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Title:
METHOD FOR MOUNTING WALL PANELS & WALL PANEL SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/102178
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Method for mounting wall panels (301A,301B) to a surface, such as a wall, including: providing a first wall panel (301A), said first wall panel (301A) comprising a plastics wall panel having a profiled first edge (307A), said profiled first edge (307A) including a recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the profiled first edge (307A); mounting the first wall panel (301A) to the surface such that the recessed surface presents an undercut void on an inner side of the first wall panel (301A); and applying settable sealant (319) to the profiled first edge (307A) such that some of the sealant (319) bonds to the recessed surface.

Inventors:
FLEET, Charles (Holland House, Frith Bank, Boston Lincolnshire PE22 7BE, PE22 7BE, GB)
COULSON, Gordon (Enterprise House, Priory RoadFreiston, Boston Lincolnshire PE22 0JZ, PE22 0JZ, GB)
Application Number:
GB2018/053132
Publication Date:
May 31, 2019
Filing Date:
October 30, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
RECO SURFACES LIMITED (Enterprise House, Priory RoadFreiston, Boston Lincolnshire PE22 0JZ, PE22 0JZ, GB)
International Classes:
E04F13/08
Domestic Patent References:
WO2016142647A12016-09-15
WO2017017139A12017-02-02
WO2015008907A12015-01-22
Foreign References:
DE10001227C12001-05-31
US20090016817A12009-01-15
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MORRIS, Jonathan (URQUHART-DYKES & LORD LLP, Altius House1 North Fourth Street, Central Milton Keynes Buckinghamshire MK9 1NE, MK9 1NE, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Method for mounting wall panels to a surface, such as a wall, including: providing a first wall panel, said first wall panel comprising a plastics wall panel having a profiled first edge, said profiled first edge including a recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the profiled first edge; mounting the first wall panel to the surface such that the recessed surface presents an undercut void on an inner side of the first wall panel; and applying settable sealant to the first edge such that some of the sealant bonds to the recessed surface.

2. The method according to claim 1, including providing a second wall panel, wherein the second wall panel comprises a plastics wall panel having a profiled second edge, said profiled second edge including a recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the profiled second edge; and mounting the second wall panel to the wall in a manner such that the profiled second edge is arranged parallel to the profiled first edge.

3. The method according to claim 2, including mounting the second wall panel to the wall in a manner such that the recessed surface presents an undercut void on an inner side of the second wall panel.

4. The method according to claim 3, including providing a gap between the profiled first edge and the profiled second edge.

5. The method according to claim 2, including mounting the second wall panel to the wall in a manner such that at least a part of the profiled second edge is inserted into the undercut void defined by the first wall panel, and the profiled first and second surfaces overlap.

6. The method according to any one of claim 2 to 5, include applying settable sealant to the profiled second edge such that some of the sealant bonds to the recessed surface.

7. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein at least one of the first and second wall panels has a wall panel thickness in the range 1 to 5mm.

8. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the or each recessed surface includes a sloping surface.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein the or each sloping surface includes a bevelled or chamfered surface.

10. The method according to claim 8 or 9, wherein the or each sloping surface subtends an angle with respect to a reference line that is arranged parallel with the inner major surface of the wall panel that is in the range 10° to 40°, and preferably is 20°.

11. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein at least one of the profiled first edge and the profiled second edge includes a second recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of a respective one of the profiled first edge and profiled second edge.

12. A method according to claim 11, wherein the second recessed surface is arranged to present an overcut void on an outer side of a respective one of the first wall panel and the second wall panel.

13. A method according to claim 12, wherein the second recessed surface can include a second sloping surface, such as a chamfered or bevelled surface.

14. The method according to claim 12 or 13, wherein the or each second sloping surface subtends an angle with respect to a reference line that is arranged parallel with the inner major surface of the wall panel that is in the range 10° to 40°, and preferably is 20°.

15. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein at least one of the profiled first and second edges comprises a longitudinal edge of its respective wall panel.

16. The method according to claim 15, wherein at least one of the profiled first and second edges extends along the full length of its respective wall panel.

17. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the first wall panel includes a profiled second edge.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the profiled first and second edges of the first wall panel are arranged opposite to one another.

19. The method according to any one of the preceding claims when dependent on claim 2, wherein the second wall panel includes a profiled first edge.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the profiled first and second edges of the second wall panel are arranged opposite to one another.

21. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, including bonding the first wall panel at a region adjacent to the profiled first edge to the surface with at least one of a double sided adhesive tape and a low modulus adhesive, and subsequently moving the profiled second edge towards the profiled first edge, flexing the second wall panel if necessary, and when located in the correct position, bonding the second wall panel to the surface with double sided adhesive tape.

22. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein at least one of the first and second wall panels is planar.

23. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein at least one of the first and second wall panels includes a pattern of channels formed in an outer major surface, said pattern of channels defining an arrangement of tile-like areas in the outer major surface.

24. The method according to claim 23, wherein a peripheral portion of the first wall panel adjacent the profiled first edge and a peripheral portion of the second wall panel adjacent the profiled second edge define a channel that is similar to at least one channel in the pattern of channels when the profiled first and second edges abut one another.

25. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein at least one of the first and second wall panels includes a thermoplastic.

26. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein at least one of the first and second wall panels can include at least one of: ABS, acrylic, acrylic- capped ABS (sanitary grade), High Impact Styrene (HPS), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene (PE), Polyvinylchloride (PVC), polycarbonate.

27. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, including providing a protective covering, such as a protective film covering, on at least a part of a major outer surface for the first and/or second wall panel.

28. The method according to any one of the preceding claims, including providing a protective covering, such as a protective film covering, on at least a part of the profiled first edge; and/or at least a part of the profiled second edge.

29. A wall panel system, including: a first wall panel for covering at least part of a wall surface, said first wall panel comprising a plastics wall panel having a profiled first edge, said profiled first edge including a recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the first edge, said recessed surface arranged to present an undercut void on an inner side of the first wall panel in a mounted condition.

30. The system according to claim 21, including a second wall panel having a profiled second edge.

31. The system according to claim 29 or 30, wherein the first wall panel includes a protective covering, such as protective film, over at least a part of a major outer surface of the first wall panel; and/or the second wall panel includes a protective covering, such as a protective film, over at least a part of a major outer surface of the second wall panel.

32. The system according to any one claims 29 to 31, wherein the first wall panel includes a protective covering, such as a protective film, over at least a part of the profiled first edge; and/or the second wall panel includes a protective covering, such as a protective film, over at least a part of the profiled second edge.

33. The system according to any one of claims 29 to 32, wherein the profiled first edge includes a sloping surface, such as bevelled or chamfered edge; and/or the profiled second edge comprises a sloping surface, such as a bevelled or chamfered edge.

34. The system according to claim 33, wherein the sloping surface of the profiled first edge subtends an angle of around 10 to 40 degrees with respect to a major outer surface of the first wall panel; and/or the sloping surface of the profiled second edge subtends an angle of around 10 to 40 degrees with respect to a major outer surface of the second wall panel.

35. The system according to any one of claims 29 to 34, wherein at least one of the first and second wall panels is flexible.

36. The system according to any one of claims 29 to 35, wherein the first wall panel can include a profiled second edge; and/or the second wall panel can include a profiled first edge.

37. The system according to any one claims 29 to 36, wherein the profiled first edge can extend along the full length of the wall panel; and/or the profiled second edge can extend along the full length of the wall panel.

38. The system according to any one of claims 29 to 37, including a settable sealant is for applying to at least one of the profiled edges.

39. The system according to any one of claims 29 to 38, wherein at least one of the first and second wall panels has a thickness in the range 1mm to 5mm, and is typically around 2mm.

40. The system according to any one of claims 29 to 39, including at least one portion of double sided adhesive tape.

Description:
METHOD FOR MOUNTING WALL PANELS & WALL PANEL SYSTEM

The present invention relates to a method for mounting plastics wall panels on to a surface and a wall panel system. For example, the invention has particular utility in the context of wet environments such as bathrooms and kitchens.

Plastics wall panels may have an embossed or moulded tile or other relief design, or planar. Both types of wall panel may be of plain or include a printed design.

Achieving a watertight seal is very important for wet environments such as bathrooms and kitchens, however it can be difficult to mount wall panels on to a surface in a manner that produces a high quality watertight seal at the edges of panels. Furthermore, it is necessary to maintain the seal for a long period of time. As time goes by sealant often becomes separated from wall panels due to flexing of wall panels, for example with building movement/settlement, when a user leans on them, or when panels bow in the vicinity of the seal. Another problem is that sealant applied into a gap between wall panels is easily removed by cleaning e.g. rubbing. Especially if excess sealant is not removed immediately after sealing. Sometimes people pick at the sealant. Once a small amount of sealant protrudes, it is easily stripped out of its seating, leaving the wall exposed to moisture. This is highly undesirable.

Wall panels can comprise flat sheets, for example of a plastics material, or can have a pattern of tiles formed therein. Typically a plurality of such sheets is required to cover a section of wall. Flowever a problem with conventional wall panels is that when a pair of panels is located side by side such that their edges abut one another, a distinct joining line is clearly visible. This is particularly true if all or part of an edge protrudes above the adjacent edge. This may be due to more adhesive or sealant behind the panel edge or to a variation in the wall surface. If the difference in height is greater than the thickness of print design, film layer or colour on a white or other coloured substrate, that substrate colour becomes visible and highlights the join. Traditional solutions to hide or disguise this joining line include using a separate joining profile such as a slotted elongate connector member. The connector member successfully hides the joining line however it is much more clearly visible than the joining line itself and therefore it is clear where the separate panels are located. Accordingly it is desirable to have a wall panel system that provides a seamless appearance to a casual observer, particularly for wall panels having a print, colour or a film layer applied thereto.

A typical gap width between plastics panels mounted on to a wall is around 2mm to 3mm. A problem can occur in that an insufficient width and depth of sealant can be applied into the gap, and the sealant is then not able to withstand any change in width of the adjacent panels. Typically a silicone or similar flexible sealant has an elasticity or maximum deformation of 25%. With a 2 to 3 mm wide gap, the sealant is effective up to 0.5mm to 0.6mm change, beyond this if compressed or stretched by more than 0.5mm the outer edges of the seal risk rupture. Wall panels expand and contract with a change in temperature. Typically a 2 mm thick PVC panel of 1220 mm width will expand or contract by around 2.5 mm with a change of temperature of 30 C or 1.25 mm with 15 C. This is beyond the elasticity or deformation of the sealant with conventional sealing arrangements.

Movement of wall panel joins will also occur if the surface behind moves. This may be due to for example, impact, settlement of the wall or change of temperature.

The present invention seeks to mitigate at least one of the problems mentioned above, or at least to provide an alternative method for mounting wall panels and a wall panel system from known methods and systems.

