How to Cut Plastic Wall Panels

  • 2-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • $0-130
What You'll Need
Tape Measure
Tin snips
Utility knife
Drill with 1/2 inch bit
Jab saw
Fine sandpaper

Plastic wall panels are an inexpensive way to dress up a room. They’re easy to clean and simple to install. However, fitting them means you'll initially need to cut them to fit the wall. Alternatively, you may need to make cuts for a pipe or an outlet box. Cutting plastic wall panels is not a particularly challenging job but you will need to be studious and precise for the paneling to look good.

Step 1: Measuring and Testing

Measure the wall to check what size you need the plastic wall panels to be. Next, measure out the wall panel itself, with the finished side up, and mark the measurements onto the surface of the panel. What you use to cut the panel depends on the type of panel itself. If it’s hard plastic, you’ll need to use a hacksaw. If the plastic is softer, you should be able to use tin snips.

The best means of testing the panel for cutting is to take a scrap piece of the plastic wall panel and try the tin snips first. If the panel is too hard, it will quickly snap or crack. If it’s too soft, the plastic will stretch a little when cut with tin snips. In both of these situations, use a hacksaw instead.

Cut with the finished side up and if you use a hack saw, make sure the blade is of a very fine grading. You can score and cut any small edges with a utility knife. The main thing to be sure of is that you cut exactly on the marked line. It’s best if you go slowly and check every so often that you are keeping to the line. The fine blade on the hacksaw with help you get a smoothly finished edge.

Step 2: Cutting a Hole

When you need to cut a hole to go around a pipe or an outlet box, you’ll need to employ a different technique. Very carefully mark the dimensions of the hole you need on your plastic wall panel.

In the center of the hole, use the drill with a ½-inch bit to punch through the plastic, drilling through from the finished side. This will give you a large enough opening in which to use your jab saw. Very carefully use this to cut out the hole, keeping strictly to the lines you’ve drawn on the wall panel.

If you need to finish the hole, use very fine sandpaper only on the hole itself or the back side of the plastic. Never use sandpaper on the finished side of the panel or you’ll scratch it and render it unusable.

Step 3: Cutting Small Sections

You might run into a situation where you need to cut off small pieces of the panel such as when you need to fit around a window sill. In this instance, mark out the area to be cut with a pencil and use a utility knife. Score the lines with the blade and slowly work your way through without trying to rush it.

You should be able to achieve a perfectly clean cut. However, if the edges are rough, clean up with very fine sandpaper but only on the edge itself or the back of the plastic wall panel.