11 bathroom wall paneling ideas that add personality (2023)

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Give your space a new lease of life and invest in the latest bathroom wall paneling ideas for an instant uplift.

Guaranteed to add character to the bathroom, wall paneling is not just reserved for period homes, and this timeless feature is having a renewed moment in bathrooms everywhere. From traditional to modern spaces, paneled walls are guaranteed to bring lived-in charm. Not only will paneling disguise a multitude of sins – think uneven or badly finished walls – but paneling can even mask pipework, enhance smaller bathroom spaces and will give featureless rooms, or newly built build boxy spaces, decorative detail and interest.

Bathroom wall paneling ideas for a versatile finish

Classic, square wainscot or shaker style wall paneling and shiplap will of course slot happily into historic homes, but will look equally as good in newer properties too. A painted finish that incorporates baseboards and the wall creates a smart, seamless style. You can make wall paneling contemporary too with, slim vertical, ribbed or reeded texture, or try a geometric layout. Reclaimed paneling will help create a rustic retreat look and the unpainted wood will bring natural warmth and texture.

1. Incorporate a hook rail

11 bathroom wall paneling ideas that add personality (1)

(Image credit: Neptune)

(Video) Budget Interior Design Finishing Touches: Wall Trim And Panelling Ideas

Not just a pretty wall covering, this paneling features a practical idea too. The traditional style Wardley (opens in new tab) coat rack has been incorporated along the top length of the paneling to create handy hooks. Create a seamless finish by staining the same color as the panels. Just the place to add a small hanging basket to keep toiletries handy but tidily out of sight.

2. Make it rustic luxe

(Image credit: Aquabella)

Not one but two styles of paneling create a contrast of rough with smooth. The textured stone effect teamed with sleek, slimline wood taps into the trending Japandi aesthetic as Katie Fitzpatrick atMerlyn Showers (opens in new tab)explains, 'Some key features of Japandi design are neutral main colour palettes, accented with black fixtures and brassware. Japandi style also leans heavily on the use of wood, and the connection to nature, while also having functionality at the core.'

3. Pair with wallpaper

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(Image credit: Dado)

Paneling will add instant character to room that's lacking any period detailing or architectural features. Give a bathroom a traditional finish with wainscot inspired panels, layering with a baseboard and top trim for decorative flair. Adding a ditsy print bathroom wallpaper like Paisley from Dado (opens in new tab), brings instant vintage charm and even more lived-in personality to the bathroom.

Provided you have a spongeable wallpaper and the room is well ventilated, there's no need to shy away from wallpaper in the bathroom, incorporate a low level backsplash to protect it from splashes by taps. You can always add a clear coat of flat varnish for added protection.

4. Take it horizontal

11 bathroom wall paneling ideas that add personality (4)

(Image credit: Little Greene)

(Video) How to Install Paneling | Wall Ideas & Projects | The Home Depot

Shiplap, it's a signature style of designer Joanna and Chip Gaines on most their Fixer Upper renovation projects and looking at this bathroom, we can see why. Laying the boards horizontally will create an optical illusion by opening up a narrow bathroom. Large boards also help widen the space, just keep them painted white or in light tones.

5. Be inspired by biophilic design

11 bathroom wall paneling ideas that add personality (5)

(Image credit: Waters Baths of Ashbourne)

You can fill your bathroom with house plants to feel a connection to nature, or bring the outside in by introducing green, as Marianne Shillingford, Creative Director at Dulux (opens in new tab) explains, ‘green works in modern homes because it connects us to the fields, forests and open spaces that we lack in our indoor lives and gives us energy that is fundamental to human existence.’

Along with various green bathroom ideas, painting paneling a soothing shades of mid green creates both a relaxing and uplifting hideaway, as Katie Fitzpatrick, Digital Marketing Manager at Merlyn Showers (opens in new tab)says; 'there are many benefits to adding biophilic design to your bathroom – it can support cognitive function while boosting physical health, and psychological well-being.'

6. Create an industrial-chic design

11 bathroom wall paneling ideas that add personality (6)

(Image credit: Dunellm)

Create a striking statement behind a sink using rustic or reclaimed boards. Treat wooden boards with a rich, dark stain to pair up perfectly with black metal accents and subway tiles for a modern industrial finish. Alternatively try reclaimed boards, the natural patina and silvered tones will create a characterful, rough luxe finish.

