23 genius bath panel ideas that will make your bath a stylish focal point

From wood to tiles, find the perfect bath panel design to give your bath the wow factor and complement your bathroom scheme

marble bathroom with Crittal style shower screen
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Transforming your bath panel is an easy way to transform your bathroom and refresh your space without a lot of time and investment. Changing your bath panel is a bathroom idea that can turn your bath into a showstopper and allow you to add an element of colour or pattern to your space. 

Although many people dream of a freestanding roll top bath, a standard bath doesn’t have to be boring and can set the tone of your bathroom. 

'While a lot of people have a freestanding bath on their wishlist, a built-in bath can be transformed into a statement piece through the use of tiles,' says Barrie Cutchie, design director at BC Designs. 'To help you, many bath manufacturers now offer specialist bath panel boards which can take the extra weight of tiles with minimal fuss.'

'To create a statement piece, all you need to do is purchase these boards and then tile the side of your bath, just like you would your walls, and can be done in either a contrasting or similar style to the rest of your bathroom. Be sure to use sealant to waterproof and fill in the gap between the ties, the walls and the floor so you don't get any leaks.'

Bath panel ideas

If you feel like getting stuck in, you can test your DIY skills and make your own bath panel that will be completely unique. Wooden panelling would work perfectly for a bathroom with a country charm style, whereas sleek modern tiling would work well with modern bathroom ideas

When choosing a new bath panel make sure you take accurate measurements along the top edge of the bath for the width, and from the floor up to just under the top edge of the bath for the height. 

Bendable acrylic is the easiest to install and works well for any curves or rounded corners, but for better durability, a rigid panel made out of wood or acrylic works best. 

1. Experiment with paint

Bathroom with white floor tiles, pink double vanity unit and bathtub and green Roman blind

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If you’re looking to make a statement in your bathroom, a block colour can brighten up the space and give you a chance to get creative. If you want to give your white bathroom ideas a lift, colours such as pink, blue, or green will make the space look anything but boring. 

Wooden panels are perfect for upcycling and easier to paint than acrylic panels. Before you paint over a wooden panel, carefully remove it, sand it down and prime it and then once you have chosen your desired colour paint a few coats and leave it to dry thoroughly before replacing it.

If you’re feeling really brave you could even paint your own pattern on the side, or get the kids involved and let them decorate the panel. ‘A huge trend in interiors is panelling, and this too can be used to jazz up a bath panel,' notes Barrie from BC Designs. 'Painting it in a contrasting colour is a great way of making the bath a focal point and makes it stand out for all the right reasons!’

2. Go bold with your panel tiles

bathroom with grey floor tiles and graphic monochrome wall and bath tiles

(Image credit: BC Designs and Simply Bathrooms)

Your bathroom tile ideas aren’t just restricted to the walls or floors, tiling your bath panel can allow you to feature complex patterns or bold colours. Adding tiles to your bath panel ideas adds a contemporary spin to your bathroom. They can match the existing tiles in the bathroom or you can create a contrasting point of interest. Before you start tiling a backing board it is important to provide a waterproof layer.

 ‘The process involves using a specialist tile backing board which won't warp and requires a bit more effort than using standard bath panels, but it is often worth the extra effort,' says Barrie from BC Designs.

'Many bath manufactures now offer specialist bath panel boards which can make the process a lot easier as the panels can take the extra weight of the tiles with minimal fuss. You can either choose to blend it seamlessly by continuing your tiles on the panel or create an even bigger focal point by contrasting the tiles.’

Finish off the tiles with sealant to waterproof and fill any gaps between the tiles, walls and floor to prevent any leaks.

3. Under panel storage

under bath drawer storage in a white bath next to a white toilet

(Image credit: Future PLC/Klara Senkerikova)

To add a bespoke element to your bath panel ideas, and also provide a bathroom storage ideas, create a recessed section or drawer within the panel. This recessed section can provide an eye-catching feature and makes it easy to access your toiletries. Space is often limited in the bathroom so this option gives you an interesting focal point and personalised panel, while the clean simple lines would work well with multiple bathroom colour schemes. 

You can create the size of the recessed area based on your personal needs and create a single shelf or multiple shelving within. The recessed area can be exposed, so your items are on display or hidden with a handle to unveil the secret cubby hole within, which works well if you don’t want your products on show.  

