Bath panel ideas – 17 beautiful wood, MDF and tile designs, including DIY options

  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • While roll top baths are usually ‘top of the tubs’, don’t rule out the standard fitted bath becoming your bathroom showstopper – particularly when you can dress it up with our gorgeous bath panel ideas.

    The enclosed casing is the perfect canvas to create a stylish feature that can either blend seamlessly into other bathroom ideas, or inject a colourful and vibrant element, enhancing your bathroom’s wow factor.

    The material you choose to frame your enclosed bath with will have an impact on the final look and there are plenty of styles to choose from. Wooden tongue-and-groove will add country charm, intricate tile patterns mounted on MDF can make an on-trend visual statement or a slice of sleek vinyl will slot seamlessly in for contemporary wet room vibes.

    So, before you replace your dated acrylic fascia, take a look at our brilliant bath panel ideas that will certainly make your bathtub the star.

    Are you ready to get your DIY on this bank holiday weekend? We’re celebrating all things DIY with Ideal Home’sLet’s DIY This weekender, sponsored by Saint-Gobain Weber. You’ll find everything you need to know to turn your dream DIY projects into a reality, including inspiring ideas, how to project advice and loads of expert tips. Happy DIYing!

    View Deal

    Bath panel ideas

    1. Tile it in a classic metro design

    Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole

    If you want a built-in bath to have an up-to-date style that’s set to stay in fashion, metro tiles are the way forward.

    Highlight the clean and simple brickwork design with a darker coloured grout, following our guide to how to grout tiles. A patterned floor adds interest, while a beautiful blue vanity teamed with pink walls and accessories softens the strong lines with a feminine twist.

    2. Tile to match a feature wall

    Image credit: Topps Tiles

    When planning a bathroom, alcove bathtubs make a practical and space-saving addition. Use the same tiles over the entire alcove walls as well as the bath panel to create a seamless and infinite flow. This bathroom tile idea is visually stunning, making the the bay the full feature of the bathroom, rather than just the bath panel.

    3. Embrace contemporary chevron chic

    Image credit: Simply Bathrooms (Surrey) Ltd / BC Designs

    A bath panels flat surface is the ideal place to have fun with pattern. Rather than forking out on expensive printed tiles, choose interesting shapes then play with the layout and design. Chevron, kinetic and hexagon patterns are popular and striking right now. Highlight with contrasting grout for the ultimate definition.

    4. Stick with traditional beaded panelling

    Image Credit: Future Publishing Plc/ James Balston

    A classic white bath panel is the go-to choice in traditional bathroom schemes. A signature panel design is sophisticated and adds subtle character and definition. It’s easy to get the look yourself too. Measure, paint and install a sheet of MDF and then stick-on beading in squares to complete the period look.

    5. Paint it grey

    Image credit: Future PLC/Alistair Nicholls

    Whether it’s part of a grey bathroom colour scheme or a stand-alone highlight, painted wooden bath panel ideas add a welcome twist to traditional designs. Manufacturers now offer plenty of colour choices too.

    This complete grey bathroom suite creates a calming interception between a bright teal crackle glaze splashback and a Victorian-style statement floor. The finished scheme is bold, beautiful yet balanced.

    6. Match the wall colour

    Image credit: Utopia Bathrooms

    A smooth bath panel that matches the rest of the bathroom will create a coordinated and coherent look. This calming scheme is an all-over soothing sea green shade with suite, bath panel and even wall colours painted the same hue. A warm oak top rail adds subtle contrast and is useful attention-to-detail.

    Helen Clark, Head of Marketing at Utopia Bathrooms, comments, ‘using a top rail has a practical as well as decorative function in that it protects the panel from any potential water ingress.’ Statement patchwork floor tiles pick out colours from both the bath panel and wood grain so marries the scheme together exquisitely.

    Bath panel ideas – 17 beautiful wood, MDF and tile designs, including DIY options

    7. Stay watertight with wood-effect tiles up from the floor

    Image credit: Topps Tiles

    As bathroom flooring ideas go, although wood is generally durable, rooms that endure a lot of water spills and humidity may suit wood-effect tiles better. Made from porcelain, they are entirely water-resistant. You get the same natural aesthetics of wood plus a few bonuses on top.

    This plank-style layout with grey grouting adds another dimension to this charming bathroom. Harriet Goodacre, Brand Communications Manager and ‘sTile’ Consultant at Topps Tiles explains more.

    ‘The beauty of tiles is that they can be arranged in a laying pattern that adds originality and individual flair to the overall look and feel of your bathroom.’

    8. Mix marble into a monochrome scheme

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme

    Large-scale marble tiles featured on the floor, bath panel and wall (tiled halfway) achieve a timeless and super polished look in this small bathroom.

