Bathroom wall coverings play a crucial role in creating the look and feel of your bathroom. Selecting the right materials can elevate your space from drab to dramatic. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the most popular options for bathroom wall coverings and provide tips on choosing the best materials for your needs. Whether you prefer tile, paint, wallpaper or paneling, we’ve got you covered.

An Overview of Bathroom Wall Covering Options

When considering materials for your bathroom walls, you’ll want to take into account factors like budget, ease of cleaning, moisture resistance, aesthetics, and installation requirements. Here’s a quick overview of some of the most common types of bathroom wall coverings:


Ceramic, porcelain or natural stone tile is a classic choice for bathroom walls. Tile comes in a vast array of sizes, shapes, textures, colors and patterns. It’s durable, easy to clean, and water-resistant. However, tile can be more expensive than other options and generally requires professional installation.


Paint is an affordable and easy bathroom wall covering option. Latex paint formulations are available that resist moisture and withstand scrubbing. Paint allows you to add color and change things up easily down the road. However, condensation and moisture could eventually cause painted surfaces to peel or need frequent touch-ups.


Today’s wallpaper offers moisture-resistant vinyl-coated options perfect for bathrooms. Removable, peel-and-stick papers make it easy to install, remove and change up patterns. Wallpaper infuses color, texture and interest. However, seams and edges could lift or succumb to moisture over time.


Plastic laminate paneling adds stylish, moisture-proof protection. Panels made of PVC, acrylic or fiberglass install directly over existing surfaces. Wood veneer brings warmth.panels allow visual depth through mixed materials. But panel seams may be visible.

Natural Stone

Slate, limestone, granite and travertine slabs or tiles bring elegance and texture. These natural materials are durable and water-resistant. They can be pricey and usually need professional installation. Sealing is required to prevent staining.

This overview shows some key benefits and considerations for primary bathroom wall covering materials. Combining options can optimize visual appeal. Now let’s look at how to select the best materials for your bathroom’s particular needs.

Choosing Bathroom Wall Coverings for Function and Style

The secret to selecting the optimal bathroom wall coverings is finding the sweet spot between functional performance factors and aesthetic appeal. Follow this advice for making the best choice:

Consider Bathroom Size and Layout

The size and layout of your bathroom will influence the scale and proportions of wall coverings to enhance visual impact. For instance, smaller spaces benefit from light colors to create an airy feel. Larger layouts can handle bold, dark colors or statement wallpaper patterns. Vertical tiles or panels help walls appear taller in cramped baths. Horizontal add a sense of width in narrow rooms.

Evaluate Moisture and Condensation Levels

Frequent condensation on bathroom walls requires mold/mildew resistant materials like tile, glass, metal, vinyl or exterior grade paint. For excessive moisture issues, waterproof shower paneling or mold inhibiting paint are good options. Limit porous materials like wallpaper or natural fiber paneling.

Cleanability is Key

Bathroom walls need to stand up to frequent cleaning and scrubbing. Hard, non-porous surfaces like ceramic tile or plastic laminate panels clean up easily. Some latex paints offer washable, scrubbable finishes. Avoid wallpaper or absorbent materials that could stain, mold or peel with excessive moisture.

Accessibility and Ease of Installation

Simple DIY-friendly options like peel-and-stick wallpaper, laminate panels or acrylic sheets can upgrade walls without major installation work. Tile, stone or solid surface panels often require hiring professional installers. This affects project costs and timelines.

Cost Considerations

Bathroom wall budget impacts options. Ceramic or natural stone tile provides high-end durability and style but can have higher material and labor costs. Quality paint costs less but requires more frequent touch-ups. Assess costs to get the look you want at the right price point.

Visual Interest and Appeal

Mixing materials, patterns, colors and textures creates a custom, spa-like ambiance. Accent walls in bold colors or stylized materials contrast with neutral backdrops. Framed mirrors or shelving add flair. Don’t be afraid to infuse personality into your bathroom walls.

By weighing all these factors, you can zero in on the best wall materials for achieving the ideal functional performance and aesthetic vision for your bathroom space.

Popular Types of Tile for Bathroom Walls

Tile ranks among the top choices for bathroom walls. The range of options allows you to add beauty, durability and character. Follow this tile primer when planning your project:

Ceramic Tile

Made from clay and fired at high temperatures, ceramic tile stands up to moisture and heavy use. The broad range of sizes, shapes, colors, patterns and textures makes it easy to create any look. Smooth glazes improve cleanability. Costs range from inexpensive to premium based on product lines.