4. Invest in porcelain

bathroom with beige porcelain tiles, white basin and circular mirrors

(Image credit: Future PLC/Dan Duchars)

Porcelain is a durable material that is a great option for high traffic areas like a bathroom, not only do they look good, but they are also very low maintenance. It also has a low moisture absorption rate making it perfect for your bath panel ideas because it won’t be damaged by water. There are a large variety of style available to suit your bathroom layout, it can even be made to mimic wood and marble.

'Porcelain slabs give a practical and sleek look,’ says Jo Oliver, director at The Stone & Ceramic Warehouse. ‘Using oversized tiles in a small room, tricks the eye into thinking that the space is much bigger than it really is, so can help to create a sense of scale.  Thanks to their large surface area and fewer grout lines, large-format tiles also result in a continuous, uninterrupted finish.’

5. Experiment the tile layout

Attic bathroom with white and green chevron wall and bath tiles

(Image credit: Future PLC)

The design of your bath panel can be changed drastically purely by changing the way your tiles are laid. By adjusting the pattern of your tiles, you can easily add a sense of individuality to your bathroom.

‘There’s an array of laying styles to pick from such as brick bond, herringbone and linear,' says Harriet Goodacre, brand communications manager at Topps Tiles. 'The overall pattern and finish achieved will depend on the tile shape you want to use and the size of your bath panel, as well as your personal style preference, so it’s important to give this some consideration before you start your project.'

'If you prefer a traditional look you might want to opt for something timeless and classic like a metro tile in a stack bond layout or match it to the tile and laying pattern already used on your walls.'

‘For those feeling brave and creative, a double herringbone or chevron arrangement is quiet eye-catching and looks incredibly unique. You could also consider using a completely different but complementary tile on your bath panel to those used on your walls and floor. This is ideal for creating some contrast and adding interest to the space.’

6. Use a wall panel

Floral patterned bath panel on white bath tub

(Image credit: Showerwall)

When thinking about how to plan a bathroom, your bath panel consider a wall panel to provide a standout feature that injects a pop of colour into your bathroom. They are a great and easy alternative to tiles and there are lots of different options that will compliment the rest of your bathroom.

‘People have been experimenting with tiling bath panels, but wall panels are a fantastic alternative, as they are much easier and quicker to install and require less on-going maintenance, thanks to the grout-free design. Showerwall’s Acrylic Collection includes more than 50 designs, from tile-like patterns to bold nature-inspired prints, making it a stylish, yet practical way of turning your bath into a stunning design feature,’ says Steph Harris, product manager at Showerwall

7. Tile it in a classic metro design

bathroom white metro tiles on wall and bath alongside blue cabinet

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

If you want a built-in bath to have an up-to-date style that's set to stay in fashion, metro tiles are the way forward.

Highlight the clean and simple brickwork design with a darker coloured grout, following our guide to how to grout tiles. A patterned floor adds interest, while a beautiful blue vanity teamed with pink walls and accessories softens the strong lines with a feminine twist. The metro design can work well with minimalist and maximalist spaces and opting for deeper toned metro tiles, such as dark blue and greens, gives a luxurious feel to the space.

8. Tile to match a feature wall

bathroom with alcove bathtub and skylight

(Image credit: Topps Tiles)

When planning a bathroom, alcove bathtubs make a practical and space-saving addition. Use the same tiles over the entire alcove walls as well as the bath panel to create a seamless and infinite flow. 

This bathroom tile idea is visually stunning, making the the bay the full feature of the bathroom, rather than just the bath panel. Bu using the same tiles it prevents any pattern or colour clashing which can be tricky to get right. 

9. Embrace contemporary chevron chic

white and grey bathroom with chevron tiles on wall and bath

(Image credit: Simply Bathrooms (Surrey) Ltd / BC Designs)

A bath panel's flat surface is the ideal place to have fun with pattern. Rather than forking out on expensive printed tiles, chose interesting shapes that play with the layout and design. Chevron, kinetic and hexagon patterns are popular and striking right now. 

Highlight with contrasting grout for the ultimate definition. The chevron pattern is a classic style that has stood the test of time and is a great option for bringing understated elegance to your bathroom. 

