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How to Paint a Bathroom

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Knowing how frequently you should paint your house is extremely important- and learning How to Paint a Bathroom will help you get your home looking perfect.

Most home DIYers will be familiar with painting a family area or a bedroom, and with a minimum effort, the results can make a significant change.

However, when it comes to discovering How to Paint a Bathroom, it’s slightly different from other areas in your home, such as your ceilings.

Your bathroom is usually a pretty small area, and because there is water from different sources, the moisture level in your bathroom can be an implication.

For the best possible results, you should focus on every aspect of your bathroom, from prepping your surfaces, choosing the correct paint and the choice of color.

Continue reading through this article to find out How to Paint a Bathroom and other vital areas of your bathroom, such as your cabinets.

Understanding the Effects of Humidity and Moisture

As mentioned, the humidity and moisture in your bathroom are two main threats to your paint’s overall look and performance- that’s why picking out the paint with a glossy texture is preferred.

Moisture in your bathroom, created from the steam in your shower/bath, can soak or seep in between the wall and layers of paint. If the moisture levels are extreme, it can create peeling and bubbling- a texture you don’t want to be visible in your bathroom.

Glossy finishes are usually able to resist moisture. Once they have fully cured, gloss or satin finishes create a hard coat barrier that can block out water and prevent it from seeping into your drywall. Instead, the water will run down your walls.

Low-sheen paints like eggshell, matte, or flat paints have a softer barrier, meaning they quickly absorb moisture.

?Key Insight: Stay away from paints made for exterior purposes, such as masonry paint. Although some exterior paints have been formulated to be waterproof, hazardous chemicals like mildewcide can cause severe respiratory problems.

What’s the Best Paint for your Bathroom?

DIY and home improvement stores have a wide array of paint, and choosing the right one for your bathroom could be the make or breaker to the success of how to paint a bathroom.

As we all know, bathrooms are surrounded by water, and it will eventually touch your painted walls, but picking out the best paints can help prevent moisture from seeping into your drywall.

Essentially, the best type of paints for your bathroom is latex-based paints in a semi-gloss, glossy finish, or satin– you should try to pick out a paint that has a mildew-resistant preservative.

However, if you dream of a matte or flat finish, it can be done as long you pay close attention to the preparation procedure.

?Hot Tip: Your chosen paint should last you a decent amount of time. Just don’t forget to deeply clean and prime your walls before painting.

Latex Paint:

While oil-based paints are recognized for their durability and ability to withstand cleaning and scrubbing, they are not the best paint type for your bathroom.

Oil-based paints release volatile organic compounds, and as you are working in a confined space, which will reduce air circulation, the fumes may be too much.

Latex-based paint is a much better pick for bathrooms, and durability levels and resistance from moisture are improving.

Picking out washable paint will help to prevent water from penetrating or soaking through your painted area, allowing you to clean your painted area without worrying about moisture ruining your paintwork.


This type of paint is considered the most versatile because of the different finishes. Semi-gloss paints are easy to clean and water-resistant, making them the perfect paint type.

There is a wide range of semi-gloss bathroom paints, but here are two popular options:

  1. Zinsser Semi-Gloss Perma-White Interior Paint
  2. BEHR Premium Semi-Gloss Enamel Interior Paint and Primer in One

As with all paints, understanding the benefits and drawbacks will allow you to make the right decision.

Quick-drying timeImperfections can be visible
Excellent for bathroom walls and trims 
Easy to maintain 
Benefits and Drawbacks of using a Semi-gloss paint


Once cured, satin can also develop a protective coating, making it a little easier to clean than paints with no sheen, such as eggshell.

This paint type is another excellent option for your bathroom if you want a toned-down gloss finish that still reaps the same benefits that a semi-gloss finish offers.