It is an object of the current invention to provide a wall panel system that includes at least one plastics wall panel having at least one profiled edge, which provides an undercut void when mounted on to a wall, thereby enabling a larger volume of settable sealant to be applied to the profiled first edge. It is a further object of the invention to provide a method for mounting a wall panel having at least one profiled edge on to a wall.

According to one aspect of the invention there is provided a method for mounting wall panels to a surface, such as a wall.

The method can include providing a first wall panel. The first wall panel can comprise a plastics wall panel. The first wall panel can have a profiled first edge, said profiled first edge including a recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the first edge. The first wall panel can comprise a moulded plastics wall panel. The method can include mounting the first wall panel to the surface such that the recessed surface presents an undercut void on an inner side of the first wall panel. The inner side of the first wall panel faces generally towards the wall, when mounted thereon.

The method can include applying settable sealant to the profiled first edge. At least some of the sealant bonds to the recessed surface. The sealant can fill the undercut void, or a substantial part thereof. The undercut void enables wall panels to be sealed together in a manner that makes it very difficult for the set sealant to be removed from the joint. This is because the undercut void ensures that the width of the set sealant is wider than a minimum gap between adjacent wall panels. This also provides a stronger bond with the wall since the sealant bonds to a larger area of the wall and also creates a larger seal. The surface area of the undercut edge is greater than a conventional square edge, which provides a strong bond between the sealant and the panel. Thus it is very difficult for a person to prise the sealant through the joint. The invention provides a very simple and effective solution to the sealant removal problem. Furthermore, there is a stronger bond between adjacent panels since the sealant attaches to a larger surface area of each panel. The arrangement helps to prevent sealant from detaching from the panels due to thermal expansion and contraction of the panels, and therefore maintains a better seal between the panels.

The method can include providing a second wall panel. The second wall panel can comprise a plastics wall panel. The second wall panel can have a profiled second edge. The profiled second edge can include a recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the first edge.

The method can include mounting the second wall panel to the wall in a manner such that profiled second edge is arranged parallel to the profiled first edge.

The profiled second edge can be spaced apart from the profiled first edge to provide a gap therebetween. The gap is typically greater than or equal to 0.5mm, and preferably greater than or equal to 1mm. The gap is typically less than or equal to 4mm, preferably less than or equal to 3mm, and more preferably less than or equal to 2mm.

The first and second wall panels are thin wall panels. At least one, and preferably each, of the first and second wall panels can have a thickness that is greater than or equal to 1mm and more preferably still is greater than or equal to 1.5mm. At least one, and preferably each, of the first and second wall panels can have a thickness that is less than or equal to 5mm, preferably is less than or equal to 4mm and more preferably still is less than or equal to 3mm. A typical wall panel thickness is in the range 1mm to 3mm, and is preferably around 2mm. Typically the first and second wall panels have the same thickness. For non-planar wall panels, such as tile-effect panels, thickness refers to the thickness of the panel material rather than the overall depth of the formed panel.

Each of the wall panels can have a first major surface, for example an inner major surface. Each of the wall panels can have a second major surface, for example an outer major surface. The second major surface is arranged opposite to the first major surface.

The method can include mounting the second wall panel to the wall such that the recessed surface presents an undercut void on an inner side of the second wall panel.

The method can include applying settable sealant to the second edge of the second wall panel such that some of the sealant bonds to the recessed surface. The recessed surfaces of the first and second wall panels can face generally towards one another.

The first and second wall panels can be mounted on to the wall such that the first and second profiled edges touch one another.

The or each recessed surface ca n include a sloping surface, such as chamfered surface or a bevelled surface. In embodiments wherein the recessed surface of each of the first and second panels are sloping, the recessed surfaces together can present a trapezoidal undercut void or a triangular undercut void, which is filled with sealant. This shape of recess is easy to manufacture and provides an effective grip on the sealant.

The sloping surface can subtend an angle with respect to one of the inner major surface of the wall panel and the outer major surface of the wall panel that is greater than or equal to 10°, and preferably is greater than or equal to 15°. The or each sloping surface can subtend an angle with respect to one of the inner major surface of the wall panel and the outer major surface of the wall panel that is less than or equal to 40°, preferably is greater than or equal to 30°, and more preferably is less than or equal to 25°. Typically the angle is around 20°. Having a relatively shallow angle increases the area to which the settable sealant can bond. This angle can be provided on a thin panel, for example having a thickness between 1mm and 3mm. A 20° undercut on a 1mm thick wall panel creates an undercut of around 2mm. A 20° undercut on a 2mm thick wall panel creates an undercut of around 4mm. For example, two adjacent planar wall panels of 2mm thickness, each having a 20° undercut profiled edge, wherein the profiled edges are separated by a 2mm gap between their greatest extents, provides a total sealant width at the wall of 4 + 2 + 4mm = 10mm. Thus a significant volume of settable sealant can be inserted into the gap to form a bond with the wall and the wall panels.

At least one of the profiled first edge and the profiled second edge can include a second recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of a respective one of the profiled first edge and profiled second edge. The second recessed surface can be arranged to present a recessed void (overcut) on an outer side of a respective one of the first wall panel and the second wall panel. The second recessed surface can include a second sloping surface such as a chamfered or bevelled surface.

The second sloping surface can subtend an angle with respect to the outer major surface of the wall panel that is greater than or equal to 10°, and preferably is greater than or equal to 15°. The or each sloping surface can subtend an angle with respect to a reference line that is arranged parallel with the inner major surface of the wall panel that is less than or equal to 40°, preferably is greater than or equal to 30°, and more preferably is less than or equal to 25°. Typically the angle is around 20°

The or each recessed surface can comprise a concave or a convex surface.

The profiled first edge can be a longitudinal edge of the first wall panel. The recessed surface can extend along the full length of the profiled first edge. The profiled second edge can be a longitudinal edge of the second wall panel. The recessed surface can extend along the full length of the profiled second edge.

The first wall panel can include a profiled second edge. The profiled second edge of the first wall panel can be arranged similarly to the profiled second edge of the first wall panel. The profiled second edge of the first wall panel can include a recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the profiled second edge. The first wall panel can be mounted on to the wall such that the recessed surface of the profiled second edge presents an undercut void on an inner side of the first wall panel. The first wall panel can be mounted on to the wall such that the recessed surface of the profiled second edge overlaps with a profiled first edge of another wall panel. The method can include applying setable sealant to the profiled second edge of the first wall panel such that some of the sealant bonds to the recessed surface. The profiled second edge of the first wall panel can include can include a second recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the profiled second edge. The second recessed surface can be arranged to present a recessed void (overcut) on an outer side of the first wall panel. The second recessed surface can include a second sloping surface such as a chamfered or bevelled surface.

For the first wall panel, the profiled second edge can be arranged opposite to the profiled first edge. This enables a third wall panel to be mounted adjacent to the first wall panel, on a side of the first wall panel opposite to that which is adjacent the second wall panel. The profiled second edge can be a longitudinal edge. Alternatively, the profiled second edge can be arranged perpendicularly to the profiled first edge. In some embodiments the profiled second edge can be a transverse edge. The recessed surface can extend along the full length of the profiled second edge. The profiled second edge can include a second recessed surface. The second recessed surface can be arranged similarly to the second recessed surface of the first edge.

The second wall panel can include a profiled first edge. The profiled first edge can be arranged similarly to the profiled first edge of the first wall panel. The profiled first edge can include a recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the profiled first edge. The method can include mounting the second wall panel on to the wall in a manner such that the recessed surface of the profiled first edge presents an undercut void on an inner side of the second wall panel. The second wall panel can be mounted on to the wall such that the recessed surface of the profiled first edge overlaps with a profiled second edge of another wall panel. The method can include applying settable sealant to the profiled first edge of the second wall panel such that some of the sealant bonds to the recessed surface. The profiled first edge can include a second recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the profiled first edge. The second recessed surface can be arranged to present a recessed void (overcut) on an outer side of the second wall panel. The second recessed surface can include a second sloping surface such as a chamfered or bevelled surface.

For the second wall panel, the second edge can be arranged opposite to the first edge. This enables a fourth wall panel to be mounted adjacent to the second wall panel, on a side of the second wall panel opposite to that which is adjacent the first wall panel. The profiled first edge can be a longitudinal edge. Alternatively, the profiled first edge can be arranged perpendicularly to the second edge. The profiled first edge can be a transverse edge. The recessed surface can extend along the full length of the second edge.

The profiled first and second edges included in the first wall panel can be similar. The profiled first and second edges included in the second wall panel can be similar.

At least one further edge of at least one of the first and second wall panels can comprise a profiled edge. The profiled edge can have a recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the profiled edge. The recessed surface of the profiled edge can present an undercut void on an inner side of the wall panel. The at least one further edge can comprise a transverse edge or a longitudinal edge. Each wall panel can include first and second profiled transverse edges. Each of the first and second profiled transverse edges can be profiled similarly to the first and/or second edges. The at least one additional profiled edge can include a second recessed surface. The second recessed surface can be arranged similarly to the second recessed surface of the first edge.

The method can include attaching at least one of the first and second wall panels to the wall by means of plurality of vertical or horizontal beads of adhesive. The beads of adhesive can be spaced around 80mm apart. The first bead can be arranged around 40mm from the first edge. Each bead of adhesive can be around 6 to 8mm wide. This is particularly applicable to tile effect wall panels.

The method can include attaching at least one portion of double sided adhesive tape onto the surface. The method can include mounting the first wall panel onto the surface such that the first edge overlies the double sided adhesive tape. The method can include applying sealant to at least one of the double sided adhesive tape and the first edge of the first wall panel. The method can include mounting the second wall panel onto the surface such that the first edge overlies the double sided adhesive tape, the arrangement being such that the first edge of the second wall panel is located adjacent to, and parallel with, the first edge of the first wall panel. This mounting arrangement helps to provide a watertight seal since the tape helps to ensure that edge portions of the first and second wall panels are bonded tightly to the wall, and therefore do not warp over time. At least one of the first and second wall panels can comprise a moulded plastics wall panel. At least one of the first and second wall panels can be manufactured by way of a vacuum forming process.

At least one of the first and second wall panels can comprise a planar wall panel. At least one of the first and second wall panels can be rectangular in plan. That is, the major outer surface is rectangular.

At least one of the first and second wall panels can comprise a tile effect wall panel. At least one of the first and second wall panels can have a pattern of channels formed in the outer major surface, said pattern of channels defining an arrangement of tile-like areas in the outer major surface.

