Can I wallpaper a shower stall?

Written by brian walker | 13/05/2017

If you’re thinking about building or renovating a shower stall in your bathroom, there are several factors to consider. One of the most important is what to use in covering the walls of the shower. You have several options, but one material that sometimes arises as a possible wall covering is standard wallpaper. You'll need to look at a few different things when deciding if your shower stall can be covered in conventional wallpaper.

Wallpaper In a Shower Stall

The short answer is that wallpaper can in fact be used in a shower stall under the proper circumstances. Not all situations will lend themselves to using wallpaper, and trying to use it as a wall covering in these situations will only lead to it peeling away and moulding. However, there are still times you will see a shower stall that is wallpapered. This is usually in large showers, where the water will typically not come in direct contact with the papered walls. Of course, steam and moisture build-up will still be a problem, and proper materials are necessary to fight that. But in these cases, wallpaper can definitely be used. A smaller shower stall should not be entirely covered with wallpaper, though. In these cases, you’ll find that the walls of the shower are tiled up to the height of the shower faucet. Above that, wallpaper can be used in the same way it might be used on the entire wall of a larger shower. That’s because at that height the water wouldn’t directly hit the walls.

Proper Materials

In the areas that lend themselves to wallpapering in the shower, it’s imperative that you use the right type of wallpaper and adhesive. Failure to do so will cause the paper to fail and fall apart with even some slight moisture build-up. You want to use vinyl wallpaper that is rated to prevent moulding. Vinyl on its own will be water resistant to some degree and is usually suitable for a larger shower stall. However, not all vinyl wallpaper is designed specifically to do this for long periods of time. Mold-free vinyl wallpaper is made to be used in bathrooms and other areas where moisture build-up will be a common occurrence.

As for adhesive, even if the wallpaper is self-adhering (meaning it has a layer of glue already applied on the back), you’ll want to apply another layer on your own to be doubly sure that the paper is fully adhered to the wall on every square inch. Use a roller to apply a liberal amount of glue evenly to the back of each piece of paper when you hang it. You want to use some form of commercial-grade waterproof wallpaper adhesive. This will be fairly easy to find at any home improvement store. It’s extra-strong and won’t dissolve under moisture, so the paper will remain adhered to the wall through heavy shower use.

Waterproofing

Use waterproof gloss enamel paint over the entirety of the wallpaper on all the walls of the shower stall. This creates a seal that prevents the water from directly hitting the paper material. It’s simply another step in ensuring the walls last a long time. Finally, run a bead of caulk along the bottom of all the walls where the wallpaper meets the shower floor. Use bathroom caulk, which will be a vinyl-based waterproof caulk. This creates a final seal that keeps any moisture from splashing up and getting in between the paper and wall itself.

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