How to Paint Your Bathroom

A fresh coat of paint on the bathroom walls is an inexpensive way to smooth out any flaws and change the look of the room. Painting the bathroom can be an easy DIY weekend project, but you should also consider the type of paint you use that can withstand high levels of humidity and how to make your way around tight spaces.

To ensure your work comes out perfectly, you need the right tools and materials and proper surface preparation — not to mention the right color. Here’s a look at painting your bathroom in 10 steps.

— Choose your paint.

— Gather your supplies.

— Estimate painting costs.

— Inspect the walls.

— Remove hardware.

— Clean all surfaces you plan to paint.

— Cover everything you do not want to be painted.

— Prime the walls.

— Paint from the top down.

— Use a roller on the walls.

— Wait for the paint to dry.

[Read: How to Paint A Bedroom]

Choose Your Paint

The paint you choose for your bathroom matters. While picking a color you love can be a challenge, you also need a paint formulated for high moisture levels.

Ed Edrosa, senior product manager at Behr Paint Company, recommends paints that provide effective protection against mold and mildew growth. “Since bathrooms are wet places, go for satin and semi-gloss paints since they do a better job in resisting moisture than lower-sheen paints,” Edrosa says.

If you don’t want to go with traditional semi-gloss paint, Mallory Micetich, home expert at Angi, says to find a paint formulated specifically for bathroom use, which is available in a variety of different finishes.

When it comes to color, Micetich says it’s more of a personal preference. Light colors are generally more popular in bathrooms than darker colors, especially if the bathroom lacks natural light. “Humidity makes bathrooms susceptible to ‘pigmentation runs,’ which is when steam breaks down paint and leaves streaks on the walls,” Micetich says. “These streaks are more visible on dark-colored walls.”

Bring Enough Paint

You will need one to two gallons of paint, depending on the size of the bathroom. You may also need to pick up some primer, which is used to seal the surface and helps the paint adhere to the wall. “You should also consider how many coats of paint your walls will need. If you’re using a paint color that requires several coats, you’ll need to purchase more paint,” Micetich adds.

Gather Your Supplies

You need the right equipment before you start painting. Make sure you have:

— Interior latex paint.

— Primer.

— Paint rollers in multiple sizes.

— Sash brush.

— Roll cover.

— Paint tray and liner.

— Paint stirrer.

— Sandpaper.

— Putty knife.

— Spackle.

— Paintable caulk.

— Drop cloth.

— Plastic sheeting.

— Painter’s tape.

Bathroom Painting Costs

Painting your bathroom without professional help shouldn’t cost too much — about $200 on average, according to Angi — though most of the cost will depend on the quality of the paint you buy and the size of your bathroom. One gallon of paint covers about 350 to 400 square feet for a single coat.

According to Angi, one gallon of paint costs an average of $20 to $30, but prices can range from $10 to $100 or more. Remember to use satin or semi-gloss paints for moisture resistance.

Paint Price Ranges

Here are common paint qualities and how much they cost:

$20 or less: Low quality paint that likely has solvents and pigments.

$20 to $30: Average quality, consumer-grade home paints.

$30-$60: Professional-grade paint which is longer lasting and easier to apply.

$100+: High-quality, designer-brand paints.

If you hate painting, you may want to opt for a higher grade paint since it’s thicker and easier to apply, which means fewer coats. Higher quality paint lasts longer and is easier to clean, too. But whichever paint you choose, it’s a good idea to buy extra in case of spills and for future touch-ups.

Inspect the Walls

Before painting, inspect the walls for any imperfections. Edrosa suggests using spackle to fill holes and caulk to fill any cracks. If you don’t repair damage or minor blemishes, any flaws can show through the paint, especially if it’s satin or semigloss. Taking the time to make repairs will result in a smoother paint application.

Remove Hardware

Next, remove anything that might get in the way or become damaged while painting. “Remove switch and outlet plates, mirrors, towel racks and any other items that can be removed relatively easily,” Edrosa says.

Unscrew outlet plates and towel racks and move the mirror and toilet tank away from the wall to make sure you get every narrow crack while painting.

Clean All Surfaces You Plan to Paint

Wash the bathroom walls and trim to remove dust and grime that can prevent the paint from adhering to any surfaces. Edrosa recommends cleaning with trisodium phosphate, or TSP, which is a preferred cleaner and degreaser among professional painters. If you don’t have TSP on hand, Micetich says a warm rag and mild soap will do just fine.

If you see any mold and mildew growth, you will need to deal with it first. Painting over mold only hides the problem. The mold could continue to grow underneath the paint, which could eventually cause the need for replacing the ceiling or wall.

Edrosa says you can clean the area with a solution of three to four parts water to one part bleach. Wear gloves and goggles as you apply the solution. Let it sit for a few minutes before you start scrubbing with a soft brush. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and allow the area to dry completely.

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Cover Everything You Do Not Want To Be Painted

To prevent paint splatters, drips and spills, use a drop cloth or plastic sheeting to cover the floor, bathroom vanity, sink and toilet. Micetich also recommends applying painter’s tape to any surfaces you want to protect from paint, like your trim or wall edges.

Prime the Walls

While it’s not always necessary, priming the walls before painting allows the paint to better adhere to its surface and could reduce the number of topcoats you may need.

Apply the primer to the corners and edges of the wall using a paintbrush. Use the paint roller to apply primer on the wall around the corners and edges.

Paint From the Top Down

Micetich suggests a top-down method, which means you paint the ceiling and any crown molding first, then the walls, trim and baseboard. The reason many painters use this method is to prevent paint drips from drying on the wall. As you move down, you can smooth out any drips and splatters.

You can also use the cut in technique. This involves painting corners and edges where the walls meet with your paint brush and then filling it the rest with your paint roller.

Use a Roller on the Walls

If you plan to paint the entire room, a roller can save you a lot of time. Fill your paint tray and roll the roller into the tray. Use a small roller first to get into tight spaces, Edrosa says, and then use the big roller on the walls. Make sure the roller is coated but not dripping.

Before you start painting, make sure to ventilate the room by keeping the doors and windows open. According to National Capital Poison Center, breathing paint fumes for too long can cause headaches, dizziness and nausea.

Use sweeping strokes when you start painting with light pressure. Start in the middle and use up and down strokes while backrolling as you go down. Get as close to the corners as possible. Do this for each wall until all walls are evenly coated in a layer of paint. Allow the walls to dry between each coat of paint.

[Read: Creative Uses for Wallpaper]

Wait for the Paint To Dry

“Wait at least 24 hours before returning your bathroom to everyday use, especially if steamy showers are your thing,” Edrosa says. “Beyond drying to the touch, paint needs to cure, which takes time.”

If you don’t want to do the work, then you may want to consider hiring a professional. “Before deciding to DIY your bathroom paint job, ask yourself if you have the time, tools and talent to do it yourself. If not, bring in an experienced pro who can do the job quickly and correctly,” Micetich adds.

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How to Paint Your Bathroom originally appeared on

Update 06/06/23: This story was previously published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.

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