What Can I Use Instead Of Tiles On My Bathroom Walls? Options Explored

Are you fixing up your old bathroom? Maybe you demolished the vintage version in your new house. The last thing you want to use is a mosaic or metro tile on the walls as you see that particular design everywhere you go. What else is out there that can be used instead of tiles?

In this post, I’ll go over the pros, cons and considerations of six great alternatives instead of tiles to use on your bathroom walls.

Let’s dive in!

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Ideas For Bathroom Walls Instead Of Tiles

Take a walk through the entire DIY centre and search for inspiration. If you see something that can be used to finish walls indoors or out, it can likely be altered for use in a bathroom.

1. Wall Panels (PVC/Laminate)

PVC bathroom wall panel instead of tiles

If you are finishing out a small bathroom, PVC or laminate wall panels are easy to install and affordable. They can look like tile, but do not require professional or time-consuming installation.

This is a great option if you are building a walk-in shower as you can use the same panels outside the shower area. They are waterproof and will last for years.

Since they are made out of a flexible plastic compound, if they are not firmly affixed to the wall, they can crack, which would require replacement.

It is a good option for rental units or for tidying up an old room without breaking the bank account. At the same time, nobody will ever mistake it for a spa suite finished out in stone tile.


  • Affordable
  • Easy to install
  • Contemporary looks and options


  • Looks inexpensive
  • Can crack and require replacement

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2. Paint 

If you have a shower enclosure with a door, paint is the least expensive way to finish the bathroom instead of tiling. Make sure that the plasterboard is rated for use in a bath or kitchen.

While oil-based paint provides the best protection against water damage, there are a variety of premium latex paints designed for bathrooms. You can personalise the space with your choice of colour, and it is easy to switch things up when you get tired of a particular shade.

Paint may not be the best choice as a tub surround, and it may deteriorate behind the toilet. But you can make repairs without too much effort if there is water damage.


  • Affordable option
  • Easy to change colours
  • Works well in cloakrooms or with shower enclosures with doors


  • Not as waterproof as other options
  • Not good as a wall surround for the bath

3. Wallpaper

Do you want to bring in geometric patterns or bold floral aspects to your bathroom? Tile certainly will not give you that option. A waterproof wallpaper will satisfy your decorative desires.

Particular care is required when hanging the paper to ensure that water will not get behind it, which can loosen the adhesive. It can be pricey and is comparable to tiling the space.

There is even wallpaper available that can be used in a shower enclosure. It is washable and will lend a modern twist to the space.

Wallpaper tends to become dated faster than tile or paint, so expect the update it every five years or so. It can be scratched or torn, requiring some maintenance.


  • Looks fabulous and dramatic
  • Able to be hung outside the bath and shower area


  • Comparable in price to tiling
  • Professional installation is recommended for best performance
  • Can be scratched, torn, or simply fall down

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4. Wood

Wood panel wall in bathroom

Do you dream of an old-fashioned bathroom with a clawfoot tub, beautiful pedestal basin, carved mirror, and black and white floor tiles? Wood panelling would be the perfect finishing touch to the space.

Its timeless beauty complements many types of luxury finishes and can last for decades when properly installed and maintained. It will be a little more expensive than tile due to the extra steps needed to waterproof the panelling. You can do a half-timber wall or go all out with a floor-to-ceiling look.

The panelling will need to be sealed with a polyurethane product after it is stained or painted. It will need annual sealing to prevent water from getting into the wood and causing discolouration or mould growth. Still, your bathroom will be a unique showpiece.


  • Beautiful, timeless look
  • Can last for years with proper maintenance
  • Unique luxury option in a world covered in stone and tile


  • Pricey choice
  • Requires professional installation
  • Demands annual sealing to protect the finish
  • Most-likely choice to develop mould or water damage

5. Stone

While it is still tile, natural marble tiles are typically much larger than traditional porcelain bathroom tile. Carry the same look on your floor up the walls and into the walk-in shower.

Its opulent and beautiful and no two bathrooms will look alike due to the unique nature of stone. It will be expensive. It demands sealing every other month or so to prevent water stains, but you will end up with a stunning private spa.


  • Unique look for each bathroom
  • Luxurious finish that lasts a lifetime


  • Expensive
  • Requires constant maintenance
  • Can stain

6. Microcement

microcement bathroom walls instead of tiles

This trending option in luxury home spas satisfies your desire for a bathroom finished out in a singular material. It can be used to cover the floor, walls, bath, shower, or even create a vanity.

Microcement is time-consuming to install as it requires up to a month to cure before the room can be used. It is still a fairly new product, so finding a qualified installer can be difficult, and therefore more expensive than other finishes.

When done right, it is completely waterproof. If you are building a wet room, microcement is your go-to solution. It can be coloured and finished in a range of textures from glossy smooth to a pebbled surface that is great for no-slip floors. It can also last for decades.


  • Trending modern look
  • Thoroughly waterproof
  • Will last for decades
  • Can be finished smooth or textured


  • Expensive
  • Hard to find an experienced installation company
  • Requires extended time to cure before use
  • Removal will require demolition of walls

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Final Thoughts…

There you have it! Some great alternatives instead of tiles for your bathroom walls.

While tiles remain the most popular and a good choice for your bathroom walls, there are plenty of other options out there. Especially if you want to try something a little different and really make a statement.

So, what will you put on your bathroom walls instead of tiles?


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.