Sound in board

04 Jul, 13

Britta O’Boyle looks into alternatives for tiling and discovers, as the products continue to develop, it’s a market with huge potential for sale

The default wall covering used to be split between paint and tile, but now there is a variety of choice for consumers. Showerwall estimates shower walling is growing eight times faster than tiles and its brand manager Claire Lambert, comments: “The market for wall-panelling is growing very strongly now as consumers switch on to its benefits over tiling. Our sales are up /20% on last year, which is the strongest to date, and that sort of growth has to be at the expense of tiles.”

A growing market

There are a range of options available from natural materials to wall-panelling in PVC or laminate and glass through to solid surfacing. But why have alternative materials grown at the expense of tiles? Paul Findlay, product sales manager for Nuance wall-panelling at Bushboard, explains: “Wall panelling delivers a large expanse of decorative surface which is very appealing aesthetically, with the added benefit of easy day-to-day cleaning with no grout lines to harbor dirt. It also comes into its own for ease and speed of installation, meaning no wet trades have to get involved.”

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Luxury options

And these are not just a cheap alternative to tiling. In fact, panels can be just as luxurious. Consumers can opt for LED back-lit or hand-painted splashbacks, and digital printing. David Osbourne of Roman, says: “A good quality shower-walling system will be comparable to the installed price of good tiles. It is not a low-cost solution, but it has a number of USPs which makes it an attractive alternative.”

A bright future

Certainly the market for tiling alternatives only looks likely to grow further. According to Marco Cioffi, managing director of Okite UK: “This is a market that will continue to grow, as consumers seek different ways to decorate their kitchens and bathrooms in order to create a luxurious finish that is also highly practical.”

Adrian Stoneham of Stoneham Kitchens agrees, concluding: “As more people look for personality and striking design in their kitchen, I expect more people to choose bespoke options; experimenting with the shapes, textures and colours used in tiling alternatives.”