    The pale surface reflects light while subtle tone variation and grain pattern are intricate and unique. Matt black fixtures are a chic contrasting finish and the single black trim makes smart attention to detail.

    9. Try this upcycling idea for a DIY bath storage trick

    Image credit: Laura Brand

    Here’s a clever bath panel idea that will hide unsightly toiletries and score you ‘recycle and re-use’ brownie points, too. This DIY bathroom panelling was created by interiors enthusiast, Laura Brand.

    The bath panel is made out of reclaimed wood and includes a copper handle so the panel can be opened on hinges to store cleaning products and shampoo behind – genius!

    10. A dark bath-panel can add drama

    Image credit: Heritage Bathrooms

    A black or navy blue bath panel will certainly stand out smartly in a traditional bathroom scheme, as a contrast to an otherwise white bathroom idea. Along with a Victorian-style statement floor and bright white tiles, this monochrome bathroom is oozing with stately style.

    11. Feature the tile of the moment, Lily Pad

    Image credit: Cecile Humbert Interiors

    From the original Ca’Pietra, ‘Lily Pad’ tile to the more budget-friendly representations, the Insta-famous hexagon tile is probably the most striking and on-trend design to cast your bath panel into the spotlight.

    Related: Popular Instagram Lily Pad tile is now available in a cheaper option!

    With an array of layouts and colourways to choose from, this clever little ‘star-burst’ will make an attractive statement that’s striking for a while yet. Avoid using other busy patterns in the same scheme or you could risk diluting the designer feature.

    12. Try tongue and groove for country chic

    Image credit: Barbara Egan/Future PLC

    Country bathroom ideas never go out of style and a tongue and groove bath panel will only increase the farmhouse charm. Paint the wooden addition to protect it from water spills and the humid environment and it should last for years to come.

    13. Round tubs can rock a bath panel too

    Image credit: Future PLC

    It’s not just standard or built-in baths that can benefit from a stylish surround. Roll-top and round baths look ultra-appealing all wrapped up too. The tongue and groove bath panel bends easily around the curves of this vintage-style bath to create a unique lozenge effect.

    It looks super cute and funky in this bright and eclectic bathroom, don’t you agree?

    14. Wrap around with a wood

    Image credit: Bathroom Mountain

    Envelop your bath with an engineered wood; it’s warm, natural and full of texture. This smooth walnut finish not only makes a contemporary fixture but its rich chocolate colour and sheeny grain appearance is sleek and luxurious.

    Grey might not be the first colour choice to add to the scheme but these rock toned, wall tiles create a contemporary geometric backdrop that complements the walnut bath panel with a cool earthy style that works.

    15. Highlight with LED under-lighting

    Image credit: Future PLC/Chris Snook

    Lighting the under rim of a bath panel will transform your bathroom into a sanctuary with a spa-like bathtub that casts an ambient glow. If a permanent electrical instalment is beyond budget, water-proof LED (light emitting diodes) strip lights make a cost-effective alternative – a great budget bathroom lighting idea.

    16. Keep your panel simple

    Image credit: Future Publishing plc/ David Giles

    If the focal point of the bathroom is another element, keep standards high with an understated yet well-thought-out bath panel to complement the scheme.

    It’s the pretty, iridescent bubble-effect splashback that catches the eye here. But the smooth, white bath panel with protective blush pink skirting, keeps the scheme clean, fresh and clutter-free.

    17. Have fun with an ombre effect

    Image Credit: Meir Australia

    Bathe before a stunning sunset in your bathroom with a bath panel that’s tiled with a glowing ombre effect. Here, lines of right-angle tiles are laid in light-to-dark tones that echo the warming colours of sundown.

    To get this look, start from the top of the bath panel and continue down and onto the entire floor with similar stripes of cream, buttercup yellow, amber, blush pink and finish with rich terracotta-coloured tiles.

    Can I tile straight onto an existing bath panel?

    Put simply, no. You’ll need to use an extra backing board that can withstand the extra weight of the tiles and glueing agents. ‘Bath panel tiling is exactly what it says on the tin,’ says Neil Harrold, Director at Simply Bathrooms explains. ‘It is adding tiles to the side of your bath, whether in the same or contrasting style as the rest of your bathroom.’

    ‘The process involves using specialist tile backing board which won’t warp and requires a bit more effort than using standard bath panels, but it is often worth the extra effort.’

    Video Of The Week

    You can take the same approach as how to tile a splashback, working straight onto the board.

    What is the best paint to use on a wooden bath panel?

    When painting a bath panel from scratch, you will need to first use a primer to protect the wood from water damage. For the undercoat and topcoat, an eggshell emulsion will create a smooth finish.

    Since mildew-resistant properties were added to paint, a gloss is no longer vital. Good ventilation is always recommended.