Bathroom panelling ideas for every style

The right bathroom panelling ideas can bring a bathroom to life.

But there are a few important things you’ll want to consider with bathroom panelling to avoid some costly and surprisingly common mistakes.

Here we’ll cover what those costly mistakes are, how to avoid them, and provide you with the perfect bathroom panelling inspo whatever your style!

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Is panelling a good idea for the bathroom?

There’s one key difference when panelling your bathroom compared to any other room in the house.

Moisture and humidity can affect how your panelling behaves.

So, while your panelling might look beautiful when it’s first installed, over time it can warp and change leaving it look dated surprisingly quickly.

That said, the short answer to the above is yes! It absolutely is a good idea and could be just what you need to finish off your bathroom in style.

Consider the following measures to avoid mistakes:

  • Try to keep your panelling away from your bath and/or shower (although you can get away with this more with a freestanding bath)
  • Use treated wood, as you would externally, that can withstand a bit of extra moisture
  • Paint or coat your panelling with water-resistant paint to help protect it

With a bit of extra care and prep some of these common challenges with bathroom panelling can be avoided!

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Can I use bathroom panelling instead of tiles?

With a bit of careful prep and planning, yes you can! But maybe not directly, so consider the following first.

As mentioned above, you’ll want to avoid panelling in areas where you’re likely to splash your panelling, such as around the shower or bath.

In other areas of your bathroom, you could use a combination of water-resistant panelling and mould-resistant bathroom paint to create your desired look.

But, if you still don’t want to use tiling in your bathroom, you could consider whole shower panels instead.

Tiling can be an especially tedious job so this is a great alternative and helps you keep vital areas of your bathroom waterproof.

So, if you want to avoid a big tiling job, try whole shower panels instead combined with water-resistant panelling and mould-resistant bathroom paint for your desired look!

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4 things to consider when panelling your bathroom

As mentioned, there are a few common pitfalls you must avoid with your bathroom panelling ideas.

Even for those who take the upmost pride and care with their bathroom, consider these things before you get panelling.

How wood reacts to moisture in your bathroom

Moisture in your bathroom could warp your wood panelling without the right prep.

Excess moisture will cause wood in your bathroom to expand, while too little humidity will cause it to contract.

Fluctuations in humidity and moisture can cause your panelling to expand and contract causing all kinds of problems.

Even the slightest movement can leave your panelling looking a lot different to how you’d envisaged.

This is why it’s important to consider the above as mentioned, taking the appropriate precautions to ensure your bathroom panelling ideas look as beautiful as you’d expect!

Use the correct type of MDF panelling

MDF is one of the most common materials used for panelling ideas throughout the house.

However, if it’s not properly protected it can fall victim to the changing moisture and humidity every bathroom experiences.

MDF can be made moisture resistant by using stain, sealant or varnish, so be sure to consider these if you’re planning on using MDF panelling in your bathroom.

Also consider the different between ‘moisture resistant’ and ‘waterproof’.

Moisture-resistant MDF is available to buy (sometimes called MR MDF), but it’s still important to keep this material dry where possible to avoid warping or even rotting where water is left too long to sit on the material.

Prevent mould growing behind your panelling

This can happens even where panelling is used in other rooms in your home where moisture can get trapped behind it.

To prevent this, use bathroom paint or mould-resistant paint behind your bathroom panelling, even where the wall is covered entirely by panelling.

This ultimately may not be a problem, particularly in other rooms in your home, but if you feel trapped moisture behind your bathroom panelling could be a problem, be sure to give this a go, even just for a bit of piece of mind.

Prime your MDF for the best results

If you decide to go for MDF bathroom panelling, as mentioned ensure it’s moisture-resistant or waterproof where possible when you buy it.

Then, if you intent to paint it, ensure it’s primed first to help seal it further.

For extra protection, then use a mould-resistant or bathroom-specific paint to help prevent mould and excess moisture from sitting on and seeping into your panelling.