The method can include mounting the first wall panel onto the surface so that the outer major surface faces outwardly from the surface. The method can include mounting the second wall panel onto the surface, the arrangement being such that the profiled second edge of the second wall panel is located adjacent to, and parallel with, the profiled first edge of the first wall panel. The arrangement can be such that a peripheral portion of the first major surface of the first wall panel and a peripheral portion of the first major surface of the second wall panel are each arranged such that when the first and second wall panels are positioned side by side said peripheral portions define a channel that is similar to at least one of the other channels. The or each peripheral portion of the first major surface can include a partial channel formation, which can include at least one longitudinal side wall of a channel. Having a partial channel formation at a peripheral portion of the first major surface enables first and second wall panels to be abutted together so that their respective partial channel formations form a shape that is similar to at least one of the channels formed in the major surface of the first and second panels. This provides a visual impression to a casual viewer of a continuous surface where the two wall panels join.

The longitudinal side wall of the partial channel formation can include a curved profile. The curved profile can include a convex portion. For example, the longitudinal side wall can include a curved bevelled portion. The or each partial channel formation can comprise one half of a channel. Having one half of a channel ensures that no special matching of sides is required when mounting wall panels. However it will be appreciated by the skilled person that the partial channels can be formed complementary by having different proportions of a channel. That is, the partial channel formation can be formed using a non-central longitudinal channel axis such that greater, or less than, 50% of the channel is included in the formation. For example, in pairs of complementary formations, one of the formations can have approximately 40% of the channel and the other formation can have approximately 60%, or any other suitable combination such as 45% and 55%, 30% and 70%.

Each of the channels can include first and second longitudinal side walls. At least one of the first and second side walls, and preferably both of the side walls, can include a curved profile. This is particularly evident when viewed in transverse cross-section. The curved profile can include a convex portion. This provides the tile-like areas with rounded edges, which helps to provide an easy to clean surface, thereby reducing the build-up of dirt and bacteria on the panel. For example, the longitudinal side walls can include curved bevelled portions.

At least some of the side walls blend into an adjacent tile-like area.

At least some of the channels can include a base. The base can be concave. This is particularly evident when viewed in transverse cross-section.

The width of the or each channel can be greater in the vicinity of a longitudinal channel opening than at the channel base. This helps to visually hide the seams between two panels. In particular, arranging each of the channels in the following manner provides very good results for hiding seams: each channel can include a base, longitudinal side walls, and a longitudinal opening defined by the longitudinal side walls. The longitudinal side walls can include convex curved portions, the arrangement being such that the base is narrower than longitudinal opening.

In embodiments wherein the panel is moulded, the channels formed can each have a continuous smooth surface, which is good for hygiene purposes since it is easier to clean and reduces the ability of dirt and bacteria from gripping the surface. This feature is particularly effective when used in conjunction with channels having curved side walls and/or a curved base. For many prior art tile effect boards, the channels are formed by routing a parallel groove. This leaves vertical sides and can also leave a rough surface in the groove, which causes dirt to accumulate and makes the board more difficult to clean. The tile edges produced by routing tend to be sharper, and the channel walls flat, which also makes it more difficult to remove dirt.

At least one of the wall panels can include a thermoplastic material. At least one of the wall panels can include, a water impervious material. At least one of the wall panels can include ABS, acrylic, acrylic-capped ABS (sanitary grade), High Impact Styrene (HPS), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene (PE), Polyvinylchloride (PVC), polycarbonate, or any other vacuum formable plastics material. These materials are easy to cut, for example to fit into corners of a room. It has been found that PVC is particularly suitable for providing a plastics wall panel having a profiled edge without the profile being overly vulnerable to damage such as chipping. For example, a PVC wall panel having a thickness as low as 1.5mm can include at least one of an undercut and an overcut of around 20° and still be sufficiently robust to survive transportation, installation and general use without significant damage.

At least one of the wall panels can include sheet material. At least one of the wall panels can be formed from sheet material. At least one of the wall panels can wall panels can be moulded, and is preferably moulded by a vacuum forming process, for example to form the tile effect. Other techniques such as hot or cold forming can be used.

The method can include providing at least one further wall panel. The at least one further wall panel can be arranged similarly to at least one of the first and second wall panels.

In some embodiments the profiled second edge can be complementary to the profiled first edge.

The method can include mounting the second wall panel on to the surface such that the profiled first edge overlaps the profiled second edge. The sloping surface of the profiled second edge is located in the undercut void. That is, the recessed surface of the profiled second edge can be arranged as an overcut sloping surface that is complementary to the undercut sloping surface of the profiled first edge. Placing the profiled second edge into the undercut void formed by the profiled first edge causes any settable sealant to spread over the sloping surfaces of the profiled first and second edges. When the settable sealant sets a seal is formed between the profiled first and second edges. Attaching the panels in this manner provides a strong and effective seal that cannot be easily removed. Since there is an overlap between the profiled first and second edges, this makes it difficult to remove the sealant from the wall panels after installation. The sealant can fill the undercut void. The invention enables wall panels to be sealed together in a manner that makes it very difficult for the set sealant to be removed from the joint. This is because the undercut void ensures that the width of the set sealant is wider than a minimum gap between adjacent wall panels. Also the surface area of the undercut edge is greater than a conventional square edge, which provides a strong bond between the sealant and the panel. Thus it is very difficult for a person to prise the sealant through the joint. The invention provides a very simple and effective solution to the sealant removal problem. The method also helps to prevent the profiled first edge from sliding beyond the profiled second edge during installation. That is, it helps to prevent the first wall panel from riding over the second wall panel, which helps to ensure that the major outer surfaces lie in the same plane.

The first and second wall panels can be mounted on to the surface such that the major outer surface of the first wall panel is level with the major outer surface of the second wall panel. That is, the major outer surfaces of the first and second wall panels lie in the same plane. The interaction of the profiled first and second edges enables the major outer surfaces to lie in the same plane.

The method can include bonding a peripheral region of the first wall panel adjacent the profiled first edge to the surface, for example with at least one of double sided tape and an adhesive such as a low modulus adhesive. Using double-sided adhesive tape provides a uniform bond and minimises the distance between an inner major surface of the first wall panel and the mounting surface.

The method can include applying settable sealant on to the profiled second edge. For example, a bead of settable sealant can be applied along the sloping surface of the profiled second edge. The sealant is applied in a non-set condition.

The method can include bending the second wall panel about an axis that is parallel with the profiled second edge. This helps to assist with overlapping and aligning the profiled first and second edges. This is achievable because the wall panels are made from a plastics material and are relatively thin, and therefore are able to flex during an installation process.

The first and second wall panels can be mounted on to the surface in a manner such that the profiled second edge engages the profiled first edge.

The first and second wall panels can be mounted on to the surface such that the profiled second edge is spaced apart from the profiled first edge. Conventional spacers can be used for this purpose. This enables settable sealant to be placed into the space between the profiled edges.

The method can include bonding the second wall panel to the surface. The second wall panel can be bonded to the surface using at least one of double-sided adhesive tape, adhesive and sealant.

At least one of the profiled first and second edges are formed by a routering process.

A decorative layer, such as print, can be provided on at least a part of the major outer surface of at least one of the first and second wall panels. The decorative layer can be formed directly on the respective outer surface, and/or can be applied to a layer attached to the respective outer surface.

The decorative layer can be provided on the profiled first edge; and/or on the profiled second edge. Having the decorative layer on at least one of the profiled edges helps to obscure the joint. This is particularly helpful when there is a gap between the profiled first edge and the profiled second edge, for example because the panels are not fully aligned because the surface is not perfectly flat. At least one of the wall panels can include a plastics substrate. If the substrate has a different colour from the decorative layer, without some form of additional covering such as a layer of print, the substrate would be visible to an observer. Without the decorative layer extending over at least one of the profiled edges, there is a risk that the substrate will be visible upon inspection. The decorative layer can be included on at least outwardly facing portions of the profiled first edge and/or the profiled second edge. For example, the decorative layer on the profiled second edge on the second wall panel can match the decorative layer on the major outer surface of the first wall panel adjacent the profiled first edge; and/or the decorative layer on the profiled first edge can match the decorative layer on the outer surface of the second wall panel adjacent the profiled second edge. This improves the visual quality of the joint, particularly when the substrate has a strongly contrasting colour to the print. The decorative layer can be formed directly on the respective profiled edge, and/or can be applied to a layer attached to the respective profiled edge.

The first wall panel can include a protective cover, such as a protective film, covering at least a part of the major outer surface. The second wall panel can include a protective cover, such as a protective film covering at least a part of the major outer surface.

For embodiments including a decorative layer on the major outer surface, typically the protective cover overlies at least part of the decorative layer. For embodiments including the decorative layer on the major outer surface, typically the protective cover overlies at least part of the decorative layer. The protective cover can be transparent, translucent or opaque. The cover can be coloured. The cover can be textured.

The protective cover can cover at least a part of the profiled first edge. The protective cover can cover at least a part of the profiled second edge. Flaving the protective cover overlying at least one of the profiled edges helps to reduce the visibility of the joint. This is particularly helpful, for example when there is a gap between the profiled first edge and the profiled second edge, for example because the panels are not fully aligned because the surface is not perfectly flat. If a wall panel substrate, which is typically made from plastics material, has a different colour from the cover. Without the cover extending over at least one of the profiled edges, there is a risk that the substrate will be visible upon inspection. The protective film can cover at least outwardly facing portions of the profiled first edge and/or the profiled second edge.

The protective cover can have a textured surface. For example, the protective film can have a textured surface. The textured surface can have a light scattering and/or light diffusing effect. This helps to mask any unevenness in the wall and hide the joint between the first and second wall panels. The protective covering can be applied directly on the respective profiled edge, and/or can be applied to a layer attached to the respective profiled edge.

The textured surface can be an embossed textured surface. The textured surface can be formed by an embossing process. The textured surface can comprise a random arrangement of micro-peaks and/or micro- troughs. This gives a somewhat stippled appearance, having no discernible pattern. The texture provides a good light diffusing and/or light scattering effect.

The wall panel can be arranged such that the textured surface is an outer surface. The textured surface faces away from the wall. The textured surface can be the visible outer surface.

The decorative layer, such as the print, can be located on to at least one of: the protective cover; the substrate and an intermediate layer such as an adhesive layer. The protective cover can be the outer layer of the wall panel and thus protects the wall panel. If an image is printed on to the film, typically it is printed on to an inner surface thereof. The substrate is typically the inner most layer. If the image is printed onto the substrate, it is typically printed on an outer surface thereof. The printed image is typically visible through the film.

At least one wall panel can comprise a laminated structure, which includes: the substrate as an inner layer, the protective cover as an outer layer, and at least one printed image located between the protective cover and the substrate. The textured surface typically faces outwards.

Typically the wall panel is manufactured by applying the protective cover to the substrate using a laminating machine, such that the textured surface faces outwards.

The protective cover can comprise a film. The protective cover can comprise a polymeric or monomeric protective film. The protective cover include a thermoplastic such as PVC, PMMA and PVDF. For example, the protective cover can comprise a PVC film, such as a monomeric or polymeric calendared PVC film. The film can have a laminated structure. For example, the film can include a first layer of PVC and a second layer of PMMA. Typically the PMMA forms an outer layer.

