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How To Paint a Bathroom: Easy Step-by-Step Guide

Give your bathroom some love with a fresh coat of paint.

Your bathroom gets more punishment than almost any other room in the house because of the high humidity and moisture content in the air. Eventually, your walls absorb that water and the paint starts to flake off the walls. If that happens, it’s time to repaint the bathroom.

We give you several bathroom painting tips as we show you how to paint a bathroom in easy steps.

Key Takeaways

  • Select mold-inhibiting paint for bathrooms due to high humidity.
  • Prepare surfaces by cleaning walls with trisodium phosphate (TSP).
  • Remove obstacles and cover non-painted areas with painter’s tape.
  • Prime walls, paint edges, then use a roller for the main surface.

What You Need

You should gather all the tools and equipment together to make your life a lot easier. Here’s what you will need:

  • Paint roller.
  • Roller covers.
  • 2-inch sash brush.
  • Paint tray and liner.
  • Flat-head screwdriver.
  • Phillips screwdriver.
  • Plastic sheeting.
  • Painter’s tape.
  • Interior latex paint.

How To Paint a Bathroom

Before you get started, you need to select the right mold-inhibiting paint. Bathrooms have higher humidity, and if you choose the wrong paint, you risk it flaking off and peeling under the constant moisture attack.

Look for bathroom or kitchen paint on the label, or go for a more expensive brand with a higher concentration of solids. Solids dry to form a protective acrylic layer on the surface of your wall. Cheaper paints have the same level of pigments as expensive options but fewer solids, so the color will flake and peel a lot sooner.

1. How Much Paint?

The average square foot coverage is printed on the tin, so to work out how much paint you need, calculate the square footage of your bathroom. This is easier than you might think: just multiply the length by the width, and you will get your answer.

There are windows and doors to consider, but that still makes a negligible difference in the amount of paint you will need.

2. Prepare The Surfaces

There are so many factors that can affect the quality of your paint job. Soap scum, dust, and other embedded substances get under the layer of paint and reduce its adherence, causing it to peel and crack.

One of the best products to use when cleaning bathroom walls is trisodium phosphate (TSP). It is inexpensive, effective at removing grime, even on bathroom cabinets, and won’t react with the paint..

3. Remove Obstacles

If you are going to paint your bathroom, you may as well do a thorough job, and that means painting behind the toilet. You can paint around the toilet tank and bathroom vanity, but it is tricky to do without splashing paint. You could use painter’s tape, but it is challenging because the toilet tank will have hard-to-reach areas.

If you have a toilet with a separate tank, isolate the water supply, and drain the tank by flushing it a couple of times. Once the water is gone, disconnect the water supply pipe and remove the fixing bolts at the tank’s base.

Now you are ready to lift the tank and place it somewhere safe. Also, remove light and outlet plates, towel rails, and bathroom vent covers.

4. Cover Non-Painted Areas

Use the painter’s tape and seal off the trims, the bathroom ceiling, the bathtub and shower, and any other areas where you want to avoid getting the paint. Cover the sink and toilet in drop cloths, and do the same for the floor.

5. Time To Prime

Priming your bathroom walls is crucial because of the high moisture content. Steam lifts the paint and causes flaking. Priming first seals the wall surface and gives the paint a better adherence, making it less likely to flake away.

Apply two coats over the entire surface area to be painted and wait for two to four hours before attempting to lay down the topcoat.

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6. Paint Along The Edges

Remove the lid from the paint can and give the contents a thorough stir. Often, the pigments separate while the paint sits in the tin, so by stirring, you spread the color evenly into the paint.

Using the 2-inch sash brush, load paint onto the bristles and work up to the line of the painter’s tape. This is called “cutting in” and is one of the trickiest parts of the process. Try not to overload your brush as it might encourage drips and runs.

