Painting a room can be a lot of fun, and if you do it right, the result can be highly impressive. However, due to their damp nature and the fact that they are in constant use, bathrooms pose particular problems when it comes to giving them a new paint job.
If you are planning to freshen up your bathroom with a lick of paint and are looking for the best way to do it, here’s our guide to how to paint a bathroom to tell you how it’s done.
If you are looking for a preview of some of the stuff we’re going to be talking about – as well as a couple of extra tips and tricks – you can check out this video before reading on.
Tools and supplies required
- Bathroom-friendly paint
- Paint roller and tray
- Sash brush
- Painter’s tape
- Plastic sheeting or canvas sheets
- Trisodium phosphate or bleach
Step-by-step guide for bathroom painting
Here is our step-by-step guide to painting a bathroom.
Step 1. Choose color
If you have decided you want to freshen up your bathroom by giving it a new lick of paint, the first step is choosing the color.
In general, you should try to pick a color that complements your hallway or the rooms will clash whenever the door is left open.
Pro tip: Many paint sellers now have apps that allow you to upload photos to test paint colors virtually. This is a good way to give yourself an idea of the effect various colors will have.
Step 2. Choose paint
Once you have settled on the color, choosing the right paint is one of the most vital steps in painting a bathroom. This is because the humid atmosphere is more challenging for many paints, and the high volume of traffic they often see means paint tends not to last as long.
Consider choosing a mildew-resistant, water-resistant option. Satin or semi-gloss finishes are better than matte paints, and their surfaces are also better at resisting damp conditions.
Pro tip: Don’t be tempted to skimp when it comes to choosing paint. Inferior products may cost less, but they won’t last as long. This means it will probably turn out to be a false economy since you will have to repaint the bathroom again much sooner.
Step 3. Work out how much paint you need
Before you can start, you also need to work out how much paint you need to buy to finish the job. You can use this handy calculation tool to work out exactly what volume is required for your size of the bathroom.
Step 4. Remove wall hangings and toilet
When you have your paint ready, it’s time to start the work. Begin by removing any pictures or other decorations from the wall and also consider removing the toilet. Removing obstacles like this before you start will allow you to do a much more thorough job.
Pro tip: You might not need to remove the whole toilet – just removing the tank might be enough. Turn off the water supply, flush the toilet to remove all water, and then remove the tank. This will make it much easier to paint behind the toilet for a more complete job.
However, if the toilet itself prevents you from painting the walls satisfactorily, you can also consider removing that too, which shouldn’t be a particularly difficult job.
Step 5. Clean walls
Another key step when painting bathrooms is ensuring that the walls are perfectly clean before you start applying the paint. In other rooms, you might get away with a cursory clean, but with bathrooms, you need to do a proper job.
This is because of the challenging environment in bathrooms compared to other rooms in your house. In any room, if the walls are dirty when you paint them, the paint won’t stay on as long – and in a bathroom, this is even more true.
One option is to use a mixture of one part bleach and three parts warm water to give the wall a scrub. You can also trisodium phosphate, TSP, a very powerful cleaning product that will ensure your walls are clean enough to be painted.
Pro tip: If you use TSP, make sure you wear rubber gloves since it is very powerful and will cause skin irritation if it comes into contact with your hands.
Step 6. Patch holes
After cleaning the walls, patch up any holes, and repair any damage with filler. Again, this will ensure the paint job will last as long as possible.
Step 7. Cover areas that are not going to be painted
Pro tip: Use painter’s tape to fix the sheets in place so they don’t move and to prevent any paint from running down the side.
Step 8. Start with the ceiling
If you are going to paint the ceiling, you should start with that first. You should begin by using painters tape to cover the tops of the walls and then using a sash brush to cut in around the edges – this means using a small brush to paint the borders that you can’t do with a roller.
When you have finished cutting in, paint the rest of the ceiling with the roller. Pour the paint into the tray and roll it onto the roller. After this, roll the excess paint off in the upper part of the tray and then use the roller to paint an area of around 2ft x 2ft.
When you are ready to move onto the next section, reapply paint to the roller. Repeat until you finish the whole ceiling.
Pro tip: If you are going to give the ceiling a second coat, leave it to dry and repeat the process. How long you need to leave the paint to dry can vary, so check the instructions on the can for details.
Step 9. Prime your walls
If you are not drastically changing the color of your walls, you may be able to get away without priming them first. However, if you are planning to paint them a lighter color than they were before, priming is recommended.
Furthermore, pay attention to any areas where you needed to repair imperfections. Even if you decide not to prime the whole wall, you should spot-prime areas where you used filler etc.
Step 10. Cut in edges
When you are ready to paint the walls, start by cutting in around the edges. Use painter’s tape to help avoid painting on the ceiling or on anything else you don’t want to paint.
Pro tip: Try to keep the paintbrush relatively dry – this will help avoid dripping.
Step 11. Paint the walls with a roller
Next, use the roller to fill in the rest of the wall. Use the same technique as described for the ceiling in Step #8.
Step 12. Apply a second coat
You will probably need to apply a second coat for the best results. Check instructions on the paint can to see how long it takes to dry, and then return to paint the walls again.
Pro tip: For the best results, paint in the opposite direction second time round – so if you were using side-to-side strokes the first time, you should use up-and-down strokes for the second coat.
Step 13. Tidy up
Leave the paint to dry before coming back to clear everything away and put everything back in place. Clear away the protective sheets, refit the toilet, hang any pictures back on the walls – and stand back to admire your work!
Extra pro tips
Here are a few extra tips that will help you achieve the best possible results.
- Use canvas sheets
Canvas sheets are probably preferable to plastic since they are heavy and don’t tend to slip about so much. However, if you have a major paint spill, you will have to clear it up quickly before it has time to seep through the sheet onto whatever is underneath.
A good solution for perfect protection is to use a plastic under-sheet and then to lay a canvas one over the top. This combination will give you the best of both worlds.
- Don’t take shortcuts when painting a bathroom
As a general rule, if you want to paint a bathroom properly so it lasts, you need to pay attention to all the steps and avoid taking shortcuts.
When painting other rooms, there are certain things you might get away with – but due to the environment in a bathroom, it’s something you shouldn’t be tempted to try.
This means you should invest in good paints, clean the walls thoroughly, do a proper job of priming the walls and take time to paint evenly. Taking the time to do a thorough job will repay you in the long run since the paint job will last much longer.
- Don’t tape where you don’t need to
If you are an experienced painter with a steady hand, you don’t need to use painter’s tape everywhere. However, if you are more of a novice, it doesn’t hurt to take extra time to use the tape since it will ensure perfect straight edges and no mistakes.
- Wear goggles
Whenever you are painting with the roller – and especially when you are working on the ceiling – it is important that you wear the proper eye protection.
Otherwise, you are putting yourself at risk of getting splashes of paint in your eyes, something that can cause serious damage to your vision. If in doubt, wear protection – it’s best not to take any risks.
Take your time and do it right
As you can see, despite the unique challenges it poses, painting a bathroom doesn’t need to be difficult. As long as you know what you’re doing and take your time to do it right, you can achieve highly professional-looking results when you paint your bathroom yourself.