How to Fit a Bath Panel
If you own or have bought a bath that isn’t free-standing then you’ll need at least one bath panel; but just how do you fit a bath panel?
Depending on the type and position of the bath in your bathroom, you may have as many as three panels - one for each side that is exposed. Aside from hiding the underside of the tub, a bath panel will also cover piping and prevent water getting underneath, which can lead to mould.
Bath panels come in all shapes, sizes and materials and can either be functional or more decorative - continuing the decor of the space or merging with your flooring. A bath panel is an easy way to give your bathroom a refresh.
So, Plumbworld has created this guide to all things bath panels, and we’ll discuss how to fit a bath panel, the different types, how to cut them, and more…
What is a bath panel?
Bath Panels are usually associated with straight baths - single or double-ended - to hide the plumbing, the underside of the bathtub and protect the floor beneath from splashes. All bathrooms will have a minimum of one panel for a bath and a maximum of three - they can cover both ends, or both sides, and the front.
The various types of bath panel include a range of designs and finishes, including acrylic, wood, mirrors and even panels with storage capabilities. A bath panel is one of the easiest ways to give your bathroom a quick renovation without spending huge amounts on flooring or appliances.
What are bath panels made from?
Bath panels are traditionally made from two materials - acrylic and wood, usually MDF. Wooden bath panels will be between 5 - 18mm in thickness while acrylic bath panels feature a fibreglass core wrapped in plastic. They are often cheaper than MDF panels and can be easier to cut as they are thinner.
What size is a bath panel?
Bath panels are available in similar sizes to standard baths; the most common bath size in the UK is 1700mm long.
Due to the variation in bath size, the majority of bath front panels are the following sizes:
These measurements are for front bath panels - the longest part of the bath.
- 700mm in length
- 750mm in length
- 800mm in length for bath side panels - the ends of the bath
Most panels are non-adjustable, so if you need to alter the size, you’ll have to cut it yourself - either for height or length due to tiles, pipework or skirting boards. Most bath panels are available as a single piece with a fixed height. However, two-piece bath panels are commonly found with one panel and a separate plinth to attach to it, usually at the back.
How to fit a bath panel
Fitting a bath panel can be straightforward if you want to save the extra money from hiring a professional - especially if you are only installing a new panel.
Before we get to the step-by-step process, you need to have the right equipment first…
What do I need to install a bath panel?
The tools and equipment you’ll need are:
- Spirit level
- Drill or screwdriver
- Measuring tape
- Wooden battens
Firstly, you’ll need to get your measurements, from the rim of the bath to the floor so you know the height you need the panel to be. If your tub is a unique shape, you may need to measure the length, too.
If you find that you need to cut any excess panel off, use your hacksaw. Let the saw do the work, only pushing and pulling gently and slowly to avoid an uneven cut or damage to the panel - particularly an acrylic bath panel.
Remember that you should consider any pipes and skirting boards when cutting.
Then, put the panel back against the bath, check it is level and that it fits correctly with a spirit level.
If you’re attaching two panels - to form an “L”-shape from a side and end panel - you’ll need wooden battens to connect the two pieces together. The battens should be a soft wood that allows for easily screwing into the surface - if using screws. If you are using a plinth for your panel, ensure the batten leaves plenty of space.
If you don’t want to use screws, you can use a strong adhesive to attach the battens.
For attaching a single panel, such as the long front bath panel, you could place shallow battens to the bottom of the panel. That way, it keeps the panel upright against your bathroom flooring - such as tiles - while providing a seamless join between the panel and floor.
If you are using a plinth that isn’t already attached then you may need to cut it to size, so follow the above instruction. Then, attach it to the main panel with adhesive.
Trick: Use PVA glue for a waterproof seal on bare wood edges - either on a plinth or panel.
When your panel - or panels - are ready, put them into position to see how it fits against the bath and wall. If you have made an “L”-shaped panel, it could be left free-standing if secure enough. However, there are options available for securing a panel in place.
If you are simply replacing a panel, you could find that there is a batten attached to the wall for you to secure the panel against. Therefore, you can apply adhesive to the panel to stick to the batten. You could use a batten on the back of the panel to attach to the wall batten. If there isn’t a wall batten already in place, you may need to attach one.
Place your panel against the wall and mark where it meets. Then, remove the panel and take a batten and line it up on the edge of your mark underneath the bath rim. Using adhesive or screws, attach it to the wall.
You will need to do this for each point where your panel meets the wall.
Apply adhesive to the inside of your panel ends, where it will meet the wall batten. Then, move your panel into position and attach it to the batten. If any excess adhesive comes out from putting too much on, quickly wipe it off.
Finally, apply some silicone sealant to the joins between the panel and wall for a watertight finish and smooth it off.
How to fit an acrylic bath panel
The process for fitting an acrylic bath panel is similar to a wooden one, however, you will need a length of rebated wood or timber for each bath panel you fit.
Rebated wood is wood that has a groove cut into the edge - so you can slot the panel under the groove.
- Position your panel against the bath and note the measurements. Make any adjustments - such as cutting - where necessary and then check everything fits.
- Mark where the panel will sit and then line your rebated wood/batten against it. The rebate should, thanks to its grooved edge, allow for the bottom lip of the panel to slot in.
- If you need to, make adjustments to the rebate.
- Attach the rebate to the floor with screws and an electric drill or adhesive. As it’s the floor, it may be better to use screws. Always check for pipes and wiring with a detector before drilling into the floor.
- Finally, slot your bath panel into position. Repeat the process for a side bath panel.
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