The film can have a thickness in the range 50pm to 250pm.

Flaving a large film thickness is advantageous since it helps to obscure a side edge of the first and/or second wall panel. The overall thickness of the film is typically at least 140pm, typically at least 150pm, more typically at least 160pm, and more typically still at least 170mih. The total thickness of the embossed textured film is typically less than or equal to 250pm.

According to another aspect of the invention there is provided a wall panel system.

The wall panel system can include a first wall panel arranged to cover at least part of a wall surface. The first wall panel can have a profiled first edge. The profiled first edge can include a recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the first edge. The recessed surface can be arranged to present an undercut void on an inner side of the first wall panel in a mounted condition.

The system can include a second wall panel having a profiled second edge. The profiled second edge can be similar to the profiled first edge a profiled first edge. The profiled first edge can include a recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the first edge. The recessed surface can be arranged to present an undercut void on an inner side of the second wall panel, said inner side facing generally towards a wall in a mounted condition. The or each recessed surface can comprise a chamfered surface or a bevelled surface.

The or each chamfered or bevelled surface can subtend an angle of around 10 to 50 degrees with respect to a reference line that is arranged parallel with an inner major surface of the wall panel, preferably subtends an angle of around 20 to 40 degrees with the reference line, and more preferably subtends an angle of around 25 to 35 degrees with the reference line.

For thinner sheets, say having a thickness less than 2 mm, the chamfered or bevelled angle is typically towards the lower end of the range in order to preserve the thickness of the planar surface and avoid the risk of one edge riding up over the other, when positioning the panels. The or each recessed surface can comprise a concave or a convex surface.

The or each first edge can be a longitudinal edge of the wall panel.

The recessed surface can extend along the full length of the first edge. The first panel can include a profiled second edge, said profiled second edge including a recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the second edge; wherein the recessed surface of the second edge presents an undercut void on an inner side of the first wall panel. The second edge can be arranged opposite to the first edge.

The second panel can include a profiled second edge, said profiled second edge including a recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the second edge; wherein the recessed surface of the second edge presents an undercut void on an inner side of the second wall panel. The second profiled edge can include a second recessed surface. The second recessed surface can be arranged similarly to the second recessed surface of the first edge.

The second edge can be arranged opposite to the first edge.

At least one further edge of at least one of the first and second wall panels can comprise a profiled edge having a recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the profiled edge; wherein the recessed surface of the profiled edge presents an undercut void on an inner side of the wall panel. The at least one further profiled edge can include a second recessed surface. The second recessed surface can be arranged similarly to the second recessed surface of the first edge.

At least one of the first and second wall panels can comprise a plastics wall panel, and preferably a moulded plastics wall panel.

At least one of the first and second wall panels can comprise a tile effect wall panel.

At least one of the first and second wall panels can comprise a planar wall panel.

At least one of the first and second wall panels can be rectangular in plan. That is, at least one, and preferably each, of the first and second panels has rectangular major outer surface.

The system can include a settable sealant for applying to at least one of the recessed surfaces. The settable sealant can comprise a silicone or acrylic sealant, however alternatives such as MS modified polyether and one or two part polyurethane may be used.

The recessed surface assists the accuracy of positioning the nozzle of the sealant gun. This also assists the flow of sealant onto on to other parts of the profiled edge, particularly the surface facing directly towards an adjacent wall panel and into the undercut.

The system can include at least one portion of double sided adhesive tape. Typically this is used to provide water resistant joints.

The system can include at least one further wall panel. The at least one further wall panel can be arranged similarly to at least one of the first and second wall panels.

The first wall panel can have a major outer surface.

The second wall panel can have a profiled second edge. The profiled second edge can be complementary to the profiled first edge. The second wall panel can have a major outer surface. The first and second wall panels can be arranged to be mounted on to a surface such that the profiled first edge overlaps the profiled second edge.

The first and second wall panels are arranged to be mounted on to the surface such that the major outer surface is level with the major outer surface. That is, the first and major outer surfaces lie in the same plane. The shapes of the profiled first edge and the profiled second edge enable the first and major outer surfaces to lie in the same plane.

A decorative layer, such as print, can be provided on at least a part of the major outer surface; and/or on at least a part of the major outer surface. The decorative layer may be provided on a substantial portion of the first and/or major outer surfaces. The decorative layer may be provided on the entirety of the first and/or major outer surfaces. The decorative layer can be formed directly on the respective outer surface, or can be applied to a layer attached to the respective outer surface.

The decorative layer, such as print, can be provided on the profiled first edge; and/or on the profiled second edge. The decorative layer can be included on at least outwardly facing portions of the profiled first edge and/or the profiled second edge. For example, the decorative layer on the profiled second edge on the second wall panel can match the decorative layer on the major outer surface of the first wall panel adjacent the profiled first edge; and/or the decorative layer on the profiled first edge can match the decorative layer on the outer surface of the second wall panel adjacent the profiled second edge.

The first wall panel can include a protective cover, such as a protective film covering at least a part of the major outer surface. The second wall panel can include a protective cover, such as a protective film covering at least a part of the major outer surface. For embodiment including a decorative layer on the major outer surface, typically the protective cover overlies at least part of the decorative layer. For embodiments including the decorative layer on the major outer surface, typically the protective cover overlies at least part of the decorative layer. The protective cover can be transparent, translucent or opaque. The cover can be coloured. The cover can be textured. Typically, the protective cover covers the entire major outer surface. Typically, protective cover covers the entire major outer surface. The protective covering can be applied directly on the respective outer surface, and/or can be applied to a respective layer attached to the respective outer surface.

For the first wall panel, the protective cover can cover at least a part of the profiled first edge. For the second wall panel, the protective cover can cover at least a part of the profiled second edge. Flaving the protective cover overlying at least one of the profiled edges helps to reduce the visibility of the joint. The protective film can cover at least outwardly facing portions of the profiled first edge and/or the profiled second edge. The protective covering can be applied directly on the respective profiled edge, and/or can be applied to a respective layer attached to the respective profiled edge.

The profiled first edge can include a first sloping edge, for example the profiled first edge can include a first bevelled or chamfered edge. The first sloping edge can slope from one of the major surfaces towards the other major surface.

The profiled second edge can include a second sloping edge, for example the profiled second edge can include a second bevelled or chamfered edge. The first sloping edge can slope from one of the major surfaces towards the other major surface. The first sloping edge can subtend an angle with respect to the major outer surface of the first wall panel that is greater than or equal to 5°, is preferably is greater than or equal to 10°, and more preferably still is greater than or equal to 15°. The first sloping edge can subtend an angle with respect to the major outer surface of the first wall panel that is less than or equal to 40°, is preferably is less than or equal to 30°, and more preferably still is less than or equal to 25°. Typically the angle is in the range 10° to 30° and preferably is around 20°.

The second sloping edge can subtend an angle with respect to the major outer surface of the first wall panel that is greater than or equal to 5°, is preferably is greater than or equal to 10°, and more preferably still is greater than or equal to 15°. The sloping edge can subtend an angle with respect to the major outer surface of the first wall panel that is less than or equal to 40°, is preferably is less than or equal to 30°, and more preferably still is less than or equal to 25°. Typically the angle is in the range 10° to 30° and preferably is around 20°.

The first wall panel can be arranged to be mounted on to the surface such that the sloping edge forms an undercut void on an inner side of the first wall panel. The second wall panel can be arranged to be mounted on to the surface such that the sloping edge is located beneath the sloping edge of the first wall panel. Attaching the panels in a manner that initially provides an undercut void arranged to receive the second bevelled edge prevents the profiled second edge of the second wall panel from sliding beyond the profiled first edge of the first wall panel during installation. That is, it prevents the second wall panel from riding over the first wall panel. It ensures that the first and major outer surfaces abut one another. It helps to ensure that the profiled first edge is arranged parallel with the profiled second edge along at least part of the length of the profiled edges. The first and second wall panels can be mounted such that the profiled second edge of the second wall panel engages the profiled first edge of the first wall panel. Alternatively the first and second wall panels can be mounted on to the surface such that the profiled second edge of the second wall panel is spaced apart from the profiled first edge of the first wall panel. This enables sealant to be placed into the space between the profiled edges. At least one of the first and second wall panels can be flexible. This enables the at least one of the first and second wall panels to bend along an axis that is parallel to its profiled edge to assist with overlapping and aligning the profiled first and second edges.

The first wall panel can include a profiled second edge. Typically the profiled second edge in the first wall panel is similar to the profiled second edge of the second wall panel. In the first wall panel, the profiled second edge can be located opposite to the profiled first edge. In the first wall panel, the profiled first edge can be located on a first side of the major outer surface, and the profiled second edge can be located on a second, opposite, side of the major outer surface. Typically the profiled first edge and the profiled second edge are arranged parallel with one another. In typical embodiments the profiled first edge and the profiled second edge are longitudinal edges.

The second wall panel can include a profiled first edge.

Typically the profiled first edge in the second wall panel is similar to the profiled first edge of the first wall panel. In the second wall panel, the profiled first edge can be located opposite to the profiled second edge. In the second wall panel, the profiled first edge can be located on a first side of the major outer surface, and the profiled second edge can be located on a second, opposite, side of the major outer surface. In the second wall panel, typically the profiled first edge and the profiled second edge are arranged parallel with one another. In the second wall panel, typically the profiled first edge and the profiled second edge are longitudinal edges. The profiled second edge in the first wall panel can be complementary to the profiled first edge in the second wall panel.

The profiled first edge can extend along the full length of the wall panel. The profiled second edge can extend along the full length of the wall panel. At least one of the first and second wall panels can comprise a planar wall panel.

At least one of the first and major outer surfaces can be rectangular in plan.

The system can include a settable sealant for applying to at least one of the recessed surfaces. The settable sealant is initially applied to at least one of the wall panels in a non-set condition and is subsequently allowed to set while contacting the wall panels. The settable sealant is stored in a container in a non-set condition, and is removed from the container in a non-set condition. The settable sealant typically can comprise a silicone or acrylic sealant, however alternatives such as MS modified polyether and one or two part polyurethane may be used.

At least one of the first and second wall panels can have a thickness in the range 1mm to 3mm, and is typically around 2mm. The wall panel can be made from, or can include, a water impervious material. Typically the sheet material can include a plastics material such as ABS, acrylic, acrylic-capped ABS (sanitary grade), Polyvinylchloride (PVC), or polycarbonate.

The system can include at least one portion of double sided adhesive tape.

