Can You Wallpaper A Bathroom? | Everything Explained

Did you see that stunning focus wall on your favourite DIY show? The wallpaper was bold and bright and totally breathed life into an otherwise ordinary design. Your bathroom may have a new vanity and a new floor, but it still needs something else. Wallpaper may be the decor item you need to put your own stamp on the room. But is it worth your time to wallpaper a bathroom?

In this post, I’ll explain if you can wallpaper a bathroom, the pros and cons as well as answer some other common questions on the topic.

Let’s get into it.

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Can You Wallpaper a Bathroom?

Yes, you can. The real question lies with whether you should wallpaper your bathroom. Using scrubbable wallpaper is a great way to introduce colour and dimension into the room without changing out the tiles and fixtures. However, not all wallpaper is truly waterproof or up to the task. Apply it wisely.

Pros For Bathroom Wallpaper

  • Available in a huge variety of colours and patterns
  • Easy to keep clean
  • An inexpensive way to update the decor for minimal effort
  • Good DIY project
  • Self-stick papers are easier to switch out with changing fashions

Cons For Bathroom Wallpaper

  • A poor installation will result in peeling and curling paper
  • More susceptible to mould and stains
  • Can be a detractor when selling the house
  • Not all are suitable for use in the splash zone

What Kind Of Wallpaper Is Best For Bathrooms?

The easy solution for wallpapering a bathroom is water-activated vinyl wallpaper. The vinyl material protects the colour or printed pattern on the paper and resists stains caused by splashing or moisture buildup. It can be scrubbed using a mild soap and a sponge. You can expect your vinyl wallpapers to look great for up to a decade, by which time it will be time to change it out.

Vinyl wallpaper is available at your home improvement centre and will cost between £10 and £20 per roll. Each roll is 10m long and a little over 500mm wide. Unlike old-fashioned wallpapers, most vinyl papers have a water-activated adhesive applied to their back. You won’t need any sticky bucket of glue or paintbrushes to hang it. You just need a spray bottle filled with water, a utility knife, protective covering for your work area, measuring tapes, roller, sponge, and a laser level.

Are you worried about taking down the paper when it is time for another change? It’s super simple to remove vinyl wallpapers. You just spray the paper with an inexpensive removal solution and peel. There is no steam, scraping, or swearing required.

Now, what pattern is best for your bathroom wallpaper project?

Bold Colour Brightens Up An All White Or Grey Bathroom

Did you complete your bathroom renovation in conservative white or off-white on every surface? By adding a bold wallpaper to a single wall, you introduce depth and dimension to the one-note space. Now you have a colour or theme that will enliven your towels, curtains, rugs, and countertop clutter. You just went from bland to wow.

Vertical Patterns Make A Tiny Room Appear Bigger

Do you have a small washroom off the front hall? If you use wallpaper with tall shapes it helps to draw the eye towards the ceiling which makes the space appear roomier. Look for florals that use a trailing ivy, natural themes focused on leggy birds, or a geometric theme using long and thin shapes.

Busy Prints Hide Uneven Wall Surfaces

Does your bathroom have walls made out of rough concrete or ancient pitted plaster? If that rustic look does not work for you, you can cover it up with a small print wallpaper. Natural prints that feature random shapes or papers that mimic brick and stone draw the eye away from the uneven surface and focus instead on the colourful pattern. You will need to be particularly careful when hanging the paper and press it into every tiny ripple on the wall.

Mix Or Match To Complement Your Tiles

You selected a gorgeous sage green for your wall tiles. Amp up the look created around the sink and bath by opting for a wallpaper that includes the same colours in its pattern. Wallpaper allows you to put your individual stamp on a space that may look and feel just like every other bathroom on the block.

Can You Use Regular Wallpaper In A Bathroom?

If you absolutely must have the upscale look associated with linen wallpaper, you can install the old-fashioned type in your bathroom with a few caveats. You will want to leave a splash zone around the tub, shower, and sink where the paper will not get splashed every day. A tiled splashback will take care of that problem. You will want to use an extractor fan during every bath or shower to reduce the amount of moisture being absorbed by the paper. Standard wallpaper is more prone to peeling and water stains compared to vinyl.

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Can You Put Wallpaper In A Shower Area?

Yes, there are ‘wet system‘ wallpapers that can be used in a shower area. These are specialist products designed to be used in wet or humid environments. Constructed from printed fibreglass, transparent finishes and a waterproof primer. Some can even be used outside on the exterior of buildings.

Anything other than a specialist wet system wallpaper is probably not a good idea. While you may get the wallpaper to stick to the walls of your shower enclosure, it is not likely to stay. Remember how the adhesive on the back of the wallpaper is water-activated? That means that every time you get in the shower and the walls get wet, that adhesive softens and the bond with the wall is put at risk.

Can You Seal Wallpaper To Make It Waterproof?

It is possible to give your linen wallpaper improved water resistance. After hanging the paper and letting the adhesive thoroughly dry, you can use a water-based varnish or clear glaze. For best results, it should be applied on a warm and dry summer day. You will need to let the varnish completely dry before you use the bathroom again. Now your luxury wallpaper is ready to be wiped down and can survive several years in a busy bathroom.

Final Thoughts…

There you have it. Everything you need to know if you’re considering putting wallpaper in your bathroom.

While it is possible to wallpaper a bathroom there are a few considerations you need to make. Be selective about what type of wallpaper you use and where you apply it in the room for best results.

So, will you go for wallpaper in your new bathroom?


Michael R

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.