Our top paint recommendations and the pros and cons of choosing a satin finish for your bathroom:

  1. Zinsser Satin Perma-White Interior Paint
Suitable for painting bathrooms, ceilings, trims, and wallsNot easily maintained, cannot be cleaned as quickly as semi-gloss
Can be cleaned 
Benefits and Drawbacks of using a Satin finish paint

Full gloss:

Glossy paints are full sheen, so they provide your bathroom with the highest level of protection for humidity and moisture. They are also effortless to clean, so of course, they are perfect to be used in your bathroom.

Below are the best glossy paint options to revamp your bathroom:

  1. Valspar Ultra High Gloss White Base Enamel Interior Paint
  2. BEHR Premium Plus Hi-Gloss Interior Paint
Suitable for painting bathrooms walls, and cabinetsIt takes a long time to cure
High durabilityCan show imperfections like uneven textures
Moisture resistantWater droplets are visible against walls
Easy to wipe down 
Benefits and Drawbacks of using a Full Gloss paint

Our Guide On: How to Paint a Bathroom

1. Preparation

In some areas of your house, it’s possible to get away with minimal cleaning, and as long as you remove the layer of dust, your paint application will be okay. However, it’s vital that you thoroughly clean the walls in your bathroom.

The soapy froth layer that lies on your surfaces can interfere with your paint’s ability to adhere.

?Hot Tip: Carefully look around your bathtub or shower as that’s where the soap scum lies. If left, it can cause your paint to peel.

Although using Trisodium Phosphate is optional, it’s highly recommended to remove any harsh gunk or grime, and it won’t negatively affect your paint job in any way at all. Just remember to wear your protective equipment if you are using this substance.

2. Remove Toilet Tank and Other Obstructions

Figuring out how to paint behind your toilet is a difficult task that causes many home DIYers to panic. The biggest problem is reaching all the nooks and crannies behind the narrow space behind your toilet.

If you have time and patience, you can always use painter’s tape around your tank and begin painting that area, or if you don’t want to work around the obstruction, you can also remove the toilet tank.

Removing your tank isn’t as complex as it seems, and there are only two sections, the tank and bowl, that need to be removed, but before you begin to remove your toilet, you should turn off the water supply using your shutoff valve.

ℹ️Note: Always flush your toilet afterward to drain all the water. You can lay a plastic sheet or spare towels around your toilets to catch any spillages.

You can also remove switches, mirrors, exhaust cents, towel racks, or other items that are easy to take down.

You can read through our blog on How to Paint Behind a Toilet for more information, including methods of removing your tank or leaving your tank in place.

3. Cover Areas you Don’t Plan to Paint

Use your painter’s tape of any areas that will not be painted in your bathroom. Once you’ve finished painting your bathroom, the last thing you want to do is go round and remove paint from places you didn’t intend to paint.

Tape of areas like your trim, bathtub, and ceilings. Using drop cloths covers your floor to prevent any spillages and cover your sink and mirrors.

4. Cut In

Using your painter’s tape, you should use the cutting-in methods to paint up the areas you taped off. Keep your 2-inch sash brush primarily dry when you paint. This will avoid any unnecessary drips.

5. Apply your Interior Paint

Place the roller cover onto your roller frame and apply a generous amount of paint to your roller. You should thoroughly roll out the paint on the upper area of your tray, so you have an even coverage.

Work in manageable square areas that are roughly 2 by 2 feet. Once that space is completed, move to an adjacent area and continue from the wet edge of the previous section.

?Experts Tip: Use angled strokes when you begin to roll out your paint, you show aimed to make a W shape on the wall.

6. Apply a Second Coat

Usually, leaving your paint to dry for two hours is plenty of time. However, your condition will affect your dry times. Take a look at your manufacturer’s guidelines on your paint tin to figure out your dry and cure times.

Follow the steps discussed in the previous two steps, cut in the paint, and then roll on to the main spaces in a W motion.

7. Tidy Up

Adhering to your paint’s dry or cure times, wait for your second coat to be ready to touch. Once you are satisfied that the paint has dried, you can begin to remove your painter’s tape. Clear away any drops cloths over mirrors and your floor and dispose of plastic sheets.

Reinstall your removed hardware like switches, mirrors, exhaust cents, towel racks, as well as reinstall your toilet’s tank and bowl.