According to a third aspect of the invention there is provided a method for mounting wall panels to a surface, such as a wall, including: providing a first wall panel, said first wall panel including a plastics wall panel having a profiled first edge, said profiled first edge including a recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the first edge; mounting the first wall panel to the surface such that the recessed surface presents an undercut void on an inner side of the first wall panel; and applying settable sealant to the first edge such that some of the sealant bonds to the recessed surface. The wall panel typically has a thickness that is greater than or equal to 1mm and more preferably still is greater than or equal to 1.5mm. The wall panel typically has a thickness that is less than or equal to 5mm, preferably is less than or equal to 4mm and more preferably still is less than or equal to 3mm. Preferably the wall panel thickness is in the range 1mm to 3mm, and is typically around 2mm.

According to a fourth aspect of the invention there is provided a wall panel system, including: a first wall panel for covering at least part of a wall surface, said first wall panel including a plastics wall panel having a profiled first edge, said profiled first edge including a recessed surface extending along at least a part of the length of the first edge, said recessed surface arranged to present an undercut void on an inner side of the first wall panel in a mounted condition. The wall panel typically has a thickness that is greater than or equal to 1mm and more preferably still is greater than or equal to 1.5mm. The wall panel typically has a thickness that is less than or equal to 5mm, preferably is less than or equal to 4mm and more preferably still is less than or equal to 3mm. Preferably the wall panel thickness is in the range 1mm to 3mm, and is typically around 2mm.

According to a fifth aspect of the invention there is provided a method for mounting wall panels to a surface, including: providing a first wall panel, the first wall panel including a plastics wall panel having a profiled first edge and a major outer surface; providing a second wall panel, the second wall panel including a plastics wall panel having a profiled second edge and a major outer surface, wherein the profiled second edge is complementary to the profiled first edge; and mounting the first and second wall panels on to a surface such that the profiled first edge overlaps the profiled second edge. The wall panel typically has a thickness that is greater than or equal to 1mm and more preferably still is greater than or equal to 1.5mm. The wall panel typically has a thickness that is less than or equal to 5mm, preferably is less than or equal to 4mm and more preferably still is less than or equal to 3mm. Preferably the wall panel thickness is in the range 1mm to 3mm, and is typically around 2mm.

According to a sixth aspect of the invention there is provided a wall panel system, including: a first wall panel, the first wall panel including a plastics wall panel having a profiled first edge and a major outer surface; a second wall panel, the second wall panel including a plastics wall panel having a profiled second edge and a major outer surface, wherein the profiled second edge is complementary to the profiled first edge, wherein the first and second wall panels are arranged to be mounted on to a surface such that the profiled first edge overlaps the profiled second edge. The wall panel typically has a thickness that is greater than or equal to 1mm and more preferably still is greater than or equal to 1.5mm. The wall panel typically has a thickness that is less than or equal to 5mm, preferably is less than or equal to 4mm and more preferably still is less than or equal to 3mm. Preferably the wall panel thickness is in the range 1mm to 3mm, and is typically around 2mm.

The invention according to the third to sixth aspects of the invention enables plastics wall panels to be sealed together in a manner that makes it very difficult for the set sealant to be removed from the joint. This is because the undercut void and overlapping arrangement ensures that the width of the set sealant is wider than a minimum gap between adjacent plastics wall panels. Also the surface area of the undercut edge is greater than a conventional square edge, which provides a strong bond between the sealant and the panel. Thus it is very difficult for a person to prise the sealant through the joint. The invention provides a very simple and effective solution to the sealant removal problem. There is a stronger bond between the plastics wall panels which have undercuts and/or that overlap since the sealant attaches to a larger surface area of the panels. The arrangement helps to prevent the sealant from detaching from the plastics wall panels due to thermal expansion and contraction of the plastics wall panels, and therefore maintains a better seal between the plastics wall panels.

Embodiments of the invention will now be described by way of example only with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

Figure 1 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of part of a first wall panel in accordance with a first embodiment of the invention;

Figure 2 is a cross-sectional view of a part of the wall panel of Figure 1;

Figure 3 is a cross-sectional view similar to Figure 2 with sealant applied to an edge of the first wall panel;

Figure 4 is a transverse cross-sectional view similar to Figure 3 with a second wall panel located adjacent the first wall panel;

Figure 5 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of a sealed joint of the first and second wall panels;

Figures 6 is a diagrammatic plan view of four tiled wall panels mounted on to a wall;

Figure 7 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of a of part of a first wall panel in accordance with a second embodiment of the invention;

Figure 8 is a cross-sectional view of a part of the wall panel of Figure 7;

Figure 9 is a cross-sectional view similar to Figure 8 with sealant applied to an edge of the first wall panel;

Figure 10 is a transverse cross-sectional view similar to Figure 9 with a second wall panel located adjacent the first wall panel; and Figure 11 is an enlarged transverse cross-sectional view of a sealed joint of the first and second wall panels.

Figures 12 and 13 are diagrammatic cross-sectional views of a pair of wall panels in accordance with a third embodiment of the invention;

Figure 14 is a diagrammatic cross-sectional view of a pair of wall panels according to a fourth embodiment of the invention, the wall panels having a protective cover in the form of a protective film;

Figure 15 is a diagrammatic view of the protective film used in the fourth embodiment;

Figure 16 is a diagrammatic cross-sectional view of the protective film of Figure 15; and

Figure 17 is a diagrammatic cross-sectional view of a pair of wall panels according to a fifth embodiment of the invention.

Figure 1 shows a cross-section of part of a wall panel 1 in accordance with the invention.

The wall panel 1 comprises a sheet of a plastics material that has been vacuum formed to provide the sheet with a tile-like 5 formations on a major outer surface 7, which faces outwardly when the panel is mounted on a wall 23. This is best seen in Figure 6, which shows an array of four wall panels 1 mounted on to a wall. Typically the sheet comprises ABS, acrylic or other similar plastics material, such as acrylic-capped ABS (sanitary grade), High Impact Styrene (FIPS), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene (PE), Polyvinylchloride (PVC), polycarbonate, or any other vacuum formable plastics material, and has a uniform, or near uniform, thickness PT of at least 0.5mm, and preferably in the range 1mm to 4mm. In the example shown in Figure 1, the panel has a thickness PT of 1.5 mm. plastics material such as ABS, acrylic, acrylic-capped ABS (sanitary grade), High Impact Styrene (FIPS), Polypropylene (PP), Polyethylene (PE), Polyvinylchloride (PVC), polycarbonate, or any other vacuum formable plastics material.

Using moulded plastics panels is very hygienic since it is easy to wipe the surface clean, for example dirt does not accumulate in grooves 9a, 9b. Typically the wall panel 1 is rectangular in plan, however other shapes, such as triangles, hexagons, and pentagons are possible. The wall panel 1 has two longitudinal side edges 15,17 and two transverse edges 19,21. Each edge 15,17,19,21 is profiled in the manner illustrated in Figure 1. The edge has an outer planar surface 30 and a recessed surface 32. The recessed surface 32 is formed on an inner side of the wall panel, which faces generally towards the wall in use. The recessed surface 32 runs along the full length of the edge 15,17,19,21. The recessed surface 32 is in the form of a chamfer. The recessed surface 32 subtends an angle a with respect to a reference line 34 that is arranged parallel with a major surface of the wall panel 1 (see Figure 1), this is generally parallel to the surface of the wall, wherein a is typically in the range 10° to 40°, and is preferably around 20-30°. The panel edge thickness (PET) is preferably around 1mm.

When the panel 1 is mounted on to the wall, each recessed surface 32 provides an undercut void along the edge.

The vacuum forming process forms an arrangement of grooves 9a, 9b in the sheet. The grooves 9a, 9b are formed such that they indent the major outer surface 7 and form ribs 11 in a major inner surface 13, with recesses 14 therebetween. The major inner surface 13 faces towards the wall 23 when the panel is mounted on the wall. The depth of the indentation can be selected according to the thickness of the sheet and to provide the overall desired visual effect wall panel 1. For a sheet having a thickness of around 2mm it is preferred to form grooves 9 having a depth of around 1mm. This provides an overall wall panel depth of around 3mm, measured from the major outer surface 5 to tips of the ribs 11.

Typically the width of each groove 9a, 9b towards its base is around 1mm. The width of each groove 9 a, 9b towards its opening is around 2mm.

Typically the arrangement of grooves 9a, 9b, and hence ribs 11, define rectangular tile-like formations 5. The tile-like formations 5 can be arranged in an array. For example, the wall panel 1 in Figure 6 has a 4 x 4 array of rectangular tile-like formations 5 in each wall panel 1. It will be apparent to the skilled person that the array can have any practicable arrangement. Typically the array will include n columns of tile-like formations 5, where n is in the range 1 to 10, and m rows where m is in the range 1 to 10. Flowever the wall panel 1 may include significantly more tile-like formations 5 than this, for example when providing a mosaic tile-like effect.

The grooves 9a, 9b are arranged to include a first set of grooves 9a, wherein each groove 9a in the set is arranged parallel to one another, and a second set of grooves 9b, wherein each groove 9b is arranged perpendicularly to the first set of grooves 9a. That is, the first and second sets of grooves 9a, 9b are arranged in the form of a grid.

The first set of grooves 9a is arranged parallel to longitudinal edges 15,17 of the wall panel 1. The second set of grooves 9b is arranged parallel to transverse edges 19,21 of the wall panel 1.

The sides of each groove 9a, 9b are defined by convex curvatures 7 that curve downwards from the tile-like formations 5 towards the base of the groove 9a, 9b. The base of the groove 9a, 9b is defined by a concave curvature 10, which joins the convex curvatures 7 together. The upper ends of the convex curvatures 7 blend into adjacent tile-like formations 5. The lower ends of the convex curvatures 7 blend into the concave base 10.

The maximum width of the grooves 9a, 9b in the example shown in Figure 1 is around 4mm. The minimum width is around 1mm. The width to depth ratio of the grooves 9a, 9b is typically around 1:4. Each convex curvature 7 has a cross-sectional radius of around lmm.

Portions of the panel 1 adjacent each of the edges 15,17,19,21 is formed by the vacuum forming process to be shaped similar to half a groove 9a, 9b, when truncated along a longitudinal axis. Thus portions of the panel adjacent each edge 15,17,19,21 comprises one convex side wall 7 and part of the concave base. The effect of this is that when two wall panels 1 are placed side by side so that their sides abut, the two complementary sides 15,17,19,21 form a shape that is approximately the same as a groove 9a, 9b (see Figure 5). This provides a visual impression along the joint that approximates to one of the grooves 9a, 9b formed across the sheets 3. This makes it difficult for the joint to be detected on a casual inspection thus provides the illusion that two adjacent wall panels are part of a continuous wall panel. Also, the shape of the grooves 9a, 9b, in particular having convex side walls helps to hide the location of the joint. This is because the base of the groove 9a, 9b, where the joint is located, is narrower than the longitudinal opening. This contributes to the optical effect of making it difficult to see joint. The overall appearance provided by the arrangement of the side walls is that of having curved bevelled edges, which blend into the groove base and the planar part of the tiled area, thereby avoiding sharp edges in the upper surface.

