneling however you like, using a wood stain, varnish or colored paint, depending on what would fit in best with your bathroom’s character.

To fit paneling, you’ll need to build a frame first, then cut boards to fit into the space.  Take care when deciding on the height of your paneling to ensure that you don’t drill into any pipes or cables in the wall.  When planning your design, remember to include access hatches if your paneling is going to cover any stopcocks or shut-off valves, so you can switch the water off in an emergency.  If you’ve got a lot of fittings along one wall, such as a pedestal sink and toilet, it can be tricky to fit the frame and paneling around these obstacles, so you may prefer to just panel walls that don’t have anything attached to them.

When building the framework, a handy hint is to use slightly larger wooden battens than you usually would, of 2in x 2in.  This has a number of benefits.  The wider surface gives you the option to build a shelf across the top, and it gives more space for pipes on the wall to be hidden behind the paneling.  As a guide, about 1yd above the floor is a good height for the dado.  You’ll need to fix 3 battens to the wall, running horizontally, at the top, bottom and in the middle.  Use a spirit level and pencil to mark their positions on the wall before attaching the battens in place.  On a hollow wall, use wall plugs and screws.  On a masonry wall, you can use concrete anchors.  If there are any vertical pipes in the way, cut the battens for that there’s a gap for the pipes to run between the frame.

The design of tongue and groove paneling means that the nails or pins holding it together are concealed from view.  They are inserted at 45 degrees through the tongue, and the groove of the next board covers this.  To work efficiently, cut a number of boards to size before you begin fitting them, and work outwards from an internal corner.  Take into account that if your floor slopes at all, you may need slightly different lengths of board as you go along the wall.

To fit the first board, hold it in place and check with a spirit level that it’s totally vertical, then fix it directly to each batten, at the top, bottom and middle.  It’s just this board that won’t have hidden fixings.  Knock nails through the tongue, then slip the groove of the next board over it.  Repeat this process across the wall.  If you have any external corners, you’ll need to add a decorative molding to disguise the join, which you can attach using either nails or glue.

At the top of the paneling, Cut some 3in x 1in batten to length, and mitre the joints at the corners for a professional-looking finish.  This will look better than butting the straight edges.  Screw or nail the top batten in place, securing it to the 2in x 2in top batten.  You can then add molding to the underside of the 3in x 1in batten as a nice finishing touch, or route the edge of it if you prefer.