If you're looking to update your bathroom walls, you'll need to find a wall covering that can withstand steamy bathroom air and the occasional splash of water from your shower, tub, or sink. In this article, we'll teach you about the best materials for bathroom walls and highlight various options to help you find the right solution to upgrade your space successfully.
What is the best material to use for bathroom walls?
Unlike other walls in your home, such as those in your kitchen or living room, bathroom walls frequently get wet. In addition to overspray from the shower and bathtub, the walls come in constant contact with moisture in the air. After a hot shower or bath, the thin steamy layer of water you wipe off your mirror also covers your walls. Over time, this exposure to moisture can cause your walls to degrade.
While bathroom vent fans can help remove moisture from the air, you can still experience moisture issues in bathrooms without proper ventilation. Excess moisture can lead to water damage, leaks, mold, rot, and mildew problems that can be costly to resolve. In addition to using your vent fan, it's important to wipe any splashes off your walls and keep the door and window open to improve air circulation.
With several materials on the market, it can be challenging to decide which one is right for your home. When shopping for your guest or master bathroom remodel project, you'll want to consider the following:
- Price— Obviously, one of the most important factors to consider is the price. When determining your budget, remember to factor in both the cost of materials and the installation cost.
- Installation Process— Are you looking for an option to install yourself or something that requires professional installation?
- Quality— When it comes to materials, remember you get what you paid for. If you're looking for a long-term solution, it's worth investing in high-quality materials that will remain waterproof for years to come.
- Appearance— Wall options come in various materials, colors, shapes, and patterns, so you'll want to have a clear idea of the aesthetic you're looking for before you hit the hardware store.
- Durability— Are you updating a wall in a kids' bathroom that will constantly be covered in splashes? Or is the wall in a half-bath that doesn't get much use?
The Five Best Bathroom Wall Options
Inexpensive and DIY-able
For an affordable way to redo a wall over a weekend, you can't beat bathroom paint. While it looks like regular interior wall paint, bathroom paint contains special properties that make it better suited for the bathroom. The special paint is created using higher mildewcide levels and resins that form a tight barrier as it dries, helping prevent moisture absorption that causes regular paint to degrade over time.
Though this paint does come at a higher price than regular, it's worth the additional costs and available in various colors. With special paint, you won't experience pesky bubbles, blisters, streaks, and peeling paint that ruin your walls' appearance.
Practical and Easy to Clean
Wall panels are a practical choice for bathroom walls within the splash zone of your shower or tub. They're made with PVC or plastic-based materials that are resistant to water and moisture and come in different colors and finishes that complement any design style.
Unlike tile, panels are easy to install and easy to clean, making them the perfect choice for a mudroom or kids' bathroom. They can be cut to any size, installed over existing tile, and don't require grout. To clean the panels, simply spray with a shower cleaner and wipe clean with a damp cloth.
Decorative and Easy to Install
Vinyl wallpaper is one of the best options for bathrooms with proper ventilation. While it can be applied to walls that do not come in direct contact with moisture, it's not suitable for ones next to your bathtub, shower, or sink. Bathroom wallpaper should have a thick vinyl coating that helps prevent moisture absorption and water damage. With the countless color palette, designs, and textures to choose from, and surprisingly simple installation, it's easy to overhaul your project in a single weekend.
Wallpaper is labeled according to its intended use, so look for products labeled scrubbable, extra-washable, or water-resistant. Avoid wallpaper that is marked as spongeable. These wallpapers cannot be cleaned easily and can be damaged when they come in contact with water, making them unsuitable for the bathroom.
Customizable but Potentially Costly
If you're looking for a traditional look in your shower walls, stick to classic ceramic tile, subway tile, or glass tiles. Though it is one of the more costly and time-consuming options, it's undoubtedly one of the most impressive wall treatment. Tile instantly creates an elegant, expensive-looking bathroom, and with countless bathroom tile combinations to choose from, there's something in every size, style, and finish imaginable.
If you decide to redo your wall with tile, it's essential to factor materials and installation costs into your budget. If you know your way around a toolbox, you may be able to install the tile yourself, but if you aren't very handy around the house, you'll definitely need the help of a professional. These days, many home improvement stores off pattern-ready tile sheets that are easier to apply than individual tiles.
Classic look and easy DIY installation
The lower section of your bathroom walls is the most important part when it comes to moisture issues. Beadboard can help cover the lower half and protect the lower part against moisture from shower or bathtub while gives your bathroom a classic look.
Beadboard can be easy to install with some glue and finish nails. For easier installation, purchase eight feet by four feet tall panels of beadboard. For a traditional farmhouse look, go with a 2 1/2 inc V-bead. Install lengthwise with glue and finished nails. For a more refined look, go with the stick by stick beadboard planks instead.