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Bathroom Wall Options: Tiles, Paint, Wallpaper?

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 20 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Bathroom Wall Options: Tiles, Paint, Wallpaper?

Decorating options for bathroom walls differ from those for the rest of the house as they have to deal with excess moisture. This comes from steam, and the resulting condensation, as well as splashing from basins, baths and showers, which is why tiles are so popular.

But tiles don't have to be the only option, paint and wallpaper can be used too, as long as you choose the right type. And as with any decorating job, the amount of preparation you put in before putting the finishing layer on will make the difference between a good job and a so-so one.

Super Practical Tiles Have Their Downsides Too

Tiles are superb for a bathroom as the ceramic finish looks good and naturally repels water. There is a huge range of colours, sizes and patterns to choose from that will match any decor and although there are plenty of tile specialists around who will fit them for you, it's quite possible to lay tiles well yourself if you have a bit of DIY experience.

The downsides of tiles are that they cost a lot more than paint or wallpaper and putting them up can be time-consuming and painstaking. Cutting the necessary shapes to fit around pipes and other bathroom fittings can be too much for some people. It's for these reasons that a number of decorating styles have sprung up around tiles such as the splashback and the half-tile or part-tiled look.

Part-Tile Options

With half-tiling the lower halves of the bathrooms walls are tiled and usually finished with a decorative or relief tile on the top row. This keeps costs down as the number of tiles to purchase is cut in half, and is practical as the areas most exposed to moisture are protected.

Splashbacks can be made from a number of tiles arranged around a basin or a bath so that the areas most likely to get wet are protected. Decent sealing between the tiles and the fitting in question is imperative too.

With an over-the-bath shower this is really essential, tiling around the end of the bath up to the ceiling and along any walls for a good two metres, if not more, and paying great attention to details with the sealant application. If you don’t do this, or put something else on the walls to protect them from the constant streams of water, then it will get into the plaster and then under the bath into the floorboards below. If this isn't checked then eventually the joists and ceiling underneath will be damaged and could need major repairs.

Bathroom Paint Options

Even if you do tile some of your bathroom there will still be areas of wall that will need covering and paint is the cheapest and quickest option for those, with wallpaper coming a close second. Choose paint that is designated for bathrooms as not only will this be more resistant to moisture and steam but can have a mould resistant compound added as well.

There are bathroom paints available in a wide range of colours to suit most decors although they tend to be pale colours because bathrooms often have small windows Pale decor is therefore required to make the best use of the available light, so if your bathroom can take a strong colour then you will have to use ordinary emulsion. This means that you will almost certainly have to tile in the most vulnerable areas.

Wallpaper for More Bathroom Decor Choices

Practical bathroom wallpapers are also available although as wallpaper does come in and out of fashion you need to be sure you're going to like it or prepared to change it every now and then. As with paint it's important to pick products that are washable, usually with a vinyl finish. Certainly anything that is absorbent, such as Hessian, should be avoided like the plague, and, as with paint, even washable wallpaper is best avoided if it's going to be in the direct line of fire of a shower.

There are wallpapers available now that are peelable and removable, which makes it easier to transmute your decor according to the whims of fashion, but as yet, not many of them are suitable for use in bathrooms. This is likely to change in the future though, so keep an eye on the latest product developments.

Whichever product you choose to decorate the walls of your bathroom, be it paint, wallpaper, tiles, or a combination of all three, there is bound to be something that is practical, matches your chosen decor and suits your pocket too.

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