Can Wallpaper Be Used In The Bathroom? - Building AU
Can Wallpaper Be Used In The Bathroom?

Can Wallpaper Be Used In The Bathroom?

While most of us have seen examples of it, many aren’t entirely sure if wallpaper should be used in the bathroom. Many bathroom renovators won’t even consider it, putting it in the ‘too hard’ basket. However, wallpaper can bring a unique, stylistic quality that few other wall coverings can match if the conditions are right and it's applied with care.

Words by Yohei Guy

A bathroom needs to be practical but you also want it to look great too. Wallpaper is a fantastic way of creating a point of difference in your bathroom, elevating it to something a little less ordinary. Unfortunately, many people don’t even ask "can wallpaper be used in the bathroom?" which is a real shame because the answer is of course “yes” by doing your research and following a few fundamentals.

When can wallpaper be used in the bathroom?

While we are big fans of bathroom wallpaper, your bathroom conditions and the method of application need to be carefully considered before going forward. For instance, you may need to carry out prep work to make sure your bathroom is suitable for wallpaper.

When renovating your bathroom, you may only be able to wallpaper a feature wall or accent wall. Either way, there are several factors that you should consider to determine if it's worth doing.

Timberline Bathroom Products - Oxbow


One of the biggest considerations is humidity. Materials like wood and paper don't do well if they get too wet, so moisture in the air can cause problems with wallpaper. Baths and showers can cause a lot of humidity and sometimes makes wallpapering difficult.

In a small bathroom or powder room that doesn't have a bath or shower, this isn't so much of a problem. A bathroom with a bath and shower will need to be well-ventilated to make wallpapering a genuine, long-term option. If you do decide to decorate your bathroom with wallpaper, you will also need to make sure you properly prepare the wall and treat the wallpaper.

After application, it's important to manage the moisture as best you can. A powerful exhaust fan and infrared ceiling heater are both additions you could make to help with this. You can also wire the fan to come on with the light, so it's always running when the bathroom is in use.


Regardless of your bathroom design, splashes are almost impossible to avoid. Your shower, bath, and sink are all likely to cause splashes in the surrounding area, and too much of this can affect your wallpaper.

The best way to avoid this is with a buffer around the shower/bath covering any areas that are subject to splashes. Interior paint works and tiles are other popular choices.

Similarly, with a sink, you should have a backsplash that covers enough area to prevent the wallpaper from getting wet. The aerator in your faucet will affect the size of droplets, so make sure it's working properly to keep them to a minimum.

Silvertone Photography - North Beach Coastal Barn Home


Heat, especially alongside moisture, can also damage the wallpaper. A bathroom will generally be warmest just after someone has had a shower, but the heat can vary a lot. The best thing to do to help with this is to ensure there is a way for the heat to escape.

A skylight or window is ideal for this and will also let in some natural light. A powerful extractor fan can also help cool your bathroom down after use.

Steps for bathroom wallpapering

So now that you're no longer asking "can I put wallpaper in the bathroom?" the next question is "how do I install wallpaper in the bathroom?". The process isn't too different from other rooms, but with a bathroom, there are a few important things you need to remember.

1. Prepare your wall

You should only apply wallpaper to smooth surfaces. You'll want to avoid:

  • Textured walls
  • Porous walls
  • Unpainted walls
  • High-gloss paint

Make sure the surface is flat and spotlessly clean.

2. Dampen and book wallpaper

Lightly cover the back of the wallpaper using a spray bottle. Make sure it's fully covered right to the edges. Booking the wallpaper will ensure the glue doesn't dry out. Booking essentially means folding the paper inwards on itself for around 5 minutes.

3. Apply the wallpaper

Apply the panels to the wall going from top to bottom. Use a laser line to ensure it's straight. Help it stick and get rid of any air bubbles with a wallpaper smoother.

4. Coat the wallpaper

Use decorator varnish to protect the wallpaper. You can use a brush or a roller for this. When applying varnish it will have a milky-white colour, but this will clear as it dries.

6. Protect the edges and seams

Once it's dried you can fill between the baseboards and wallpaper with silicone caulk. Do a final check around the edges - if you notice any lifting or curling seams you can fix them with seam sealant.

Jennifer Turner - Shenton Park

Types of wallpaper for bathrooms

When thinking about the kind of wallpaper you want there are countless styles to choose from. There are, however, only two suitable types for bathrooms.


Paper wallpaper is a traditional wall covering. This type can be quite susceptible to water damage, so it must be coated after application otherwise it will quickly degrade. It's important to ensure all edges are sealed as even with coating damage can occur if water gets behind the paper.


Peel & stick wallpaper is designed to make things a bit easier, and still offers plenty of flexibility. It's also easier to remove when you decide to change it again. The main advantage is that the vinyl is far better suited to handle moisture than paper, so it's generally the better choice for a bathroom.

Elevate your beautiful bathroom with wallpaper

When planning your bathroom makeover or full renovation, wallpaper is something that should definitely be considered as a wall covering alternative. So long as you plan and prepare properly, you can add a stylish and unique feature that will make your bathroom stand out. With so many great colours, patterns and designs to choose from, it's an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

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