Time for a bathroom wall refresh! You’ve carefully selected the color, and now it’s time to buy some paint. But what’s the best paint sheen for bathrooms — and does it really matter?
I’m here to tell you that choosing the best paint type for your bathroom is pretty important. Because it’s a high moisture space, mold and mildew love to make themselves at home in the bathroom. (Not to mention those ugly, brown drip stains that seem to come out of nowhere.)
This is why you need a paint finish that’s EASY TO CLEAN, resists mildew, and doesn’t start peeling when there’s lots of moisture. Which is why we’re going to be talking paint sheens and product recommendations in this article.
Also, I want to make sure that you clean up any existing mold or mildew first (rather than painting over it), so I’m going to share a few pointers to help out with that. Because if you paint right over that nastiness, you’ll end up with so many more problems than you already have.
Oh, and just for kicks and giggles, I’ll share a few awesome bathroom paint color suggestions as well.
Ya know… just in case you’re still undecided. 😉
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What’s the Best Paint Sheen for Bathrooms?
Satin is the best paint sheen for bathrooms, along with semi-gloss and gloss, depending on the level of shine you want. Keep in mind that, the higher the sheen, the more durable the paint.
However, you might not want super glossy walls (and I wouldn’t blame you a bit). I personally prefer satin paint for the walls. I would definitely use semi-gloss or gloss for any trim, though.
Satin is a little shinier than eggshell and, thus, a better choice for a high moisture room like the bathroom. Avoid using a flat or matte finish in this space.
In the next section, I’m going to give you a brief overview of the different types of paint sheens, and then I’ll share some of my paint brand recommendations for the bathroom.
Types of Paint Sheens
Most paint brands offer at least a few different finish options.
The most common sheens:
- flat/matte (no shine)
- eggshell (most popular, low shine)
- satin (medium shine)
- semi-gloss (shiny)
- high gloss (glasslike sheen)
Bathroom Paint Recommendations
Each pick is rated by price, $ being on the lower end of the price range and $$$ being on the higher end.
1. Regal Select by Benjamin Moore ($$$)
2. Valspar Signature ($)
3. Behr Premium Plus Low VOC ($)
4. Aura by Benjamin Moore ($$$)
5. Marquee by Behr ($$)
6. Ben by Benjamin Moore ($$)
7. Glidden Essentials Interior Paint ($)
9: Clare Paint ($$)
10. Zinsser Perma-White ($)
Let’s talk more about these top rated interior paint brands here.
Popular Bathroom Paint Colors
What’s the best paint color for a bathroom? Obviously, there are so many different options that there’s really no “one size fits all” answer.
For bathrooms, people are typically drawn either to colors that brighten them up or to soothing, spa-like hues. Here are a few great recommendations.
- Decorator’s White by Benjamin Moore (order sample)
- Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore (order sample)
- Frozen by Clare Paint
- Minimalist Look by The Spruce (shop Amazon)
- Stonington Gray by Benjamin Moore (order sample)
Pro Tip: If you’re buying paint from Sherwin-Williams, Benjamin Moore, Farrow&Ball, or PPG, then you can have peel-and-stick samples (made with two coats of real paint) of any color you like sent right to your doorstep. Click here to shop Samplize.
Best Paint for a Steamy Bathroom Ceiling
In the bathroom, avoid flat white ceiling paint and use paint that has a minimum of a satin sheen to ensure cleanability, durability, and stain resistance.
(No, it doesn’t necessarily have to be marketed as “ceiling paint”, so don’t worry about that.)
In fact, whichever paint brand you choose for the walls and trim should also work for the ceiling, as long as it comes in a satin (or shinier) finish. And since we already established that you should always use a minimum of a satin sheen in the bathroom, that shouldn’t be a problem. 🙂
Now that we’ve covered the best paint sheen for bathrooms and what type of ceiling paint to use, you’re *almost* ready to get started painting. But first… What about the mold?
First of all, you’ll want to understand WHY your bathroom walls have mold or mildew. Then, you’ll need to do a thorough cleaning before you start painting. Finally, once it’s painted, what can you do to prevent mold on the bathroom walls or ceiling?
We’ll cover all of that in the next few sections….
Pro Tip: To get the best paint finish, and to avoid future problems, you’ll want to clean all of the walls in the bathroom — whether they have mold or not. Read more about washing your walls with vinegar before painting.
Why are My Bathroom Walls Molding?
The most common causes of bathroom mold: moisture and warmth. This is the ideal environment for mold spores to begin growing.
So, every time you take a shower or bath, wash your hand, or clean your face, you’re creating a nice little home for these mold spores to multiply in. And then the other tiny organisms and dust that reside in your bathroom feed the mold, helping it to multiply even more rapidly (source).
If that’s not motivation to clean the bathroom regularly, I don’t know what is!
In the bathroom, lingering moisture is often a contributing factor when there’s a mold problem. Common causes of lingering moisture:
- lack of ventilation
- leaky toilets, sinks, pipes
- damp cellulose materials
Now that we’ve established the WHY, are you ready to move on to HOW? Next, we’re discussing how to clean mold off bathroom walls, plus how to prevent it from coming back.
How to Clean Mold Off Walls in Bathroom
First of all, if you have black mold or mold covering more than a few square feet, then you’re going to need to take some safety precautions:
- wear old clothes that you can throw away afterward
- wear goggles, gloves, and N-95 or P-100 respirators
- put a cheap box fan in the window to ventilate
- toss the fan away afterward (the spores will be impossible to remove)
- cover ducts and turn off the furnace/air conditioner while cleaning
If the moldy area is relatively small, then you could try scrubbing it down with undiluted vinegar. If you need a little more scrubbing power, you could try combining two tablespoons of borax, 1/4 cup white vinegar, and two cups of hot water.
If it doesn’t come off right away, spray the above solution onto the moldy area and let sit for a few minutes before scrubbing it again.
How to Prevent Mold on Bathroom Walls
Because moisture is the most common cause of mold and mildew, the best way to prevent a recurrence is to control humidity in the bathroom.
A few solutions:
- Keep it well ventilated
- Let in the sunlight (if you have a window)
- Mop up water immediately
- Fix any leaks
- Clean regularly (to avoid feeding mold)
And there we have it! We’ve discussed the best type of paint for bathrooms, paint brand recommendations (including ceiling paint), and even a few color recommendations.
You also know that it’s crucial to remove mold and mildew rather than painting over it, how to do so, and even some ways to prevent it in the future.
Soooo. Are you ready to get started? Or do you want to read more?
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