Particleboard and fiberboard are not the only materials from which wall panels are made. This time we decided to subject the panels made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), or, in other words, plastic panels to a serious analysis. And we became especially curious to understand how matters stand with the fire safety of this material..
“… Then the triangular walls were faced with slabs of dazzling white limestone. Even a knife blade could not be inserted between them – their edges were so tightly fitted. The slabs were polished to a mirror shine. This was done with the help of hard grinding stones. As eyewitnesses testified, in the sun and even in the moonlight the pyramid of Cheops sparkled like a huge crystal glowing from within … “- Sienkiewicz’s even velvet voice emanated from somewhere because of the pyramid formed on the screen. And we listened to him over Sunday tea and cake.
“And why am I not a pharaoh? .. – complained the mother-in-law, putting herself in the fourth piece. – I would be a pharaoh, I would live in decent conditions, and your stupid wallpaper would not fall on my head.” – “Mom, but surely the Pharaoh’s servants did not carry out general cleaning as often as you did, and even less did they wash the walls with washing powder,” my husband tried to object, but at that moment my mother’s eyes expressed such universal grief that he considered it it’s best not to continue the conversation.
My mother-in-law believes that everything “decent” should be cleaned and washed. Absolutely everything, including ceilings and walls. After some discussion, we decided to give her a gift by March 8, in order to somehow bring her living conditions closer to “decent”.
– Listen, – I said, – let’s go shopping, you can probably buy something “decent”.
No sooner said than done. And next weekend we rushed to the shops.
…Going to shops and markets is an activity for people with strong nerves. My husband broke down on the second day of the epic of buying a gift. But I did not give up, although my patience, too, was already running out. My head was spinning from the beauty and abundance of goods. And what is needed – beautiful, not very expensive, and most importantly – moisture-resistant material for walls and ceilings – all did not come across.
First, I threw all my strength into the search for washable wallpaper. I even chose some pretty pretty ones and, most likely, would have bought them if I had not seen wall panels in the next store of finishing materials.
And she began interrogating the seller with passion. What are they made of? Are they moisture resistant? Are these panels harmful to health? What will happen to them during a fire? The seller was patient and flexible. I tried to answer all my questions in as much detail as possible. But, alas, he didn’t know much. But he advised: “You, girl, you’d better go to the firm, they will tell you more there.”.
I began to persuade my husband to go where they ordered. But he behaved almost like a pharaoh, rested and looked menacing. Say, again you are throwing me into some kind of adventure … There was very little time left before the holiday, the gift was never bought … But I decided to get to the bottom of the truth and went to some firms selling wall panels.
How are the panels arranged? Fiberboard or chipboard?
The first thing that was explained to me was that wall panels in terms of shape and method of fastening are divided into type-setting rack and pinion. Type-setting rack and pinion “physique” are similar to ordinary boards. Only they are not made of wood. And on the side of each panel is a spike (protrusion) and a groove (recess). Such panels are connected to each other by inserting a spike into a groove. Sheet panels, as the name suggests, are nothing more than large, patterned sheets. Their dimensions are different (I will talk about this in more detail later). Attach them to the wall on the crate or just glue them.
But the main difference between wall panels is what they are made of. And they are made from chipboard (chipboard), fiberboard (fiberboard) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride, that is, plastic). This is what I had to figure out in order to understand what is better to buy as a gift for my mother-in-law.
As I said, I was interested in the following. For example, what is particle board or chipboard? So, chipboard is wood chips glued with formaldehyde resins and various adhesives and compressed under high pressure. I was warned that when choosing chipboard panels, you need to be extremely careful: formaldehyde releases harmful substances, especially when burning. It is better to buy panels glued with lignin (a natural substance that is part of wood). Are these panels afraid of water? My worst fears were confirmed. It turned out, yes, they do not tolerate water. And that wasn’t part of my plans. But I really liked the color – sandy with blue dots. Maybe they should decorate the balcony? I found out that it is impossible: they will not withstand changes in temperature and humidity. Crumble.
Fiberboard (fibreboard) panels, like chipboard, have a wood base. They only make them differently: wood chips are broken into fibers, moistened, and pressed. The resulting slabs are cut to the desired size and a decorative coating is applied to them. Compared to chipboard, this material is more environmentally friendly. But in the event of a fire, fiberboard, just like particleboard, burns (at a temperature of +250 ° C).
But unlike chipboard, fiberboard panels are not afraid of wet rooms (bathrooms are often finished with fiberboard sheet panels). But I was warned: it is still undesirable to scrub these panels with water (and even more so with washing powder). This means that fiberboard also disappears. What remains?
Is there a way out?
