Avoid wallpapering areas like directly in front of a sink where the edges of the wallpaper might allow water to seep in. Check out this washable and paintable wallpaper here.
Wallpapering in Wet and Humid Spaces
The bathroom is a special space where we spend a coveted hour and a half per week of reflective alone-time. It’s no wonder that many seek to upgrade their bathroom time to something that looks more like a spa retreat with the help of wallpaper. But is wallpapering in a bathroom such a good idea? In this article, we will be discussing water exposure, humidity, temperature fluctuation and all how this can affect your wallpaper.
For decorating tips on small rooms like bathrooms, check out our article on wallpaper for small rooms.
Bathrooms are wet places. Even powder room walls have the possibility of getting wet while you wash your face or brush your teeth at the sink. When choosing a wallpaper with water exposure as your main concern, make sure to look at the water resistance symbols on the packaging.
Wallpaper that might be exposed to water should have at least the ‘Extra Washable’ symbol, or even better, the ‘Scrubbable’ or ‘Extra Scrubbable’ symbols. This means that the wallpaper shouldn’t be damaged by water and should some toothpaste or shaving cream need to be wiped from the wall, that shouldn’t be a problem either. These wallpapers will tend not to be made of delicate or porous materials like paper, grasscloth, silk or velvet.
While a wallpaper might be super water resistant, keep in mind that this only refers to water splashing its surface. Don’t put wallpaper somewhere where the bottom edge will be always sitting in water, allowing it to seep in behind the wallpaper. This might mean not using wallpaper on the wall directly in front of the sink.
Managing humidity through ventilation is key in caring properly for your wallpaper. Check out this wallpaper here.
Humid Climate vs. Humid Rooms
Humidity is a problem for wallpaper with the potential to cause the wallpaper to peel off the wall or for mold to grow behind the wallpaper - not good. When the air is hot and wet, and then comes into contact with a cooler surface, it will condensate i.e. change from a vapor to a liquid. If this liquid gets trapped behind the wallpaper, this is when problems occur.
The source of the humidity makes a difference for how you should wallpaper. In countries where it is humid outside and the air conditioning is blasting inside, the water vapor is coming from outside through cracks or pores in the wall and then getting trapped behind the wallpaper. In this case, it is recommended to treat the wall with a sealant before wallpapering, and then to use a breathable material that will allow for any water to escape. But this article’s focus is not on this type of humidity and you should do more research if you are dealing with humidity due to your climate.
When we are dealing with humidity in a bathroom because of a shower, then the humidity is coming from the opposite direction. In this case we need to prevent the water from entering the wall and therefore, choosing a material like vinyl is better.
Of course, ventilation is the most important factor. If your bathroom is very poorly ventilated, this is not ideal for wallpaper and perhaps you should consider improving the ventilation before wallpapering.
The temperature in a room fluctuating very frequently is also a problem for wallpaper because with certain materials, this can cause the wallpaper sheets to shrink slightly and loosen from the wall. The most ideal material you can find is something with a polyester-fabric backing because anything attached to this material won’t shrink as the temperature fluctuates.
This bathroom is well ventilated and the wallpaper is not in front of the sink. Check out this wallpaper here.
Preparing you Walls
Preparing your walls properly is especially important in bathrooms. First, clean the walls to ensure there is no oils, soaps or mold spores that can possibly become trapped beneath the wallpaper.
In humid climates, it is recommended to then use a sealant to prevent any moisture from getting in between you wall and the wallpaper. As well, there are special mold resistant products that can be mixed in with the adhesive if you are especially concerned about mold.
When applying the wallpaper, make sure that you have completely dry walls and pay special attention that there are no air pockets in the wallpaper.
For overkill, there is a type of adhesive called Ovalit that is resistant to mold and will not let your wallpaper peel – however, it will also be very difficult to remove the wallpaper in the future, so check your priorities.
For information on wallpapering over tiles and other slick surfaces, check out our article "Can I Wallpaper Over Ceramic Tiles?"
Murals are a great way to make small bathroom spaces seem enormous. Check out this wallpaper here.
- Water exposure, humidity and temperature fluctuation will all affect wallpaper in your bathroom
- Choose wallpapers that are at least ‘extra washable’, better is ‘scrubbable’ or ‘extra scrubbable’
- Don’t hang wallpaper somewhere where water will be able to seep in the bottom edge
- Humid climate will require different action than humidity due to something like a shower
- Polyester fabric backed vinyl wallpaper is ideal for bathrooms as the vinyl won’t let water through and the polyester backing won’t shrink as the temperature fluctuates
- Don’t use delicate or porous materials such as paper, grasscloth, silk or velvet
- Make sure the walls are clean and dry when the wallpaper is hung, and that there are no air bubbles trapped
- Overkill hanging your wallpaper with Ovalit adhesives – it resists mold and will not allow the wall to peel… at the cost of being extremely difficult to remove later on
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