A popular renovation choice for homeowners looking to complete their at-home interior projects independently, tongue-and-groove wall panelling is a hard-wearing and affordable alternative to traditional tiling and drywall interiors. Designed in a range of styles and finishes to suit every home, their robust and long-lasting features make them both decorative and functional.
We’ve put together the ultimate guide to tongue-and-groove cladding, helping you make the best interior decisions when it comes to updating or renovating your home. Keep reading as we walk you through everything you need to know about these versatile panels. Particularly useful if you’re looking at budget-friendly ways to renovate an existing space, our guide covers the benefits of tongue-and-groove panels, how to install these, as well as how to choose and fit a trim.
What is tongue-and-groove wall panelling?
Whether you’re looking to cover up old walls that are in need of an update, or you’re searching for a simple solution to create a stylish and easy-to-maintain bathroom, tongue-and-groove wall panelling presents the perfect solution. This style of wall cladding features a tongue along one edge and a matching groove along the opposite edge. This means that the tongue slots into the groove of the neighbouring plank during installation. Ultimately, the ‘jigsaw puzzle’ style of tongue and groove wall cladding can make it easier for you to complete the installation independently, removing the need to ‘break the bank’ by hiring a professional to do this for you.
What are the benefits of tongue-and-groove cladding?
Though these can be made from different materials, such as MDF, the tongue-and-groove panels at The Panel Company have been made using PVC planks. Our experts have chosen to use PVC as this is a tough, sturdy and long-lasting material that enables quick and easy installation. The PVC also makes the cladding more lightweight than other materials used to make tongue-and-groove panels, and, as a result, can be easily lifted up, moved around and secured in place. As above, this will allow you to save money on the cost of fitting the panels,
as the simple installation means that you will not need to hire a professional to do this for you.
Another major benefit, the tongue-and-groove panelling is also 100% waterproof, which makes this perfect for installing in high-moisture settings such as kitchens and bathrooms, and, unlike other cladding options like tiling, is mould-free and is simple to maintain with no grouting required. So, whether you’re looking to create a feature wall, or wish to add some character to your bathroom, you can be confident in a leak-free, seamless finish.
How do you install tongue-and-groove panelling?
Although simple to install, you will need to carry out some small preparation tasks prior to fitting your brand new cladding. For instance, we recommend working out how many panels will be required for the job before you start, so you don’t run short on panels halfway through installation, or buy too many.
Measure how many panels you will need
Regardless of the size of the area you’re planning to cover, it’s important to work out how many tongue-and-groove panels you will need to successfully complete your project. To do this, use a tape measure to measure your desired wall. Carefully note down the measurements in the form of H x L x W. Our wall panel calculator can help you work out how many panels that you’ll need by combining the size of your chosen panels with the measurements of your wall. This will provide you with an estimate of the maximum number of panels or packs that are required for your project.
Made from a naturally versatile material, the PVC tongue-and-groove cladding can be installed horizontally or vertically. However, whether this can be done one way or another can depend on the dimensions of the room. With that being said, the majority of tongue-and-groove panels are made to run from floor to ceiling. However, we recommend ensuring that your wall height is shorter than the length of the panels to reduce the chance of spacing issues during installation.
Prior to installation, you will also need to mark out the height the panels will sit at on the wall with a panel. To ensure these are installed as level as possible, we recommend drawing a line across these markings using a spirit level. However, if you have further sizing enquiries about our panelling, contact us or visit us at one of our showrooms, based in multiple locations across the country.
2. Cut the panels to size
The material of our tongue and groove panels means they can easily be cut down to size using basic hand tools, and it’s likely that most homeowners will have these in their tool box. Once you’ve measured the length you wish to cut the panels down to using a tape measure and pencil, a basic hacksaw or stanley knife can be used to cut through the panels. However, if you don’t have these, it might be worth asking your neighbours if you could borrow their tools, or head to your local DIY store.
Of the tools listed above, even though you’re free to use one or the other, at The Panel Company, we prefer to use a stanley knife to cut our panels. This is because we feel that using this tool creates a more precise finish. To cut through the panel, use the tool to score across the width and the excess panel should break off. This will leave a straight, clean edge in its place.
3. Secure the panels
With the ability to be easily installed over multiple different surfaces, when you’re installing our tongue-and-groove panels, there won’t be any need to strip existing tiles, plasterboards, or any other framework, as your new panels can be placed over any existing wall or ceiling cladding. If you’re using end caps as your panel trim, these will need to be installed before the panels.
For plasterboard, or any existing wooden framework, it’s recommended that you use a solvent free adhesive to secure the panels in place. However, if you’re installing our tongue-and-groove panels over tiles, although this is possible, we would recommend using a silicone adhesive. This ensures that the tiles will remain in place and won’t crack or break which can create more work.
Once the tongue-and-groove panels are installed, run a small bead of silicone adhesive inside the joinings of the panels. This creates a watertight seal, which is ideal if these are fitted above a bath or shower. Hold in place until the adhesive has set and push into your joiner, corner, or end trims. If any excess adhesive comes through to the face of the panel, this should be wiped away, ensuring that none remains visible as this can look unpleasant and could attract mould.
4. Fit the panel trims
Once you’ve installed your tongue-and-groove cladding, one of the final jobs is to install your panel trims. First, you will need to decide on the most suitable trim. These will help to hide any exposed edges once your panels have been fitted, allowing for a neat and all-round seamless appearance. Generally, there are a number of different styles of PVC panel trims, corners and accessories available in both aluminum and PVC styles. However, before you purchase the trims you will need to make sure the one you’ve chosen serves the correct purpose. Below, we’ve provided an overview of the types of panel trims you can find and the purpose they serve.
- End Caps: These panel trims are used around doorways or across featured panel walls to provide an aesthetic finish. Simply slot these onto the end of your wall panel grooves. If you’re using end caps, as mentioned above, you will need to install these before your panels, then the panels can be slotted directly into the end cap grooves with ease.
- External Corner: If you’re considering panelling a whole room, we recommend using external corner trims. These can be used to join two panels together where each panel meets in the corner of a room, with a groove either side for these to neatly slide into.
- Internal Corner: Internal corners are the reverse of our external corner trims, and each internal corner piece has slots either side for wall panels. Similar to above, an internal trim fits into the corner of a wall and joins two panels using the same groove process.
If you’re still having trouble choosing the right panel trims for your interior, read our guide on how to choose PVC trims. This can help you decide on the right trim depending on the depth of your tongue-and-groove panels, the layout of the space, as well as the area of the room you’re looking to install these in e.g corner, ceiling, bath and which colour will best suit your space.