10. Stick with traditional beaded panelling

bathroom with white wall tiles and classic bath panelling

(Image credit: Future PLC/ James Balston)

A classic white bath panel is the go-to choice in traditional bathroom schemes. A signature bath panel design is sophisticated and adds subtle character and definition.

It's easy to get the look yourself too. Measure, paint and install a sheet of MDF and then stick-on beading in squares to complete the period look. The beaded panelling is one of the great bath panel ideas if you want to stick to something minimalist but you don't want a completely plain panel. 

11. Paint it grey

Bathroom with grey bath panels and sink cabinetry alongside turquoise metro wall tiles

(Image credit: Future PLC/Alistair Nicholls)

Whether it's part of a grey bathroom colour scheme or a stand-alone highlight, painted wooden bath panel ideas add a welcome twist to traditional designs. Manufacturers now offer plenty of colour choices too for your bath panel ideas.

This complete grey bathroom suite creates a calming interception between a bright teal crackle glaze splashback and a Victorian-style statement floor. The finished scheme is bold, beautiful yet balanced.

12. Match the wall colour

white and sea green bathroom with white door and hanging light with sea green lamp shade

(Image credit: Utopia Bathrooms)

A bath surround that matches the rest of the bathroom will create a coordinated and coherent look when you're considering bath panel ideas. This calming scheme is an all-over soothing sea green shade with suite, bath panel and even wall colours painted the same hue. A warm oak top rail adds subtle contrast and is useful attention-to-detail.

'Using a top rail has a practical as well as decorative function in that it protects the panel from any potential water ingress,' says Helen Clark, head of marketing at Utopia Bathrooms.

Statement patchwork floor tiles pick out colours from both the bath panel and wood grain so marries the scheme together exquisitely.

13. Stay watertight with wood-effect tiles

white bathroom with wood-plank effect tiles on the floor and bath surround

(Image credit: Topps Tiles)

As bathroom flooring ideas go, although wood adds a natural warmth, rooms that endure a lot of water spills and humidity may suit wood-effect tiles better. Made from porcelain, they are entirely water-resistant. You get the same natural aesthetics of wood plus a few bonuses on top. 

This plank-style layout with grey grouting adds another dimension to this charming bathroom. For a seamless bath panel idea, continue the tiles in the same formation up the side of the bath.

14. Mix marble into a monochrome scheme

white bathroom with marble wall and floor tiles and black taps and finishes

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme)

Large-scale marble tiles featured on the floor, bath panel and wall (tiled halfway) achieve a timeless and super-polished look in this small bathroom idea.

The pale surface reflects light while subtle tone variation and grain patterns are intricate and unique. Matt black fixtures are a chic contrasting finish and the single black trim makes smart attention to detail. Marble is known to be highly durable and long-wearing, and even has light-reflecting properties which will combine with your bathroom lighting ideas to make the space look even bigger.

15. Hide storage behind reclaimed wood

Bath surround built from upcycled rustic wooden boards with a hanging rail made from copper piping

(Image credit: Laura Brand)

Here's a clever bath panel idea that will hide unsightly toiletries and score you 'recycle and re-use' brownie points, too. This DIY bathroom panelling was created by interiors enthusiast, Laura Brand.

The bath panel is made out of reclaimed wood and includes a copper handle so the panel can be opened on hinges to store cleaning products and shampoo behind – genius!

16. Add drama with a dark bath panel

Bathroom with vertical white metro wall tiles and a dark grey panelled bath

(Image credit: Heritage Bathrooms)

Black or navy blue bath panel ideas will certainly stand out smartly in a traditional bathroom scheme, as a contrast to an otherwise white bathroom idea. Along with a Victorian-style statement floor and bright white tiles, this monochrome bathroom idea is oozing with stately style. 

Adding dark colours to your bathroom is a way of adding depth to the space and makes metal elements, like brass and gold detailing pop. 

17. Feature the tile of the moment, Lily Pad

white bathroom with sea green 'lily pad' tiles on the bath panel and continued onto the floor

(Image credit: Cecile Humbert Interiors)

From the original Ca'Pietra, 'Lily Pad' tile to the more budget-friendly options, the Insta-famous hexagon tile is probably the most striking and on-trend design to cast your bath panel into the spotlight. 