7. Switch To The Roller

Once you have covered the edges around the trim, ceiling, fixtures, and floor, it’s time for the fun bit. Pour a small amount of the paint into the plastic roller tray and fit the cover on the roller. Now dip the roller in the paint, ensuring that a generous amount coats the surface of the roller cover.

Start in the middle of the wall and paint a W-shape using angled strokes. Now fill in the gaps using parallel strokes. When you have a solid block of color, move to the next area and do the same, making sure that you work from the wet edge of the previous section.

8. Paint a Second Coat

Once you have filled in all the sections between the edges and waited two hours while the paint dries, it’s time for the second coat.

Top Tip

If conditions are colder, the paint may take longer to dry.

Repeat the entire process of the first coat, starting with cutting in around the edges and then switching back to the roller and filling in the sections in between.

9. Cleanup Time

Wait another two hours while the second coat cures, and then remove the painter’s tape from all the edges. Replace the switch and outlet plates and any other obstacles that you removed. Finally, reconnect the toilet tank and switch the water back on.

Bathroom Painting Tips

Why make life harder when painting your bathroom? The pros know a thing or two about painting techniques, so it’s high time we checked out their top hints and tips. Some of these hacks will change your painting life. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular.

Go Glossy

For areas with higher moisture exposure, like the shower and bathtub, paint with a higher gloss content repels the effects of water better than paint with a low sheen. Gloss paint is more resilient thanks to higher resin content and increased binders that create a hard shell.

Keep a Damp Cloth Handy

Even with the best preparation and safety precautions, you might still get paint splatters, so keep a damp cloth nearby so you can wipe away the paint while it is still fresh. You might want to keep a spray bottle of water and vinegar to remove residual stains.

Use Foil

To save washing out your paint tray, wrap it in aluminum foil. That way, when you have finished painting, all you need to do is remove the foil and throw it in the trash.

Use an Extending Arm

An extending arm is ideal for reaching the high spots when using a roller because it means you don’t need a ladder. It also speeds up the process and reduces your risk of falling.

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Do I Need to Prime Bathroom Walls Before Painting?

Any porous surfaces should be primed. Moisture causes the paint to flake away, so getting the paint to stick is very important in damp rooms like the bathroom. It ensures the porosity is reduced by sealing it, which gives the paint a better adherence, increasing its longevity.

What Paint to Use In The Bathroom to Prevent Mold?

You should look for mold-inhibiting paint. It has unique ingredients that kill mold spores and reduce the chances of unsightly stains taking hold and spreading. If you look at the label on the paint can, it will either say it is mold-resistant or suitable for use in the bathroom.

Can I Paint Over Old Bathroom Paint?

You can paint over old bathroom paint, but you shouldn’t if you want the best results. The quality of your wall will suffer because it will show every blemish on the surface. For the best results, you should try to remove the paint or sand the surface to remove lumps and bumps before you start painting.

You also need to create a surface where the paint can bond, and an old layer of paint might not do that. Plus, if you are changing the color, painting light over dark won’t work. First, you need to paint the wall white to neutralize the dark color before applying the lighter topcoat.

Does Bathroom Paint Need an Undercoat?

It only needs an undercoat if you are changing from a dark color to a light one. The undercoat neutralizes the dark pigment and gives you a light surface to paint on with the new color. If you are sticking with a similar color or sheen, you probably don’t need to undercoat.

What Color Paint Make a Small Bathroom Look Bigger?

Lighter colors are better for opening up small bathrooms and making them look larger. They reflect the light and reduce shadows in the room. If you choose a satin or eggshell finish, the sheen increases the spread of light.

When selecting the right paint for your small bathroom, think of creams, white, pale blue, and a host of bright colors.

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About the Author

Mark Weir

Mark spent 24 years working in real estate, so he knows his way around a home. He also worked with contractors and experts, advising them on issues of planning, investments, and renovations. Mark is no stranger to hands-on experience, having renovated his own home and many properties for resale. He likes nothing better than seeing a project through to completion.