The 5 best options for bathroom wall coverings

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Penthouses and Guestrooms, Joe Ginsberg Design Joe Ginsberg Design Modern Bathroom White
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Even the most novice of interior designers/decorators know that when it comes to wall styles and –designs, bathroom walls are different. That is because living rooms, bedrooms, and even kitchens can flaunt just about any wall covering due to their spaces remaining mostly dry.

But we know that this isn’t true for the bathroom, which is prone to wetness, moisture, humidity, and spills and splatters. And although the right add-ons (like vent fans and adequate windows ushering in fresh air) can help lessen the wetness/moisture factor, there are still some wall coverings/cladding that are just more efficient for bathrooms.

Like these…  

1. For your bathroom wall: Vinyl wallpaper

As all-paper coverings will eventually degrade due to moisture, vinyl-coated wallpaper is one of the most effective options for bathrooms. And it can also be unpeeled and reapplied numerous times. 

But there’s a catch: as it’s less sticky than permanent wallpaper, vinyl wallpaper won’t stick to matte, flat, or rough surfaces. In addition, it also works best for indirect, ambient moisture, which means it’s advisable to use your vinyl wallpaper along with a surface that can cover up your bathroom’s lower wall surfaces. 

2. For your bathroom wall: Semi-gloss/regular paint

Regular interior paint’s pores can trap water, meaning you will need to avoid a flat or matte surface. But this can easily be avoided by switching to a semi-gloss (or even a high-gloss) sheen, as water will only bead up on the surface instead of penetrating it. 

In addition to its mold- and mildew-inhibiting properties, designated bathroom paint still works out cheaper than wallpaper, tile, and various other hard wall surfaces. 

3. For your bathroom wall: Tile

With proper tiling, moisture will never be a problem as tile is 100% waterproof. And don’t forget that tile is available in a multitude of different options (ceramic, glass mosaic, oversized, colored, patterned… ). 

But one really must consider the bathroom’s design when it comes to tile, as the grouting will create lines and patterns that can either enhance your style or detract from it. For a great compromise, tile your bathroom wall partially (about 36 – 38 inches) to ensure those lines don’t visually envelope your entire bathroom.  

4. For your bathroom wall: Beadboard

Although a fantastic option, beadboard only ensures partial cover for the lower half of a wall. But in the case of a bathroom this is excellent news, as that’s the moisture’s favorite part. To better protect your bathroom walls, paint your beadboard with semi-gloss or glossy paint. 

And keep in mind that beadboard, although ideal for a lot of design styles (like traditional and farmhouse) does NOT play well with styles like modern and contemporary.  

5. For your bathroom wall: Tileboard

Old Montauk Highway House, SA-DA Architecture SA-DA Architecture Modern Bathroom
SA-DA Architecture

Old Montauk Highway House

SA-DA Architecture

Modern-day tileboard designs can perfectly resemble ceramic tile. Although an excellent repellant against moisture, tileboard (which is inexpensive, quick and easy to install) does present a rather economical style, making it not ideal for high-class designs. 

Keep in mind that tileboard needs to be properly sealed with bathroom-grade silicone caulk to avoid water penetration. Should this happen, expect your tileboard to swell up rather rapidly and to never return to its original dimensions. 

In our quest for the ultimate bathroom design, let’s delve into Shower floor tiles: which, why and how?  

Which of these wall coverings sound like the best bet for your bathroom walls?

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