Veneer used to be a dirty term – it usually signified something that was low quality and looked fake. However, over the last 20 years, materials and printing have moved on and it is now possible to use veneers to create hardwearing surfaces which are fast to achieve and incredibly cheap. Not only that but the finished effect looks natural.
You can buy rolls of plastic veneers in a multitude of colours and patterns. It is basically sticky back plastic on a huge scale. This type of veneer works really well to cover old fashioned or damaged worktops. Kitchen melamine worktops can be refreshed and old-fashioned bathroom surfaces can be quickly updated. These veneers won’t last forever but they can transform a room for a couple of years while you save to replace the entire worktop. Alternatively, they can be a cheap way to make a room sparkle if you are trying to sell or rent a property.
The application is relatively easy but you need to take your time if you are to avoid getting air bubbles trapped under the veneer. Use a length of wood or rubber spatula to flatten the veneer as you gradually peel off the backing – using the wood to flatten the veneer as you peel. If you peel off a large strip of backing and then try to fix a large area in one go you will end up with an uneven finish. This video shows you how easy it is to apply.
Exposed brick walls are a real design feature however in plasterboarded new builds they simply don’t exist. You could lug in a load of real bricks to create the effect – but it is expensive, messy and will eat up valuable interior space. You can now buy ‘Brick Slips‘ to create a soft brick effect easily and cheaply. Brick slips can also be called ‘brick tiles’ or ‘brick veneers’.
If you choose a UV resistant brick slip then you can also use the tiles outside on a terrace or in your garden. The tiles are made up of a hardwearing plastic backing with real slices of cement stuck to them that resemble brick. That means they not only look good from close-up they also feel just like the real thing.
To fit the tiles, clean the wall so it is not greasy or dusty. Use a strong tile cement and make sure it is suitable for exterior spaces if you are working in a garden or on a terrace. You should use 10mm tile spacers (unless your tile box says otherwise) and once your tile cement has dried you can grout or cement between the brick slips to complete the authentic look. Note that grouting or pointing between the brick slips will take a fair bit of time but it can add greatly to the finished effect so take your time and do small sections well, rather than trying to rush to complete the whole wall in one go.
PVC Bathroom Cladding
There was a time when tiles were pretty much the only option for wet steamy bathrooms. There is now a large range of bathroom panels (also called shower panels, bathroom sheets or bathroom cladding) on the market. These are large sheets of PVC which are used to cover bathroom surfaces. When they are fitted correctly they are totally waterproof, easy to clean and hardwearing. They come in very large sheets so there is very little cutting, joining or sealing compared to tiling. You can fit them over existing tiles or use them to cover non-waterproof surfaces like plasterboard. The tiles come in a range of designs; marble effect, tile effect, high gloss colours, glitter finishes and printed images.
You basically use a quality adhesive to glue the panels to the wall which is very simple. However, you do need to invest in good quality corner pieces and joints to make sure that the joints are neat and waterproof. You can buy these from the same source as your shower panels.
Shower panels do work out cheaper than tiles but not by a massive amount, the biggest saving is in terms of the time taken to fit and finish. Shower panels are super fast to fit and require little skill. Tiles, on the other hand, take a great deal of time and skill to get neat edges especially round sockets, sinks and toilets. You then also need to grout and clean the tiles.