The bathroom wall panelling you should be adding, according to design pros

Your sanctuary deserves a little extra attention

(Image credit: Future/Douglas Gibb)

Bathroom wall panelling ideas offer a truly classic look, but this isn't to say they can't also be used in more contemporary schemes. We're seeing more and more designs feature wall panelling in on-trend colours to bring the look into the modern day, so we explored different ways to get creative and breathe new life into your washroom.

Wall panelling ideas come in so many different formats to suit a variety of tastes. From traditional tongue and groove all the way through to square panels that finish at dado rail height, you can transform your bathroom with different styles, colours and fittings. What's even better is that you can achieve it yourself with a little bit of DIY, making a weekend bathroom renovation wholly doable.

Bathroom wall panelling ideas

Alongside adding style to a small bathroom idea, wall panelling is useful for adding insulation too. When fitted between battens, the space between can be insulated which is handy for older properties where bathrooms might be cold and draughty. But the majority of modern bathroom wall panelling ideas focus more on aesthetics, which these expert-led ideas will help with.

'Adding wood panelling to a bathroom is a great way of adding texture and colour, which in turn can add a warmth to what otherwise can be quite a clinical and cold room,' advises Barrie Cutchie, design director at BC Designs.

'Wood panelling works well as a wallcovering on any walls that do not come into direct contact with water, so the shower area is out. It is also important to invest in the right glue; one that is suitable for both interior and exterior use and is capable of dealing with the moisture and humidity changes that occur in the bathroom.'

1. Opt for classic tongue and groove

Bathroom with tongue and groove wall panelling

(Image credit: Future/Kate Cleasby)

If you're looking to create a classic look with wall panelling then you can't go wrong with tongue and groove. 'Laid in vertical panels it elongates a room, emphasising its height, yet if laid horizontally it lengths the space, and so works across many different room sizes and layouts,' explains Barrie.

This makes the panels easy to fit yourself as a quick weekend DIY and gives you flexibility on whether you use it throughout the room or simply panel a small area.

2. Go for a Shaker style

Bathroom with burgundy wall panelling and wooden dresser

(Image credit: Future/James Merrell)

A grander approach to bathroom wall panelling is using Shaker-style panels. If you have a larger family bathroom where you have more wall space to play with, this classic wall panelling idea will look less rustic - perfect if you love to combine antique and contemporary touches.

It subtly frames the room without being too fussy, and works particularly well around different areas of the bathroom such as a mirror, towel rail and bath. You can buy a number of kits from retailers such as B&Q to achieve this look yourself too.

3. Pair with wallpaper

bathroom wallpaper with sink

(Image credit: Dunelm)

Whether you're on the fence about bathroom wall panelling ideas or not quite ready to fully deck your loo out in wallpaper, opting for a little bit of both is a handy compromise.

A statement bathroom wallpaper idea might be a bit 'much', but using panelling on the bottom half of the wall will keep the pattern at eye level while grounding the space. To tie it together, pull out one of the colours from the wallpaper and paint panelling in this shade.

4. Choose full length panels

Bathroom with tongue and groove wall panelling in sage green

(Image credit: Future/James Merrell)

One way to make a small bathroom feel bigger is to play with height. If you don't have much width to work with, ensuring you're making the most of your wall space vertically will create the illusion of more space.

Tongue and groove panelling works well for this as the long and thin panels draw the eye upwards. Going all the way to the ceiling and painting in a lighter shade will create a spacious and bright look.

5. Panel into a shower

Bathroom with cream wall panelling and walk in shower

(Image credit: Future/Rachael Smith)

A panelled shower idea might not be something you've considered for obvious reasons (wood and water don't tend to mix well) but if your bathroom is well ventilated, it might be possible to continue a panelled effect through to the ceiling.

If your bathroom is panelled then following the same look through to the shower area will make it look much more cohesive and homely - forget cold and stark shower designs.

6. Panel around a bath

Bathroom with blue wall panelling and red bath

(Image credit: Future)

Zoning a bathroom is the easiest way to plan a layout so that it functions as seamlessly as possible. In what tends to be a small room, including everything you need without it becoming overcrowded is tricky, but incorporating subtle styling tips like wall panelling will help differentiate specific areas.

Framing a bath with wall panelling draws the eye to the zone, creating a sumptous feel where relaxation is at the centre of the design. Contrasting the walls with a stand-out shade for the tub will elevate the look even further.

7. Go for a rustic look

Bathroom with rustic wood wall panelling

(Image credit: Future)

Wall panelling comes in many different forms and if a rustic, country bathroom idea is more your style then consider opting for natural wood panels.

Keeping a bathroom scheme pared-back with lots of natural materials will add to a relaxing ambience that feels effortlessly down to earth. If you have the option, choosing reclaimed wood will help to keep costs down and is a more sustainable solution.

8. Consider colour drenching

Orange bathroom with wall panelling

(Image credit: Future)

Colour drenching is one of the most fun ways to make your bathroom instantly on-trend and it's surprisingly easy to achieve - even with wall panelling. Simply choosing one statement shade and saturating the room in it, head to toe, will make a wash space cosy and invigorating.

The beauty of wall panelling is that it can be painted in any colour, so don't be afraid to go bold.

9. Match walls to the bath

Pink bathroom with wall panelling and wallpaper

(Image credit: Future/Douglas Gibb)

To create a cohesive bathroom scheme that looks professionally designed, continue wall panelling through to your bath panel ideas. Bare plastic panels on baths isn't so chic so hiding this with stylish panels in your chosen shade will make the bath a design feature as opposed to having a purely practical purpose.

10. Create a coheisve colour scheme

Bathroom with blue wall panelling

(Image credit: Future)

Just like with colour drenching, a simple way to elevate a bathroom wall panelling idea is by painting other woodwork in the same tone. Whether this be skirting boards, doors or built-in cabinetry, it will easily create a thorough colour scheme.

Matching to your bathroom flooring ideas will also blend the wall panelling in seamlessly. Just make sure you choose a different pattern or material to create visual interest.


How to apply bathroom wall panelling yourself

Bathroom wall panelling certainly looks impressive, but the good news is that thanks to clever kits containing everything you need to do it yourself, you don't even need to call in a professional.

First, you must carefully measure the wall and plan out where the panels are going to go. We recommend using masking tape to map this out so you have a good visual of how your panels will look.

You can of course cut the wood to size yourself but B&Q's wall panelling kits take this extra faff out of the equation - all you need to know is the size. You'll need to buy an adhesive too - we recommend this UniBond adhesive from B&Q.

Barrie urges, 'It's really important to invest in the right glue; one that is suitable for both interior and exterior use and is capable of dealing with the moisture and humidity changes that occur in the bathroom.'

To complete the look, choose an interior paint from B&Q (a one-stop shop) in your favourite shade and your DIY will look expertly done.

The effect of wall panelling in a bathroom is so much grander than the effort it takes to achieve the look - it's a no brainer for a chic and high-end looking space.

Holly Cockburn
Content Editor

After starting out her journey at Future as a Features Editor on Top Ten Reviews, Holly is now a Content Editor at Ideal Home, writing about the best interior ideas and news. At Top Ten Reviews, she focussed on TikTok viral cleaning hacks as well as how to take care of investment purchases such as lawn mowers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Prior to this, Holly was apart of the editorial team at Howdens which sparked her interest in interior design, and more specifically, kitchens (Shaker is her favourite!).