Options for covering bathroom walls

Written by timothy sexton
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Options for covering bathroom walls
Bathroom walls can be covered in large or small tiles. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Bathroom walls have some necessary requirements that may not apply to other rooms in the house. The covering choice you make needs to be able to stand up to heat as well as resist damage caused by moisture. When considering options for wall coverings in the bathroom, don't be shy about mixing different materials to gain a more decorative effect.

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Paint is an affordable option for most bathroom walls and is easiest to change when you grow tired of it. Paint finishes should be moisture-resistant and durable enough to withstand a hard scrubbing if a wall gets dirty. When shopping, look for paints specifically manufactured for use in bathroom conditions. Although these paints are typically more costly, they have a longer lifespan than other types of paint.


Tile is a common wall covering in bathrooms because of its resistance to stains and its potential for being the most waterproof wall covering available. This high resistance to moisture is only ensured when the tile is installed correctly. Another reason for the popularity of tile is that it's available in an enormous variety of colours, patterns and finishes. Tile comes both glazed and unglazed; you must make sure that unglazed tile is sealed properly to resist moisture.

Vinyl Wallpaper

Vinyl wallpaper is also available in an array of colours, patterns and textures. It's a much better choice for the bathroom than ordinary wallpaper because it's more durable. Look for vinyl wallpaper that is labelled as scrubbable or washable for most effective use in bathroom conditions. Another thing to look for when choosing this type of wallpaper is that which has a vinyl covering laminated to a fabric backing rather than plain paper.

Wood Paneling

Wood panelling is a very effective bathroom wall covering when you want to create a warm atmosphere. Panelling is available as pre-milled solid wainscoting, tongue-and-groove beaded board, melamine-surfaced hardboard and veneered plywood. Panelling made of solid board and plywood-backed veneer will need to be sealed with a polyurethane coating to make it water resistant.

Glass Blocks

Glass blocks are a good alternative to traditional walls inside the bathroom for several reasons. The look of glass-block walls immediately adds a sense of style to the room. Glass blocks can also provide a measure of privacy without the feeling of being walled in. Options also exist for the transparency of glass blocks. The downside of glass blocks is that they can be expensive and so are often better used in smaller spaces.

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