Is Bathroom Wallpaper a Good Idea?p

Wallpaper has been a popular form of home decoration for centuries. It’s been used in homes grand and modest over hundreds of years, however it didn’t generally grace the bathroom… until the Victorian era. But, is wallpapering your bathroom really a good idea? 

Keep reading to find out if wallpapering your bathroom is a good or bad idea.

What kind of wallpaper can you use in a bathroom? 

Wallpaper is just wallpaper right? Wrong. If you’re looking to buy wallpaper for your bathroom, then look for waterproof and water-resistant wallpaper. You’ll find a variety of these types of wallpapers on the market. 

Waterproof wallpaper can be installed absolutely anywhere in the bathroom, even directly in the shower, in a steam room, or behind a bath. These types of wallpapers use modern adhesive compounds to create a waterproof membrane which will protect the wallpaper from direct contact with water. 

Some forms of waterproof wallpaper use a thick vinyl coating to deflect moisture. Whichever type of waterproof wallpaper you choose, you can be assured that you’ll have a wall covering that’ll stand up to the daily rigours of the bathroom.

Resist the temptation to save money by buying normal wallpaper, as it will not be able to withstand the humidity you get in your average bathroom. 

Tips for wallpapering your bathroom

If you’ve decided that you want to wallpaper your bathroom, there are a few things you can do that’ll not only make the task easier, but also ensure that your wallpaper stays up for longer. 

Here are some guidelines to follow when wallpapering your bathroom:

  • Avoid having wallpaper in areas that are splash areas (unless you buy the special waterproof wallpaper that we mentioned above). If you’re intending to use regular wallpaper, then use it sparingly in your bathroom. 
  • Make sure that you apply the wallpaper to a very well prepared wall - your wallpaper is going to have to withstand a humid environment, so give it as good a foundation as you can.
  • Don’t use grasscloth wallpaper in a bathroom! Not only is it hard to clean, but it tends to absorb stains easily. You certainly don’t want to be putting grasscloth wallpaper anywhere near a toilet...
  • Use extra strong wallpaper adhesive. 
  • Ensure that your bathroom is well ventilated. If you don’t have a large window, then install an efficient extractor fan. This’ll get rid of moisture and humidity quickly, reducing the likelihood of damage occurring to your wallpaper. 
  • Understand that your wallpaper might not last forever. Bathroom wallpaper can be a bit hit or miss, so it can last anywhere from a year to 10 years.
  • If you’re extra keen to make sure that your wallpaper lasts, add a clear coat of decorators varnish over the wallpaper (don’t worry - decorators varnish won’t make your wallpaper shiny like other types of varnish would). This will add an extra layer of protection against moisture. 

Bathroom wallpaper ideas

When done right, wallpaper can completely transform your bathroom, adding a touch of elegance and flair that can’t be matched by paint or tiles. Just like anywhere else in the home, wallpaper can work magic and make it look like you’ve had a spare £10,000 to throw at the brand new decor. 

As always, style is very much a personal choice. However, if you do find yourself in love with a particular wallpaper design, make sure it fits in with the rest of your bathroom. There’s nothing quite so garish and tacky as a bathroom that has been wallpapered in a style that conflicts with the rest of the bathroom decor and furniture

To help you choose the right wallpaper for your bathroom, Plumbworld has set out a few ideas to consider below. 

Black and white bathroom wallpaper

Black and white bathrooms are very much a traditional look. From the Victorian era onwards, bathrooms have featured white furniture with black accents. Adding black and white wallpaper into the mix will complete the look. 

If you add some brighter steel or chrome fixtures they’ll stand out as part of the overall decor, which is the perfect way to bring extra attention towards that expensive bath or sink you’ve bought.

Add a splash of colour

Adding bold coloured wallpaper to your bathroom can have a massive impact - especially as the majority of bathrooms these days are white. Sure, you could just paint the walls, but wallpaper allows you to choose intricate designs that add an extra layer of depth to the bathroom’s overall aesthetic.

With wallpaper, your choice of designs are almost endless. Be aware though that some designs are more suited to bathrooms than others. Some patterns need to be seen over a large space to make sense, so be careful of choosing designs where important elements of the design may end up being hidden behind vanity units or bathroom furniture. 

Create a feature wall

You don’t necessarily have to wallpaper every wall in your bathroom. In fact, it can sometimes be more visually appealing to use wallpaper to create a feature wall. This creates a point of focus within your bathroom, so if you have a lovely set of bathroom furniture, think about how strategically placed wallpaper can complement it. Above the sink, behind a mirror, these are all places where wallpaper can help enliven the bathroom.

Use patterns to disguise radiators

If you have a radiator in your bathroom and you want to disguise it, put patterned wallpaper on the wall behind it. Patterned wallpaper has a disruptive effect on the eye, so it’s a great way of hiding parts of the bathroom you’d rather people didn’t see.

If you are going to use patterned wallpaper in your bathroom though, think about how your towels will go with it. You certainly don’t want your wallpaper and towels to clash!

Wallpaper across a corner

You can wallpaper a corner of your bathroom as a way of ‘elongating’ walls. As we said earlier, wallpaper (especially patterned wallpaper) has a disrupting effect on your eyes. So, by wallpapering a corner of your bathroom you can create the illusion of more space.

Add a reflective sheen to your bathroom

You can buy wallpapers that feature a foil print, which provides a level of sheen. Using these types of wallpapers is a great way of making your bathroom appear larger. Much like a mirror, a wallpaper with a foil print will make your bathroom feel lighter and more airy. 

Combine wallpaper with tiles

If you’re worried about your wallpaper getting splashed, then why not combine wallpaper with tiles? You can tile any ‘splash-zones’ and then use wallpaper to cover higher parts of your walls. 

It’s a nice look and the contrast between the tiles and the wallpaper will add another level of depth to your bathroom’s decor.

Stencil instead

Perhaps you want a lovely pattern on the walls of your bathroom, but you’re still a bit nervous about investing in and putting up wallpaper. Well, don’t worry, there is an alternative - stenciling…

Stenciling is a great alternative which mimics the look of wallpaper (plus it’s a whole lot cheaper). You can easily buy pre-made stencils online and applying them to the walls of your bathroom is fairly straightforward. 

Try wood inlay wall art

Another alternative to wallpaper is wood inlay wall art. This is a beautiful way of adding patterns to the walls of your bathroom. You can buy a range of different inlay types, from mirror style hangings, to inlays that cover an entire wall.

You’ll need to make sure that the wood is properly treated so that it’ll withstand the moisture and humidity of your bathroom, but provided that’s the case, wood inlays are another great way of visually transforming your bathroom.

Time to refresh your bathroom?

So, if you’re thinking of taking the plunge and having your bathroom wallpapered, we hope this guide has helped. If you’re also looking to renew and refresh your bathroom furniture, you’re in the right place.

For more bathroom inspiration, take a look at the following posts - Traditional Bathroom Design Ideas - Tiles or Bathroom Wall Panels – Which are Best? - Transform your Bathroom with Bathroom Wall Panels.

We love seeing your bathroom and kitchen makeovers and sharing them on our Instagram page - if you've had a Plumbworld renovation, tag us in your photos to be featured!

We would love to see, so why not share your favourite designs on social media with us?

Find us at:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok | Pinterest

Alternatively, sign-up to our newsletter for the latest offers, newest product launches and advice.

Are you planning a new bathroom or kitchen makeover? Shop online with Plumbworld for guaranteed lowest prices and next day delivery options.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog for more bathroom and kitchen advice.