Bathroom Wallpaper - The Guide
The times when bathrooms and powder rooms were simply spaces for cleansing rituals are long gone. Walls with tiling up to the ceiling or boring plaster finishes are also a thing of the past. Moisture-repellent or washable wallpapers make bathrooms and toilets a "place to be" with an individual touch. This room is by its very nature private, and design wallpaper can turn it into a modern oasis of well-being, an enchanting sea world, or an oriental hammam, where mere ablution rituals can become a joyful experience. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about choosing and putting up bathroom wallpaper. And there is plenty of inspiration to be had, too!
Table of Contents
- To what extent can wallpaper be used in bathrooms?
- Which types of wallpaper are suitable for bathrooms and toilets?
- Are there any water-resistant types of wallpaper for bathrooms?
- How can wallpaper be made water-proof?
- Can wallpaper be used in the shower area?
- Can wallpaper be put up on tiles?
- Is there any special wallpapering paste for bathrooms?
- Which colours are suitable for bathroom wall décor?
- How can I find the best wallpaper for my own bathroom?
- Which types of wallpaper are best suited to very small bathrooms and toilets?
- What is the best way to clean bathroom wallpaper?
- Our tips: How to make your bathroom look its best for as long as possible
To what extent can wallpaper be used in bathrooms?
As a general rule, there are no specific rules or limits for the use of wallpaper in bathrooms, the shower area being the only exception. Appropriate design wallpaper can completely replace tiles, plaster or paint, or add interest to the bathroom in the shape of a feature wall.
Wallpaper instead of tiles
Whilst tiles still have their place in bathrooms, suitable and appropriate (water-repellent) wallpapers offer a plethora of alternative design options. Compared to tiles, the choice of wallpapers is disproportionately more comprehensive. In addition, they add comfort and warmth.
Wallpaper instead of plaster or paint
With their hugely varied designs and colour combinations, bathroom wallpapers are a pleasure to the eye, provide sensual moments and stimulate the mind. Compared to walls with simple plaster or paint finishes, this creates an atmosphere of comfort and well-being. In addition, wallpaper provides warmth and cosiness.
Which types of wallpaper are suitable for bathrooms and toilets?
Specific types of carrier and surface material are the main determining factors for suitability in bathrooms. Both paper-based and non-woven wallpapers with a protective coating and moisture-repellent vinyl models are great options.
Paper-based models are only suitable to a limited extent and it is recommended to add a protective coat. The main factor here is the surface material. Vinyl-coated wallpapers with a paper carrier are very suitable, whereas models with a paper surface layer should be treated with a water-repellent wallpaper protection product.
Non-woven wallpaper models are by their very nature quite humidity-resistant and hence perfect for bathrooms. A protective coating or sealant is a useful addition to improve the water-resistance of the wallpaper. It also increases the degree of cleanability.
Vinyl wallpapers with paper or non-woven carrier layers are perfectly suitable for bathrooms. Their synthetic coating makes them water-repellent. As they are usually categorised as super-washable or scrubbable, they offer the greatest degree of cleanability. An additional layer of protective coating is not necessary.
Are there any water-resistant types of wallpaper for bathrooms?
The wallpaper's degree of cleanability indicates whether, and to what extent, the surface is water-repellent. The denser the surface sealant, the better its resistance to humidity.
Wallpapers with this characteristic have no moisture protection. Their surface is unsealed and not treated with protective coating. The term "spongeable" simply indicates that traces of wallpapering paste can be removed whilst still damp. Wallpaper models of this type cannot be used in bathrooms unless a protective layer is added.
Washable wallpapers feature a sealing finish which allows for water-soluble stains to be removed with a damp cloth. In rooms with high degrees of humidity (e.g. bathrooms), this type of wallpaper will still absorb some moisture. Regular airing and an additional manual sealing process are recommended.
The surface of super-washable wallpapers is treated with a very dense sealant which closes the pores and makes it possible to remove fresh greasy stains with a damp cloth or sponge. The chances that any moisture is absorbed are very low. This makes these types of wallpapers a very good choice for bathrooms.
Scrubbable wallpapers boast a synthetic coating which will not let any humidity penetrate, as long as the surface is intact. They can truly be called water-proof. The fact that they can be cleaned with a soft brush and mild cleaning or scouring products makes them unbeatable in terms of their suitability for bathrooms.
How can wallpaper be made water-proof?
If your preferred wallpaper model does not feature any - or insufficient - surface sealant, the appropriate protective treatment can still make it suitable for the use in a bathroom. However, the prerequisite for this process is that the surface material and the protective product are compatible.
