Rick’s Guide to Painting Bathrooms
Adding color to the bathroom can make an ordinary utility room stand out and feel much more comfortable. There is also some functionality that the right paint can add to your bathrooms, especially if they contain showers. In this article, we’ll dive into the best paints to use for your bathroom, and the best way to tackle the project.
Bathrooms are unique from every other room in the house in that they are generally significantly smaller than most rooms, and they have water flowing through them and usually have water hitting the walls. If your bathroom contains a shower, then there is the added humidity and vapor that is regularly present in the room. Both of these factors make painting the bathroom a slightly more nuanced process than working in a standard bedroom.
For starters, you’re going to want to make sure that your paint has at least a matte finish, and ideally an eggshell finish. The sheen (shine) allows the paint to resist moisture. Flat paints are not ideal for humid or wet areas and will break down faster than paints with sheens. Matte has the lowest sheen (flat has no sheen) if you’re not a fan of the look of the shine. I always recommend eggshell or satin for bathrooms and kitchens, but matte will also work. Some people even like to go as high as semi-gloss or gloss.
It’s better to use a higher quality paint in the bathroom as well. For one thing, you’ll want to make sure your paint will cover in just two coats. If you’re using eggshel or matte, its possible that lower quality paints will require a third coat. For the extra cost of using a better paint, you’ll save yourself much more time. Don’t expect the paint to cover in one coat, even if the paint gallon says it’s possible.
Working with paints with a sheen is a bit different than working with flat paints. You’ll want to paint one wall at a time. This means you’ll paint the perimeter of one wall, and then immediately roll out the body of that wall before moving on to another wall. If you paint all the perimeters of every wall first, and then roll out the walls, you run the risk of having the perimeters dry first and “flashing” on the wall. The higher the temperature outside and the lower the humidity level, the more you’ll want to stick to this rule. If it’s rainy and cold outside, you probably won’t have to worry about this happening. To be safe, I ask my crews to follow this principle.
When starting the project, do your best to remove everything you can from the bathroom, including the top of the toilet tank. Place everything in a safe place outside the room and the hallway. I always instruct my crews to take a photo of the way the room is set up so we can replace everything back to the way it was. Take the time to protect the floors, vanities, shower, and toilet with plastic or drop cloths. It is ALWAYS faster to protect the floors ahead of time than to clean them up later! I’ve yet to see a paint invented that does not “spit” when rolled on the walls. Even the best ones do it, so protect your surfaces from being bombarded with paint specks. Always remove outlet plates, and if possible, wall sconces and light fixtures. They are usually only connected with a few screws and a hot/white wire. Unscrew and cap the hot wires (make sure you turn off electrical power to the room first)!
Because bathrooms are usually much smaller than standard rooms, you’ll want to have the appropriate tools. Be sure to have a small paint roller and nap ready, as well as a small container to dip into and work with. Using larger rollers is not a good idea if you only have a small amount of wallspace. You run the risk of putting too much paint on the walls and not having anywhere to spread it out. Standard sized brushes are fine. We like the 2.5 inch with angled ends to do our brush work with.
Don’t forget to take before and after pictures so you can admire the transformation. Every time I paint a room, I can’t even remember what it used to look like. It’s nice to see the changes that can take place when you mix a little paint with high quality work and planning.