Refresh your bathroom with a new coat of paint. With the right paint color and finish, you can transform your bathroom into a serene spa experience or a bright space to start your day off right.
When planning to paint your bathroom, keep in mind the damp and occasionally humid conditions that may exist. Hot showers and sink splashes can cause moisture on the walls, and the paint you choose must be able to withstand these conditions while also resisting mildew growth, which is a common problem in bathrooms.
Best paint for humid bathroom | Oil Paint vs. Latex Paint
If you’re looking for the best paint for your bathroom, go with a water-based latex paint. While oil paint has a reputation for durability and resistance to scrubbing—both of which are important qualities in bathroom paint—it requires mineral spirits to clean, dries slowly between coats, and emits high levels of volatile organic compounds. There’s also the possibility that oil paint will yellow over time, especially in low-light situations.
Latex paint is a better choice for bathrooms, and many formulas now provide significantly improved durability and moisture resistance. Just make sure that if you choose water-based latex paint, it is washable. These paints will typically have a tighter molecular structure that does not allow water to penetrate, allowing you to scrub away stains and residue without fear of damaging your paint.
When planning a bathroom remodel, choose latex paint because it is easier to use and dries faster. You can clean up brushes and spills with water, and using a low VOC paint will allow you to breathe easier in the small space.
Choosing the right finish for bathroom paint is an important part of ensuring the success of your painting project. The finish of the paint, or how shiny it is, may appear to be purely aesthetic, but it is actually a matter of how durable and mold-resistant your bathroom walls will be.
Flat paints contain fewer resins and binders and more pigment particles. As a result, these paints have a deep color and a low luster, but they are more susceptible to moisture infiltration. Furthermore, they are not scrubbing resistant, and it can be difficult to clean walls with flat paint without affecting the finish. For these reasons, a flat finish paint is not recommended for bathrooms.
A paint made specifically for bathrooms would be an exception. In the more humid conditions of a bathroom, you may be able to get away with a flat finish if you choose one of these mildew-resistant and more durable paints. These paints are usually more expensive, and we wouldn’t recommend them over regular latex paint unless you absolutely need a flat finish in the bathroom.
Semi-gloss or gloss is the best finish for bathroom paint. Semi-gloss paint is shiny and easy to clean, but it can draw attention to flaws on your walls. Both options will result in a shiny finish that will help the paint resist absorbing extra moisture, which leads to mildew growth.
Semi-gloss paint contains more resin and binders than flat paint, and a glossy finish contains even more resins. As a result, the molecular structure of these paint formulas is extremely tight. This is important for two reasons when painting a bathroom:
The paint will keep moisture at bay. Rather than absorbing moisture and allowing it to collect and develop into mildew and mold, a semi-gloss or glossy painted wall is more likely to see moisture evaporate away.
The tougher formula is better for scrubbing and washing. You undoubtedly enjoy keeping your bathroom clean. A semi-gloss or glossy paint finish will withstand your cleaning and sanitizing efforts while causing less wear and tear on your paint.
Best Paint for Bathroom Ceilings
Look up—your bathroom ceiling is also in need of a fresh coat of paint. While a quick coat of flat white may be tempting, the best paint for bathroom ceilings is one that will resist moisture and mildew.
For your bathroom ceilings, choose a satin or semi-gloss paint finish. If you have a half-bath with low moisture and humidity, you can choose a satin finish to avoid drawing too much attention overhead.
If you enjoy a steamy shower and have a humid bathroom, however, you should choose a more durable and moisture-resistant semi-gloss finish. Water spots on the ceiling are common due to moisture condensing in this humid area of the house, and semi-gloss paint does a better job of preventing mildew and mold growth.
The typical method is to scrub the existing mildew from the walls and ceiling with a bleach and water solution. Wear a respirator and gloves during this procedure, and keep the room well-ventilated. Then, before applying paint, use a quality mildew-resistant primer, such as Zinsser Mold Killing Primer.