7. Create an immersive atmosphere

11 bathroom wall paneling ideas that add personality (7)

(Image credit: BC Designs)

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Dare to be dramatic with panels painted in darkest inky blue or black. The addition of paneling elevates the whole space, plus adds an instant lift by creating light and shade on what would have been a flat wall. Paint baseboards the same color for a seamless flow and to ensure the walls looks elongated.

For a fully immersive space where you can escape, take it one step further and carry the color up on to the ceiling, including painting any woodwork too. Bring in polished metallics like brass and chrome, a mirror for sparkling highlights and lush green plants to bring the bathroom to life.

8. Use paneling to create a shelf

11 bathroom wall paneling ideas that add personality (8)

(Image credit: Bathroom Mountain)

Boxing paneling out from the wall may be a necessity to disguise any plumbing work, but you can use it to your advantage to up the style stakes in your bathroom. Add personality to the space and use the top ledge of paneling as you would a picture ledge to display prints and artwork, vases and accessories.

Contrasting the modern with traditional elements — like paneling with a modern bathtub and abstract prints, is something we're set to see more of for 2022, as Darren Allison, Managing Director atBC Designs (opens in new tab)explains: 'Thistrendis about how you successfully combine the two styles. The secret to making it work is in the mix. Just remember, opposites attract! Traditional bath with modern and sleek faucet. Period faucets with a modern shaped sink.'

9. Update a bath

(Image credit: Matalan)

Re-vamp a bath panel by cladding it in wood. Natural wood grain brings a little retreat vibe to this otherwise utilitarian space and turn up the temperature on a minimalist, neutral palette by using this organic accent. 'Materials such as wood, stone, marble and textures from hemp, rattan and wicker will be used extensively in bathroom design, not only as a way of bringing outside in, but also to soften the space, creating a warm and inviting room that has undertones of a cozy living room', echoes Barrie Cutchie, Design Director at BC Designs (opens in new tab)

10. Fake it with wallpaper

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(Video) How to Install Beadboard Wainscoting | Wall Ideas & Projects | The Home Depot

(Image credit: Minehart)

Want a short-cut to some period drama? Tap into one of the latest wallpaper trends and trompe l'oeil for a floor to ceiling Cream Paneling (opens in new tab)effect. Not just an easy DIY task, but a budget-friendly solution too. Use it to create a stand-out feature wall, or take it to around half-height and top and tail with a wooden trim painted in the same tone for a neat finish. A vinyl wallpaper like this has water resistant properties so is ideal for humid bathrooms and is easy to wipe clean.

11. Add drama to a small cloakroom

11 bathroom wall paneling ideas that add personality (11)

(Image credit: The Luxury Bathroom Company)

Small bathrooms can be beautiful too, there's no need to limit your design choices in a downstairs cloakroom, if anything, it's the perfect place to get creative and experiment. Whether using tongue and groove or Wainscot style panels, leave space at the top, going half way or two-thirds up the wall for visual balance. Going for total color drench in such a deep hue is a bold move, but just adds to the impact. Brass faucet, lighting and mirror create a rich, gleaming contrast and give the whole look a modern spin.

Paul atSanctuaryBathrooms (opens in new tab)says: 'gold is certainly going to come back in 2022. Customer are coming in looking for brushed brass items but then seeing gold fixtures and fittings and liking that more.'

Is paneling a good idea in the bathroom?

Although a humid space, paneling can indeed be used in the bathroom. Like most wood that's in contact with water or fluctuating temperatures, there is a risk of warping or shrinking however the right treatment will keep wood paneling protected and in good condition.

If you are building a base from the wall on which to attach panels, ensure any battens are treated and backboard is water resistant. Any unpainted wood panels should be coated with protective stain or varnish.

When it comes to painting wood paneling, start with a wood primer and then use specialist paint that has a durable finish. Emulsion won't withstand scuff and scratches too well, so if you want a matt finish, choose an eggshell paint, this low sheen option will be washable and suit both contemporary and traditional bathrooms styles. A satinwood is similar, still with a low to medium sheen level but the light reflective qualities will give a subtle lift over a flat matt finish. Finally, gloss will offer a highly durable, lacquered effect for a smart, high shine effect. Look for a water-based formula over oil for a faster drying finish.

Does paneling make a bathroom look smaller?

Paneling will ultimately bring the walls in but it can still be used to create an optical illusion and play with the proportions of the room. In a narrow bathroom, wide shiplap boards can be used horizontally to open up the space, just stick to a white or light paint color. Similarly, vertical tongue and groove can be used to elongate a room, particularly if you take them all the way to the ceiling.

