Bathroom Wallpaper Ideas
Believe it or not, wallpaper has a centuries-old, rich history in interior design. People began manufacturing wallpaper in the 17th century in China, and it started becoming popular in the West (especially France) in the 1700s. Since then, it’s remained a home decor staple around the world. Some people might think it’s outdated, but the truth is that it’s still very popular as an alternative to paint, especially in bathrooms.
In this article, we’ll explore some bathroom wallpaper ideas including the best types of wallpaper for bathrooms, the most ideal prints and colors, how to use wallpaper to make a small bathroom appear bigger and some tips and tricks for application. Let’s dive in!
Is All Wallpaper Created Equal?
Before you jump into redoing your bathroom wallpaper (or putting some up for the first time), you need to bear in mind that there are multiple types of wallpaper. Each has its own pros and cons that make it either an excellent or terrible choice for a bathroom. Let’s take a quick look at the most common kinds of wallpaper:
Also known as traditional wallpaper, this is what people typically envision when they hear the word “wallpaper.” It’s usually mass-produced, meaning it can often be low quality and prone to tears. Stay clear of printed wallpaper for bathrooms because the ink used to print patterns is water-based, meaning the beautiful designs will smudge due to steam and water sprays.
Like printed wallpaper, this type does contain a printed paper layer, but it also has an added polyester film on top. This lining makes it possible to wash the wallpaper, and its water-resistance lends itself to being a great option for bathroom wallpaper. Just be aware that it can highlight any wall defects.
Grasscloth and bamboo wallpaper
These types are made from plants and are a stunning choice for a statement wall. Grasscloth wallpaper is woven from species like cork, reed and hemp, while bamboo wallpaper is produced by gluing fibers to paper. Naturally, because these kinds consist of natural, largely untreated materials, they’re poor choices for a wet and humid environment. Save them for your living room or bedroom!
The most popular and widespread option today, vinyl wallpaper is made from layers of printed wallpaper and vinyl. It’s durable and highly water-resistant and easy to clean, making it ideal for a bathroom. Furthermore, most peel-and-stick (also known as removable wallpaper) application wallpapers are vinyl, so you won’t be left struggling to apply it.
Choosing Your Wallpaper Color and Pattern
Needless to say, you’ll want to go with waterproof wallpaper like vinyl or mylar for a bathroom. Now that you’ve got the type you need, it’s time for the fun part — choosing the design. While there are no hard and fast rules about colors and patterns, there are some general guidelines you can follow for best results.
No color or design is strictly off the cards when it comes to wallpaper.
Most people prefer decorating their walls in just one color, and that works perfectly for bathrooms, which you don’t want to feel busy or chaotic. Some favorite shades include:
Of course, you can’t go wrong with pure white. It’s fuss-free and creates the clean atmosphere you want in a bathroom. Or, stray off the beaten path and choose charcoal or black for some modern drama.
Cool greens and blues
Mint or sage green are great for lending a bathroom a floral and natural air, while baby blue or periwinkle work well to evoke a sense of calm and relaxation, much like a spa. If you want a cool hue but prefer neutrals, ash gray does wonders in bathrooms.
Warm yellows and oranges
Don’t panic, we’re not talking about those bold sunset hues. A gentle champagne, blush or peach color will make a bathroom feel homey and welcoming without being gaudy. Opt for sandy beige or cream if you want warmth but don’t like saturated colors.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing a wallpaper design. You can go as wild or understated as you like! Generally, simple monochromatic patterned wallpaper (typically in one neutral, cool or warm shade and white) looks best in bathrooms.
Alternatively, a floral wallpaper or botanical wallpaper can add some flair when used as an accent wall. Marble, stone or tile designs also look great and give you all the benefits of the aesthetic without any of the maintenance hassles.
Black and white florals add flair to this bathroom.
No Bathroom Is Too Big Or Too Small
While your color and pattern choice are entirely up to you, there are some shades and prints that work better than others depending on a bathroom’s size. Many people struggle with small bathrooms (especially when it comes to the guest bathroom) and want them to feel bigger. Fortunately, colors go a long way in achieving this effect.
We recommend using large-scale prints of geometric shapes if you go the pattern route. That’s because big designs create the illusion of having more space, as they trick the mind into thinking the surface area is greater than it is.
This large-scale shiny, geometric print reflects light wonderfully.
By contrast, small, intricate prints make a room appear more compressed and should, therefore, be limited to just a feature wall or a portion of one wall. Textured wallpaper that imitates material like bricks, wood or even unpolished concrete also causes a small space to seem more sizable.
In terms of color, you should select lighter shades because light colors reflect light, causing it to bounce back off surfaces. On the other hand, darker colors absorb light, making a room feel smaller and more compact. So, choose pale hues, and, as always, white is a safe bet.
Tips and Tricks to Make Your Bathroom Perfect
Now that you’ve decided what wallpaper you’re going to use, it’s time to get it up! Applying wallpaper can sometimes be a laborious task, so it’s best to take the necessary precautions to avoid complications and possibly having to redo your walls further down the line.
Remove and smooth
The first step is to prepare your naked walls properly by smoothing them and removing any nails or hooks and filling holes. Sand down the walls as needed to create an even surface for your wallpaper. Wallpaper sticks more closely to perfectly flat walls, which will prevent water from seeping into gaps and creating a haven for mold.
Clean and prime
Next, clean the wall thoroughly. A simple sugar scrub can often do the trick. If there’s glossy paint on the wall, remove it with a hot water and vinegar solution (egg-shell and satin paints are fine, but latex paint is a big no-no when it comes to wallpaper). You can then apply a plain white primer to seal the walls once they’re smooth and clean.
Paste and stick
Your walls are ready for wallpaper! It’ll be relatively smooth sailing from here on out if you’re using peel-and-stick wallpaper (which is fine for bathrooms because it’s vinyl), as the sheets have an adhesive layer already attached. All you need to do is remove the film and apply the wallpaper directly to the wall, as you would put a screen protector on a phone.
The process might be a bit more labor-intensive if you’re using traditional paste-the-wall wallpaper that requires paste. In that case, you’ll need a paint roller to roll paste onto your wall before applying wallpaper on top of it. No matter which style you choose, it’s a good idea to use a wallpaper brush to smooth the paper as you roll it out.
If you’re wondering whether you can put wallpaper over tiles, the answer is yes — but, it’s essential to make sure the tiles are clean and firmly fixed to the wall. Depending on the tile height, you may need to fill in the grouting to even out the wall. If your tiles are very glossy, you will need to sand them down so that the wallpaper can stick to them properly.
To recap, vinyl and mylar wallpaper are the best bet for a bathroom as they’re incredibly water resistant. Light colors and large-scale patterns can make a smaller bathroom seem bigger, and dark shades are ideal for adding elegance and panache. It’s essential to prepare your walls before applying wallpaper by filling any dents and sanding the surface, and using a sealing primer will help prevent mold from growing. Peel-and-stick wallpaper is perfectly fine for bathrooms, as is putting wallpaper over tiles (as long as you prep them properly).
We know that using wallpaper for your bathroom can be stressful if you’ve never done it before, or if you’re not sure what aesthetic you want. Fortunately, our award-winning, expert designers at Decorating Den Interiors are well-versed in all things wallpaper and bathroom, and they’re ready to help. Reach out today to start your bathroom renovation!