With an array of layouts and colourways to choose from, this clever little 'star-burst' will make an attractive statement that's striking for a while yet. Avoid using other busy patterns in the same scheme or you could risk diluting the designer feature.

18. Try tongue and groove for country chic

white bathroom with mint green painted panelling on half the wall and up the bath surround

(Image credit: Future PLC/Barbara Egan)

Country bathroom ideas never go out of style and a tongue and groove bath panel will only increase the farmhouse charm. Paint the wooden addition to protect it from water spills and the humid environment and it should last for years to come. 

The tongue and groove design is a bath panel idea that'll deliver textural interest and work well in both traditional and more contemporary bathrooms.

19. Round tubs can rock a bath panel too

White tiled bathroom with colourful shower curtain and blue panelled bath surround

(Image credit: Future PLC)

It's not just standard or built-in baths that can benefit from a stylish surround. Roll-top and round baths look ultra-appealing all wrapped up too in a design-savvy bath panel idea. The tongue and groove bath panel bends easily around the curves of this vintage-style bath to create a unique lozenge effect.

It looks super cute and funky in this bright and eclectic bathroom, don't you agree?

20. Wrap around with a wood

bathroom with grey hexagonal wall tiles and dark wooden bath panel

(Image credit: Bathroom Mountain)

Envelop your bath surround with an engineered wood; it's warm, natural and full of texture, so is a great option for your bath panel ideas. This smooth walnut finish not only makes a contemporary fixture but its rich chocolate colour and sheeny grain appearance is sleek and luxurious.

Grey might not be the first colour choice to add to the scheme but these rock toned, wall tiles create a contemporary geometric backdrop that complements the walnut bath panel with a cool earthy style that works.

21. Highlight with LED under-lighting

white and pale blue bathroom with lighting the under rim of a bath panel

(Image credit: Future PLC/Chris Snook)

Lighting around the bottom of any bath panel idea will transform your bathroom into a sanctuary with a spa-like bathtub that casts an ambient glow. If a permanent electrical instalment is beyond your budget, water-proof LED (light emitting diodes) strip lights make a cost-effective alternative – a great budget bathroom lighting option.

22. Keep your panel simple

white bathroom with sloping ceiling and skylights, with a minimalist bath and and round wall mirrors

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)

If the focal point of the bathroom is another element, keep standards high with understated yet well-thought-out bath panel ideas to complement the scheme.

It's the pretty, iridescent bubble-effect splashback that catches the eye here. But the smooth, white bath panel with protective blush pink skirting, keeps the scheme clean, fresh and clutter-free.

23. Have fun with an ombre effect

white bathroom with sunset ombre bath panel and floor tiles

(Image credit: Meir Australia)

Bathe before a stunning sunset in your bathroom with a bath panel design that's tiled with a glowing ombre effect. Here, lines of right-angle tiles are laid in light-to-dark tones that echo the warming colours of sundown.

To get this look, start from the top of the bath panel and continue down and onto the entire floor with similar stripes of cream, buttercup yellow, amber, blush pink and finish with rich terracotta-coloured tiles.

What is the best paint to use on a wooden bath panel?

Painting a wooden bath panel will allow you to make sure your panel matches your bathroom colour scheme. However the panel needs to be prepared properly before it is painted. First sand down the wood, to add adhesion by developing small, rough ridges for the paint to stick to and ensuring a nice smooth finish. If you are painting an existing wood panel wash it with sugar soap and let it dry, however, it is a new plain wooden panel you can skip this step.

Once you are ready to start painting, use a primer to protect the wood from water damage. For the undercoat and topcoat, an eggshell emulsion will create a smooth finish. Since mildew-resistant properties were added to paint, a gloss is no longer vital, but good ventilation is always recommended.

Can I tile straight onto an existing bath panel?

Put simply, no. You'll need to use an extra backing board that can withstand the extra weight of the tiles and glueing agents. 'Bath panel tiling is exactly what it says on the tin,' says Neil Harrold, director at Simply Bathrooms explains. 'It is adding tiles to the side of your bath, whether in the same or contrasting style as the rest of your bathroom.'

'The process involves using specialist tile backing board which won't warp and requires a bit more effort than using standard bath panels, but it is often worth the extra effort.'

Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is an experienced interiors editor and writer, who has worked on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, GardeningEtc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike. 

With contributions from