Apply special colourless coating
You can order colourless liquid wallpaper protection products in our Shop. Use a paint roller or wallpapering brush to apply it evenly. Leave to dry completely. Do not shower or take a bath during this time. This would slow down the drying process and the steam has a negative impact on the consistency of the product.
Wallpaper becomes water-repellent
Treating wallpaper with a protective coating results in sealing the surface, an effect that can be improved when adding another coat. This makes the wallpaper waterproof and provides fantastic cleanability.
Can wallpaper be used in the shower area?
Using wallpaper in the shower area is not recommended. Even water-repellent, sealed or coated wallpapers cannot withstand the extreme demands created by the effects of continuous exposure to water and chemical substances contained in shower gels, shampoos and other personal care products. The same applies to scrubbable wallpapers.
Can wallpaper be put up on tiles?
It is not possible to cover tiles in wallpaper. The required smooth, even, absorbent surface cannot be provided by tiles with grouting. It takes a number of process steps to prepare this type of surface for wallpapering.
The first step is to fill the gaps created by the grouting, and any holes and larger cracks also need to be dealt with in the same manner. Once the filler is completely dry, the filled areas have to be smoothed and polished and all resulting dust needs to be removed.
Wallpaper adhesive on tiles
In order to ensure the necessary adhesive strength and robustness of the existing tiles, the next step is to clean them thoroughly. After this step, dispersion adhesive (appropriate for wallpapers) is applied, which works as a base coat.
Glueing lining paper onto tiles
Lining paper is the perfect underlay for wallpaper. You can order it here. It creates an even surface and ensures that the tiles are not visible under the wallpaper. In addition, it conceals smaller cracks and uneven areas.
Wallpapering over tiles
Now you are ready to put up the chosen decorative wallpaper according to the instructions in the insert label. To make sure that the wallpaper doesn't peel off due to continuous exposure to moisture, about 20% dispersion adhesive is added to the wallpapering paste. This percentage is increased for heavy wallpaper models.
Wallpapering above the bathtub
Scrubbable or highly scrubbable vinyl wallpapers are by far the best choice for the area around the bathtub which is constantly exposed to water, bath foam, soap, shampoo etc. Any traces of condensation or water should be wiped off as soon as possible.
Is there any special wallpapering paste for bathrooms?
When putting up wallpaper in bathrooms, dispersion glue is added to the regular wallpapering paste or replaces it completely (depending on the type of wallpaper). This ensures that the wallpaper will not peel off due to the humidity in the room. Removing wallpaper that has been put up with dispersion adhesive requires more effort.
Dispersion glues are strong synthetic adhesives for use in interiors. The product is dissolved in water and can be removed at any point before it hardens, after which it becomes water-insoluble. Moisture has no effect any longer after this process. Removing the wallpaper later can only be done with special solvents or by scraping it off.
Which colours are suitable for bathroom wall décor?
Fresh and expressive - these are the colour recommendations for bathrooms. Depending on style and ambience, colours could be calming or stimulating. A mixture of black and white exudes a clean, cool character. Green and blue continue to be popular choices for bathrooms. Beige is great for natural looks.
White wallpapers represent cleanliness and freshness. No need to worry about it being too sterile or boring, as there is a plethora of different stylish hues from pearlescent white to ivory, or cream-white.
Beige is one of the most natural wallpaper colours and works great with "green" styles. This mixture of white and brown hues is fabulous for bathrooms in the Country House style, themed landscapes, modern graphic looks or natural romanticism.
Grey is a deceptively neutral hue. In bathrooms, grey wallpapers can have an extremely contemporary, sophisticated or eccentric effect; they emphasise cool beauty and sharpen the perception of patterns. Grey is timeless and as such works in kids' bathrooms, too.
Shades of green
The colour green is invigorating and yet relaxing; it fills us with new energy. Symbolising nature and new beginnings, green wallpapers are perfect companions for the Botanical trend or tropical, exotic jungle looks. Both light and dark shades of green carry a sense of freshness and renewal.
The cool beauty of blue calms the senses and brings clarity to one's thoughts. In darker nuances, it provides a sophisticated, majestic flair. Maritime interior design concepts, inspirations from southern shores, or exclusive modern looks all benefit from blue wallpapers.
How can I find the best wallpaper for my own bathroom?
Today's bathroom concepts aren't tied down by specific themes, and the same is true for bathroom wallpapers. The ambience to be created is entirely down to personal preferences. The following ideas are but a small selection of the myriad of possible designs for fabulous bathrooms.
