How To Paint A Bathroom

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Painting a bathroom is not as difficult or scary as it might seem. Many people have a phobia of painting because they were told to never paint over existing paint, but there are ways around that. Painting your bathroom ceiling can also be extremely daunting and you may hurt yourself if you aren't careful! If you are remodeling or repainting your bathroom, be sure to also check our article on the best materials for bathroom ceiling!

In this article, I'll cover how to paint a bathroom, from the initial preparation work to finding just the right shade of paint so that your bathroom renovation goes all according to plan- here's all you need to know. 

Prep the surface by removing any dirt or grime

To start, scrape off any paint that is peeling off the walls or remove any caulk. Use a sponge brush to scour away any dirt or grime. Remove fixtures and cover them with drop cloths (or plastic sheets). If you're lucky enough to have one, use a roto zip to cut out around your fixtures and caulk around tile work.

Quality Interior Paints, Color Ideas for Bathroom
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Sand if needed

Depending on how old your bathroom is, you might need to sand. In my case, I used the fine-grit side of my drywall sander (less messy than power sanding) to lightly knock down any bumps or ridges in the walls.

I only sanded the first coat on all my walls—I found that less sanding (just where the paint was peeling) gives you a better finish with fewer imperfections.

Patch holes and cracks

If you have any holes or cracks, use a spackling compound to fill them. Your patch will need to be slightly bigger than the hole so it covers adequately. Allow the compound to dry completely before applying your topcoats of paint. 

 Prime if needed

If your walls are peeling, chalky, or otherwise in bad condition…prime. Use an oil-based primer because latex does not adhere well to textured surfaces that are already painted over.

After priming, let the paint dry for the recommended time before applying your paint.

Choose a color scheme

If you're going for a chic, clean look, pick two colors; one lighter and one darker color. I chose gray as my light color with tan on the bottom half of my bathroom walls (it was brownish-red previously). Choose several shades of your light hue to find just the right tone…you want it to be slightly different than white, but still close enough in value so that if you accidentally get paint on your wall when painting near it, you can easily tell what has been painted over. 

colorful painted bathroom
Image Credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo

Think about lighting

Your future lighting will have an impact on your choices when choosing colors. I had recessed lights installed when I painted, so my bathroom is lit mostly by the glow of LEDs (the color temp is listed as “soft white” in the bulb name).

Decide on your style

If you're going for a trendy modern look, don't be afraid to mix patterns and textures. 

If you're trying for a more classic look, keep it clean and simple. Keep in mind that cluttered walls will make your room feel smaller, which can increase tension among those occupying the space. 

Don't forget about your ceiling

Even though most of your attention will be on painting the walls, don't forget to consider the ceiling. It will act like a wall (and can be painted as such) and should have just as much thought put into it as the rest of your bathroom. If you're going for a cool, sleek look…try this trick: paint all but 2 or 3 inches of the tops of your walls white, then use darker colors on those remaining inches to create depth without making it feel cramped.

Mistakes to avoid when painting a bathroom

Here are the top mistakes people make when painting their bathrooms.

1: Painting the wrong color

If you're going for a classic look, choose soft, muted shades that will blend in with your decor. Don't be afraid to go slightly darker or lighter than what you were originally planning (the same goes for those who are going for a trendy look). And if you do paint too light of a hue…don't despair. Just use an oil-based tool to apply darker tones over it – it's much easier and faster to fix than something that's been painted on top of itself several coats. 

2: Avoiding lights while painting

Lights are most likely already installed in your bathroom, so think about how they'll affect the way your room is painted. I chose a light gray color for the top portion of my wall because it would match my recessed lights without being so closely matched as to be overpowering. 

When picking colors, don't be afraid to ask your paint consultants  – they can see how all of the colors will work together and make suggestions based on what you're looking for.

3: Not cleaning the walls thoroughly

Even though you may have just painted your bathroom a few months ago, it's still important to thoroughly clean. Dust and grime can build up even when you're not painting. 

Use a bleach solution for tough stains (mixing 1 tablespoon of bleach in 3 cups of water), then rinse it off thoroughly with plain water, removing any residue before starting another project. Your last step should be to wipe down all surfaces with a damp cloth, making sure that your walls are completely dry before applying your paint.

After the bathroom walls have been tiled, how do I start painting?

