Cheap Alternatives to Bathroom Tiles

Cheap Alternatives to Bathroom Tiles

When it comes to redesigning a bathroom, most people will default to using bathroom tiles to create their dream interior. This can be a costly affair, with installation and grouting adding to labour costs and requiring ongoing maintenance. Whilst tiles do make for an excellent and robust design choice when installed correctly, there are other options that can provide the same visual effect with the added bonus of being easier to clean and more cost-effective. 

If you want to transform your bathroom without the rigmarole of undergoing a full renovation, keep reading as we guide you through some of the alternatives that are available, as well as discuss their pros, cons, and average cost to help you make an informed decision about your bathroom redesign.

Pros and cons of bathroom tiles

Bathroom tiles are typically the most popular option when it comes to bathroom redesign. They can curate a luxury appeal and are available in an impressive array of styles and sizes, which allows for custom designs to be created. However, because this is the default choice for most, many people are reluctant to explore other options and end up spending lots of money upfront on tiles. To help you make a more informed decision before committing to tiles, we’ve listed the pros and cons of tiling below.

Cost: On average anywhere between €25-120 per square foot, depending on the size of the tile. Plus an average of €500 to €1,500 for tile installation costs.



  • Tiles are very durable and will last a long time with proper care, especially when using porcelain or ceramic
  • There is a huge variety of colours, sizes and styles available
  • A well tiled bathroom can increase the resale value of your home as this is a desirable selling point for many buyers
  • Many types of tiles do not harbour dust, bacteria, or mould, making them a hygienic solution for bathroom decor



  • Installing tiles is costly, and usually requires a professional to ensure that all tiles are lined up correctly and sealed adequately
  • If one tile gets damaged it can be difficult and expensive to repair it without affecting the surrounding tiles
  • Grout may become mouldy or stained over time, and will need regular cleaning
  • Tiling a bathroom can be very time consuming, so may not be the best option if you’re looking for a quick and easy solution.


Pros and cons of PVC wall panels 

Bathroom wall panels are one of the best alternatives to tiling. Providing a more versatile option and available in a wide range of finishes, you’ll be able to create your desired effect with more ease. For example, you could create a tiled-effect to create a more traditional look without the nuisances of grouting or specialist installation, or you could make something more avant-garde by opting for wood or brick 3D effect panels that will be able to withstand the bathroom environment better than the natural materials could. Below you’ll find a summary of the advantages and disadvantages of bathroom panels to better understand why these make a great cheaper alternative to tiles. 


Cost: €20-€50 per 200mm-400mm size panel (1m x 2.4m)



  • Wall panels are extremely cost effective and are cheaper than traditional tiles or wood
  • They are water and mould resistant which makes them suitable to withstand the humid conditions of a bathroom
  • PVC panels are very easy to install and they don’t require grouting like traditional tiles do
  • They are also very easy to clean and maintain once they have been installed, which makes cleaning the bathroom a much easier task
  • There are plenty of design choices available, including 3D effect textured finishes which allow you to create more versatile interior design schemes
  • They have high durability and are resistant to chipping and other wear and tear, providing a pristine finish for years to come
  • They can be placed over tiles, so if you move into a home that has a design that isn’t to your taste you can easily redesign without having to remove the existing tiles which can be messy and time consuming.



  • There is damage potential if incorrectly installed, including water seeping behind any areas that have not been adequately sealed
  • Whilst able to withstand regular bathroom temperatures, they have limited heat resistance for areas such as saunas

Large White Chevron 1.0m x 2.4m Shower Panel

PVC shower panels 

It is also worth mentioning that you do not have to solely commit to PVC wall panels if you’d prefer a mix of materials. For example, you could opt for shower panels to create a feature wall around a bath or shower. They provide a decorative appeal alongside an easier way to keep your shower area clean and hygienic. The larger panel size also helps to create a more seamless look, providing further water resistance in the wettest areas of your bathroom.


