Steph Harris, product manager for Showerwall, believes the qualities of bathroom wallpanelling have resonated with the needs of consumers during the pandemic, and its ability to deliver streamlined surfacing has enduring design appeal and strong sales potential for retailers.
"From undermount sinks to handleless kitchens, streamlined design in home interiors was growing in popularity long before the pandemic struck. However, during the past year the benefits of smooth, sleek surfaces in kitchens, bathrooms and around the home, have really come to the fore with cleaning and hygiene naturally moving up the list of priorities for homeowners.
"The rise in demand for home improvements in 2020 is well documented, with the Rated People’s Home Improvements Trends Report revealing a 12% increase in home improvement tasks. Bathrooms refits were among the top 10 most popular jobs undertaken during the first national lockdown and, according to the report, the enthusiasm for home renovations is set to continue in 2021 with consumers set to spend billions in the so-called ‘room boom’.
"The UK bathroom wallpanelling market is currently worth over £120 million based on manufacturers selling price and we estimate it is growing at 25% year on year. This points to it taking market share from tiles as a popular decorative choice and we believe the potential for panelling going forward is vast as consumers continue to re-evaluate their lives and their living spaces.
"With the rise in home-centred living and heightened awareness of hygiene, a very big plus for bathroom panels in the consumer’s mind is that they offer large expanses of 100% waterproof decorative surface with near invisible joints and no grout lines, meaning there are no hiding places for mould, dirt or germs. The panels require minimal upkeep and can simply be wiped clean with a mild detergent solution and a cloth.
"Creating spa-like serenity at home has perhaps never been more important with the bathroom being the only room in the home to lock the door and enjoy some peace and quiet in a house-full of WFH and home-schooling. Bathroom wall panelling is ideal for answering the ‘wash and go’ needs of a busy family household as well as creating a haven for self-care due to the extensive range of designs available. Showerwall offers over 8O designs with urban geometrics, tiles, bold colourful prints and natural marbles and stones that will appeal to a broad range of consumer demographics.
"The sophisticated print and texture technology for wall panelling combines fashion and creative scope with high technical performance and low maintenance. The opulent look of stone and marble panels is a fine example of this, as are the colourful maximalist designs available which offer a far more practical alternative to wallpaper in a humid bathroom environment.
"Wall panels are also a highly practical choice in cloakrooms and ensuites which have seen a lot more traffic over the past year due to more people being at home, the need for people to isolate from the rest of the household and more regular handwashing on the go. Bathroom wall panels really come into their own here as they’re really easy to transport, cut and handle, even in compact spaces.
"As well as the obvious benefits to consumers, bathroom wall panels also offer a lot of sales, margin and installation benefits to retailers and installers. Compared to tiling a like-for-like space they offer a quick in-and-out solution as they can usually be installed in less than a day with simple joinery tools, even over existing tiles. Not only is this time and cost effective for everyone involved, the length of time the installer needs to spend in the consumer’s home is reduced, giving extra reassurance while social distancing measures remain in place.
"The world may now be starting to re-open, however bathroom wall panelling will continue to be a popular choice in the post-Covid era. After all, with so much time spent under one roof over the past year, we’re all keen to start enjoying the new sense of freedom rather than staying at home to clean the bathroom, aren’t we?"