Take a step back and admire your refreshed bathroom!
If you are curious about the W method when painting your bathroom walls, this short video will guide you through the best methods of painting your wall, from cutting into rolling.

How to Paint a Bathroom: Cabinets or Vanity

wooden cabinets for article how to paint a bathroom
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Once your bathroom walls have had that fresh coat of paint, the next step to completely refresh your bathroom is to bring your cabinets or vanity sets back to life.

If you select the right paint, this could be the finishing touch and give your bathroom the makeover it deserves.

Sorting out your bathroom cabinet is a cost-effective job that will make all the difference, and it won’t take you a lot of time. Your cabinets can be repainted and reinstalled in just a few days.

If completed correctly and close attention to detail is maintained throughout the project, your cabinets can last several years.

Let’s get into this quick guide on how to paint your bathroom cabinets for a flawless, professional look.

What Paints Can I Use for My Cabinets?

You can use either two of these paints to complete your cabinets painting job: water-based or oil-based paints.

Water-based or Latex-based

Latex paints have speedy dry and cure time, and because they are water-based, they can easily be cleaned with water. Just like your bathroom walls, using paint in either a semi-gloss, gloss, or satin finish will provide you with a high-quality finish; they are long-lasting paints.

Tip: For the best possible durability and quality levels, purchase a 100% acrylic enamel formula paint.


Oil-based paints take a little longer to dry than their latex-based counterpart, but when fully cured, they are durable and will hide heavy brushstrokes that may be visible with latex paints.

⚠️Caution: If you use oil-based paints, you should always work in a well-ventilated space. If you cannot remove your cabinets and place them in a ventilated area, you should use protective equipment such as a respirator and ensure you have fresh air coming into your bathroom from outside.

Step by Step Guide

Equipment and Materials List:

  • Marker
  • Drop cloths
  • Tack cloth
  • Painter’s tape
  • TSP
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Gloves
  • Screwdriver or drill
  • Putty and putty knife
  • Paint tray
  • Primer and Paint
  • Paint roller, with smooth-nap cover
  • Natural paintbrush

Remove objects, drawers, and cabinets:

Remove any drawers from your cabinets, as well as any objects on top of them or inside them. To prevent extra cleaning up, spread some drop cloths on the floor in your workspace. Tape your countertops where they join your cabinets to protect them from paint spills.

Take a screwdriver or a cordless drill and remove your doors and hinges from your cabinets. Also, remove the front of your drawers from the boxes if possible.

Cut some small pieces of your painter’s tape and attach them to the inside of your doors and draws. Label each one with a number or letter to define what cabinet they belong to. This will help when you go to reattach them.

Clean your cabinets

cleaning a cabinet before painting
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Wipe down the outside of the cabinet boxes, doors, and drawer fronts using TSP. Trisodium Phosphate is an excellent deep cleaning, and it will help remove any harsh grime, gunk, and grease from your cabinets. Mix half a cup of TSP to two gallons of water in a bucket.

Before dealing with TSP, you should put on your rubber gloves and masks to avoid respiratory issues or skin irritants.

Fill in gaps and sand

Take a close look at your cabinets, drawers, boxes, and doors for any uneven areas or gaps in the cabinets. You should use your wood putty and a putty knife to fill in and repair any noticeable damages if you notice any.

Allow your wood putty to completely dry; typically, this should take around 48 hours. Once you are confident the putty has hardened, you should lightly sand over the areas until smooth. You can also sand the doors and drawers outside using your 220-grit sandpaper.

?️Remember: The smoother your surface is, the easier it will be for the primer and paint to stick to your surface.

Take out a clean tack cloth and make it slightly damp, then wipe over the surfaces to remove any speckles of dust.

Primer time

Now your surface is fully prepared, smooth, and cleaned. You should apply a leveled coat of primer to the surface of your cabinets, drawer fronts, and doors; you can use your primer with an air sprayer, roller, or a paintbrush.

Using a sprayer is the most preferred method, and they can be rented relatively cheaper from most home improvement or hardware stores.

