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Everything You Need to Know about PVC Wall Tiles, Panels and Splashbacks

Written by PJ
05/11/2021 09:02:25


Plastic wall panels have revolutionised the ways we think about home design and DIY renovation. PVC wall tiles and 3D wall panels have allowed homeowners to completely change and redesign interior spaces, like the bathroom and kitchen, at an affordable cost. Gone are the days of spending thousands on new sets of shower, wall, floor, and ceiling tiles! 

In this extensive guide from The Plastic People, we are going to take a deep dive into the world of PVC wall tiles and PVC splashbacks to provide you with all the information you need before making a purchase and installing your very own wall panels. 

PVC Wall Panel Benefits

It’s hard to pinpoint each and every benefit of using PVC wall panels in your home and bathroom as there are simply so many! We’ve summarised the top perks to give you the lowdown on these plastic appliances. 
  • Cost-effective: Comparative to traditional composite or ceramic tiles, PVC wall panels and bathroom wall tiles are more cost-effective. Not only are the panels themselves cheaper per square metre than tiles, but you also do not have to purchase grout or sealant. Installing PVC wall tiles is a simple DIY task that anyone can take on, saving you money that you may have spent on outsourced labour, too. It’s a win-win!

  • Ease of Installation: As previously mentioned, PVC wall panels are incredibly simple to install. You do not need to use grout, and the individual plastic tiles cover a much larger surface area than the typical bathroom or shower tiles, saving you both time and money. 

  • Exceptional Finish: You are guaranteed an exceptional finish when working with PVC wall tiles. Whether you opt for a classic, single-coloured PVC splashback or the more intricate geometric designs of a PVC 3D wall panel, you will love the professional shine and character of these home decor additions! 

  • Lower Maintenance: We all know that part of the hassle with tiles - whether they are in your shower room or a kitchen splashback - is the painstaking cleaning and maintenance process. Trying to keep the grout a brilliant white is pretty much impossible, and ceramic tiles are likely to crack over time. PVC wall tiles, however, offer a zero-maintenance solution! You can easily wipe clean the surface and avoid having to get the toothbrush out to scrub away at the edges. 

  • Lightweight: Similar to other plastic decor items, such as acrylic shower panels and secondary glazing, PVC wall panels are extremely lightweight. This makes them easy (and cheap) to ship and ensures a smooth installation process. On average, a single PVC wall panel weighs 0.5 kg. 

  • Durability: As well as being incredibly versatile and low-maintenance, PVC wall tiles are very durable. This means that you can keep your PVC wall panels installed for longer without having to replace or update them. Additionally, the strength and durability of PVC material mean that your bathroom tiles are unlikely to break during transit and installation, while traditional ceramic tiles will shatter easily. 

  • Safety and Hygiene: PVC wall panels are strong and both fire-resistant and waterproof, helping keep your home safe. PVC is also commonly treated to ensure it is bacteria- and mildew-resistant, which means these plastic wall tiles are more hygienic than most other design options. 

  • Variety of Design: The ubiquity and low cost of PVC plastic has allowed companies to develop a wide range of designs for your wall panels and tiles. You can, for instance, opt for an industrial theme and choose PVC splashback which a mock metallic finish or imitation brick design. There are also 3D PVC wall panels that add a level of depth, and a contemporary finish, to any bathroom or kitchen. 

  • Recyclable: For those of you who are watching your carbon footprint, you will happy to know that PVC is a 100% recyclable material! This means any old and used PVC wall tiles will not be heading to the landfill but will be recycled to create new plastic products with a long lifespan. 
 Innovera Decor Backsplash Lamina Tiles

Are PVC Wall Panels Safe?

Whether you are installing PVC bathroom wall panels to renovate a wetroom or want to achieve a wall tile effect somewhere else in your home, you can rest assured that they are extremely safe. Maintenance is simple and easy as they only need to be wiped clean with warm, soapy water. They are also completely child-safe. 
What’s more, PVC wall tiles and PVC splashbacks are waterproof, fire-resistant, and mildew-resistant. In busy spaces such as the kitchen and bathroom, any wall panels or tiles must be waterproof to prevent condensation or further damage to the interior walls of your home. 
Mildew resistance helps keep the wall panels low-maintenance as they can be easily wiped clean. And as these splashbacks and tiles are fire-resistant, they are a safe cladding option to be used throughout the home. 

Are PVC Wall Panels Fire-Resistant? 

One of the major perks of PVC wall panels is their fire resistance. These plastic decor items are safe to use as cladding throughout the home - and that includes in the kitchen and behind the hob! 

Even though it is unlikely that they will combust, it is worth noting that the panels will char, and so can be damaged in the unfortunate event of a fire. We also recommend they are not used in a space where temperatures might exceed 60 degrees Celsius for prolonged periods (ie. saunas) as this could cause structural damage. 

Innovera Geometrics Moon Beige White Leather PVC Wall Covering

Are PVC Wall Panels Good or Bad?

The list of benefits and perks to installing PVC walls panels and wall tiles in your home is quite extensive! On the whole, they are the ideal alternative to traditional, ceramic or composite bathroom wall tiles as PVC is cheaper, more durable, and easier to install. 
PVC wall panels also have a wide range of applications, including kitchen splashbacks or when creating a tile effect on an interior wall in your home. From minimalist to boho chic, whatever the design strategy is in your home, you are sure to find a wall tile to suit it! 
They can add extra depth and dimensionality to a space, helping to create a look that any guests are sure to remember. There is a myriad of geometric designs available in a whole rainbow of colours. 
Some of the other advantages that make them a good choice for your home include:
  • Waterproofing and fire resistance

  • Low maintenance and cost

  • Lightweight and durable

  • Recyclability
 InnoveraDecor Backsplash Wilderness Brushed Nickel PVC Wall Tiles

Can PVC Wall Panels Be Used Outside?