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5 bathroom panelling ideas for every style of bathroom

So, now we’re all prepped and ready to decide on our bathroom panelling ideas!

Here are 5 bathroom panelling ideas to suit a range of styles.

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Tongue and groove

Perhaps one of the most used bathroom panelling ideas, tongue and groove panelling is perfect for almost any bathroom.

This style of panelling can be carried along the side of your fitted bath replacing the standard bath panel with something a bit extra.

It also works beautifully around freestanding baths too.

The beauty of this style of panelling is that it works at different heights and can be adjusted to either help ensure it stays away from splashes or to follow the lines of your bathroom suite for a clean look.

It also looks great as cloakroom panelling too and could work well in both your bathroom and cloakroom for a clean and consistent look.

If your bathroom sits just off a busy hallway, try panelling your hallway in a similar style for a beautifully consistent look.

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MDF block panelling

While tongue and groove is a particularly popular bathroom panelling idea, MDF block panelling is one of the most popular panelling ideas full stop.

This is one of the most seen styles of panelling on Insta and Pinterest these days and for good reason.

The light in any room bounces off this style of panelling beautifully, whether it’s bright or dim lighting.

This makes it the perfect panelling to accompany your mid-level candle lighting to create a beautiful ambience.

It’s relatively easy to install too for any keen DIYer, so give it a go!

As it’s so popular and versatile and can be used throughout the house, this bathroom panelling idea may be preferable if you already have or are planning to use this panelling style in other rooms in your home.

This could be a great opportunity to continue the lines of your MDF panelling from your hallway into your bathroom, for example, for a beautifully consistent look.

It works in just about every room in your home and is especially popular in bedrooms.

MDF block panelling can be used to cover an entire wall to create a feature wall or can be used across multiple walls at varying heights for the perfect bathroom panelling look for you.

And as it’s so popular, it’s sure to wow your guests too for an added bonus!

Credit: The Wall Panelling Company


A classic and timeless panelling style, wainscoting panelling can work as beautifully in your bathroom as it would in the rest of your home.

This could be the perfect panelling style for you if you’re looking for a two-tone effect with wainscoting panelling on the bottom half of your bathroom walls and a different colour or even wallpaper on the top half.

This style is almost certain to never go out of fashion and is a popular today as it’s always been.

It can work particularly well in more traditional-style bathrooms with classic fixtures and fittings such as taps and door handles.

Similar to MDF block panelling, the lighting in your bathroom will fall beautifully on this panelling style, highlighting it elegantly while you relax in the bath.

Use this bathroom panelling idea on one wall or multiple depending on how your bathroom suite is laid out.

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Wallpaper panelling

Wallpaper in your bathroom is well and truly back in style.

There are so many options to choose from with bathroom wallpaper you’re really spoilt for choice!

Introducing wallpaper into your panelling is a game changer and helps create a stunning bright and bold look.

You can add wallpaper just above your panelling or even within it.

Many add wallpaper into the centre of their MDF block panelling for something a bit different.

Using wallpaper in this context is a bright and bold move that grabs your attention for all the right reasons!

So, if you’re looking to liven up a bland bathroom, look no further than this bathroom panelling idea.

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Mix and match

Now, if you’re stuck between all these bathroom panelling ideas, why not try a combination?

These days you have plenty of license to go for a bold, brave and eye-catching style in your bathroom as these styles become more and more popular.

Why not make a real statement with how you style your bathroom and create something truly unique to your home?

Combining these styles is your chance to make this room in your house really yours.

Whether it’s an attention-grabbing Insta post or family get-together, going big and bold will definitely get people talking for all the right reasons!


Now’s your chance to style your bathroom perfectly with these bathroom panelling ideas!

Whether it’s bold and brave, sleek and chic, or something totally different, panelling in your bathroom could be just what your home needs for that something a bit extra.

And the beauty of panelling is that any keen DIYer can give it a go.

So, get cracking and try one of these bathroom panelling ideas in your home!