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Walls, splashbacks and counter - tops

Walls, splashbacks and counter - tops

Walls surrounding a shower, bath, or basin are in the bathrooms "wet" areas and receive the heaviest wear. As they will get a frequent soaking, a waterproof finish is essential. Tiles, perspex panels, and glass blocks are popular choices because they prevent water from penetrating into the fabric of the walls, which can cause damp problems. Other areas of the bathroom can be painted or wallpapered, giving far more scope for colour, pattern, and design. lf using wallpaper in a bathroom, check that the paper surface is washable and ideally contains a fungicide to prevent mould from discolouring the finish.

Tiles & stone

Ceramic tiles are reasonably priced and available in plain and patterned designs. Mosaic tiles are extremely durable and are often supplied in sheet form for ease of installation. Mosaic tiles also have the advantage of being attached to a mesh backing so that individual tiles can be cut to fit into an awkward wall or floor areas. Natural limestone in bathrooms, granite, marble, and mineral resin offer character, grain, and longevity making the stone a popular if the expensive choice for bathroom surfaces.

Paint

Paint is the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to decorate walls. Vinyl-based paints are the best for bathrooms where the atmosphere is prone to humidity. Specially- formulated bathroom paints will restrict mildew growth and reduce condensation where walls are cold. Remember, however good the paint, this finish is not suitable for showers or splashbacks, and you will need an alternative for "wet" areas even if all other surfaces are painted.

Wood panelling

Lacquered or painted wood panelling offers a traditional looking finish to a bathroom scheme. The advantage of wood panelling is that it is useful for concealing pipework and covering uneven wall surfaces. The space left between the panelling and wall will create a vacuum and help to insulate the bathrooms, retaining heat during the winter months

DESIGN POINTS

Lighting: matt paint finishes diffuse light over walls and helps disguise an uneven surface. Gloss surfaces are ideal for woodwork, but over large expanses, they reflect light and cause glare.

Surfaces: fit transparent perspex splashbacks over paint finishes near tubs or basins to create waterproof protection in these "wet areas." Glass mosaic tiles are expensive to use over a large area but the beauty lies in their translucent quality and the opportunity that they provide for transforming an area.

Planning: make use of the wide range of plain-coloured titles and formats available to create a simple design. Profile tiles and pencil strips offer a solution for dividing lower and upper walls at dado and picture rail heights.

Countertop surfaces

No one surface is able to resist heat, damp, impact, exposure to harsh chemicals or scratching so, when choosing a countertop for your bathroom, compare the pros and cons of each possible material before coming to a decision. Laminated glass and stainless-steel are ideal for contemporary designs. They are durable, chemical-resistant and waterproof, but will be damaged if sharp or abrasive materials rub against the surface. They have to be custom-made to suit each location. Synthetic resins, of which Corian is a well-known example, are solid and durable and are used to make seamfree worktops. Solid resins can also be moulded to make integral basins and splashbacks. Laminated and veneered counter- tops have a medium density fibreboard (MDF), particleboard or chipboard base, onto which a synthetic finish or wood veneer is applied. This decorative finish is protected with layers of lacquer or resin. Heat and abrasive objects will damage the surface layers, however, can cause them to dull or lift over time.

Natural materials

Stone, slate, and granite work well as countertops. All require specialist installation, and stone and slate, being porous, must be sealed to resist staining. The cool, pale shades of marble suit most bathrooms, but it is expensive and can become scratched or stained if subjected to acidic or oil-based products. Wood is popular, with marine ply being most frequently used for bathrooms because of its waterproof qualities. Marine ply can also be moulded to make unusually shaped countertops. Lacquered hardwoods are sealed to repel water, making them resistant to changes in humidity. If water penetrates joints, however, staining can occur. Oiled hardwoods give countertops a rich lustre, They are more resistant to heat than lacquered wood but can warp or crack if subjected to direct heat. Terracotta and ceramic tiles and glass mosaic chips are inexpensive, waterproof, and durable and are available in a vivid range of finishes; grouting between the tiles attracts dirt and can be difficult to clean.