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tile is fired at higher temperatures than ceramic, making it even more impervious to water and resistant to cracking, chipping or scratching. It comes in matte, polished or textured finishes. Porcelain is suitable for shower surrounds and high traffic bath areas. Pricing overlaps with premium ceramic tile.

Glass Tile

Glass bathroom wall tile provides sleek, modern style through translucent, opaque or color-infused glass. Metal or stone accents add interest. Grout carefully to prevent cracking. Glass tile costs more than ceramic or porcelain but makes a vibrant design statement.

Stone Tile

Natural stone varieties like marble, travertine, slate and limestone bring elegance and texture as bathroom wall tile. Each stone has unique veining, markings and colors. Porous stones require sealing. Stone tile costs more than ceramic or porcelain but offers natural beauty.

Mosaic Tile

Mosaic sheets or mixes of small glass, ceramic, porcelain or stone tiles create artistic accent walls. Pennies, cracked ice and other mosaic layouts infuse personality. Combining different colors and patterns allows custom looks. Mosaics cost more than standard tile but act as artwork.

With this overview of popular bathroom wall tile types, you can select options aligned with your budget, style and needs. Don’t be afraid to mix different tiles for eye-catching designs.

Paint Color Trends for Bathroom Walls

Painting bathroom walls allows affordable style options. New innovations in bathroom paint formulations resist moisture, condensation, mold and mildew growth on surfaces. Paint colors can set the tone, from soothing to invigorating. Consider these fresh paint color trends for bathrooms:

Light and Neutral Tones

Off-whites, beiges and soft greys create a relaxing spa vibe. Benjamin Moore’s Pale Oak and Silver Satin are airy neutral options. Dark wood vanities pop against lighter walls. Add texture with sandy finishes like Valspar’s Steam or Foggy Day.

Green Hues

Greens inspire tranquility and balance. Try calming, natural shades like Valspar’s Elm Leaves, Thyme Garden or Rejuvenation. For a bolder look, test deeper greens such as Hale Navy or Backwoods. Include leafy art and accents.

Blue Shades

Cool blues cue a cleansing, watery feel. From pale sky blue to crisp navy, options like Harbor Haze, Coastal Fog or Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore set a soothing mood. Tropical prints and wood finishes complement blue tones.

Gray Scale

Grey gracefully anchors bathroom spaces. Benjamin Moore’s popular colors include Stonington Gray HC-170, Gray Owl OC-52 and London Fog 936. Go bold with near-black Caviar 2062-10 or soft with Coventry Gray HC-169.

Warm Tones

Browns, tans and terra-cotta hues warm up a bathroom’s ambiance. Consider soothing beiges like Sand Pebble 2134-60, spicy oranges such as Russet Orange 2093-30 or moody charcoal Grapple 2062-10 by Benjamin Moore.

Today’s bathroom paint hues let you set a relaxing, refreshing or romantic tone. Look to current trends for stylish ideas. Then pick tones aligned with your personal tastes for the perfect wall color.

Patterns and Prints to Enliven Bathroom Walls

In recent years, bold wallpaper prints and patterns have stormed back into bathrooms to showcase personality. Modern papers and techniques allow daring looks that withstand humidity and moisture. Here are top options:


Vintage Chinoiserie scenic papers with Asian motifs of pagodas, blooming trees and exotic birds or botanicals freshen walls. Neutral, tan or blue backgrounds keep the look light. Coordinate with bamboo, rattan or wood accents.

Black and White

Classic black and white schemed geometric, animal prints or graphic modern patterns make a splash. Try harlequin diamonds, bold ikat designs, or sleek retro palm leaf prints. Use sparingly on one wall or alcove.

Whimsical Prints

Trees, butterflies, hot air balloons or songbirds offer a playful, relaxed decorative touch. Look for colorful removable wallpapers or fabric that handles moisture. Frame pretty prints with neutral walls.

Moroccan Tiles

Tile-effect wallpaper lends exotic Moroccan flair. Choose blue and white tiles reminiscent of Mediterranean mosaics or Bordeaux-hued tiles with intricate Moorish-inspired patterns for drama.

Natural Motifs

Organic motifs like jungle leaves, ferns, palm trees, orchids or cacti breathe life into bathroom walls. Try removable leaf print or faux grasscloth papers. Botanical themed art ties the look together.

