Installing wallpaper can transform the look of a bathroom by adding color, texture, and visual interest to the walls. With some preparation and care, you can successfully hang wallpaper in a bathroom for a stylish backdrop. Here is a step-by-step guide to installing wallpaper in a bathroom.

Choose the Right Wallpaper for a Bathroom

When selecting a wallpaper for a bathroom, consider the following:

  • Moisture-resistant – Choose a vinyl or paper wallpaper specifically designed for high-humidity spaces like bathrooms. Look for labels indicating it’s scrubbable, strippable, or pealable.
  • Washable – Vinyl wallpapers clean easily with just soap and water. Paper wallpapers labeled scrubbable or strippable also resist moisture.
  • Mold/mildew resistant – Vinyl wallpapers and some specialized paper wallpapers have agents to inhibit mold and mildew growth.
  • Adhesive – Use a permanent, moisture-resistant adhesive made specifically for wallpaper projects.
  • Simple patterns – Busy or complex patterns show seams and flaws more. Simple textures or solid colors hide imperfections.
  • Dark colors – Deep hues like navy or plum hide moisture issues and are dramatic. Light colors show flaws and water damage.

Prep the Bathroom

Proper prep is key to successful wallpaper installation in a bathroom:

  • Clean – Clean the walls thoroughly with a degreaser to remove dirt, soap residue, and oils. Rinse and let dry completely.
  • Fill cracks and holes – Use spackle to fill any small cracks or holes in the walls for a smooth surface. Allow to dry completely.
  • Prime – Prime walls with a stain-blocking primer to prevent stains bleeding through the wallpaper.
  • Remove fixtures – Take down the medicine cabinet, towel bars, and toilet paper holder. Fill any holes and re-prime these areas.
  • Plan your layout – Map where seams will fall and decide the order of installation. Avoid seams on focal walls.

Tools Needed

Gather these supplies before starting your project:

  • Wallpaper
  • Wallpaper adhesive
  • Primer
  • Paint roller and tray
  • Smoothing brush or plastic smoother
  • Sharp razor knife
  • Straightedge
  • Sponge and clean cloths
  • Spackle
  • Drop cloths
  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Scissors
  • Wallpaper tray

Install the Wallpaper

Follow these key tips for properly hanging wallpaper:

1. Apply Adhesive

  • Use a paint roller to apply an even coat of adhesive to the back of the wallpaper. Don’t apply too far in advance or the paste will dry.

2. Book the Paper

  • After pasting the back, “book” or fold the paper inward to allow time for the adhesive to soak in before hanging. This prevents bubbling.

3. Position the Wallpaper

  • Hang the first sheet according to your layout plan. Unfold the booked paper and carefully smooth onto the wall with a brush, removing bubbles.

4. Eliminate Air Pockets

  • Work from top to bottom, smoothing firmly to remove any air pockets between the paper and the wall. Use a smoothing brush for best results.

5. Trim Excess Paper

  • Once smoothed, use a sharp razor knife and straightedge to neatly trim away excess paper along ceiling, baseboards, and corners.

6. Seal Edges

  • Use wallpaper seam adhesive to seal edges along seams, corners, and trim. This prevents moisture from getting under seams.

7. Clean Up Adhesive

  • As you work, immediately wipe away any adhesive on the wallpaper surface with a clean damp sponge to prevent staining or glue residue.

Tips for Wallpapering a Bathroom

Follow these tips for the best results installing wallpaper in a humid bathroom:

  • Hang wallpaper vertically to minimize the number of seams across the top.
  • Avoid hanging paper directly behind or around the toilet area. The paper will degrade rapidly.
  • Take your time smoothing the paper and eliminating bubbles, which can reappear with humidity.
  • Overlap seams very slightly, never butting edges together. Use a specialized bath/shower caulk along seams.
  • Consider hiring a professional installer if you’ve never hung wallpaper before. Mistakes are costly.

Maintaining Bathroom Wallpaper

Once installed, properly care for wallpaper in a bathroom:

  • Wait 1-2 weeks before cleaning to allow adhesive to fully cure. Gently wash with mild soap and water.
  • Avoid abrasive cleaners, scrubbing pads, or high-pressure sprays which can damage the wallpaper.
  • Immediately wipe up spills, splashes, and condensation to prevent moisture damage.
  • Run an exhaust fan during and after showering to reduce humidity buildup.
  • Recaulk as needed around seams, fixtures, and trim to prevent moisture penetration.

With the right wallpaper and proper installation, your bathroom can have a stylish, water-resistant wall covering that will last for years of enjoyment. Take time to prep, hang carefully, and maintain it well. The transformative effect wallpaper can have on a bathroom is well worth the effort.

Frequently Asked Questions About Installing Wallpaper in a Bathroom

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

Vinyl wallpaper is best for bathrooms because it resists moisture, mildew, and mold. Top options are paper wallpapers labeled “scrubbable” or “peelable”. Avoid regular paper wallpaper.

Should I use wallpaper primer before hanging bathroom wallpaper?

Yes, priming helps wallpaper adhere better in a bathroom. Use an interior wall primer or a primer formulated for wallpaper projects. Allow it to fully dry before hanging paper.

How do I prep painted walls for wallpaper in a bathroom?

Clean thoroughly with a degreaser, fill any cracks/holes with spackle, sand smooth, then apply primer. This helps wallpaper stick and prevents stains from bleeding through.

What’s the best adhesive to hang wallpaper in a humid bathroom?

Use an adhesive specifically made for wallpaper that offers mold/mildew resistance and is rated for use in bathrooms or high-humidity areas. Follow instructions carefully.

Should wallpaper seams be vertical or horizontal in a bathroom?

Vertical seams are best to limit seams across the ceiling which may bubble. Butt seams without overlaps on humid bathroom walls. Avoid seams behind sinks or toilets.

How do I fix curling wallpaper seams in my bathroom?

Curling seams are likely caused by moisture penetrating under the paper. Reseal opened seams with bath/shower caulk. Improve ventilation to reduce humidity levels.

How often should I replace bathroom wallpaper?

With quality vinyl wallpaper that resists moisture, plan to replace it every 3-5 years in a bathroom. Regular paper wallpaper may need replacing more often depending on humidity levels.


Installing wallpaper in a bathroom brings color, texture, and visual appeal to the space. With some diligent prep work, the right wallpaper for humidity resistance, careful installation, and proper maintenance, you can achieve long-lasting results. Pay attention to proper sealing methods and maintain good ventilation. Take the time to properly install quality bathroom wallpaper, and this project can significantly enhance the look of your space.