Wall panels have become an increasingly popular way to decorate walls. This is largely because of the range of styles that they are available in. They are particularly popular in bathrooms where they can serve as a stress-free alternative to tiles - they’re easier to install and easier to clean.
You can buy wall panels in a variety of sizes. It’s possible that you may be able to find panels built to the exact dimensions of your walls. However, most people find that this isn’t the case. Rooms such as bathrooms (where wall panels are most popular) typically come in all different shapes and sizes. There could be alcoves and sloped roofs to contend with. If you’re panelling the entire room, you’ll also need to work around windows, doorways, radiators, bath tubs and other fixtures.
Fortunately, wall panels can be cut down to size, allowing you to achieve the exact dimensions that you need. While some wall panel companies can cut down panels for you, it’s typically much cheaper to cut them down yourself. This post explains more on just how to cut wall panels to size.
Which material of wall panels is easiest to cut?
Wall panels are available in a range of materials from wood to natural stone. PVC wall panels are typically the most popular. They are waterproof, affordable and are available in countless colours and textures (including faux-wood and faux-stone). On top of this, PVC wall panels are also very easy to cut.
Therefore, if you’re looking for wall panels that you can cut down and install yourself, PVC is the best option. Stone such as granite and quartz is by far the most difficult material to cut and typically has to be cut off-site (so avoid these materials if you’re looking for an easy DIY option).
How many wall panels do you need?
First, you need to consider exactly how many panels you need. Start by taking measurements of the space you wish to install panels on. Then take the time to explore the different sizes of panels available.
For example, let’s imagine you’re panelling a wall 1.53 metres wide. The slimmest panels are typically 250mm wide. Given that 1530 ÷ 250 = 6.12, you’ll need at least 7 panels to cover the entire width of the wall. Opting for wider panels could allow you to use less panels. Just be wary that you will need to be able to manoeuvre these panels through your bathroom doorway and any corridors in between.
Some wall panels are thicker than others, which is something to consider when it comes to corners. Something that many people fail to consider with shower panel installation is the depth of the shower panels they’re using - if a panel is 10mm thick, be prepared to knock off 10mm from the width of the adjacent wall. This could be the difference between using 6 wall panels and 7 wall panels in some instances. Certain panels may be designed to interlock using a tongue and groove system, in which case you won’t need to accommodate for corners.
What is the best tool for cutting wall panels?
Certain materials will require specific cutting tools. For example, natural stone panels may need to be cut using a stone grinder. When cutting wood panels, you’ll typically want to use a hand saw or an electric saw.
Easy-to-cut options such as PVC wall panels are much easier to cut and so it’s possible to choose from a variety of tools. Some people simply use a stanley knife. This can achieve a very clean cut when used with a straightedge, however it needs to be done on a flat surface with a sharp enough blade. Another option is to use an electric saw such as a circular saw. This is certainly a quick way to cut panels to size, but you should bear in mind that it may leave a rough cut, so you’ll likely want to test it first.
A fine tooth saw is the cutting tool that is typically recommended for PVC wall panels. Hand saws are ideal for cutting straight lines. If you need to cut a curve (which could be necessary when installing a panel around a sink or circular window) a jigsaw may be an option. In all cases, use a fine tooth blade to ensure a clean cut.
How to cut wall panels to size
Once you’ve worked out how many panels you need and acquired the right cutting tool, you can begin cutting. Start by using a pencil to measure out cutting lines. These cutting lines need to be as precise as possible so that your wall panels fit snugly together. Precision is particularly important in a wet zone such as a shower - gaps could allow moisture in, which could damage your wall, so it’s important that shower panels have no gaps.
When cutting your wall panels, it’s best to use a flat surface. A work bench is the best option, but if you don’t have a workbench you can always use a raised flat surface such as a table or countertop. Check that your cutting implement blade is sharp enough before you start making any important cuts. It could be worth practising on a section of panel that you plan to cut off and not use to determine how clean the cut is likely to be.
PVC wall panels are the easiest option to cut, but you may still encounter fiddly parts such as cutting panels to fit around sinks or radiators. Know when to switch tools to more easily handle these intricate cuts - a jigsaw or stanley knife could be necessary for those tight curved sections.Once your wall panels are cut to size, you can then install them. You can find posts (such as this one) that delve more into the installation process. Cutting and installing wall panels is a lot easier than cutting and installing tiles - even if you’re not a seasoned DIYer, you’re likely to find the process pretty straightforward.