More than 2000 years ago, the Chinese hung decorated rice paper to add color to their walls and created the earliest form of wallpaper. While its popularity has experienced ups and downs, interior design experts say wallpaper has made a big comeback in recent years. And, the old rules about “no wallpaper in bathrooms” have all but disappeared. Follow a few simple guidelines, and you can take your bathroom beyond functional and create an updated, beautiful retreat using wallpaper.
Ask any home repair expert, and they’ll tell you that moisture and high humidity levels are the biggest problems in most bathrooms. The primary reason for the issues is poor ventilation. It allows water droplets to form on windows, mirrors, and walls. This excess moisture weakens the wallpaper adhesive over time. Eventually, the wallpaper starts to peel and then falls off the wall. But today, manufacturers have significantly improved wallpaper adhesives so that they work well in moisture-rich rooms.
One of the most durable, washable types of wallpaper is also an excellent choice for your bathroom. Look for “splashproof wallpapers” when searching for wallpapers. Vinyl wallpaper is the best choice for humid environments. Not only is it water-resistant, but you can wipe it down to clean it. Other types of wallpaper, such as traditional cellulose-based versions, absorb water droplets and steam instead of fending them off. This leads to the potential for mildew and mold issues.
A quick-and-easy solution for adding color to your bathroom walls is to apply a peel-and-stick vinyl wallpaper. These affordable options are perfect for renters and for those who enjoy frequent decor revamps. Peel-and-sticks don’t require any additional pastes. They’re easy to remove and leave no residue on the wall when you do. You’ll find a variety of textures, colors, and patterns and can purchase them at your favorite DIY store or through an online retailer.
Wallpaper professionals often apply a mildew-resistant primer to the wall before applying wallpaper in the bathroom. Not only does the primer ensure a better adhesion for the wallpaper, but it also creates a smoother surface that adds to the wallpaper’s visual appeal. A primer creates a barrier between the wall and the wallpaper. This blocks color from showing through and is essential if the bathroom walls have bright, vivid paint colors. Before applying primer, wash the walls thoroughly with warm water and a multi-purpose cleaner and allow it to dry. After applying the primer, let it dry for at least two hours before hanging wallpaper.
Another tool professionals use to ensure great results is to seal the wallpaper. Once you’ve hung the wallpaper, brush on a thin coat of varnish. You’ll find versions specifically for interior and exterior decorating purposes at home improvement stores and from online stores as well. The varnish is available in flat or satin finishes, it’s water-based, and it dries quickly. Before applying to your finished wall, test the varnish on a sample of your wallpaper to ensure you like the results.
One of the rules for wallpapering a bathroom is that it isn’t necessary to cover every wall. Most bathrooms are smaller rather than larger rooms. Look for potential accent walls instead of wallpaper, just one wall. Or, if a wall separates your toilet area from the rest of the room, try applying wallpaper to that area only. Create borders around mirrors, doors, or windows. Interior designers say that just because the room is small doesn’t mean you should avoid using wallpapers with big, bold patterns.
Adding texture creates interest in an otherwise lackluster bathroom. Consider applying a paintable textured wallpaper. You’ll find geometric patterns, florals, and traditional designs that are also great for adding unique artistic touches to ceilings. Decorating pros suggest applying these textured paintables in smaller doses, not entire bathrooms. Use a primer on the walls first before applying the wallpaper, and allow it to dry. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for hanging and pasting. Let the wallpaper dry for 12 to 18 hours before painting. Choose a low-gloss or semi-gloss paint with mold or mildew resistance in whatever color you love.
Explore your options before wallpapering your bathroom. Decide how much time and effort you want to invest in your project and what sort of overall mood you want to create. If your goal is a renovated space to relax and release the stress of the day, stick to tranquil color palettes and soft patterns. For a more playful vibe, try a French-inspired toile de Jouy, with picturesque pastoral scenes. If you prefer traditional styles, consider an elegant damask wallpaper or a lattice print.
Like any other product, there is a huge array of wallpaper products available on the market, and not all are high-quality or suitable for bathrooms. Take time to read online reviews when they’re available. Before you order, make sure you’ve properly measured the area where you plan to apply the wall covering. Each roll of wallpaper covers a specific amount of square feet. Patterns require using a bit more to match, so order extra. If you haven’t attempted wallpapering before, it doesn’t hurt to have an extra set of hands. Read the manufacturer’s recommendations and follow them to ensure beautiful results.
There are bathrooms where inherent structural issues ensure that no amount of prep work or vinyl wallpapers will work. Rising damp is a common problem in many homes. Moisture rises from the ground level, then spreads through the walls and the masonry. Another moisture issue, penetrating damp, occurs when structural problems allow water to leak through walls. If your home has these issues, you’ll see blotches of dampness on walls or rotting baseboards. Until repairs are complete, installing wallpaper will create the perfect environment for mold and mildew growth,, which can lead to potential health issues.