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Can You Put Bathroom Wall Panels Over Tiles?

Wall panels are becoming a great alternative to tiles as they are easier to install and require less maintenance. Many of us with a tiled bathroom are wondering whether we can install wall panels directly over the tile.

Some complications can arise whenever you install a new material in your bathroom. Knowledge is power, and being well informed about these issues can save you time and money.

This article will give you everything you need to know if you are considering installing wall panels over tile. We will discuss the benefits of wall panels, choosing the best wall panels for the job, a step-by-step guide to installing wall panels, and give you some alternative choices.

Let’s get right into it.

bathroom wall panels

Can You Fit Bathroom Wall Panels Over Tiles?

Yes, you can install wall panels over tile. But the tiles do need to be in decent shape to give your wall panels an excellent surface to adhere to.

Most people see no sense in removing the tile to install wall panels. This method does save you time and money, but if you install a panel over tile that’s in terrible shape, your installation will not be successful.

Wall panels are a great choice for the bathroom. When installing tile, grouting is nearly half the job. This also makes tile harder to clean and maintain.

There is no grout to install with wall panels, so the work goes much quicker. Plus, after the job is done, the wall panels are much easier to clean and maintain than tile. In most cases, wall panels are also cheaper than tile.

How to Choose the Best Bathroom Wall Panels to Install Over Tiles

PVC Bathroom Wall Panels

PVC composite panels give you many decorative options, including natural stone.

These panels are very easy to install but depending on the panel you choose can be quite expensive. PVC is great for the bathroom as it does well with wet walls, fights mold, and it will not rust.

PVC wall panels are thicker than acrylic and fiberglass, which helps when installing over the tile. The wide trim molding that comes with PVC panels can help hide mistakes when cutting and installing your panels.

Acrylic Bathroom Wall Panels

Acrylic is the most popular option when it comes to bathroom wall panels.

Acrylic may not give you as many decorative options like PVC, but it costs less. Acrylic walks the middle ground between PVC and fiberglass in both cost, style, and durability. Like PVC, acrylic does great around water and is easy to clean.

Acrylic should be easier to install over tile than PVC because it is lighter, making it easier to maneuver into place. Acrylic is also very durable, making scratches and other damage less of a concern.

Fiberglass Bathroom Wall Panels

Fiberglass panels will be your best choice if you are on a tight budget.

While fiberglass panels are the least expensive option, they are also the thinnest and least durable option on this list. But they do enough to get the job done and will keep water from damaging your bathroom.

When it comes to putting fiberglass panels over tile, you should be concerned about how thin these panels are. In addition, fiberglass will be most affected by tiles that have not sealed properly or are falling off.

How to Install Bathroom Wall Panels Over Tile

Tools You Will Need

  • Dry Erase Marker
  • Sponge or Cloth
  • Level
  • Trowel
  • Tape Measure
  • Plastic Sheeting

Step-by-Step Guide

1. Clean the Tile

It’s important that your wall panels adhere to a good clean surface.

So first, begin cleaning your tile using a cloth or sponge with an all-purpose cleaner. If you have more stubborn stuck-on stains, a mixture of vinegar and water can do the trick.

Then, head onto the next step once you are satisfied that all the dirt and other debris are removed.

2. Measurements

Measure your wall, so you know if your panel will fit.

Ideally, these measurements should be done before purchasing your panel to avoid any mixups and allow you to purchase panels that are the right size for your bathroom.

Unless you’re installing your panel up to the ceiling, it’s important to determine where the top edge of the wall panel will go over your tile.

3. Mark the Installation Area

Use a dry erase marker to mark where the wall panel will go.

It’s helpful to have someone place the wall panel onto the wall exactly where it will be installed while you mark it for exact results.

With all your marking done, you will have a precise area to lay on your adhesive.

4. Apply Your Adhesive

Begin applying the adhesive inside of your marked installation area. Lay down some plastic sheeting if you anticipate a mess.

Using a trowel apply your adhesive. In most cases, applying your adhesive in a zig-zag pattern works best, but you should follow what is given on the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions.

Make sure you put some adhesive around the edges of the walls to ensure a tight bond.

5. Panel Placement

With your adhesive laid down, you only need to place your wall panels onto the wall. It’s helpful to have another person so you can precisely maneuver the panels over the adhesive.

Then apply firm pressure to the panels to the top, bottom, and sides of the panels to make sure they create a tight bond with the adhesive.

6. Finishing Up

Now you must wait for your adhesive to set.

This waiting period should be based on your manufacturer’s specifications but is usually an hour or two, but it’s best to wait a day before using the shower.

Clean up any spilled adhesive or other messes, and you should be good to go.

Alternatives to Bathroom Wall Panels 

Peel and Stick Tiles

Peel and stick vinyl tiles can be installed over most any material including marble and ceramic tile.

However, you must take extra care to line up the grout lines of the old tile with the new peel and stick tile.

Additionally, peel and stick tiles are not the best at dealing with water and may only last 5 to 15 years.

Painting Over Tiles

You can paint over tiles, but for the paint to handle the heavy moisture of a shower or bathtub, you must take certain precautions.

You must first use a waterproof primer, then waterproof paint, and finally sealant. All these coats can easily put your bathroom out of commission for days.

If any step was not followed or done correctly, the paint would blister and crack.

Tiles Over Tiles

You can actually install tiles over tiles. Like with wall panels, the original tiles must be in decent shape for this alternative to work.

But using thick tiles over your preexisting ones can make your bathroom feel smaller. When done correctly, your new tiles can last between 25 to 30 years.

Natural Stone

Instead of tiles or wall panels, natural stone is another option. There’s not much that matches the natural beauty of granite or marble.

But be mindful that natural stone requires more maintenance than tile and can be tough to install. But when it comes to durability, nothing can beat it.

James B. Parker

At a young age, James' father taught him carpentry, and he was pretty much destined for a career in the construction industry. He worked as a professional remodeling contractor for some of the most prominent construction companies for several years, before deciding to pursue his passion for writing.

A vast amount of construction experience allows James to provide practical advice for those considering a bathroom remodel.

About Loo Academy

At Loo Academy, our mission is to offer trusted advice for everything related to bathrooms (design ideas, plumbing advice, showering & bathing tips, remodeling guides, and more) — a place where we all spend a great deal of time.

We work closely with qualified experts and follow a thorough editing and fact-checking process before publishing content.

Published content is regularly fact-checked and revised so that the information we provide is accurate and up-to-date.

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