Your ultimate guide to bathroom wallpaper

January 20, 2021

Everything you need to know on the practicalities of bathroom wallpaper from the experts…

Little Greene Achillea in Aurora, £209 per roll from wallpaperdirect (2).jpg

Image: Wallpaper Direct

Giving your bathroom a freshen up brings a real lift to your home, but don’t worry if you’re not up to an entire refit at this time of year – you can make a real difference by using a chic and stylish wallpaper instead.

Bathrooms can sometimes feel dark and uninspiring, particularly if they’re small in size, and wallpaper can brighten up and really transform the room.

We spoke to the experts to answer your burning questions about bathroom wallpaper, and also found some amazing options to try…

Which type of wallpaper is best to use in a bathroom?

Nadia McCowan-Hill, Resident Style Advisor at Wayfair believes making the most of your bathroom means choosing a wallpaper that is suited to high moisture spaces. ‘Choosing a suitable wallpaper means looking for the ‘highly wash-resistant’ or ‘extra washable’ label.’

Nadia also suggests vinyl or vinyl-coated bathroom wallpapers. ‘These can work well as they’re spongeable and come in a broad selection of on-trend styles. If you do decide to opt for a standard wallpaper option, be sure to protect it with a matte decorator’s varnish to give it some extra resilience.’

But can we ever use ‘normal’ wallpaper? While if you can find it, it’s best to stick with the above options you can make it work if you’ve fallen in love with a roll that isn’t highly wash resistant. Melanie Adams, head of Wallpaper Direct explains.

‘Providing a high-quality ready mixed tub paste is being used, and the room is well ventilated, and the wallpaper doesn’t come into direct contact with water it will be fine. However, keep in mind that intense steam and a poorly ventilated space can make the adhesives break down which will impact the performance of the wallpaper.’

We recommend sticking to suitable bathroom wallpaper, or in well-ventilated bathrooms keeping the wallpaper limited to one wall that is unlikely to get wet.

Drummonds Fox Bathroom Wallpaper

Image: Drummonds

How long does bathroom wallpaper take to dry?

While all wallpaper needs a certain amount of time to dry, Melanie recommends keeping a bathroom well ventilated with a window and door open to enable it to dry efficiently.

But what about protecting it from damp in the bathroom once it’s up? Nadia chips in here. ‘While waterproof wallpapers and vinyl coated ones won’t need extra protection from damp, it’s worth sealing normal wallpapers with a protection fluid or acrylic varnish to ensure it stays in good condition for as long a period as possible.

‘If you are able, once the wallpaper has been put up you should keep it protected by avoiding keeping doors and windows shut for a lengthy period, particularly when creating steam or running water.’

READ MORE: 8 ideas for making your bathroom a cosy haven

Is there a technique to wallpapering around bathroom fixtures?

If you’re giving you bathroom a quick facelift and not replacing the fixtures, you may be concerned about wallpapering around them. However, there is a way to wallpaper around plenty of bathroom fittings.

‘Getting round bathroom fixtures with wallpaper is the same technique that you would use to cut around any obstacle while wallpapering. While in other rooms you may encounter a door, window frame, or even a plug socket, in a bathroom it’s more likely to be a sink or toilet seat.’ Melanie explains.

‘Take a look at our DIY video to find an easy method of cutting around objects while wallpapering, it’s easier than you think!’

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~ Karen Walker, Editor, Good Homes

CP Hart Bathroom Wallpaper

Image: CP Hart

Is it possible to wallpaper the ceiling in the bathroom?

While many of us would first think to wallpaper the walls of a room, choosing to do so on the ceiling can have a glamorous impact and look fabulous while you’re gazing up during a soak in the bath. Much like wallpapering the bathroom walls though, it’s important you have the right kind of materials before you start.

‘If you require a flat finish to your bathroom ceiling, try using a heavy lining paper or Wallrock, as this provides a damp barrier against penetrating damp. It is really tough and durable and also helps to reduce heat loss,’ explains Melanie.

‘However, if you’d prefer some texture in your finish, we’d recommend Anaglypta, but make sure a strong, ready mixed tub paste is being used during the wallpaper process to ensure it pastes correctly and stays in position during the first few hours of setting.’

Is wallpapering a bathroom better than painting the room?

While painting is often seen as the easier option, wallpaper has plenty of perks, too.

Nadia agrees: ‘Wallpapers offer a wealth of stylish options that will help you to create instant impact ­­– from lush leafy prints to on-trend heritage florals, there’s a wealth of inspiration to choose from, and you just don’t have the same options with paint.

‘As an added bonus with wallpaper, it’s also really easy to change the look and hang another wallpaper if you want to try a totally different style in the future.’

Flamingo Pink Wallpaper

Image: I Love Wallpaper

Order blush pink flamingo wallpaper, £14 per roll, from I Love Wallpaper

Is it possible to paint over wallpaper in the bathroom?

‘Painting over wallpaper depends on which type of wallpaper you used to begin with,’ explains Melanie. ‘You can paint over most wallpapers but not if you used a vinyl finish, but you can easily find out when you’re purchasing the wallpaper.’ This means you can leave your options open if you’re not 100% sure you’re committed to wallpaper over paint.

What kind of wallpaper will make a bathroom feel warmer?

Bathrooms can often feel cold, dark and dingy, so we’re all about wallpapers that will warm up the room and leave it feeling brighter and happier. Nadia has some great recommendations.

‘Earthy tones are ideal for creating a warm atmosphere in bathroom wallpaper. If you’re looking to make more of a splash, a lot of people are going for one accent wall in dark red or a busier print, like leafy jungle to give you an instant vacation vibe!’ Definitely something we’d consider after a year with no holidays!

Image: Wayfair

Order Alfresco Palm Leaf wallpaper, £14.99 per roll, Wayfair

How do you remove bathroom wallpaper?

‘If you’ve opted for washable wallpaper, carefully create holes in the wallpaper and spray water into those so it can saturate the paper from behind the covering,’ says Nadia. ‘If you allow it to soak in for a little while before you start to scrape off the paper with a drywall or putty knife, it will come off a lot easier.’

Are you ready to choose your bathroom wallpaper? Let us know your design choice by tweeting us @GoodHomesMag or posting on our Facebook page.

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A message from the editor:

Let us help you create the home of your dreams! Get ideas & inspiration from Good Homes every month, delivered direct to your door. Visit to sign up for the weekly Good Homes newsletter. Meet the Good Homes team at Ideal Home Show and be inspired by our on-trend roomsets.

~ Karen Walker, Editor, Good Homes