Beadboard paneling can transform the look of your bathroom, adding elegance and a classic feel. Often seen in vintage and cottage style bathrooms, beadboard offers texture and visual interest to plain walls. With thoughtful design, beadboard can work in contemporary spaces too. Read on to learn all about beadboard bathroom options to find the perfect look for your home.

What is Beadboard?

Beadboard refers to wall paneling constructed from individual tongue-and-groove boards with a distinctive shape. The name comes from the series of small, bead-like ridges that run across each board. Traditional beadboard has a V-shaped groove between each bead.

Beadboard paneling dates back to the Victorian era, when it provided a decorative yet budget-friendly way to cover interior walls. While early beadboard was made from solid wood, most modern versions consist of less expensive plywood or MDF with a faux wood veneer finish.

Benefits of Using Beadboard in Bathrooms

There are several reasons beadboard remains a popular choice for bathrooms today:

  • Visual interest – The bead detailing adds texture and dimension to plain drywall. It creates attractive light-dark shadow lines across the walls.
  • Moisture-resistant – The dense compressed boards and sealed finish repel water. Beadboard endures splashes well and helps protect walls in humid areas.
  • Classic style – Beadboard evokes vintage appeal, feeling gracious and timeless. It suits traditional, cottage, farmhouse and shabby chic decors.
  • Affordable – Prefinished boards keep costs low. Beadboard offers style impact without a high price tag.
  • Easy installation – Many beadboard products today feature clip systems allowing DIY-friendly tongue-and-groove installation with no nailing required.

With the right design choices, you can enjoy these beadboard benefits while creating a bathroom that feels fresh and current.

Beadboard Bathroom Design Considerations

Here are some key things to think about when planning a beadboard bathroom:

Choosing a Finish

  • Painted – Primed boards allow you to finish with any paint color for a custom look. A crisp bright white creates a light and airy spa-like feel. Soft hues like gray-blue or sage green lend a soothing vibe.
  • Stained – Stained beadboard has an authentic wood appearance. Opt for a translucent white wash stain or darker walnut tone depending on the look you want.
  • Pre-finished – Plywood boards with a factory-applied stain or paint coat save installation time. Consider a distressed white for vintage flair.

Blending Old and New Elements

The key to giving beadboard a current look is to blend it thoughtfully with sleek modern finishes:

  • Pair with stone or porcelain tile floors and countertops in muted earth tones or cool grays.
  • Choose metal finishes like nickel or brushed brass for fixtures and hardware for an updated look.
  • Use beadboard just on the lower half of bathroom walls, grounded by crisp white upper walls.

Lighting Strategies

Since beadboard can make a space feel darker, sufficient lighting is key:

  • Add a ceiling fixture for overall ambient lighting on top of task lighting.
  • Use reflective finishes like polished nickel or glossy white paint to bounce light around.
  • Incorporate accent lighting such as sconces or LED strips to highlight the beadboard details.

Beadboard Bathroom Design Inspiration

Here are some gorgeous ways to incorporate beadboard into bathroom spaces:

All-Over Beadboard Walls

Covering all four bathroom walls in beadboard makes a bold traditional statement. Keep the look feeling current with:

  • Crisp white paint color for bright and airy ambiance
  • Slim metal mirrors and light fixtures for contrast
  • Natural stone tile on floors and shower walls
  • White millwork trims like wainscoting panels

Beadboard Wainscoting

Applying beadboard just on the lower half of walls (chair rail height or higher) creates a built-in wainscoting look. Continue above with:

  • Flat panel painted wood
  • Wallpaper with vertical stripes or tailored patterns
  • Painted drywall in a coordinating semi-gloss hue
  • Mirrored panels to reflect light and add spatial depth

Finish with crown molding at the top to define the two zones.

Beadboard Backsplashes

Use beadboard panelling as a charming backsplash alternative behind sinks or bathtubs. Complement with:

  • White cabinetry and vanities to let the beadboard pop
  • Natural stone countertops like marble or travertine
  • Neutral earth tone tile floors

Focus the beadboard on the backsplash area itself so it doesn’t compete with other finishes.

Beadboard Shower Surrounds

Water-resistant beadboard is ideal to finish shower surrounds. Create visual interest by:

  • Alternating vertical and horizontal beadboard orientations
  • Combining painted and stained wood finishes for contrast
  • Incorporating glass shower doors to show off the texture
  • Using beadboard only on the bottom half of shower walls

Beadboard Bathroom Ideas by Style

Beadboard can work with a variety of design aesthetics. Consider these style-specific ideas:

Traditional Bathroom

For a graceful and timeless bathroom:

  • All-over application of white or softly painted beadboard
  • Ornate detailing like raised panel wainscoting and crown molding
  • Elegant trim accents like chair rail and decorative corbels
  • Vintage-inspired fixtures like a clawfoot tub and chandelier lighting

Farmhouse Bathroom

Rustic charm comes from:

  • Weathered, smoked or whitewashed stain finishes on the beadboard
  • Accent walls with horizontal tongue-and-groove planks
  • Vintage-style hardware and metal finishes like black iron
  • Farmhouse sink and exposed wood shelving