The best way to start painting the bathroom walls is by using a brush. This will help finish up small areas that are missed out during tiling. If there are some holes, crevices, and corners that need finishing touches, then you can use a roller and paint it evenly over the wall area which does not need much work.

When painting the bathroom walls, make sure that all of your material is in a dry condition before starting. You should also have ready all the things you will need for an application like brushes, rollers, etc.

The paint should be fresh to avoid any problem while applying them on the walls especially if you are using oil-based paints or other products meant for water-based applications since they might react with each other resulting in a strong odor or drying of the paint.

You can however use water-based paints and mixtures on your walls, depending on what design you will have for your bathroom, as they are easier to be worked with. If there is mold on the wall then you should remove it before painting since it would not look good once applied later on.

If the walls need painting for wallpapering, then what color should I use?

If you already have a color in mind then the wallpapering process will be easier since it matches your paint. But if you do not know which color to use, then below are some tips on how to decide which one to take:

The room or bathroom should depend on the theme and design that you want for your home. You can also consult with other people who may have an idea of what kind of color should be used for painting walls. They may give you some ideas why they choose that particular color to base yours also depending upon their choice.

Do make sure that there is a harmony between the colors used in your bathroom with the colors of furniture, washstands, and cabinets that you put inside.

This will give your bathroom a fine and attractive look making it pleasant to the eyes. Cleaning after painting you should also see to it that there is harmony between colors of walls, tiles, cabinets, etc. because this will make your bathroom attractive and inviting for guests.

Painting can be done in any season but you may have some problems if you would like to paint a concrete wall or fiberglass. In the rainy season, humidity makes these things get sticky and paints do not stick on them so they are better painted in the dry season since air can dry easily once wet.

How do you paint above cupboard doors?

It is very important to remove the doors and drawers. The easiest way to deal with cupboard doors and drawers is to spray them with a coat of primer, any white primer will do, then sand them lightly by hand or machine, then prime again. If they look good as primed, paint them again with oil-based enamel paint (dries hard).

If you want the surface smoother without grain showing through after painting, wipe them down with solvent-based thinners before priming and painting. You can even use a flatting agent over top of the first coat if you don't like the shiny enamel finish that they have when dried.  

Do I need to take out all my stuff from the cupboard before painting?

It is not necessary to take all your things out of the bathroom. All you need to do is cover them with plastic sheets and masking tape if they cannot be covered with something else like wood or ceramics. You may also use a foil sheet for covering larger items to protect them from being spoiled by paint while working on them. 

The dressing table should, however, have its top surface cleaned from makeup stains and other debris that could mar the look of it once painted afterward. The drawers can also be left inside since they will just get dirty again once repainted later on but make sure that they are closed properly to avoid paint spillage onto the floor as well as other items inside.

If you want to have a spic and span bathroom once cleaned, you should avoid using paint that has too many solids in it since this can require an additional cleaning before the newly painted surface becomes smooth again for use. To avoid these problems, water-based paints which are more flexible than oil-based paint are what is recommended by professionals as they dry much faster also. 

The Best Paint Colours for your Bathroom
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If your furniture or beddings cannot be removed because of their size, then lay a plastic sheet over them and secure them with masking tape so that they will remain clean while repainting is being done on other parts of the room or wall.

Final thoughts on how to paint a bathroom

In conclusion, painting a bathroom can be a fun and rewarding way to improve your home's appearance. It will increase the value of your house, making it more appealing to buyers when you decide to sell.

Picking a color scheme is just one part of the equation, however. You'll also need to plan and take precautions so that your paint job goes smoothly and the results are truly worth it.

If you're going to paint your bathroom, keep all of this advice in mind and take your time with preparation to make sure everything goes smoothly. 

Remember that there's no rush and ultimately no final mistakes: you have plenty of options available to rework any damaged areas or touch up after a few years.

Finally, if you want to feel inspired when it comes to having a walk-in shower, check out these 8 stunning walk in shower ideas..


Kevin Farrugia

Kevin Farrugia

Kevin is a household and appliance enthusiast and loves to follow the latest trends in kitchen and house decoration. He also loves to walk the isles of Home Depot and Lowes to review products and materials in person. Before joining Kitchen Infinity, Kevin owned a handyman company.

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