I’ve put wallpaper in 5 bathrooms now. And every time, I get the same question- “can I put wallpaper in bathrooms?” Which I totally get since it can be scary- no one wants to put up wallpaper just to have it peel up or fall off the wall due to humidity from the shower. So I thought I’d answer that question and give some guidelines so it’s a successful project.
can you use wallpaper in bathrooms?
I think the thing most people are worried about with wallpaper in a bathroom is putting it up and then it just sliding off because of humidity from the shower. I’ve been concerned about that too! Especially in Florida where it’s already super humid. Here’s what I’ve found though- ventilation is key.
- Make sure you have a good bathroom fan. And then run it during showers and baths to keep the water from settling on the wallpaper. Keep the fan running until after all the humidity is out of the room.
- After using the shower or bath, open the window and/or door to let the steam escape. This helps with air flow and keeps the wallpaper intact as the hot, wet air is prevented from settling into the wallpaper.
- So which is better with humidity? Peel and stick or traditional wallpaper? Honestly, either can work. My tip? Order a sample. Most wallpaper companies offer samples from $2-$8 a piece. Buy one and once it arrives, stick it or paste it to the wall and see how it reacts. If it stays flat after a few showers, you should be good to go!
The next concern when putting up wallpaper in the bathroom- splashes. From the bath, from the sink, from the shower. There’s lots of water and that can lead to water damage on the wallpaper. Especially if kids use that restroom. Here’s some ways to avoid water damage-
- only wallpaper the top 1/2-1/3 of the bathroom. That way it’s much easier to keep the wallpaper dry. Below the wallpaper you can tile, put up bead board, or install a chair rail and leave the bottom section drywall.
- use wipeable or vinyl wallpaper. Read the label and make sure it’s suitable for the bathrooms. Go for scrubbable wall coverings that are resistant to moisture.
- Apply a clear acrylic varnish (like Decorator’s Varnish) over the installed wallpaper I fit’s not wipeable or vinyl to boost its resistance to moisture- especially splashes. This protects against stains and helps with humidity too.
And now, our final concern- mold. Sadly, bathrooms are ideal places for mold growth since they’re moist and dark. Did you know mold can grow behind wallpaper? Yep- gross! And since mold is a major issue with health concerns, it’s definitely something to try and avoid. Here’s how-
- Before you install the wallpaper, prime the walls with a mold-proof wallpaper primer. I’ll link to one here. What this does is it keeps the wall from absorbing the paste which can promote mold growth.
- Then, when it’s time to install the wallpaper, use mold-proof wallpaper paste. There are adhesives specially formatted to be mold and mildew resistant.
So, yeah putting wallpaper in a bathroom can be a pain. Humidity, mold, water damage- lots of things could go wrong. So why even bother?
- Wallpaper adds a design element you just can’t get any other way. It’s a statement maker and it comes in so many fun colors, patterns and textures.
- Lots of elements of a bathroom are hard to change- tile and the vanity and faucets. While those will probably stay awhile, wallpaper is an easy way to update a bathroom. It’s relatively quick to change out too. p.s. for more ideas on ways to decorate a bathroom while keeping the tile, check out this post.
- Now, more than ever, there are endless wallpaper options. You can express yourself and show your style easily through wallpaper. If you have a vision for a space, wallpaper is a great way to implement it.
Looking for cheap wallpaper options? Click here to see my best budget friend wallpaper!
Can I wallpaper over textured walls? Here’s the rules for a successful wallpaper project.
Ok! So there are my best tips on how to successfully wallpaper a bathroom. I’ve never had a problem with humidity or steam or water damage in a bathroom. Well, actually, once we had a leak in a bathroom with wallpaper. Luckily, it was wallpaper that was wipeable. The chair molding needed touched up, but the wallpaper was just fine!
My wallpaper has stayed up nicely by following the ventilation tips I shared above. If you have a bathroom that needs updating, I’d 100% suggest wallpaper as is evident by these pictures- ha!
Have you used wallpaper in a bathroom? How’d it go?
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