Mermaid Panels' Elliott Fairlie on working with plywood shower panels

InsightFeatures Thu 4th Jan 2024 by KBBFocus

Mermaid Panels' Elliott Fairlie on working with plywood shower panels

Mermaid Panels' Elliott Fairlie on working with plywood shower panels

Elliott Fairlie, product lead at Mermaid Panels, outlines some do's and don’ts when it comes to working with plywood shower panels to make sure the customer can be assured of an outstanding end result.

While the bathroom wall panels category has seen the emergence of more contemporary materials over recent years, there’s one material that installers keep coming back to time and time again: plywood. First developed over a decade ago, plywood shower panels have been a firm favourite for the trade ever since, thanks to their durability, cost-effectiveness and aesthetic appeal. 

1. Consider sustainable sourcing
As with all materials derived from the natural environment, sustainable sourcing is key. Ensure the plywood bathroom panel has been manufactured using Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) certified plywood, to give you and your customer peace of mind that the raw material has been sourced sustainably. Mermaid Timeless panels, for example, have been ethically sourced from PEFC sources in France and Spain.

Japandi Welsh Slate & Cream Stone

2. Don’t assume plywood limits décor choice
Plywood shower panels may not be the most innovative panelling concept, but that’s not to say it lacks design flexibility. Mermaid’s Timeless plywood collection boasts 30 different designs ranging from Cream Stone to Dark Wood, Graphite Sparkle and even a Welsh Slate, meaning whatever look or trend you’re going for, there’s a panel to suit. Its high-pressure laminate (HPL) also comes in an array of textures, from stone, woodgrain and high gloss finishes, all handpicked to suit the design.

Dark Wood

3. Prepare the surface
Plywood shower panels such as Mermaid’s Timeless range can be fitted to almost any surface including plaster board, existing tiling, concrete, chipboard, and plywood sheathing and plaster if the surface is sound, plumb and level. Some surfaces will require pre-treatment prior to installation, so tiles should be de-greased and cleaned, and fresh plaster should be sealed with a proprietary PVA sealer. Smooth out any irregularities or imperfections on the surface, as these can affect the panel’s adherence and overall finish.

Dark Stone

4. Don’t overlook structural support
Plywood panels should be installed on a solid and structurally sound framework. Avoid attaching the panels directly to drywall or flimsy substrates, as this may compromise the stability of the installation. Instead, use a sturdy backing material, such as studs or solid wood, to provide adequate support and prevent sagging or warping.

Industrial Graphite Sparkle

5. Use waterproof sealant 
Apply a high-quality waterproof sealant to all edges, corners, and joints of the plywood shower panels. This step is crucial in preventing moisture penetration and increasing the longevity of the installation, not least by making the panels much easier to clean. Follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding application and drying time to ensure optimal results. Mermaid, for instance, advises that its own silicone sealant and adhesive should be used for any of its panel installations.

Japandi Light Wood

6. Don’t neglect moisture protection
Plywood panels are vulnerable to moisture damage if not adequately protected. Avoid installing plywood panels directly in contact with water sources or near open showers without proper waterproofing measures such as manufacturer recommended trims and sealants. Failing to implement adequate moisture protection can lead to the growth of mould and compromise the integrity of the panel.

Industrial Light Stone & Silver Alloy

7. Prioritise proper ventilation
Good ventilation is essential in any bathroom installation, particularly when working with plywood shower panels. Insufficient airflow can result in excessive moisture build-up, increasing the risk of damage to the panels over time. Ensure the bathroom has proper ventilation, such as exhaust fans or windows, to maintain a dry and healthy environment.

Japandi White Marble

8. Don’t ignore manufacturer guidelines
Each plywood shower panel may have specific installation instructions and recommendations provided by the manufacturer. It is essential to read and follow these guidelines carefully. Manufacturers are likely to have specific requirements regarding adhesives, fasteners, and other installation methods to ensure optimal performance and durability, so it is important that these are adhered to for a seamless installation.

Industrial Polar Sparkle

Choosing a plywood shower panel such as one from Mermaid’s Timeless range doesn’t just mean supporting a product with a raft of unbeatable credentials – it means joining a network of installers who have impressed customers and grown businesses thanks to the power of plywood for over a decade.

Tags: insight, features, mermaid panels, wall panels, bathrooms

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