Bathroom Painting Ideas

Let's generate some bathroom painting ideas.

First of all, in the bathroom it's nice if the walls can breathe (otherwise everything will be dripping with moisture all the time). Second, we might want to make our skin colors come out nicely. And third, having a clean and natural spa feeling might be nice. But we also like that warm feeling of being cared for.

Bathroom painting ideas on materials

The bathroom is a difficult area for painting, because it's so wet. On top of that, ceramic tile is a difficult surface to paint. For regular walls, latex paint is best, because it can breathe. For breathing, loam is even better. In a loam bathroom, your mirrors will be clean because the loam absorbs lots of moisture, and exhumes it later. However, if the moisture has caused problems like water stains or fungus, it's better to block the walls and keep the air circulating instead.

Heat reflective paint also seems to perform very well in bathrooms with moisture problems. It's a paint with a ceramic powder in it - much like loam. The ceramic powder can be bought as such too, and added to acrylic latex paint. You can't paint it on tile, but bathroom ceilings with mold and moisture problems can be helped by it.

Painting ceramic tile

Painting ceramic tile is not the easiest job, but it can be done. Better not paint tile in the shower itself, or above the bath itself (and not the floor either). It can be painted of course (including the bath itself), but in really wet areas there's a big chance that the paint sill start chipping off within a year or so. For these area's, mosaic or new tile could be an option (scroll down for that)

Other tile wall sections in the bathroom have a good chance when being painted. Do some extreme abrasing and cleaning, and prime them with the best oil-based or shellac primer you can get. Shellac is probably best.

After priming, paint it with a high-gloss paint. Think of boat laquer - after all, boats are in the water all the time. Buy an oil-based one, if you can get it - it will be a proven an tested recipe, and it's better for painting over shellac. A shellac based primer works great for difficult surfaces, but you can't paint that over with acrylics - only with shellac paint, oil-based paint or latex. Shellac or oil based paint are the best option for bathroom tile, but you can also use latex for decorations, and go over the latex with a tough transparant laquer - a high-gloss polyurethane or a boat laquer. Spare out the grout between the tiles (or paint it in a different color), and your tiles will look like authentic ceramic tiles.

Bathroom painting ideas on color

Beware of pure and strong reds - most skin colors look greenish (that is: sick) when put next to a strong red. Burgundy or carmine is better then. If you tone down reds, they become more like earth-colors, which is better already. But strong warm browns also make your skin look greenish. Skintones (lighter browns) might be nice, or a bit funny - depending on your taste.

Blues are great, especially for the upper parts. A light cobalt blue gives you a feeling of breath, cleanliness and good air. Scroll up for an example of that, done with a color washing technique.

Turquoise is a very bright and clean color too (if it's not too dark). Sedated green might give you that natural feeling. Cobalt blue looks good with grey marble (click here for faux marble painting). But you also might like to have some warm colors around. When your colors are modestly toned, it's nice to have some contrast, by putting blue and warm earth tones next to each other.

In choosing paint colors, consider your towel-colors too, they're a factor in the overall look-and-feel of your bathroom.

cobalt blue bathroom painting idea

Wall painting materials for bathrooms

Latex is a breathing paint, so that will be OK. Acrylic paints close off your wall surface (keeping all the moisture in the room). Sometimes a primer is necessary to block stains, but don't put acrylics or oil-based paints on the walls unless you have to. Moisture stains indicate a construction problem - but if you have them, you have to live with that (and better have things looking good, then - use oilbased or acrylics.)

Loam is an ancient building material, and a very good material for moist regulation. Your mirrors will hardly get damp at all. Loam is a clay, that dries out on your walls (it doesn't harden out, like plaster or cement). When the room is wet, it takes up lots of moisture - and when it's dry, it slowly dries out too. If the loam gets watered on directly, it will drip off - but then you pick it up, put it back on the wall, and everything's fine like before. Loam can be put over pure drywall. It's available in all kinds of earth colors - white, earth reds, skin colors and olive green. Loam colors can be mixed.

Plaster is a good option too. It's an breathing earth material too, only it hardens out.

Bathroom painting ideas on decorations

The big surfaces in your bathroom are probably ceramic tiles. You can repaint them (look above), and eventually decorate them. For choosing the style, you might want to look at stencils. If you have an old house, check on the styling period in which your house was built.

If you have a shower curtain, that's a big surface too. Match it to the walls and the tile. The same goes for towels, and your radiator. Radiators can be painted too, eventually take a heat-resistant paint. But my local paintstore told me, you can take regular (oil-based) paint for that.

For a more dreamy atmosphere, you might consider doing some faux painting. You might either turn the tiles into marble, or to a warm italian landscape. Check here for faux painting techniques.

Mosaic art

The real thing for bathroom art is of course mosaic, made of actual bits of ceramic tile or kitchen ware. I haven't tried it yet. But if I would: I'd save every colored cup and plate or get them at yardsales, buy a sack of cement plaster, and have some serious fun. You can do the floor in sections, by creating a plywood replica of the floor, and divide it into pieces. You puzzle your mosaic on the plywood (sitting in a comfortable position), fix it on the plywood with plaster or cement, then mount the whole to the floor. If you cover the whole floor (not necessarily with wild decorations - a few blank tiles are OK) you won't have edges to trip over (or hurt your feet). Do caulk everything well, to avoid moisture getting to the plywood. This trick is also better not done on the showering floor or in the bath itself.

For more tile and ceramic ideas, check this crafty website. It's loaded with tile painting and ceramic ideas and pictures. They make customized handmade tiles, for a backsplash or tub surround, and they also offer mosaic classes (Northern Virgina, US),

Bathroom painting ideas in short:

  • Hold colors to your skin, to see if they make your skin look good. Suggestions: green foliage, blue sky, good weather, warm stone.
  • First think of durable and breathing materials, then of colors
  • Consider breathing wall materials (latex, plaster, loam)
  • Break that rule if you have stains - block them with a primer
  • If you paint tile, do some thorough preparations...

Related pages:

Oil Painting Techniques

Acrylic Painting

Watercolor painting

Color Schemes

Interior Painting techniques

Interior Painting Ideas


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