Shaker style or narrow ribbed paneling will add a sense of intimacy but to painting in a pale hue will help to reflect the light. That said, dark colors can trick the eye too, and it’s not true that small rooms must be painted white to make a space look bigger, a similar effect can be created with dark colors too, by giving the space more depth as the color subtly changes through the day. Paint expert Annie Sloan explains; ‘ Pale colors will emphasise the light in the room, but dark colors will blur the corners and edges creating the illusion of space’.

FAQs

What is the best paneling for a bathroom? ›

What kind of paneling can be used in a bathroom? MDF paneling is the best choice of material for a bathroom, as it's moisture resistant, so unlike wood it won't expand and contract as the humidity in the air shifts.

What paneling makes room look bigger? ›

Exaggerate vertical space with vertical panels

Whether you have a high ceiling in your space or not, you can make a small bedroom look bigger by exaggerating the room's ceiling height with vertical panels or stripes. This is overt in this room – but even a vertically striped wallpaper will do the trick.

Does wall panelling add value? ›

Adding panelling to your home not only increases the value and allows the contribution of a more durable space, but it is also extremely aesthetic and creates unique opportunities when painting and decorating.

Is panelling a good idea for bathroom? ›

Shower panels from Multipanel are the ideal waterproof cladding for shower enclosures, bathrooms and wet rooms. Quick to install and easy to maintain, they will stay looking beautiful for years to come.

What can I put on my bathroom walls? ›

5 Best Bathroom Wall Options
  • Summary.
  • Vinyl Wallpaper.
  • Paint.
  • Tile.
  • Beadboard.
  • Tileboard.
2 Apr 2022

What is the best material to use on bathroom walls? ›

Ceramic and Porcelain

The most difficult aspect of selecting from such a wide range of styles and patterns is narrowing down the best bathroom wall options. Ceramic is typically less expensive than porcelain, which is thicker, more water-resistant, and more long-lasting.

What colors make a room look bigger and brighter? ›

Lighter paint colors like off-whites, light neutrals, pales, and pastels give the illusion of larger, brighter rooms.

Does panelling make a room look bigger or smaller? ›

Does wall panelling make a room look smaller? It's not a hard and fast rule no, but it can be used to make a room feel cosier and more intimate. That said, if you're adding vertical planks of wood to a wall, it could help the space seem larger as they'll draw your eye upwards towards the ceiling.

How do I make wall paneling look good? ›

“A fresh coat of white paint,” says Bee Heinemann, an interior design expert and marketing director of Vänt Wall Panels. Start with a good primer to cover all that panel and wood grain, then add a few coats of a vivid white paint. “It brightens a room and gives it a rustic, cottagelike decor,” Heinemann says.

How tall should wall panels be? ›

The traditional rule of thumb is that wainscoting height should be a third of the wall's height, including the cap or any moldings. So if you have 9-foot walls, then 3-foot (or 36-inch) wainscoting will look great. Scale down to about 32 inches for rooms with 8-foot walls.

What renovation adds the most value? ›

Projects That Boost Your Home's Value
  • Boost the bathrooms. ...
  • Remodel the attic or basement. ...
  • Get decked out. ...
  • Boost curb appeal. ...
  • Improve energy efficiency. ...
  • Swimming Pools. ...
  • Luxury Upgrades. ...
  • Garage Conversions. Converting garages can add square footage to your home's living area, but most buyers want garages.

› ... › Molding & Trim Designs ›

Originally used for additional insulation and durability, paneling is now a mostly decorative element that adds texture and dimension to walls. Although it'...
Whether you want to go classic or contemporary with shiplap or wainscoting looks, there's no better way to add more design interest to a room than with this...
As a designer, sometimes it's easy to feel daunted by an empty wall. The versatility of wall paneling can be surprising. It is one of the most widely used a...

What kind of paneling can you use for shower walls? ›

Waterproof paneling for shower walls is the best option for covering all your bathroom.

What is the difference between wall panels and shower panels? ›

Shower panels are used for the area around your shower, whereas bathroom wall panels can be used for the entire bathroom. If you're looking to redecorate your bathroom with wall panels, you'll simply need to make sure they're the right kind of wall panels – using PVC rather than any of the other materials.

Can you use MDF paneling in a bathroom? ›

Moisture Resistant MDF Panels are Ideal for Bathrooms and Basements.

What can I use on bathroom walls instead of tiles? ›

Acrylic is one of the most cost-effective materials for your bathroom. Cheaper and with fewer problems than tiling, it can give you the look and functionality you're after at a fraction of the cost. It is extremely durable, stain-resistant, and can resist scratching or chipping.

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