Cost:  €50-70 per standard size panel (1m x 2.4m)



  • Can be used in shower and bath areas to create a water resistant feature wall 
  • Allows you to experiment with other textures and colours on adjoining or adjacent walls
  • Shower panels are an extremely affordable way to immediately liven up your bathroom



  • The larger size may not be suitable for your bathroom wall, depending on the size of your shower or bath area
  • They have limited customizability as unlike tile or wood effect, they can typically only be installed upright rather than diagonally or horizontally

Large Carrera White Marble 1.0m x 2.4m Shower Panel

Bathroom grade paint

Using a bathroom safe paint is a very easy way to add colour or spruce up a space. This type of paint has been specially designed to withstand humid environments, with resistance to peeling or chipping as a result of water or steam exposure. However, in many cases this paint can’t be used where your bath or shower is and you’ll still need to use tiles or PVC panels. As such, this can be much cheaper than fully tiling your bathroom as you’ll only need to increase water resistance in one area. We’d recommend opting for a shower panel alongside your paint to create a feature wall, like in the image below.

Large Mochaccino Marble Matt 1.0m x 2.4m Shower Panel

Cost: Between €18 and €55 per gallon of bathroom safe paint



  • An extremely easy way to spruce up your bathroom, with little equipment required
  • These paints are often created with anti-microbial and moisture resistant properties to avoid any mould or mildew forming
  • They have a washable surface so that you can easily remove any watermarks or other debris
  • Easy to reapply when needed




  • More expensive than regular paint
  • There is a risk of chipping or paint peeling
  • Wall surfaces usually require preparation before the paint can be applied
  • The paints cannot usually be used in areas that are exposed to lots of water, such as near the shower or bath.

Natural wood

Scandi and Japandi design trends are certainly growing in popularity recently, and these trends focus on using natural wood to create a minimalistic and relaxed space. Natural wood can be used in the bathroom, but you may find that it needs regular lacquering, oiling, and cleaning to prevent mould, mildew, and warping, especially if used in high-traffic areas such as on the floor or around sinks and showers. If you like the natural wood effect but don’t want to deal with this high-maintenance approach, you can again opt for wall panels which have a replicated wood finish. Alternatively to keep costs down, you could use panels in areas that see more moisture and natural wood for drawers, sink units, and windowsills. 


Cost: between €59.99 to €175 per square metre of natural wood panelling



  • Versatility in style with plenty of grain finishes and shades to choose from to create a warm and rustic look, or more of an industrial aesthetic
  • An eco-friendly option, as wood can be sustainably sourced and then recycled or degraded if it hasn’t been extensively chemically treated
  • High quality wood is durable, and can be treated to withstand exposure to steam and water to avoid degradation



  • High quality wood can be quite costly, though you can source cheaper or reclaimed wood to cut down on costs
  • Wood is sensitive to moisture, and can warp or become damaged which means it requires frequent treatment and maintenance
  • It can attract pests such as wood mites if it is not correctly treated and maintained 
  • Once it is installed, it is much harder to change the design and requires more effort should you wish to remove it.

Waterproof wallpaper

The last cheap alternative to bathroom tiles that you could use is waterproof wallpaper. Often made of vinyl, this is a very good option for those who like extravagant designs or maximalist aesthetics. Like the paint and wood, it can’t be used in all areas of the bathroom if you want to maintain a pristine look, but it can be used on walls that won’t get wet in place of tiles. Wallpaper rolls are very cheap and you can apply it yourself with basic DIY knowledge. 


Cost: €20 to €50 per roll



  • Wallpaper is  more cost effective than bathroom tiles and easier to install
  • It can provide a very unique look in the bathroom with more patterned features
  • Because it is waterproof, it is fairly low maintenance as it can be wiped down with a wet cloth



  • It’s not as durable as other options, and there is a risk of scratching, peeling, or damage from scrubbing
  • If installed incorrectly there is a risk of mould or mildew forming behind any gaps or air bubbles
  • There is likely to be a visible seam so it isn’t good for creating a cohesive design.


Enhance your bathroom interior with The Panel Company

When it comes to choosing a cheap alternative to bathroom tiles, there are no right or wrong answers as this is highly dependent on your budget and personal taste. However, due to their high-performance, easy installation and maintenance, we’d always recommend choosing PVC wall panels, especially in areas that will be exposed to water. This can be a fantastic long-term solution that will help you to cut down renovation costs, and won’t require much upkeep compared to other materials. If you’d like further inspiration, browse through our full collection of wall panels or contact a member of our team if you have any questions.


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