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Choose Your Bathroom Wall Surfaces Carefully

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Dutch Boy High Spirits C20-4 on the Walls

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It can be tough enough remodeling your bathroom - with shower, bath, cabinetry, floors, and more to choose from - now you have to think about your bathroom wall covering, too?

Yes. Choosing bathroom wall surfaces entails thinking about two additional factors: size and moisture. In the living room, family room, or even bedrooms, you really don't have space issues, at least not as much as bathrooms, which tend to be pretty tight. And even well-vented bathrooms have moisture issues.

1. Paint

How can you go wrong with bathroom paint?

You'll still have a baseboard on the wall, so at least the lower four inches is completely taken care of, with respect to splashes and the dreaded toilet overflow.

The main thing to avoid here is getting a flat or matte surface paint. You don't necessarily need gloss: eggshell and satin work perfectly fine for holding back minor quantities of moisture. You might even want to make sure that you prime the walls with a mildew-inhibiting primer (mildewcide).

Get 15 bathroom paint color ideas.

2. Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is the next obvious choice for bathroom walls. Obviously, you won't have many problems with moisture. But design issues are your main consideration. All tile has grout, and grout means lines: lines create patterns which can either enhance or detract from the bathroom's appearance (see "Wallpaper" above).

The other consideration is that, other than in showers or baths, you probably won't want to use tile from floor to ceiling. Ceramic tile usually stops at a certain point on the wall -- 36", 38", it is your choice. Anything higher, and it begins to look like a public restroom.

Get 10 bathroom wall tile ideas.

3. Beadboard

Beadboard, again, provides only partial covering for the wall. But beadboard can be painted with semi-gloss or glossy paint, which thoroughly protects the lower parts of the walls against moisture. You can buy panels of beadboard that are eight feet long and four feet wide (panels are installed lengthwise - so the beadboard will come up 48"). Beadboard gives your bathroom a more traditional look.

4. Tileboard

Tileboard looks like ceramic tile. It comes in four foot by eight foot panels, so you can install 32 square feet of "tile" in mere minutes. Better tileboard looks amazingly real, and the "wear surface" is a coated surface, so it also repels moisture. Cheap, easy to install - maybe best used for a guest bathroom or basement bathroom, though. After living with tileboard for awhile, it does become clear that it's a fake.

5. Wallpaper

Unlike paint, you can actually try out wallpaper - large expanses of wallpaper - before applying it. Buy a roll or cadge a sample, and stick it up on the room. Large patterns will visually reduce the size of your bathroom. Verticals draw your eye upward, and make the room feel taller. Horizontals seem to widen it.

As for moisture, the thicker, vinyl-coated wallpaper made just for bathrooms is about the only way to go. All-paper coverings will quickly degrade in the moist environment.
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