A wall panel system in accordance with the invention can include a plurality of wall panels 1, a sufficient number of wall panels is provided to cover the wall surface to be treated; means for attaching the wall panels 1 to the wall, such as double sided adhesive tape 25 and/or an adhesive 27; and a settable gap filling sealant 29.

The double sided adhesive tape 25, is typically used when waterproof joints are required. The double sided adhesive tape 25 is a high-tack, high strength, tape which has been designed to provide a watertight joint, by strongly gripping onto the wall 23 and the panel 1. This is important, since along the edges of the panel 1, where the tape 25 grips the panel 1, only approximately half the width of a rib 11 fully contacts the tape 25. Therefore it is necessary for the tape 25 to have a strong adhesive in order to retain the panel 1 to the wall 23.

The tape 25 can include a carrier layer that is water resistant, which helps to ensure that the joint is watertight. For example, the carrier layer can comprise a plastics material, and is preferably made from Polyester. The adhesive is a high performance solvent acrylic adhesive suitable for demanding applications, giving very good low and elevated temperatures. It has good resistance to chemicals and UV light.

Typical characteristics of the tape are as follows:

Tape thickness APERA 4006: 0.07mm

Colour: Clear

Carrier material: 12 Micron Polyester

180° Peel Adhesion AFERA 4001 10 Min: 10.7 N/25mm

180° Peel adhesion AFERA 4001 24 hrs: 14.2 N/25mm

Dynamic shear adhesion ASTM D-1200 10 mins: 108 N/625mm 2

Static shear adhesion 23°C lkg/625mm 2 : 5500 Minutes

Static shear adhesion 70°C 0.5kg/625mm 2 : 700 Minutes

Tack AFERA 4015: 4.60N/25mm

Temperature resistance: -30°C to 160°C The colour of the sealant 29 is selected to match the colour of the wall panels 1. The sealant 29 is typically a silicone or acrylic type sealant, however alternatives such as MS modified polyether and one or two part polyurethane may be used.

A method for mounting wall panels 1 to a wall will now be described with reference to Figures 2 to 6. As a preliminary point, some walls 23 require water proof joints, such as bathroom or kitchen walls 23. Other walls 23 do not. The mounting method used is at least in part determined by the type of joint (water proof / non-water proof) required.

In the case of a waterproof joint, the wall panels 1 are typically arranged to provide a waterproof barrier between a water source and the wall 23. In such arrangements, the wall panels 1 are made from a water impervious material and when at least two panels are joined together an appropriate waterproof seal is applied to prevent water ingress into the joint.

When installing wall panels 1 a centreline is marked onto one of the walls 23. The centreline is used as a datum to determine the locations for double sided adhesive tape, according to the wall panel 1 size.

A strip of double sided adhesive tape 25 is applied to the wall 23 at each site of a waterproof joint between two adjacent wall panels 1. Typically the strip of tape 25 is attached to the wall 23 in a vertical or horizontal orientation.

Vertical beads of adhesive 27 are applied to the inner face of a first wall panel 1. A first bead of adhesive 27, which is typically 3 to 4 mm wide, typically spaced from an adjacent edge AS-E by around 40mm. Successive beads of adhesive 27 are typically spaced AS around 80mm apart. Each successive bead of adhesive 27 has a width or around 6 to 8mm. The first wall panel 1 is mounted on to the wall such that edge portions requiring a waterproof joint are mounted on to respective strips of tape 25. In particular, a partial rib 11 on the major inner surface 13 bonds to the adhesive tape 25.

A bead of sealant 29 is placed along the tape 25 and/or along each edge 15,17,19,21 mounted thereon (see Figure 3). The sealant 29 can extend along the full length of the edge 15,17,19,21. Sufficient sealant is applied to each edge 15,17,19,21 to bond to the planar surface 30 and the recessed surface 32, thereby filling the undercut void. A second wall panel 1 is prepared for mounting on the wall 23 by applying beads of adhesive 27 in a similar manner to the first wall panel. The second wall panel 1 is mounted on the wall 23 such that one of its edge portions is mounted on the strip of tape 25 (see Figure 4) adjacent an edge 15,17,19,21 of the first wall panel. The second wall panel edge 15,17,19,21 mounted on to the tape 25, causes the bead of sealant 29 to be forced upwards towards the major outer surfaces 7 of the wall panels 1, and downwards into the undercut voids, thereby filling any gaps between the panels. The panels are pressed flat to ensure they are level. The sealant 29 is smoothed off to improve the outer appearance. The adjacent edges are parallel with one another. Typically the adjacent edges are spaced apart PS (panel spacing) by around 0.5mm to 3mm. The spacing is of course filled by the sealant. Conventional spacer elements can be used to control the separation between adjacent wall panels. When appropriate, the spacers can be removed and any residual cavities can be filled with the settable sealant 29. If necessary, the leading edge of the second wall panel 1 can be detached from the tape 25 and repositioned, if necessary.

When the sealant 29 sets, it prevents the ingress of water into the joint. This together with the tape 25 firmly bonding the side edges 15,17,19,21 to wall, provides a water tight joint.

The process is repeated for each additional wall panel 1 that is required. If no waterproof joints are required, then it is not necessary to use tape 25. The wall panels can be mounted to the wall 23 using only the beads of adhesive. 27. Sealant may still be applied to fill the gaps between adjacent panels.

The overall effect of the wall panel system can be to provide wall panels where the joins between panels are undetectable by the casual viewer. Another advantage of the system is that if the installer needs to cut a wall panel 1 to size, provided that he cuts the panel 1 along one of the channels 9a, 9b, the overall visual effect is similar to that when placing two preformed panel wall sides together. The size of wall panels used in any installation can be selected from the most appropriate standard sizes available, or where necessary bespoke panels can be formed. It will be appreciated by the skilled person that the vacuum forming process can form the sides 15,17,19,21 so that some of the sides have a different proportion of the groove from others. For example some of the sides 15,17,19,21 can have around 60% of the groove when truncated along the longitudinal axis and others can have around 40%. The sides having 40% will be complementary to the sides having 60% such that when complementary sides are abutted together, a whole groove 9a, 9b is formed thus giving the same overall impression as when two sides having 50% of a groove are abutted together.

A wall panel for use in a domestic bathroom has a length I, where I is typically in the range 500mm to 2500mm, and is preferably around 1250mm, and a width w, where w is typically in the range 500mm to 2500mm, and is preferably around 900mm.

A second embodiment is shown in Figures 7 to 11. The second embodiment is similar to the first embodiment, except that instead of the wall panels 1 having a tile effect, the wall panels 101 comprises a planar sheet, having a major outer surface 107, a major inner surface 113 and profiled edges 115,117,119,121. Typically the wall panel 101 is rectangular in plan, however other shapes, such as triangles, hexagons, and pentagons are possible. The wall panel 101 has two longitudinal side edges 115,117 and two transverse edges 119,121. Each edge 115,117,119,121 is profiled in the manner illustrated in Figure 7. The edge has an outer planar surface 130 and an inner recessed surface 132. The inner recessed surface 132 is formed on an inner side of the wall panel, which faces generally towards the wall. The inner recessed surface 132 runs along the full length of the edge 115,117,119,121. The inner recessed surface 132 is in the form of a chamfer. The inner recessed surface 132 subtends an angle a with respect to a reference line 134 that is arranged parallel with a major surface of the wall panel 101 (see Figure 1), this is generally parallel to the surface of the wall 123, wherein a is typically in the range 10° to 40°, and is preferably around 20°-30°. For the example shown in Figure 7, wherein the panel thickness is 2.0mm and a is 30°, the inner chamfer width ICW and inner chamfer depth ICD are approximately 0.9mm and 0.5mm respectively.

For thinner sheets, say having a thickness less than 2 mm, the chamfered angles a and b are typically towards the lower end of the range in order to preserve the thickness of the planar surface 130 and to avoid the risk of one edge riding up over the other, when positioning the panels. Each profiled edge also can include an outer recessed surface 136. The outer recessed surface 136 can extend along a full length of each edge 115,117,119,121, and typically comprises a chamfer. The inner recessed surface 136 subtends an angle b with respect to a reference line 136 that is arranged parallel with the outer major surface 113 of the wall panel (see Figure 1), this is generally parallel to the surface of the wall 123, wherein b is typically in the range 10° to 40°, and is preferably around 20°-30°. For the example shown in Figure 7, wherein the panel thickness is 2.0mm and b is 20°, the outer chamfer width OCW and inner chamfer depth OCD are approximately 1.4mm and 0.5mm respectively. Accordingly, for the example shown in Figure 7, the panel edge thickness PES is approximately 1mm.

Planar wall panels 101 are mounted to the wall 123 in a similar fashion to the tiled wall panels of the first embodiment. Due consideration is given to whether any particular joint needs to be waterproof.

Figure 12 shows a third embodiment of the invention. The third embodiment includes at least a first wall panel 301A and a second wall panel 301B.

The first wall panel 301A comprises a sheet of a sheet of plastics material (substrate 327A). The first wall panel 301A has an outer major surface 303A and an inner major surface 305A. The outer and inner major surfaces 303A,305A are generally rectangular in plan. The first wall panel 1A has longitudinal edges 307A,309A and transverse edges 311A,313A.

The length L (into the page in Figure 12) of the first wall panel 301A is typically in the range lm to 3m, and is typically around 2440mm. The width W of the first wall panel 301A is typically in the range 0.5m to 1.5m, and is typically around 900mm. The thickness T of the first wall panel 1A is typically in the range 1 to 3mm, and typically around 2mm.

The plastics material is typically polyvinylchloride (PVC). Typically such material is semi- rigid and will have a density of 1.38 - 1.46 grams per cubic centimetre, a notched impact resistance (Charpy kj/m20 - without breakage, and a Shore-hardness D of 75 to 85. Flowever other materials such as polycarbonate can be used. The first wall panel 301A can comprise a laminated structure for example an acrylic capped ABS sheet. The structure may comprise 1.8 mm thick ABS with the acrylic top layer being approximately 10% of the ABS thickness, i.e. around 180 microns of acrylic. At least one of the longitudinal edges 307A is profiled to include a sloping surface, in this case a bevel. The bevel can extend along the full length of the longitudinal edge 307A. The bevelled edge has an overlap EO distance of around 2 to 4mm, that is, the extent to which the bevel protrudes outwards from the main body of the wall panel 301A. The bevelled edge 307A subtends an angle a with the outer surface 303A. The angle a is typically in the range 10° to 40°, and is typically around 20°-30°.

Optionally, the first wall 301A panel can include a decorative layer, for example a print layer (not shown). The print can comprise a pattern, picture or block colour, applied to the outer major surface 303A. The print provides a decorative effect to the wall panel 301A.

