For a new shower cubicle we recommend installing the shower tray first, next fit the panels and then fit the cubicle frame and door.
Fit the shower tray, following the manufacturers instructions. it is absolutely vital that the shower tray is rock solid as any movement can lead to leaks in the long term. Once fitted, seal the tray to the existing wall using a good quality sanitary silicone sealant. Smear the silicone up the wall slightly so that there is a skirt of sealant right around the tray. If possible choose a shower tray with built in upstands as this will ensure that it is impossible for any water to get under the panels, even if there is slight movement in the tray.
Most manufacturers recommend shower wall panel installation takes place before the door and side panel (or whatever shape cubicle you have chosen). You will need to decide if the panels are going to finish flush with the edge of the cubicle/tray or protrude past the enclosure frame slightly. Either way the edge of the panel will be visible so a capping trim will be required to provide a finished edge. Most cubicles come with wall profiles that allow a reasonable degree of adjustment which can help overcome out-of-true walls. Some frame-less cubicle designs are less forgiving and might require the walls to be levelled prior to installation (either by plastering or by battening out the wall). Frame-less wall brackets might need to be fitted with a packing piece to ensure a solid fixing – see our fixing through pages in our installation section. Standard wall profiles can usually be fitted without packing as they have a much larger surface area.
Sealing The Panels
In a shower area we recommend running a thin bead of silicone inside the joint of each panel to ensure no water forces its way through. The joins are waterproof to static water but high pressure water such as that provided by a power shower or mains pressure water can force its way through if the shower head is pointed at the joint ( the joint relies on the “springiness” of the plastic to form the seal). This is a very quick process and provides peace of mind knowing the joint will be 100% waterproof.
The panels should also be sealed at the bottom where they meet the shower tray. We do not recommend the use of masking tape to create a straight edge finish for the silicone as the solvent in the adhesive can affect the lacquer on the panel which could damage the finished surface. We would recommend just using a neat bead of silicone smoothed off with a caulking tool or wet finger negating the need for tape. Any holes made for pipes or cables should also be sealed with silicone before completion.
You can seal the corner joints and where the panels meet the frame with a good quality silicone sealant or you can use trims – see the following page for more information:
Plasterboard And Other Backing Boards
Tiles are demanding when it comes to backing boards. Plasterboard (as seen in the photo above) works fine providing the grout holds but any defects can cause water to penetrate and then the plaster acts like a sponge. Tile backing boards are better as they are moisture resistant. Plywood is not ideal as it expands and contract at a different rate to tiles which will cause problems relatively quickly.
Shower wall panels can use any of the above or even a combination of them without any issues. It really is that forgiving a product to work with.
And, of course, our panels can be fitted over the existing tiles if required – see our page install shower panels in an existing cubicle