If you don’t want to rent and are using a roller or brush, you should paint in a long motion keep your paint application even so heavy brushstrokes are not visible. Paint the edges of your cabinet doors.

Check your manufacturer guidelines to ensure you give your primer enough time to dry.

? Expert’s Recommendation: If your cabinets are varnished, we recommend applying an oil-based primer as it will help the latex paint adhere seamlessly.

Paint time: first and second coat

Depending on what type of paint you choose to use, you’ll need to buy the appropriate paintbrush if you are not using a paint sprayer.

A synthetic paintbrush should apply water-based paints, whereas oil-based paints need a natural bristle brush.

Remember to apply paint to both sides of the doors, but it’s easier to allow one side to completely dry before painting the other.

Again, check your manufacturer’s directions and allow your paint to completely dry; usually, it’s around 24 hours.

Once your paint is dry, you can apply a second coat of paint to all sides of your cabinets. You should check your guidelines for the curing time to allow the coat to harden fully.

?Note: Cure times can take around one week, so be patient don’t rush to reinstall your cabinets.

Reinstall your cabinets

If you want to update your hardware, such as your doorknobs or hinges, you can do this when you are reassembling your cabinets.

Reattach the doors to your cabinet boxes and drawer fronts to your draw boxes, and you are done.

Now your whole bathroom should look refreshed, walls, behind your toilet, and your cabinets!

Key Insight: For a more in-depth guide on how to paint bathroom cabinets, check out our guide!

Summing Up: How to Paint a Bathroom

Bathrooms contain high levels of moisture and humidity coming from areas like your showers and baths, and if you are not careful, the moisture can seep in between your walls and paint layers, creating a bubble-like texture.

Therefore, it’s essential to grasp what paints are most suitable for your bathroom before starting your painting task.

Professionals highly recommend Latex-based paints for your bathroom. They are durable, and their ability to withstand moisture improves. Also, purchasing paint with the best finish will help prevent moisture damage, and semi-gloss, glossy finish, or satin are preferred.

Whether working on your bathroom walls or cabinets, you must thoroughly clean your surfaces to get the best possible paint application.

Using a chemical cleaner like TSP will help remove all grime from your bathroom and leave your surfaces in excellent condition to be primed and painted. But always remember to use the correct protective gear when dealing with the substance.

Ready for your next challenge, to get your bathroom look refreshed? Take a look at our blog on how to paint tiled floors!


Can I use any type of paint in my bathroom?

False – most kitchens and bathrooms are considered ‘wet rooms’ because they contain high moisture. And in these rooms, you want to use a dedicated kitchen and bathroom (K&B) specific paint to help protect the surfaces. Most interior latex paint doesn’t contain mildewcide additives; however, K&B-specific products contain these ingredients. Also, K&B paints tend to be more durable, allowing regular scrubbing and cleaning without damaging the finish. Always talk to your painter or retail store about what products are best for your paint project.

You only need two coats of paint.

This statement is definitely a myth! The number of coats you need to apply to achieve the correct color depends on the color and base of the paint product. For example, painting white colors overtop dark colors will likely take three or more coats. Likewise, if you want to apply vibrant purples, reds, blues, or yellows, you will probably need three or more coats. This logic is that paint comes in different bases (white base, clear base, accent base, etc.) and to achieve certain colors, you need more or less pigment in the paint. Always ask your painter or paint retail rep about your color needs prior to purchasing and tinting the paint. It will save you time, money, and stress in the long run!  

I don’t need to prep before painting

False – the most important part of painting is the preparation. “If you fail to prep, then you prep to fail”. The actual painting process only takes 50% or less of the total time it takes to transform your home. Generally speaking, at least 50% of the time it takes to paint your home is in the setup, the prep, and cleanup. Experienced painters know that if you paint overtop soiled, dirty, or unprepared surfaces the paint is likely to fail prematurely because new paint coatings need sound and stable surfaces for proper adhesion. Here’s a word of advice, make sure you prep before you paint!

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