Wallpaper can totally transform the look and feel of a room, adding color, pattern and visual interest to walls. With advances in materials and technology, wallpapers are no longer just for formal living rooms – they can work beautifully in bathrooms too. But there are some important factors to consider before installing wallpaper in a humid bathroom environment. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about using wallpaper in a bathroom.

What to Consider Before Using Wallpaper in a Bathroom

Installing wallpaper in a bathroom requires some special planning and preparation. Here are the key things to think about:

Humidity and Moisture

Excess moisture is the enemy of wallpaper. The humidity and steam from showers and baths can cause wallpaper adhesive to fail and seams to separate. Condensation on cold surfaces can also bubble or peel wallpaper edges.

Choosing a high quality, moisture-resistant wallpaper is crucial for bathrooms. Look for vinyl-coated options or those specially designed for high humidity. Avoid paper-based wallpapers, which absorb moisture and encourage mold growth.

Proper ventilation is also key. Run bathroom exhaust fans, keep a window open during showers, and consider a dehumidifier to manage excess moisture in the air.

Mold and Mildew Prevention

The warm, damp conditions in bathrooms make them prone to mold growth. Make sure your bathroom is properly sealed and insulated before installing wallpaper. Look for any water leaks or damage that could lead to mildew issues under the wallpaper surface.

Use mold-inhibiting primer and adhesives for added protection. After installation, keep the space well-ventilated and wipe down surfaces frequently to prevent moisture buildup.

Cleanability and Durability

Bathrooms need to withstand frequent cleaning, splashes and the occasional bump or scrape. Look for wallpapers with durable vinyl or acrylic coatings that can be easily wiped down. Avoid delicate papers prone to tearing.

Washable wallpaper is ideal for withstanding frequent cleaning. Vinyl-coated options also tend to be more stain-resistant.

Seams and Edges

Moisture infiltration through seams is a common wallpaper failure point in bathrooms. Use a high quality adhesive meant for wet areas and take extra care when smoothing seams to prevent lifting or bubbling.

Coat all paper edges with a waterproof sealant designed for wallpaper. Use silicone caulk around trim, corners, outlets and other potential moisture entry points.


Although you want your bathroom wallpaper to have good adhesion, you also want to be able to remove it easily for cleaning or replacement. Look for peelable and strippable wallpaper options that are designed to come off the wall without leaving a mess or residue behind.

Choosing the Right Wallpaper for a Bathroom

With the right design and materials, wallpaper can work in even the steamiest bathroom. Here are the best options to consider:

Vinyl Wallpaper

Plasticized vinyl wallpapers are naturally water-repellent and one of the most moisture-resistant options for bathrooms. Solid vinyl wallpapers form a barrier against humidity. Many feature acrylic finishes that allow for easy wiping and cleaning.

From tropical foliage prints, to metallic finishes, faux brick and more – vinyl wallpaper comes in all sorts of stylish designs perfect for bathrooms.

Pre-Pasted Wallpaper

Pre-pasted wallpapers have an activating adhesive already applied to the back. This makes installation much easier, with no messy glue liquid needed. Look for pre-pasted papers specially designed for high humidity areas.

Many are permeable, allowing moisture vapor to pass through, reducing bubbling and peeling. The activator chemical also prevents mold and mildew growth.

Washable Wallpaper

As the name suggests, washable wallpaper stands up to frequent cleaning and scrubbing. Made from durable vinyl-coated materials, stubborn dirt, soap scum and other grime can be washed off with mild soap and water.

From kids’ bathrooms to laundry rooms, washable wallpaper is a practical pick for high traffic areas that need regular upkeep.

Peel and Stick Wallpaper

Removable peel-and-stick wallpaper offers a temporary solution perfect for renters. This self-adhesive wallpaper uses a water-activated glue that peels off easily, leaving walls intact. Use it to transform a bathroom without commitment.

Look for mold-resistant options suited for humidity, and coat all edges with silicone caulk for waterproofing. Change it up whenever needed.

Textured and Faux Wallpapers

Visual texture adds depth and dimension to walls. Textured vinyl wallpaper resembles stone, brick, wood paneling and more. These materials naturally suit bathrooms, with grout lines that camouflage moisture damage and mold growth.

3D foam wall tiles can have a similar effect, and are ultra-water resistant. Faux finishes like metallics also combat moisture with their non-porous surfaces.

Wallpaper Ideas for Bathrooms

Beyond picking the right materials, choosing a style you love is key to creating a stunning bathroom with wallpaper. Here are some gorgeous and practical wallpaper ideas for bathrooms:

Tropical Wallpaper

Nothing perks up a bathroom like lush tropical wallpaper. Palm leaves, ferns, banana leaves, bamboo and other tropical motifs add spa-like tranquility and coordinate beautifully with woodsy bath decor. Bright colors and fun patterns make even the smallest powder room feel expansive.

Geometric and Graphic Prints

From retro zig-zags to abstract polygons, geometric wallpaper packs visual impact into any bathroom. Graphic black and white prints feel fresh and modern, while metallic geomteric designs add glamour. Pair with glossy tiles and chrome fixtures for contemporary style.

Toile and Chinoiserie

Timeless toile de jouy and chinoiserie wallpaper designs have graced bathrooms for centuries, and feel right at home in traditional spaces. Complex scenic vistas, floral motifs and scrolling vines suit ornate vintage bathrooms. Stick to muted color palettes for these busy prints.

Textured Subway Tile

Subway tile is a classic look for bathrooms. But instead of the tedious process of tiling, use wallpaper! Self-adhesive tile wallpapers create the look at a fraction of the time and cost. Opt for white gloss tiles for a bright clean vibe, or experiment with fun colors.