In one of those firms that I attacked, they showed me a collection of a Belgian company. Outwardly, these panels practically did not differ from chipboard and fiberboard panels. True, among them there were no sheet, but only type-setting rack (width from 10 to 30 cm, length from 2.5 to 6 m, thickness from 0.8 to 1.2 cm). Very lightweight, much lighter than wood. I was even shown them in section. As it turned out, the panels inside are not monolithic, but consist of cells. This is why they are so light! And most importantly, they can be washed at least five times a day, and nothing will happen to them..
What are the panels made of that are not afraid of moisture at all? And is it possible to install them not only in the room and corridor, but also in the bathroom, on the balcony and even on the street?
PVC panels are very lightweight. If you look at them in section, you can see that they consist of cells
I’m telling you. They are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or, more simply, from plastic. I am certainly not a chemist and I could be wrong. But this alarmed me: plastic in the room is probably not the best option. It turns out that fiberboard is “more natural”.
They explained to me that PVC is a universal polymer. Water pipes, hoses, linoleum are made from it. But the most convincing argument in favor of PVC turned out to be this: as it turned out, bottles for drinking water and disposable syringes are made from the same material. I was also pleased with the fact that there are no pores on the surface of plastic wall panels, in which microbes usually “nest”. This is probably why even such a fastidious organization as SES (sanitary and epidemiological station) allows the use of PVC panels not only in residential premises, but also in hospitals.
Now let’s see how PVC wall panels are made. Experts told me that the plastic “dough” is kneaded first. Then it is placed in a special machine – an extruder. Infinitely long plastic “spaghetti” come out of it. They are cut into 2.5 – 6 m pieces and carefully examined for marriage: they look so that there are no influxes, bumps, scratches.
Selected panels are colored with organic dyes, drawing by printing. Top panels are varnished. It protects them from UV rays, moisture and damage. In addition, the lacquer is antistatic and therefore the panels do not attract dust..
My light, mirror, tell me…
Sheet mirror panels bend well
I have already decided that now I know almost everything about plastic panels. God, how wrong I was! It’s good that, just in case, I went to a couple of firms. And I saw THAT there! My imagination was simply struck by the mirrored wall panels of the American company “Cadillak Plastic” (Kadillak Plastiс). They, as the experts told me, also belong to the “family of plastic”, but made of acrylic (light and water resistant chemical) and glass. Mirror panels are not afraid of water and high temperatures, and they do not care about the cold (these panels can withstand drops from -500 to +500 degrees C). Unlike PVC panels, they are not slatted, but sheet – 124 x 246 x 0.3 cm in size. Such panels cost $ 100 per sheet.
Moreover, the mirrored panels are seven times stronger than glass of the same thickness. And at the same time they are very light – ten times lighter than ordinary mirrors. They can be tinted and even holographic (“shimmery”). They can be painted as you want, using spray guns, brushes, rollers. The main thing is that the paints you use can be applied to the acrylic surface. Mirror panels are easy to cut with a saw, jigsaw or plexiglass cutter.
By the way, they can be mounted not only on the walls, but also on the ceiling. (Therefore, they are actively bought for decorating discos and entertainment complexes.) And more. Sheet panels bend well. Therefore, they are suitable to “wrap” columns in the home or office (if any). But the most original option, in my opinion, is to decorate the inner walls of the pool with such panels. Can you imagine how great it is? You dive – and admire your reflection underwater!
But that is not all
Polystyrene panels – a godsend for designers
But I got distracted. We do not have a pool and is not expected yet. But I still wanted to please my mother-in-law. I must say, personally, I would be glad if my daughter-in-law gave me panels of the products of the Austrian company Siro Burg. What they just do not have! And mirrored, and colored panels, and striped, and ribbed, and with an embossed pattern, and as if composed of small pieces of multi-colored glass. These panels can be pasted over anything your heart desires: from a vase and table legs to the same columns, walls and ceiling. Moreover, they are easily cut with scissors or a knife. Just follow the masters if you buy such panels: you need to cut them from the front side so that the mirror coating does not peel off..
But the sheet panels of this company are somewhat different from the “Cadillac” ones: firstly, in size (there are 266 x 88 x 0.1 cm; 98 x 98 x 0.1 cm; 200 x 100 x 0.1 cm; 130 x 100 x 0.1 cm), and secondly, they are made of a different material. These panels are made of polystyrene (hard glassy synthetic substance). And further. As I was told, they do not tolerate direct sunlight (they quickly fade in the sun) and temperatures above + 60 ° C. And they are also afraid of moisture, because the decorative layer can come off. In a word, their purpose is purely decorative, it was not advised to fix them in the bathroom or in the kitchen.
Trial by fire
But stop, stop. Something I was carried away by the aesthetic side of the matter and completely forgot that my main goal is to buy a moisture-resistant and safe coating. And I also remembered my husband’s parting words: “Do not forget to find out what about the flammability? Will the PVC panels flare up like matches?” I still remember how in school we set fire to plastic rulers and ping-pong balls. They burned for a sweet soul!
