Bathroom Ceiling Material Options | Everything You Need To Know
You sank into a bath overflowing with bubbles, sighed, and opened your eyes. The old stained and cracked bathroom ceiling material stares back. What are you going to do about that? There is a surprising array of options available for replacing or refinishing the ceiling without knocking down the entire room.
In this post, I’ll go over the different options available as well as the considerations to think about when choosing a bathroom ceiling material and finish.
Let’s dive in!
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Considerations When Choosing A Bathroom Ceiling Material
The first thing to think about when selecting a ceiling for your bathroom is its ability to resist moisture. Since the room will always be steamy, damp, warm and then cold, mould growth and water damage is always a concern.
Will you be doing the ceiling over the shower? It needs to be able to withstand a random attack of spray and soap without staining or absorbing the water. Outside the bath enclosure, the ceiling can be treated as if it was in any other room in the house.
Next, are you covering over a crumbling plaster? Building from new? Or just changing things up. There are a variety of click and snap panelling systems that are fast and inexpensive that will dress up the space in a day.
You should avoid any product that is peel-and-stick or uses weaker adhesives to hang to the ceiling. Gravity will always win in the end, and the constant change in the humidity can undermine the ability of the glue to fully cure.
Next, think about how you want the ceiling to appear. Most people want to ignore their ceilings, so a uniform colour, material, or texture will quietly complete the space without fuss.
Tile is traditional, but more and more homes are using PVC or fibreglass panels to finish out the bath or shower enclosure. When finished correctly, green board and paint will do the job admirably. Or, you can even opt for timber to finish your home spa.
Finally, think about your budget. A can of paint will erase old stains for less than £50, but you can spend hundreds for premium tile or timber cladding. Which one will work for you?
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Yes, you can use the same tiles on your bathroom ceiling that you have on the walls. Made out of ceramic or porcelain, they are completely waterproof as long as the grout is well maintained. While the tiles are easy to clean with their shiny, slick surface, you may need to scrub the grout from time to time.
Extremely tough, tiles will last until the next bathroom renovation, whether that is ten years or fifty.
Pick your colour, pattern, size–the options are truly endless. Pricing for the tiles starts at around £12 per square metre. Don’t forget to add the mortar, grout, and tools for the job. You can make it a DIY project, but expect to have your bathroom out of commission for a while.
A professional may charge £150 to £250 per day with the job taking two to three days just for the tile (depending on the size of the room). There may be additional cure time needed before the room can be put into use.
These lightweight panels can be hung in an afternoon and deliver a sleek finished appearance. They can be brittle, but the likelihood that you will damage your ceiling taking a shower is minimal.
The panels are waterproof and can be cleaned with a soft cloth and soap. There is not a huge variety of styles, but most ceilings do not serve as fashion statements.
If you are removing fibreglass panels, you need additional breathing protection as a shattered piece can send fine glass threads into the air.
A box of fibreglass cladding will run between £50 and £150. It takes just a few hours to do the job yourself using basic tools.
This newer material is rapidly taking the top spot for retrofitting old ceilings or installing a new bathroom on a budget. Unlike fibreglass, PVC cladding is flexible. The tiles snap into place on hangars. They can cover a cracked but stable ceiling. They are waterproof, paintable, and easy to clean.
It’s a DIY project that almost anybody can tackle. Order them in a variety of finishes that run from plain white to subtle variations that look like marble, wood, or flecked laminate.
There are no safety or health concerns associated with PVC during installation, use, or demolition. Best of all, as soon as you are done hanging the PVC, your bathroom is ready for use. There is no dry or cure time needed for this upgrade.
You can pick up a box of panels between £50 and £100. There is enough inside to do the entire ceiling for an average bathroom.
Do you imagine your bathroom finished out as an upscale spa with timber covering the floor, walls, and ceiling? It can be done. You will want to use wood such as teak or cedar. They have tighter grain that better resists water incursion.
The timber will need to be sealed with polyurethane every year to create a water-resistant barrier. This is a labour-intensive option that is best left to the professionals. The timber must be hung by drilling into the structure of the home.
A second option for that timber appearance is timber panelling. Like the decking material used for the project above, the panels will need to be waterproofed every year to prevent mould and rot from setting in.
However, you will cut the cost of the project by at least half. And you may not need to hire a contractor to get it done.
Ultimately, you will always fight the water damage game when you use timber in your bathroom for the walls or ceiling.
Waterproof Plasterboard (Green Board) and Paint
While thoroughly waterproofing a shower ceiling is always a good idea, it isn’t actually required. Green board or waterproof plasterboard is used to build the walls and ceilings of every bathroom before you start adding finishing touches. It is designed to be moisture and mould resistant and you can use it as the sole ceiling surface without extra cladding or tiles.
To improve its water-resistant properties, adding enamel paint to the ceiling completes the project. This is the same type of paint used on boats and waterfront properties. It will shed water droplets and last for years. You can tint the paint to any colour that you desire.
Painting green board is the most budget-friendly option for fixing up your bathroom ceiling. A five-litre can of paint sells for around £50. It rolls on in an afternoon, but you will want it to dry for two days before taking your first shower.
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There you have it! The most common bathroom ceiling material options and the considerations you’ll need to think about to help decide which is the best choice for you.
So, what material are you choosing for your new bathroom ceiling?
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Michael is a KBB designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom installations for over eight years now, and before that, he was an electrician and part of a KBB fitting team. He created The Bathroom Blueprint in early 2020.