Marble and Stone

Marble wallpaper elegantly mimics the beauty of natural stone at a more affordable price point. It adds richness and polish to bathrooms from glamorous metallics, to classic carrara looks, with more grip than real marble. Pair with gold fixtures for chic hotel style.

Damask Wallpaper Prints

The lavish patterning of damask goes back centuries and brings ornate sophistication to bathroom walls . Metallic foil finishes reflect light beautifully in bathrooms, while dark damask wallpaper contrasts crisply with white tile and tub surrounds.

Murals and Scenic Wallpapers

Don’t be afraid to cover bathroom walls in artwork! Serene landscape murals transform utilitarian spaces into spa-like retreats. Underwater seascapes, forest scenery and abstract designs distract from clinical bathroom features. Just be sure wallpaper coats are scrubbable.

Preparing Walls and Surfaces for Wallpaper

To ensure wallpaper bonds properly and withstands bathroom humidity, take time to prep surfaces:

  • Inspect and repair walls – Fix any moisture issues, leaks, cracks or damage first. Walls should be structurally sound.
  • Clean surfaces – Remove all grease, soap residue, dust and grime so wallpaper adhesive sticks. Wash with TSP substitute and rinse walls.
  • Sand glossy paint – De-gloss bathroom walls so the adhesive bonds. Use 150 grit sandpaper on semigloss surfaces.
  • Prime walls – After cleaning, apply a mold-resistant wallpaper primer to freshly painted drywall. This improves adhesion.
  • Set aside plumbing fixtures – Unscrew towel bars, toilet paper holders etc. to keep wall access clear for installation.

How to Install Wallpaper in a Bathroom Step-By-Step

Once prepped, begin bathroom wallpaper installation. Here are the key steps to follow:

Step 1: Plan Your Wallpaper Layout

  • Measure room dimensions and wallpaper width to calculate how many panels you need. Allow for pattern repeats and matching.
  • Draw a layout map indicating accent walls and starting points. Many begin installation next to the vanity.

Step 2: Prepare Wallpaper

  • Unroll each panel and inspect for damage. Number panels in order.
  • Use a seam roller on wallpaper edges to flatten. This helps prevent moisture seepage.
  • If using pre-pasted wallpaper, follow activator solution directions. For traditional papers, apply adhesive to back.

Step 3: Install Wallpaper Panels

  • Hang wallpaper in order from your layout using a smoothing brush. Eliminate bubbles and creases.
  • Use a sharp razor knife to trim excess paper along ceiling, baseboards and corners.
  • Overlap edges and cut through both sheets to form perfect seams without gaps. Wipe away excess adhesive.
  • Around outlets and switches, make X-shaped cuts so wallpaper can fold back neatly once turned on.

Step 4: Seal Edges and Seams

  • Go over all finished seams with seam adhesive. Roll wallpaper edges flat with a seam roller.
  • Use silicone caulk to seal wallpaper edges around trim, ceiling and high moisture areas like tubs.

Let dry fully before exposing to moisture. Follow any final coating instructions.

Maintaining Bathroom Wallpaper

Proper maintenance keeps bathroom wallpaper looking fresh. Here are some tips:

  • Prevent moisture buildup by running bath fans, opening windows, and controlling humidity.
  • Gently wash vinyl, acrylic and other washable wallpapers with mild soap and water using a soft sponge. Avoid abrasives.
  • Wipe down surfaces frequently using a squeegee to keep soapy water mineral deposits from accumulating.
  • Re-caulk edges and seams periodically if you notice bubbling or curling that could admit moisture.
  • Avoid cleaning products containing bleach, alkalis or solvents that could damage wallpaper coatings.
  • Touch up nicks and scratches carefully with acrylic caulk to prevent moisture intrusion through small openings.

Frequently Asked Questions About Using Wallpaper in Bathrooms

Can you use regular wallpaper in a bathroom?

Regular paper wallpaper is not well-suited for the high humidity in bathrooms. It can mold, peel and seams can separate as it absorbs ambient moisture. Opt for specialty vinyl, acrylic and other wallpapers designed specifically for wet areas.

What kind of wallpaper is waterproof?

Vinyl, acrylic, polyester and fabric-backed wallpapers tend to be the most waterproof options. Their non-porous surfaces resist moisture absorption and penetration through seams. Look for vinyl options marketed as “scrubbable” and “peelable”.

Should I use glue or paste for bathroom wallpaper?

Most wallpaper adhesives work fine in bathrooms. Opt for one specially formulated for high moisture areas. Both paste and premixed adhesives require careful application to prevent lifting and bubbling later on. Read directions carefully.

How do you cut wallpaper seams in corners?

For inside corners, overlap wallpaper edges slightly and use a craft knife to cut through both layers right along the corner edge for a perfect seam. For outside corners, cut each side just short of meeting and use caulk to seal the small gap.

Does wallpaper make a small bathroom look smaller?

Not if you pick the right scale and design! Busy prints and large patterns can overwhelm a tiny bathroom. But thoughtful use of wallpaper on one accent wall, with proper scale and proportion, makes even the smallest powder room look pulled together.

Can you wallpaper over wall tiles?

Prepping tiles for wallpapering takes work, but can be done. The grouted areas need to be filled flush so they don’t show under the paper. Glossy tile may need etching or sanding so adhesives stick. Use a heavy-duty primer before applying bathroom wallpaper.


Although bathrooms present some special challenges, with the right water-resistant wallpaper and proper installation, they can handle high humidity with style. Focus on keeping moisture under control, sealing seams carefully, and maintaining the finish. Paired with tub surrounds, floors and fixtures in a coordinated color scheme, wallpaper gives bathrooms a polished, finished look. Just take precautions against moisture damage and be diligent about maintenance. With so many durable, scrubbable options now available, let your personality shine and enjoy wallpaper’s transformative power in your bathroom!