Modern wallpaper styles are determined by contemporary design trends. From lavish Baroque-style flock wallpapers in new colour combinations to a new take on stylish retro patterns - anything is possible. Abstract pattern motifs or unusual graphic wallpapers, stone imitation models or romantic floral designs are just some of the endless possibilities.
Luxurious bathrooms benefit hugely from deceptively real looking, sophisticated marble imitation wallpaper. These stone-look models can be elegant, extravagant or exhilarating and fresh. A large variety of structures, based on real marble or on an imaginative take on the luxury material, create movement and three-dimensionality. The colour palette focusses on the many different hues of the natural stone.
Tile wallpapers present endless design options whilst requiring very little effort. There is a huge choice of tile patterns available on the market. Stylish country house tiles, Spanish Majolica styles, modern graphic looks, sophisticated Art Deco tiles or oriental ornament tiles are just a few examples.
Cool concrete looks exude an exceedingly contemporary character whilst being totally timeless. Concrete imitation wallpapers present themselves in rough or soft, light or dark variations. Their structure can be smooth, weathered, or cleverly mixed with other materials. Concrete-look wallpapers fill a room with a relaxed calm - ideal for the Clean Chic look in bathrooms.
Wild, mysterious, exciting - the incomparable jungle feeling comes in splendid colours and enchanting patterns. Highly imaginative designer wallpapers boasting colourful parrots or flamingoes, lush foliage and tropical greens, take us on a journey to an exotic paradise. Green, blue, and bright contrast colours set the tone.
Natural beauty in a magnificent array of colours - floral design wallpapers are a fabulous way of creating one's very own oasis of well-being. Flamboyant bouquets, delicate field flowers, or colourful flowerbeds appeal to the senses and exude a sense of romanticism. In terms of colours, the spectrum stretches from bright to natural to bold.
In the countries of the Orient, body and beauty care is celebrated with lavish bathing ceremonies. Cleopatra, for instance, loved to bath in milk and honey. Ornament wallpapers, e.g. in Moroccan tile designs, are a fantastic way to create a ablution temple straight out of The Arabian Nights. Other possible options are stone wallpapers, for example luxurious marble imitation models.
Which types of wallpaper are best suited to very small bathrooms and toilets?
Clever use of appropriate pattern wallpapers and light colours can make bathrooms and toilets look more spacious. Lengthening stripes, small-scale geometric-graphical designs as well as delicate flowers are all good options.
Narrow vertical stripes, for instance in a maritime blue, "stretch" the room. White stripes combined with bright colours have a stimulating, widening effect. In narrow toilets, the "tube effect" can be diminished by colourful horizontal lines.
The smaller and more delicate the pattern, the better for little bathrooms. Geometric shapes like diamonds or triangles, small circles or dots are all great choices. 3D patterns, however, should be avoided, and too many different motif elements tend to create a somewhat restless atmosphere.
Light wallpaper colours
White, pastels, natural beige guarantee to add space to small bathrooms and toilets. If the base colour is light or white, matching pattern colours in slightly darker hues are emphasised beautifully, just as long as they aren't too dominant.
What is the best way to clean bathroom wallpaper?
Bathroom wallpapers need to be fairly robust and cleaning them regularly will ensure hygienic freshness. As a result, washability is a must. Wallpapers behind sinks should be scrubbable so that they can be cleaned with more vigour.
The term "washable" means that wallpapers can be cleaned with a damp cloth or sponge. The degree of cleanability determines which products and methods can be used. Washable and super-washable wallpapers can be cleaned with water, a cloth/sponge and mild soap solution. Scrubbable wallpapers can be cleaned with a soft brush and mild cleaning/scouring products.
The area around and behind a sink should be protected against water and splashes of any kind (soap, toothpaste, other personal care products) and easy to clean. A scrubbable wallpaper meets these requirements, and even greasy stains can be removed from it. It can be cleaned with mild cleaning/scouring products and a soft brush.
Our tips: How to make your bathroom look its best for as long as possible
- The durability of bathroom wallpaper can be increased by regular and sufficient airing, appropriate cleaning and occasionally re-applying protective coating. If the wallpaper peels off at the edges or other areas, it should immediately be glued back on.
- Child-friendly wallpaper should entice wonderment and attract the attention. Brightly coloured sea creatures, streamlined boats, seemingly moving dots will not just make the little ones happy.
- Cool and masculine - wood Imitation wallpaper in an authentic, natural look is the perfect choice for men's bathrooms.
- In windowless bathrooms with water-repellent wallpapers, moisture must be able to escape to avoid mould. This can be achieved by an automatic ventilation system, dehumidifiers or by regularly leaving the door open for an extended period.