If you want to use PVC wall panels as an exterior cladding material for your home, you need to make sure you do your research! Only some PVC panels and materials are suitable for outside use. In most cases, you can assume a uPVC (AKA. unplasticised PVC) is suitable for outdoor use, as this material is more durable than the PVC wall panels you use inside as a bathroom or shower wall panel. 
One of the perks of PVC is its flexibility, which makes it easier to install on interior walls and in tight spaces such as wetrooms. When it comes to outdoor and garden use, however, a lack of rigidity will mean that your PVC wall panels are more likely to warp and be damaged by poor weather. 
uPVC is a completely fire-resistant cladding material, and it can be used outside to improve the general condition and safety of any building. As a result, this material comes at a slightly higher price point than PVC but offers greater durability. Make sure you double-check with your supplier when considering using PVC outside.

Can You Cut PVC Wall Panels?

Due to their low profile - PVC wall panels typically come between 3 mm and 10 mm thick - it is easy to cut them to size at home. You can use any sharp cutting tool, such as a Stanley knife or hacksaw (with high teeth per inch blade, ie. 14 TPI) to neatly cut your kitchen splashbacks. You can also easily create cut-outs for plug sockets and other existing wall features. 
Before cutting any PVC wall panel, you should ensure your measurements are accurate and clearly marked on the cladding itself to avoid making a mistake. We also recommend wearing safety goggles and securing the PVC on a flat surface, using a clamp. 
It is worth noting that PVC wall panels are available in three different forms - and this could impact the way you cut the plastic:
  • Interlocking wall tiles
  • Tongue and groove wall tiles
  • Kitchen and bathroom splashbacks
When cutting both tongue and groove and interlocking wall panels, you need to make sure you will not be removing any necessary adjoining edges as this will prevent you from assembling the tiles later on. As PVC splashbacks typically come in one large piece and are glued into place, you should be fine however you cut the panel. 
Make sure to check out our PVC wall tile installation guide for a complete and comprehensive look at how to work with PVC wall panels and PVC wall tiles. 

Innovera Decor Backsplash Empire Smoked_Pewter

Can You Paint PVC Wall Tiles?

One of the benefits of PVC wall panels is the variety of different designs available to consumers. Manufacturers should be able to offer you a wide range of different colours and options, including both matte and high gloss finishes. If, however, you are not happy with the colour of your PVC wall panels or are looking to upcycle an old bathroom tile, you can paint these plastic tiles. 
There are a few key steps to follow when painting PVC - and any plastic, for that matter - to ensure you get the best result possible: 
  • Preparation: When painting plastic, you need to make sure that the bond between the paint and the material surface will be strong. For the best result, we recommend cleaning your PVC wall panels to remove any dirt, debris, or grease from the surface. If you fail to prepare the PVC wall tiles, the paint could flake away or bubble. 

  • Painting: Like painting wood or metal, you want to ensure that you are using the correct paint, which has been designed specifically for use on plastics. The solution should be water-based, rather than oil-based, and can be applied using either a brush or a roller. You should start with a primer that is left to dry for 24-hours, before applying your desired colour of acrylic paint to the PVC wall panel. 

  • Finish: Make sure you leave the paint to dry completely before trying to install your PVC wall tiles; it should not be sticky to the touch. You may also have to apply several coats of paint to the surface. Wipe down your PVC one last time after the paint has dried to ensure a clean finish, and then you are all set to renovate your bathroom or kitchen!

Can You Put Vinyl Wall Cladding Over Tiles?

Fitting PVC wall tiles in your home is an incredibly straightforward process, and so it should come as no surprise that any PVC wall panel can be installed directly on top of an existing bathroom tile or kitchen splashback! They have a slim profile (typically between 3 mm and 10 mm thick), so there is no need to worry about your new plastic tiles taking up too much room. 
By installing them directly over the tiles, you will create a completely waterproof seal that will prevent the build-up of condensation and mildew. This is one of the many reasons why PVC wall tiles are both more hygienic and require less maintenance than traditional ceramic bathroom tiles. 

Innovera Decore Tongue-Groove Carerra Marble PVC Wall Tiles

How To Clean PVC Wall Panels 

Whether you have installed PVC ceiling panels, wall panels, a kitchen splashback or PVC bathroom tiles, the cleaning and maintenance process is the same (and it’s easy!). Unlike traditional tiles, PVC panels do not require grout, and so the cleaning process is a lot more straightforward and quicker. 
When cleaning your PVC wall panels, you will need:
  • Warm, soapy water (avoid using abrasive chemicals that could damage the finish of the PVC)

  • A sponge

  • A dry microfiber cloth 
The process of cleaning PVC is incredibly straightforward:
  • Begin by wiping away any dust or debris that is stuck to the surface of the tile or wall panel. 

  • Using a sponge and warm, soapy water, clean the PVC.

  • Finally, wipe the surface dry with a microfiber cloth. Avoid using any materials that could damage or scratch the finish of the PVC, such as a scourer.   

It really is that simple to keep PVC wall tiles clean!

If you'd like some ideas on how to upgrade your kitchen space, check out our Kitchen Splashback Ideas for 2022 article!
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