The second wall panel 301B comprises a sheet of plastics material (substrate 327B). The second wall panel 301B has an outer major surface 303B and an inner major surface 305B. The outer and inner major surfaces 303B,305B are generally rectangular in plan. The second wall panel 301B has longitudinal edges 307B,309B and transverse edges 1301B,1303B.

The length L of the second wall panel 301B is typically in the range lm to 3m, and is typically around 2400mm. The width W of the second wall panel 301B is typically in the range 0.5m to 1.5m, and is typically around 800mm. The thickness T of the second wall panel 301B is typically in the range 1 to 3mm, and typically around 2mm.

The plastics material is typically polyvinylchloride (PVC). Typically such material is semi- rigid. The material has a density of aroundl.38 - 1.46 grams per cubic centimetre, a notched impact resistance (Charpy kj/m20 - without breakage, and a Shore-hardness D of 75 to 85. However other materials such as polycarbonate can be used. The second wall panel 301B can comprise a laminated structure for example an acrylic capped ABS sheet. The structure may comprise 1.8 mm thick ABS with the acrylic top layer being approximately 10% of the ABS thickness, i.e. around 180 microns of acrylic.

At least one of the longitudinal edges 309B is profiled to include a sloping surface, in this case a bevel. The bevel can extend along the full length of the longitudinal edge 309B. The bevel has an overhang (EO - see Figure 1) of around 2 to 4mm, that is the extent to which the bevel protrudes outwards from the main body of the wall panel 301B. The bevelled edge 307B subtends an angle a with the inner surface 303B. The angle a is typically in the range 10° to 40°, and is typically around 20°-30°.

It has been found that a PVC wall panel enables a very fine profiled edge to be produced that is not easily damaged during transportation and installation.

At least one other edge of each wall panel can be profiled in a recessed manner, for example to include a sloping surface such as a bevel. This enables several panels, at least three, to be mounted side by side. Typically, at least the other longitudinal edge is profiled in this manner. It will be appreciated that in some arrangements the transverse edges can be profiled in a similar manner, either in addition to the longitudinal edges or as an alternative to the longitudinal edges. Typically, opposite profiled edges on any given wall panel, such as two longitudinal edges or two transverse edges, can be complementary, sometimes referred to as opposite handed. For example, a profiled first edge of the first wall panel can be arranged to mate with a profiled second edge of the second wall panel. The first wall panel can include a profiled second edge that is similar to the profiled second edge of the second wall panel. This enables first wall panel to mate with an additional wall panel having a profiled first edge (see Figure 13). The second wall panel can include a profiled first edge that is similar to the profiled first edge of the first wall panel (see Figure 13). This enables the second wall panel to mate with another additional wall panel that includes a profiled second edge. In this manner, many wall panels can be applied to a wall to cover a large surface area.

Typically the plastic sheet material used for the first and second wall panels 301A,301B is opaque, and has a through colour. A typical through colour is white.

The second wall 301B panel can include a decorative layer, for example a print layer (not shown). The print can comprise a pattern, picture or block colour, applied to the outer major surface 303B. The print provides a decorative effect to the wall panel 301B. For example, a picture can be printed across the first and second wall panels 301A,301B, or a pattern can be printed across the first and second wall panels 301A,301B. In these circumstances it is important that the join between the first and second wall panels 301A,301B be unobtrusive so that it does not spoil the effect of the picture/pattern. The invention enables this to be achieved, by having the bevelled edges 307A,309B of the first and second wall panels 301A,301B overlap one another. This ensures that the outer major surfaces 303A,303B lie directly adjacent one another and in the same plane, i.e. are flat with respect to one another. Additionally print is preferably applied over at least a part of at least one of the bevelled edges 307A,309B, typically at least the bevelled edge 309B that faces outwards. This helps to ensure that even if the edges 307A,309B are not perfectly mated together during installation print on the bevelled edge 309B obscures the plastic substrate below so that the substrate is not visible to the casual observer. This improves the visual quality of the joint, particularly when the substrate has a strongly contrasting colour to the print.

A wall panel system in accordance with the invention typically includes at least the first and second wall panels 301A,301B, a sufficient number of panels is provided to cover the wall surface to be treated; means for attaching the wall panels 301A,301B to the wall, such as double sided adhesive tape 315, an adhesive 317; and/or a settable gap filling sealant 319.

The double sided adhesive tape 315 can be similar to that described above in the first embodiment.

The adhesive is a high performance solvent acrylic adhesive suitable for demanding applications, giving very good low and elevated temperatures. It has good resistance to chemicals and UV light.

The colour of the sealant 319 is selected to match the colour of the wall panels 301A,301B, taking into account any printed images. The sealant 319 is typically a silicone or acrylic type sealant, however alternatives such as MS modified polyether and one or two part polyurethane may be used.

A method for mounting wall panels 301A,301B to a wall will now be described.

When installing wall panels 301A,301B a centreline is marked onto one of the walls. The centreline is used as a datum to determine the locations for double sided adhesive tape, according to the wall panel 301A,301B size.

A strip of double-sided adhesive tape 315 is applied to the inner surface 305A of the first wall panel adjacent and parallel with the bevelled longitudinal edge 307A (see Figure 1). The strip of double-sided adhesive tape 15 runs along the inner surface 305A for the full length of the bevelled longitudinal edge 307A. It will be appreciated that instead the tape 315 can be applied to the wall in the appropriate place. Alternatively, a plurality of shorter strips 315, such as three strips 315 each having a length in the range 50mm to 100mm, is applied to the inner surface 305A of the first wall panel adjacent and parallel with the bevelled longitudinal edge 307A, with one strip located toward the top of the wall panel, one strip located centrally and one strip located toward the bottom of the wall panel. This helps with repositioning. In many practicable embodiments at least three shorter strips 315 are used.

At least one line of adhesive 317, sealant or double-sided tape is applied to the wall or inner surface 305A of the first wall panel at a distance that is spaced apart from the tape 315 adjacent the bevelled edge. The at least one line of adhesive 317, sealant or double- sided tape is arranged parallel with the strip of tape 315.

A backing strip is removed from the double-sided adhesive tape 315 and the first wall panel 301A is attached to the wall, ensuring that the inner surface 305A is firmly bonded to the wall, particularly in the vicinity of the double-sided adhesive tape 15 by pressing on the outer surface 303A. The bevelled edge 307A faces generally inwards towards the wall and forms an undercut void. Firmly bonding the first wall panel 301A to the wall adjacent the bevelled edge 307A ensures that when the second wall panel 301B is mounted on to the wall, the bevelled edge 9A is properly located with respect to the first wall panel 301A, and does not force the first wall panel 301A away from the wall. That is, bonding the first wall panel 301A firmly to the wall in the vicinity of the bevelled edge 307A ensures that there is no gap between the inner surface 305A and the wall that would enable the bevelled edge 309B to move beyond the width of the bevelled edge 307A. Double-sided tape 315 is particularly suited to this purpose since it provides a strong bond, and it has a thin and uniform thickness along its length. Since the tape is thin, the distance between the inner surface 305A and the wall is minimal. If an adhesive was used for this purpose, the uniformity of application is difficult to control on site and the suitable adhesives tend to be quite viscous, which means that the distance between the inner surface 305A and the wall can be significantly larger than when using a tape.

At least one line of adhesive 317, sealant or double-sided tape is applied to the wall for mounting the second wall panel 301B on to the wall. This can be done before or after mounting the first wall panel 301A on to the wall. Typically there is no equivalent strip of double-sided tape 315 on the second wall panel 301B. This helps the bevelled edge 309B to move into the undercut void defined by the bevelled edge 307A. The second wall panel 301B is then mounted on to the wall adjacent the first wall panel 301A. The bevelled edge 309B is inserted into the undercut void formed by the bevelled edge 307A (moved generally in the direction indicated by arrow A in Figure 1), such that the bevelled edge 309B sits beneath the bevelled edge 307A. This may require the second wall panel 301B to be flexed/bent about an axis that is parallel with the bevelled edge 9B to achieve this. A portion of the inner major surface 305B of the second wall panel 301B is then firmly attached to the wall by the at least one line of adhesive 317, sealant or double-sided tape is applied to the wall.

The bevelled edge 309B can be inserted in a manner that it abuts against the bevelled edge 307B. Alternatively, in some installations, it may be desirable to have a small gap between the bevelled edges 307A,309B, for example so that sealant 319 can be more easily inserted between the wall panels 301A,301B to provide a sealed joint. Typically the adjacent edges are spaced apart by around 0.5mm to 3mm.

Optionally, a settable sealant 319 can be inserted into the gap to seal the joint. The sealant is in a non-set condition when applied to the wall panels. The wall panels are pressed flat to ensure they are level, for example using a roller. A low modulus adhesive can be used in addition to the sealant 319 to help ensure that the panels bond to one another in a manner that maintains the panels level. A low modulus product is soft and easily extruded from an applicator. Typically it will have a Specific Gravity of 1.52 and a Brookfield viscosity of 250 to 300 000 mpAs. A high modulus adhesive will typically also be high grab and give good gap fill. This is useful on deeper draw tile or relief panels but on shallow draw a low modulus adhesive will be preferred. A high modulus product will typically have a Specific Gravity of 1.67 and a Brookfield viscosity of Paste.

The sealant 319, and if used the adhesive, is smoothed off the outer surface of the wall panels to improve the outer appearance. The adjacent edges are parallel with one another. When the sealant 319 sets, it helps to prevent the ingress of water into the joint. Sealant may still be applied to fill the gaps between adjacent panels for aesthetic purposes, as well as sealing against the ingress of dust and water. Due to the arrangement of the joint, it is more difficult for sealant to be removed from the joint, for example accidently by cleaning or a person deliberately picking at the sealant. If a change in temperature of more than 15°C is expected after installation, the initial overlap is restricted at installation to only around half the maximum possible overlap. This allows for the subsequent expansion of the wall panels without the seal breaking.

The process is repeated for each additional wall panel 1 that is required.

The overall effect of the wall panel system can be to provide wall panels where the joins between panels are not easily detectable by an observer. This is particularly the case for wall panels having printed images wherein the print can extend over at least one of the bevelled edges 307A,309B, and particularly the outward facing bevelled edge 309B since if there is a gap between the bevelled edges 307A,309B and/or if the bevelled edges 307A,309B are not fully aligned the print on the bevelled edge(s) 307A,309B gives the impression of continuous panel. For example, the print on the bevelled edge 309B on the second wall panel can match the print on the outer surface 303A of the first wall panel adjacent the bevelled edge 307A; and/or the print on the bevelled edge 307A on the first wall panel can match the print on the outer surface 303B of the second wall panel adjacent the bevelled edge 309B. This improves the visual quality of the joint, particularly when the substrate has a strongly contrasting colour to the print.

