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How To Wallpaper a Bathroom

When we want to spruce up the look of walls in our homes, we look at a fresh coat of paint, wallpaper, or other wall coatings to give the room a new look. Bathrooms are a little different in that the climate in the small room is often warm, steamy, and damp, which one may consider being an inhospitable environment for wallpaper.

You may wonder if it is even possible to wallpaper a bathroom, what precautionary measures you should take, and what type of wallpaper you should use.

You can wallpaper a bathroom by taking precautions to reduce moisture by choosing the appropriate wallpaper and location to apply. Clean and seal the wall thoroughly. Measure accurately before cutting the paper. Wet the wallpaper to activate the paste and use it according to manufacturer instructions.

If Your Looking For Different Types Of Wallpapers, We’ve Compiled A List Here.

The Bathroom Environment Suitability For Wallpaper

Many people may waver regarding deciding to use wallpaper in a bathroom because of the steamy and damp conditions that often persist in such a room.

It is most definitely possible to use wallpaper as a decorative covering for bathroom walls. Still, you will need to choose the location for the wallpaper with wisdom. Depending on your bathroom conditions, you may have to opt for specialty wallpaper capable of handling the harsher bathroom conditions.

The enemy for wallpaper in any bathroom is the risk of getting wet and the hot and steamy conditions that can cause the wallpaper to absorb the moisture and result in mold formation or the wallpaper deteriorating quicker than usual.

You can manage these conditions by some simple steps that will limit the time that the bathroom stays damp and steamy.

If your bathroom has an opening window, open it up after showering or bathing. This will allow fresh air to enter the room and let the steam and heat dissipate to the outside.

If you do not have a window in your bathroom, installing an extractor fan may be worthwhile to reduce the heat and steam.

The shower cubical is usually the main culprit for steam generation in a bathroom, so placing the extractor above the shower or close will make it more effective.

Wallpaper To Use In a Bathroom

The type of wallpaper you choose for your bathroom will need some evaluation of the wall location where you want to apply the wallpaper.

If the wall does not get much splashing of water and is not close to the shower, you can use normal, standard wallpaper in this location.

For example, a wall with a toilet against it, or a hand basin, is less likely to receive splashes of water than a wall adjacent to a bath or shower.

Walls that are more likely to receive significant splashing can still be wallpapered, but your selection of wallpaper is crucial.

There are splashproof wallpapers available, designed specifically for bathrooms and kitchens where the humidity is high, and the risk of splashing is greater.

Vinyl wallpapers are a good choice for the bathroom space since they are even more water-resistant than the splashproof versions. The vinyl option has the added advantage that some are textured, which adds a nice design aspect to an otherwise small, plain room.

How To Prepare Bathroom Walls For Wallpaper

Walls must be adequately prepared before applying the wallpaper.

Textured walls are challenging to apply wallpaper to, but the wall’s texture may detract from the look or design of the wallpaper.

A textured wall will also not allow the wallpaper to adhere to every part of the wall, which may pose bubbling or lifting of the wallpaper off the wall as time goes on.

It is best to apply wallpaper to a smooth wall. If the wall is not smooth, you may have to smooth it out with spackle or fill holes in concrete walls with an appropriate filler.

Here are the steps we recommend for preparing your bathroom wall to accept wallpaper.

  • Remove light fittings, towel rails, pictures, and mirrors.
  • Smooth out the wall. If there are holes in the wall, repair the holes with an appropriate filler, and wait for the filler to dry before sanding it smooth. This also applies to any indentations or rough areas on the wall that may affect the wallpaper.
  • Clean the wall. You need to remove dust and dirt from the surface of the wall. /it is a good idea to use a vacuum cleaner first to remove the bulk of the dust from the wall. Then use a strong wall cleaner such as sugar soap in the UK and elsewhere, and TSP or trisodium phosphate in the US. These alkaline cleaners remove grease, oil, and tar deposits from tobacco smoke. If the wall is painted, wash down the wall with hot water with a small amount of vinegar added. Once the wall has dried, wipe it down again with a damp cloth about 24 hours before applying the wallpaper.
  • Apply a primer. Bare drywall, in particular, can be a problem for wallpaper, as it will absorb most of the adhesive. A wallpaper primer will seal the wall so that it does not absorb the adhesive, and it acts as an effective moisture barrier to stop the wall from absorbing moisture and developing mold.

Allow the primer to dry on the wall before applying the wallpaper. If you have freshly painted a wall, you may have to wait up to 4 weeks to dry some types of paint before applying the wallpaper.

Some wall paints can take this long to dry out thoroughly.

How To Apply Wallpaper To Your Bathroom Walls

Never apply wallpaper in the bathroom if someone has showered or bathed in the past hour. Instead, wait until the room has aired out and the additional moisture has left the room.

Some wallpapers require the application of wallpaper paste or adhesive before sticking the wallpaper down. Most modern wallpapers come with a paste already applied to the back of the wallpaper, and it just needs soaking in water to activate.

Other wallpapers have a peel and stick application whereby your peel a plastic layer from the back of the paper, revealing the adhesive underneath. These wallpapers can then be attached to the cleaned and prepared wall.

Here are the steps we recommend to install your wallpaper in the bathroom.

  1. Take good measurements. Taking accurate measurements of the wall where you want to apply the paper is crucial to a successful job. This is especially where you need to apply wallpaper around obstacles such as light switches and light fittings.
  2. Remove wall fittings and light fittings if possible. Apply the paper over the cavities and cut the appropriate holes in the paper after it is on the wall. You may need to switch off the electricity in the bathroom for the duration of the wallpaper application.
  3. Dry fit the wallpaper. Hold up the wallpaper on the wall to ensure you have measured correctly. Cut your wallpaper to size and test fit again.
  4. Prepare your wallpaper. If necessary, soak your wallpaper in water to activate the paste.
  5. Apply the wallpaper. Stick the sheets of wallpaper onto the wall, using a rubber smoothing tool or a wallpaper brush to smooth it onto the wall and eliminate bubbles.
  6. Wipe the wallpaper. Use a dry, clean, damp sponge or cotton cloth to wipe down the wallpaper to remove any adhesive or water squeezed out.
  7. Trim edges. Use a steel straightedge such as a metal ruler and a utility knife to cut the wallpaper straight in the wall corners. Make sure the utility blade is fresh and sharp to avoid pulling and ripping the paper.
  8. Allow the paper to dry. Re-fit any light switches or fittings once the wallpaper feels dry to the touch. Cut holes out in the wallpaper so that the edges of the wallpaper are not visible when the fitting is replaced.

Next Steps

Wallpaper applied to a bathroom is not only possible but is a great way to add some character to an otherwise plain, utility-driven space.

Whether you want to decorate or add an accent wall to the space, it is achievable with wallpaper and affordable, especially for smaller walls in a bathroom.

The wallpaper designs and easy application methods make this a relatively easy DIY project. So put on your creative hat and explore the options to make your bathroom an exciting experience!

We’ve compiled a complete list of frequently asked bathroom questions for new and experienced homeowners.

Our team of experts answers these questions to help assist you through DIY projects and home repairs.