Treating a room to a lick of paint is the easiest and cheapest way to freshen it up – or give it a whole new look. When it comes to finding the best bathroom paint, though, it’s essential that the formula is designed for splash-prone areas.See related Best laminate flooring 2021: Get flaw-free floors with our pick of the best laminate options from £13 per square metreBest reed diffuser 2021: Ditch the plug-ins with our favourite reed diffusersBest kettle 2021: Our favourite rapid-boil, quiet and smart kettles
Bathrooms are often damp for long periods, which can promote the growth of mildew, particularly if your bathroom doesn’t have good ventilation. So, even though bathroom paint will almost certainly cost more than regular paint, there’s no doubt it pays off in the long run.
If you're not sure which bathroom paint to go for, our comprehensive buyer’s guide below will give you all the useful information you need to make the right decision for your bathroom. We’ll also tell you how to get the best out of your paint once you’ve brought it home. Below this, you'll find our pick of the best bathroom paints available to buy right now, whatever your budget.
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First off, make sure it has moisture-resistant properties. Paint with a tight molecular structure will help to prevent mildew from growing inside or beneath walls and, even if mildew does appear, you’ll be able to wipe or scrub it away. Second, you'll want to make sure the paint has mildew inhibitors.
In the past, some manufacturers used phenylmercuric acetate (PMA) but the formula contained mercury, which is dangerous to humans, so today’s paint manufacturers use safer additives that are just as effective.
Yes, semi-gloss or high-gloss paints are good alternatives as the gloss repels moisture well and you can wipe clean any mildew if it does appear. Be warned, however, that this kind of paint doesn’t look great over large surface areas like walls and is better suited to windows, doors, cabinets and so on.
Satin has a little bit of gloss and can work well in low-moisture bathrooms. The same can be said for acrylic eggshell – and even eggshell has a little bit more sheen and is slightly more washable than completely flat paint.
Neutral shades such as whites, creams, greys and pastels are popular bathroom colour choices because they are stylish and timeless. They also flatter reflections in the mirror – that is, they don’t recast light in a way that alters your complexion. A vibrant green or red, on the other hand, could exaggerate and distort your features. Not ideal if you plan on doing your makeup or skincare routine in the bathroom.
Yes. Before you paint, clean the bathroom walls and ceiling thoroughly, paying particular attention to any existing mildew, and use tape to block off areas you don’t want to cover with the same paint, such as woodwork and tiles. Once dry, you can get painting. When you’ve finished, try to keep windows and doors open while the paint dries.
Check if the bathroom paint you’re buying requires a primer. If it does, you should opt for a moisture-resistant primer to help prevent peeling. This is a common problem, which occurs when moisture from unventilated areas like showers seeps between the paint and its surface. Ideally, apply one coat of your moisture-resistant primer to the walls (and ceilings, as steam rises) before applying two coats of bathroom paint.
The best bathroom paint to buy
Price £20 | Buy now from Amazon
This is non-shiny but has the same steam-resistant properties as gloss paint and is 10 times tougher than conventional Dulux matt and silk emulsion. Meanwhile, the special MouldTec formula has been found in independent tests to protect against mould for up to five years.
It comes in a wide range of modern and traditional colours, including neutrals, which we think work best in bathrooms. It’s quite thick (less splattering), can easily be used with a brush or roller and dries evenly and quickly. What more can you ask for in a bathroom paint? Even in damp bathrooms with little or no ventilation, you experience no peeling and it won’t wash off the walls like some emulsion paints. This is as good as it gets.
Key specs – Volume: 2.5 litres; Finish: Soft sheen; Number of coats required: 2; Number of colours available: 25+£17.30 (£6.92 / l) Buy now
Price: £16 | Buy now from Wickes
If you’re looking for a good-value paint that can compete with the big name brands, this is the one for you. Wickes describes this emulsion paint as moisture, steam and mould resistant, with minimal odour and a drying time of two to four hours. Customers report that the paint is thick enough for good coverage after one to two coats but not difficult to apply; some reviewers noted that the paint dries slightly darker than anticipated but most were content with the colours available. If you need a good quality option for less, Wickes Bathroom Soft Sheen fits the bill.
Key specs – Volume: 2.5 litres; Finish: Soft sheen; Number of coats required: 1; Number of colours available: 18
Buy now from Wickes
Price: From £16 | Buy now from Amazon
Available in a wide range of colours, this mid-sheen paint is suitable for other rooms that may need its hard-working properties. In the bathroom and kitchen, it protects against high levels of condensation and is 10 times more wash-resistant than conventional emulsions, while where it’s used in the hall and playroom you can wipe away any dirt, stains or grease.
It’s marketed as low odour and we agree that it’s much less smelly than other paints, as well as being easier to clean off brushes and trays. Be warned that you might need three coats if the walls aren’t already in good condition, so consider that when ordering your paint as you won’t want to get caught short in the middle of the job. Some customers complain of leaking packaging, but ours arrived in perfect nick.
Key specs – Volume: 2.5 litres; Finish: Mid-sheen; Number of coats required: 2; Number of colours available: 15Buy now
Price: £12 | Buy now from Amazon
If you’re looking for a cheap, quick fix that is actually effective Johnstone’s damp paint is a great shout. This plain white option is super-opaque with just a couple of coats needed and can safeguard against light damp problems. It’s suitable for plaster, cement, stone and brickwork too. So if you’ve been meaning to tackle a few areas around the home, this is the ideal solution. Choose from a 750ml tin for smaller jobs or a 2.5l tub for big areas.
Key specs – Volume: 750ml or 2.5 litres; Finish: Mid-sheen; Number of coats required: 2; Number of colours available: 1£12.00 (£16.00 / l) Buy now
Price: £16 | Buy now from Amazon
The USP here is the advanced encapsulated biocide technology which, for the non-scientists among us, basically means it tackles the prevention of mould right at the cause and lasts for a whopping six years. So, if you’ve got a bathroom with high levels of humidity and condensation – especially bathrooms with no windows, or very small ones, and/or a lot of usage – then this is the paint for you.
It’s very thick, so doesn’t go far, but easy enough to apply and dries in under two hours. You only need two coats, but be warned: it stinks. Some other matt-finish bathroom paints claim that you can wipe them clean without living up to that promise, but we can assure you this one does what it says on the tin. Do make sure you thoroughly clean off any existing mould before you get painting, though. Also check out Ronseal’s clear version, which is great if you want to apply a top coat over a colour other than white.
Key specs – Volume: 750ml; Finish: Matt; Number of coats required: 2; Number of colours available: 2£16.63 (£22.17 / l) Buy now
Price: £18 | Buy now from Amazon
Want to revive your bathroom without ripping out and replacing the tiles? Ronseal's waterproof and mould-resistant One Coat Tile Paint provides a shiny finish to tiles in a single coat, without leaving any irritating brush marks. Even better, you can use it on bare tiles or those that have been previously painted, with no primer required.
Before you begin painting, make sure to clean the grout with a lint-free cloth and repair any damaged areas, before giving the tiles themselves a deep clean. Once you've waited 24 hours for the paint to dry fully, freshen up the grout between the tiles with a grout pen.
Key specs – Volume: 750ml; Finish: High gloss; Number of coats required: 1; Number of colours available: 11