Optionally, pins can be used to help prevent the bevelled edges from riding over one another during installation of the wall panels. For example, it may be desirable in some circumstances to attach the second wall panel 301B to the wall initially with the bevelled edge 309B facing outwards. When the first wall panel 301A is subsequently mounted, there is a possibly that the bevelled edge 307A in the first wall panel will ride upwards and over the bevelled edge 309B, making alignment of the panels 301A,301B more difficult. To prevent this, pins can be temporarily inserted into at least one of the first and second panels 301A,301B to prevent this from happing. The pins also help to align the first and second wall panels. The pins can be removed when the relative positions of panels 301A,301B are fixed. Alternatively the pins can be driven into the first and second panels 301A,301B and then subsequently masking them.

A fourth embodiment is shown in Figure 14. The fourth embodiment is similar to the third embodiment except in the following respects.

The first and second wall panels 201A,201B each comprise a protective cover, for example in the form of a protective film sheet 221 laminated over the outer surfaces 203A,203B of the substrate 227A,227B and/or print (see Figures 3, 5 and 6). The protective film 221 is also laminated over at least a part of at least one of the profiled edges 207A,209B, and typically at least the outwardly facing bevelled edge 209B.

Many different types of protective films 221 can be used. A preferred protective film is described below.

The protective film 221 overlies the major outer surface 203A,203B of the wall panel, and any print formed thereon. The film 221 is bonded to the major outer surface 203A,203B of the wall panel 201A,201B and/or the print by a pressure sensitive adhesive 223. The adhesive 223 bonds an inner surface 225 of the film to major outer surface 203A,203B of the respective wall panel and/or the print. A pressure sensitive solvent acrylic adhesive is well suited to this function. This type of adhesive fixes the position of the film 221 relative to the substrate 227. In tests, the inventor found that when water based acrylic adhesives were used, there was a tendency for the film 221 to move somewhat relative to the substrate 227, in particular to shrink inwards from the edges of the base layer, which is highly undesirable. Furthermore the adhesive 223 is sufficiently strong to allow the wall panel to be cut using a fine tooth hand saw, a circular saw or jig saw, without lifting the film at its edge. The adhesion remains effective against hot water at normal shower temperature and heat from a towel rail set at not less than 30 mm from the wall surface.

The film 221 is made from PVC. Typically the film 221 is a monomeric calendared PVC film. The film 221 can include a plasticizer content which is in the range 15% to 25%, and typically in the range 18% to 21%. Plasticiser content is measured in parts per hundred of PVC resin. The plasticizer content is an important part of the invention since it has a significant impact on the hardness of the film, and hence the ability of the wall panel 1 to resist scuffing and scratching in use. The range has been specifically chosen to balance the ease of application of the film to the wall panel and the surface hardness of the finished product.

The film 221 has a density in the range 1.25g/cm 3 to 1.35 g/cm 3 , and is typically around 1.29g/cm 3 . This also has an impact on scuff and scratch resistance.

The film 221 has a textured outer surface 228. The textured surface 228 is formed by an embossing process. The film 221 typically has a pre-textured thickness in the range 120pm to 200pm (excluding the thickness of the adhesive layer 223 - the adhesive layer 223 typically adds a few microns of thickness). A particularly preferred pre-textured thickness is around 150pm.

The embossing process includes heating the film 221 to soften it, and rolling at least one roller (not shown) over the film 221, or passing the film 221 through a pair of rollers (not shown). At least one of the rollers includes a textured outer surface for treating the outer surface 228 of the film. The outer surface of the roller includes a granular texture. The granular texture typically has a fine texture similar to a fine, very fine or extra fine abrasive paper, such as a silicon carbide paper, for example according to ISO 6344/FEPA Grit designation. The granular texture typically has an average grit size in the range 100pm to 20pm, and typically in the range 60 to 30 pm. The textured surface 228 produced in the film is a fine stipple-like texture 228. The texture 228 can extend across the entire outer surface of the film, in a fairly even manner. That is, the density of the texture is relatively even across the film. The stippled texture 228 has no discernible pattern. It is essentially a random arrangement of micro-peaks and micro-troughs.

The height of the embossed texture 228, for example from its highest peak to its lowest trough, is typically in the range 15pm to 80pm, and is typically around 25pm to 40pm. Thus the overall thickness of the textured film is typically in the range 135pm to 280pm. A particularly preferred example has a pre-textured thickness of around 150pm, and an embossed texture thickness of around 25pm, giving the textured film a thickness of around 175pm.

The film 221 is manufactured with the adhesive 223. The wall panel 201A,201B is manufactured by applying the film 221 to the plastic substrate 227A,227B by means of a laminating machine. This machine applies the required heat and pressure to achieve a strong bond between the film 221 and substrate 227A,227B and/or printed images. The adhesive 223 layer adds slightly to the combined thickness of the substrate 227A,227B and film 221.

A significant advantage of the textured surface 228 is that is has good light diffusing and/or light scattering properties. Together with the transparency of the film this creates a satin rather than a gloss or matt surface. The effect of the texture 228 and thickness of the film 21 makes wall unevenness less visible, and helps to hide joins between panels when mounted in the manner described below. The texture 228 also helps to prevent scratching and scuffing occurring. When scratching and/or scuffing occurs, the texture 228 means that it is less visible to the casual observer. A further advantage of the textured film 221 is its resistance to scuffing and scratching. This is demonstrated by the results of a rubbing test shown below, which compares a wall panel according to the invention with known wall panels.

Having the protective film 221 overlie at least one of the bevelled edges 207A,209B, particularly the outward facing bevelled edge 209B, helps to obscure the joint. Using a protective film 221 having a textured surface also helps to hide the joint as reflected light is diffused. Thus the arrangement helps to mitigate any misalignment / gaps at the joint.

The substrate 227A,227B for at least one of the first and second wall panels 201A,201B can include at least one further profiled edge 231A,231B. This enables each wall panel 201A,201B so arranged to mate with a further wall panel having a complementary profiled edge.

For example, the first wall panel 201A can include a profiled edge 231A similar to the profiled edge 209B included in the second wall panel 201B. The profiled edge 231A is a longitudinal edge. The profiled edge 231A is arranged on an opposite side of the outer major surface 203A to the profiled edge 207A. The profiled edge 231A is opposite handed to the profiled edge 207A. The profiled edge 231A is parallel to the profiled edge 207A.

For example, the second wall panel 201B can include a profiled edge 23 IB similar to the profiled edge 207A included in the first wall panel 201A. The profiled edge 231B is a longitudinal edge. The profiled edge 231B is arranged on an opposite side of the outer major surface 203B to the profiled edge 209B. The profiled edge 231B is opposite handed to the profiled edge 209B. The profiled edge 231B is parallel to the profiled edge 209B.

The protective film 221 can cover at least one of the profiled edges 231A,231B and typically at least the outwardly facing bevelled edge 231A.

The wall panels 201A,201B are mounted to a surface in a similar fashion to the first embodiment. As mentioned above, other types of protective films can be used, for example those that do not include a textured surface. The protective film can comprise at least one of: a polymeric gloss film, polymeric matt film, and a polymeric anti-scratch film. Such films typically have a thickness of less than 100pm, and typically the thickness is in the 50pm to lOOpm. Some preferred polymeric films have a thickness in the range 60 pm to 80pm.

A fifth embodiment is shown in Figure 17. The fifth embodiment includes first and second wall panels 401A,401B. The wall panels 401A,401B are similar to the wall panels in the third embodiment, however the wall panels 401A,401B are mounted on to the wall in a different manner. Instead of an overlapping arrangement of the profiled first and profiled second edges 407A,409B, the second wall panel 401B is mounted on to the wall in a similar fashion to the first wall panel 401A, that is, such that the profiled second edge 409B forms an undercut void facing towards the wall. This creates a triangular prismatic void that can be filled with a settable sealant. The distance Z shown in Figure 17 is typically around 4mm for a 2mm thick sheet when a = 20°, and therefore the base of the triangular prismatic void at the wall typically around 8mm. For a 1mm thick sheet, when a = 20° the base of the triangular prismatic void at the wall typically around 4mm. Thus a large amount of settable sealant can fit into the void and can bond to both the first and second wall panels 401A,401B and the wall. This helps to ensure that the sealant does not separate from the wall panels when there is significant thermal expansion and contraction occurs and the arrangement of the wall panels helps to prevent the removal of sealant from the void.

Advantages of the embodiments above include:

1. Avoids the risk of the substrate material, which is typically coloured white, in a flat printed panel showing at a flat butt join if there is any gap or different height where the panels meet.

2. The bevelled edge the panel is very much thinner than the overall thickness of the printed sheet or panel.

3. The bevelled downward sloping outwardly facing edge of the overlapping sheet starts below the laminate, the print and a fraction of the white sheet behind. That fraction of white sheet, or any other contrasting colour beneath, is then hidden by the top edge of the adjoining and under-lapping sheet. 4. Deskilling and reducing fitting time. With the overlap and repeated print area and/or protective film extending over the profiled edge, the join can vary along the length of the panel by up to 3 mm on a 2 mm thick base sheet and 1.5 mm on a 1 mm thick.

5. Eliminating the need, except in a waterproof situation, for silicone or other sealant to be used. Even in that situation the sealant will be covered by the overlap and any visible excess squeezed out onto the panel surface can be easily removed, particularly when an over-laminate has been applied over the print.

6. Since any sealant used is pushed under the overlap, as the two panel edges are slid together, that sealant cannot be accidentally or deliberately removed in use or cleaning.

7. Use of a 2 mm thick semi rigid plastic product provides a lighter and easier to handle wall panel than thicker wooden or plastic products.

It will be appreciated by the skilled person that the invention is not limited to the described embodiments and can include variations which are within the scope of the appended claims. For example, other plastics materials such as ABS, acrylic or other similar plastics material, High Impact Styrene (HPS), Polypropylene (PP), and Polyethylene (PE) can be used.

The wall panels can have shapes other than rectangles, such as triangles, hexagons, and pentagons are possible.

While it is preferred to use the protective film described with reference to Figures 5 and 6, it will be appreciated that other protective films can be used, for example films having either in a matt or gloss finish.

The decorative layer can be formed on the protective film or an adhesive layer that bonds the film to the substrate.

The profiled edges can be formed on transverse edges in addition to, or as an alternative to, the longitudinal profiled edges. Wall panels can be mounted in other orientations than vertical, for example the panels can be mounted horizontally.

The wall panel system can include any required number of wall panels.

Techniques other than vacuum forming can be used to form the tile-like appearance of the wall panel.

In the embodiment shown, the tile-like formations 5 have a rectangular shape when viewed in plan. Other shapes, and combinations of shapes are possible. For example, the tile-like formations can have a triangular, pentagonal, hexagonal or other similar shape. Similarly the wall panel shown also has a rectangular shape when viewed in plan. The wall panel can have a triangular, pentagonal, hexagonal or other similar shape.

Other shapes of recessed surfaces can be used, for example a bevelled recessed surface or a concave surface.




 
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