Cottage Bathroom

For whimsical cottage flair:

  • Softer hues like sky blue, sage green or primrose yellow paint
  • Contrasting white beadboard wainscoting and upper walls
  • Natural textures like woven baskets, linen curtains, and wood shelving
  • Floral or gingham prints used sparingly on shower curtains or rugs

Contemporary Bathroom

Keep beadboard crisp and modern with:

  • Super sleek lines – no ornate trimwork
  • Hidden hardware for a seamless look
  • Deep, dark wood stain or matte black paint colors
  • Bold contrast against stone tile or concrete
  • Industrial metallic accents and matte black plumbing fixtures

Installing Beadboard in a Bathroom

Once you’ve selected the perfect beadboard look, here’s an overview of the installation process:


  • Beadboard panels, primed or prefinished
  • Adhesive and/or nail gun/nails
    -Optional: plywood, furring strips, trim molding


  1. Prepare the surface – Remove existing wall coverings, repair imperfections, sand, then prime.
  2. Install furring strips – Secure wood strips horizontally to provide a flush surface for beadboard.
  3. Apply adhesive – Cover the backside of boards with adhesive. Follow product instructions.
  4. Attach boards – Press boards into place starting at one end. Use finish nails for extra strength.
  5. Seal seams – Seal gaps between boards with caulk to prevent moisture issues.
  6. Install trim – Finish with desired baseboards, wainscoting, crown molding.
  7. Caulk & fill holes – Conceal nail heads with putty. Caulk all trim seams.
  8. Prime & paint – Apply primer then paint/stain for desired finish. Add two coats for best coverage.

With the right prep work and materials, beadboard can be installed by an experienced DIYer as a weekend project. Professional installation is recommended for more complex designs.

Beadboard Bathroom Maintenance Tips

While beadboard stands up well to moisture, regular maintenance is key:

  • Routinely apply new water-resistant sealant to the finish.
  • Immediately wipe up spills to avoid stains and damage.
  • Clean using a mild soap and soft sponge or cloth. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
  • Consider re-staining or re-painting beadboard every 2-3 years to refresh the color.

With proper installation and care, you can enjoy timeless beadboard style in your bathroom for decades to come.

FAQ About Beadboard Bathroom Design

Still have some questions about working beadboard into your bathroom design? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Is beadboard suitable for bathrooms?

Yes, beadboard is a great choice for bathrooms. Traditional wood boards are quite moisture-resistant. Modern beadboard paneling is designed specifically for high-humidity areas. Use proper installation and sealing methods for best results.

What’s the best beadboard to use in a bathroom?

Look for panels made from moisture-resistant MDF or plywood, with a waterproof finish. PVC beadboard is also ideal for wet areas, but achieves a more modern look. Victorian-style solid wood boards require more maintenance.

How do you cut and install beadboard paneling?

Use a circular saw with a fine-toothed blade, guide track, or a table saw to cut boards. Follow manufacturer instructions for recommended adhesives, nails, and joints for easy tongue-and-groove installation. Seal all seams with caulk.

Should you paint or stain bathroom beadboard?

Either painted or stained finishes work well. Painted beadboard needs periodic touch-ups over time. Stained wood finishes also require maintenance but avoid visible paint chips as they wear. Consider moisture and your style preferences when deciding.

How do you clean beadboard in a bathroom?

Use a soft sponge or cloth with mild soap and warm water. Avoid abrasive cleaners or scrubbing to prevent damaging the finish. Immediately dry spills and splashes to prevent stains and warping. Reseal annually.

Can you install beadboard over existing bathroom tile?

It is possible but not ideal. Removing old tile entirely provides the most seamless finished look. If tiling over, use plastic spacers to create a flat surface and thinset adhesive to bond panels. The grout lines will still show through.

How much does it cost to install beadboard in a bathroom?

Beadboard paneling ranges from $5-$20 per square foot. Total costs depend on size of the space, prep work needed, chosen materials, and DIY vs. pro installation. Smaller applications like a backsplash start under $500. Large rooms with custom details could be $5,000 and up.

Does beadboard make a bathroom feel smaller?

It can visually shrink the space somewhat. To keep the room feeling open, use beadboard sparingly on one accent wall or half-wall wainscoting. Paint in light airy hues. Add large mirrors or reflective surfaces. Use minimal ornate trim.

Achieving the Perfect Beadboard Bathroom

Beadboard paneling brings timeless character and texture to bathroom walls. With careful attention to material, finish, lighting, and stylistic details, you can enjoy an elegant beadboard bathroom design that feels fresh. Pay mind to blending old and new elements seamlessly. Proper installation and maintenance will keep your beadboard looking beautiful for years.


With its distinctive aesthetic appeal and practical moisture-resistance, beadboard remains a sought-after wall covering for today’s bathrooms. Whether you prefer an authentic wood look or sleek modern paneling, beadboard offers affordable ways to add vintage charm or a spa-like warmth. Keep the overall style feeling current by blending with elegant fixtures, natural stone materials, and proper lighting. With creative vision and the right design choices, beadboard can transform any bathroom into a personalized relaxing oasis.