With limitless print and pattern possibilities, you can show off your unique personal style. Dare to go bold with contrasting colors, scales and shapes for an eclectic designer look in your bathroom space.

Modern Paneling Options for Bathroom Walls

Paneling provides a sleek alternative to tile or wallpaper. Easy-to-install panels made of waterproof PVC, acrylic, treated wood or composite materials upgrade walls with texture and depth. Here are top options:

3D and 4D Plastic Wall Panels

Three-dimensional molded plastic or PVC panels made of moisture-proof polymer resins install over existing walls for instant transformation. Various sculptured and geometric shapes infuse contemporary interest.

Wood Plank Panels

Real wood veneer or engineered wood panels with laminate finishes impart warmth. Use wide planks for a modern loft-like aesthetic. Opt for removable, hook-on panels for easier install compared to nailed up planks.

Waterproof MDF Panels

Moisture-resistant medium density fiberboard (MDF) panels come pre-primed and ready to paint in the color of your choice. Shaker, tongue and groove or other traditional styles offer cottage character.

Fiberglass Wall Panels

Fiberglass bathroom wall panels are waterproof and easy to clean. Modern abstract 3D texture options or simulated stone finishes inject style. Panels install with silicone adhesive.

Acrylic Wall Panels

Glossy acrylic adds contemporary edge. Acrylic is water and condensation resistant and installs over existing walls with adhesive. Illuminated acrylic injects color and transforms small bathrooms.

Modern wall paneling provides attractive alternatives to standard tile or wallpaper. Choose options suited to your style, from rustic wood looks to futuristic 3D designs.

How to Make a Small Bathroom Appear Larger

Limited space in a bathroom can make it feel cramped and closed in. The right wall treatments can manipulate dimensions for an airier, roomier effect. Here are clever tips:

  • Use light, neutral colors on walls to maximize brightness. Soft beiges, whites and pale blues make bathrooms feel open. Avoid dark paint hues.
  • Add horizontal elements like wainscoting, chair rails or border details to draw the eye outwards. Vertical stripes or busy patterns closed-in walls.
  • Install large reflective surfaces such as frameless mirrors to double visual space. Mirrored walls also expand dimensions.
  • Range small glass mosaic or penny round tiles in concentric rectangular formations rather than sheets to expand walls.
  • Paint ceilings a lighter shade than walls for an expanded look upwards. Add recessed can lights for added height.
  • Keep walls devoid of clutter. Limit wall-mounted storage. Floating shelves and recessed niches provide discreet storage.

With clever design tricks, you can counteract a bathroom’s small footprint for a more comfortable and inviting space, no matter the actual square footage.

FAQs About Bathroom Wall Coverings

What are some low maintenance bathroom wall covering options?

Easy-care options include tile, glass, plastic laminates, acrylic or PVC panels and moisture-resistant latex paints with scrubbable finishes. Avoid uncoated wallpaper or natural fiber materials.

Which wall materials best resist mold and mildew?

Tile, metal, glass, vinyl and fiberglass panels, exterior paints and mold-resistant drywall or grout formulations best combat humidity and moisture which cause mold growth in bathrooms.

How do I install peel-and-stick wallpaper or tile?

Ensure surfaces are cleaned, dried and properly prepped and primed first. Measure carefully and map out your layout. Remove backing and press firmly starting at the top while smoothing out bubbles and wrinkles. Use a plastic smoother to secure edges.

What paint finish is best for bathroom walls?

Flat or matte finishes allow maximum moisture resistance for bathrooms. Eggshell provides a bit of sheen but still withstands scrubbing. Semi-gloss and glossy finishes are hard to keep clean and highlight imperfections.

Should I seal bathroom walls before painting or installing wallpaper?

Yes. New drywall or existing painted walls should be primed and properly sealed to prevent moisture penetration or leaching that could later ruin finishes.

Envisioning Your Perfect Bathroom Walls

The importance of bathroom wall coverings often gets overlooked. But surfaces make a major impact on both aesthetics and functionality. By selecting the right materials for your space, needs and style, you can create a personalized sanctuary.

Define priorities like budget, ease of maintenance and décor goals. Look beyond mundane materials for possibilities like textured plasters, digitally printed papers, 3D panels or recycled glass tiles. Bathroom walls offer a chance to showcase your unique vision.

With this comprehensive guide’s insights and advice, you can confidently tackle bathroom walls with savvy design sense. Envision the textures, colors, patterns and materials that will make your perfect bathroom statement. Then turn your vision into a stylish, welcoming reality.