The following was found out. I was told that if the panels are made of recyclable materials, especially low-quality ones, then they will burn with a blue flame. This completely confused me. “Are they burning or not?” – I could not understand in any way.
And I called my dad. I forgot to say: I’m a fireman’s daughter. Dad quickly got into the essence of the problem and advised him to go to an independent testing laboratory for fire and explosion safety. I went, and that’s what they told me there. Yes, PVC panels are burning, they belong to the group of combustible building materials. If the panels did not light up from a match, this does not mean at all that they will also behave in a fire, where the air temperature is much higher and the flame is much larger.
But there is one interesting nuance here. As shown by “tests for flammability, flammability, smoke generation and toxicity of combustion products” carried out in the same laboratory, plastic panels are less fire hazardous than wall panels based on particleboard and fiberboard. It turned out that PVC panels can catch fire if the temperature of the “ambient” air is approximately +370 degrees C. Whereas panels made of chipboard and fiberboard, as I said, light up at about +250 degrees C.
Other interesting facts have also emerged. If you set fire to panels made of chipboard, fiberboard and PVC at the same time in the same conditions, then when the wood panel is completely burned out, the PVC panel is only half. Moreover, when burning, fiberboard and chipboard panels emit almost twice as much smoke than plastic ones. In tests for toxicity of combustion products in the smoldering mode, fiberboard and chipboard “won” – they are 1.5 times more toxic than PVC panels.
In my opinion, everything is very clear. I even somehow perked up, thanked the consultant and continued my research. Now it was necessary to figure out how to attach all this economy to the wall..
How to fix them correctly?
A very bold combination of PVC wall panels in the interior
I have already said that slatted wall panels are also called type-setting. And for good reason. This word perfectly reflects the way they are attached. There are two options for fastening type-setting lath panels: “groove-groove” and “groove-tenon”. In the first case (“groove-groove”), the panels have recesses (recesses) on both sides. A so-called jointing (a rail connecting the grooves of both panels) is inserted into them. Joints are included in the kit and have the same color as the panels themselves. If you want to decorate the interior with a contrast – purchase joining in other colors for a fee. In the second variant (“groove-thorn”), there is a recess (groove) on one side of the panel, and a protrusion (thorn) on the other. During assembly, the tenon of the previous panel is inserted into the groove of the next one. Make sure that the masters do not confuse anything, otherwise nothing will work.
And further. In rooms with low humidity, the panels can be glued directly to the wall. This requires a neutral silicone or so-called neoprene acrylic adhesive. But in this case, the wall must be flat and dry..
So simple and tasteful you can decorate a bathroom with plastic panels
In more humid rooms (or in rooms with curved walls), it is better to fasten the panels to the lathing with nails, screws with flat heads, a construction stapler or the same glue. For those who do not know: the crate is wooden blocks that are screwed to the wall at a distance of 40-60 cm from each other. How are they fixed? Almost as you like: horizontally, vertically, tilted, herringbone, diamond patterns, or whatever you like. They are convenient in that no pre-treatment of the walls in the sense of particularly careful alignment is required..
As for the sheet mirror panels, they can be “planted” on cement, screwed or glued. It is better to glue the panels on unpainted surfaces: metal, concrete, masonry, wood, cardboard, etc. So they will adhere better. There is one more important detail. If you want to reflect in these panels without distortion, then builders will need to pre-align the walls. Otherwise, you will live in the “kingdom of crooked mirrors”.
Strokes for the portrait
But wait. This is not all. When the panels are already attached to the wall, you will find that screwing and gluing them is still half the battle. Is it possible to live well in a room where screws stick out in the corners, and some kind of disgrace is going on at the joints between the wall and the ceiling (or floor) ?! How to cover up all these “roughness”? Here come in handy corners, baseboards and cornices, which companies produce specifically for the color of the panels..
So so. The “start” or “end” profile is needed to seal the protruding edges. You can’t do without a plinth: by the way, with its help you can not only cover the joint between the wall and the floor, but also hide the electrical or telephone wires. The joint between the wall and the ceiling will be sealed with a ceiling edging or cornice. In a word, carefully study the related products and choose what you need.
Well, that seems to be all. Now my mother-in-law has (or rather, will soon) have wonderful walls. My husband and I bought her PVC panels – so soft cream with an elegant graphic design. She looks at me affectionately, calls me “daughter” and promises to go to her sister for all the holidays. “Why do you have to cook here with an old woman?” My still not old mother-in-law generously condemns. We here barely dissuaded her from installing these same panels on our own. No really. The holidays will pass – we will call the masters to fix it to the walls.
And most importantly – these panels are not afraid of water (which is important for the mother-in-law), are practically harmless to health (which is important for me) and beautiful (which is important for all of us). In general, we will really live like the pharaohs.