A bathroom is, quite frankly, a very challenging room. It’s cramped, it’s damp, and it’s frequently used. This makes painting one a very special and, often, very frustrating experience. A lot of do-it-yourselfers consider no other room in the house, not even the kitchen with its many cabinets, more challenging to paint than the bathroom.
You can handle a lot of home improvement painting projects without getting too strict about prepping your surfaces. In a low-traffic room like a bedroom or a dining room, dusting off the walls is usually enough to slap on another coat. This won’t cut it in the bathroom. Soap scum, high humidity, and harsh cleansers all create a very hostile environment for new paint. You don’t want to apply your favorite new color and watch it start peeling off within days.
The best general solution for prepping bathroom walls is to clean them with a bleach and water solution in a 1-to-4 ratio. Apply this with an ordinary sponge and then rinse the surfaces with clean water. Give them plenty of time to dry before you start applying paint.
Making Stylistic Choices
Almost all bathrooms are very small spaces, so this rules out dark and heavy paint schemes immediately. Don’t worry because you have alternatives besides the classic (and dull) all-white bathroom. Just bear in mind that the darker the shades you pick out, the more cramped and oppressive your bathroom will end up feeling.
Brightly-colored walls amplify all of the light in your bathroom by bouncing it around further. This lends the space a more wide-open, airy feel. This effect works particularly well with natural light. You’ll find you get excellent results from cream paints, cool blues or pastel shades of green.
So choosing a predominantly light color scheme will help your bathroom feel bigger. Does that mean you’re stuck with a one-color palette? No! It’s best not to build up too many extreme contrasts in your bathroom decor, though. Trying to complement those light-colored walls with dark, gloomy wall tile will end up spoiling the effect you were hoping for from the brighter shades. Try to keep your color variations within a fairly tight, closely-related palette.
Some bathrooms feel tall and squeezed, others feel wide and low-ceilinged. (It seems like you’re stuck with a cramped impression no matter what!) Use vertical decorative elements, like stripes on the walls, to enhance the sense of height in a short bathroom. Vertical stripes tend to pull the eye up, making sure that you take in the full height of the room. This will make the space feel taller than it actually is. For striping your walls, it’s a good idea to pick two shades separated just a little bit by lightness. As previously discussed, too much contrast isn’t a good thing.
Picking Out Great Paint
Paints for interior use are usually formulated in a few different finishes: matte, satin, and semi-gloss. You’ll get the best results from semi-gloss or satin paint in the bathroom. Semi-gloss paints are shiny, but they are very durable. They stay cleaner and they work great on trim. Satin is a more forgiving choice that hides minor imperfections in walls and woodwork. It also holds up very well to regular scrubbing.
Be diligent about masking off the areas you don’t intend to paint. This can be a challenge in the confines of a bathroom. Edge out the borders of your painting area using painter’s tape. Invest in a good sash brush (one which has easy-to-control diagonal bristles) for laying on paint around the edges.
Getting a good coat of paint behind the toilet tank looks like an enormous challenge. No matter how carefully you mask the tank, you’re probably going to drip and splatter on it. It’s hard to get a full, even coat onto the wall in such a narrow space, too. Isn’t it a shame that your toilet tank is immovable? Wait a minute … it’s not! You simply need to turn off the toilet’s water supply, flush a few times to purge the tank and then pull it off. Use an old towel or two on the floor to catch drips, but you shouldn’t encounter anything messier than that.
Modern paints are formulated to be real time savers. Make sure you use a self-priming paint that delivers great results in a single coat. This allows you to skip the priming process and get the hard part of the job done all at once. Just bear in mind that self-priming mixtures need to go on fairly heavy to develop a good finish. One full roller-load of paint, for example, shouldn’t be spread out onto more than two square feet of wall.
Although you can safely skip priming with the right paint, don’t ditch the drying period that comes afterward. Bathrooms need a full 24 hours to dry before you do much in them, especially running the shower. Introducing too much moisture too soon can make the paint go soft and runny. Keep the bathroom as well-ventilated as possible and give water based paints an extra day if you can. If you’re planning out your painting job as part of a serious bathroom overhaul, make sure you’re installing a reliable vent fan if the bathroom lacks one. It’s not just handy for making paint dry faster; it will curb mold growth in years to come.
Despite its ominous reputation as a major interior painting challenge, there is nothing in your bathroom that you can’t tackle with the right equipment and paint, a little planning, and some hard work. Wrap up your bathroom painting project and then, take a moment to relax and congratulate yourself on updating your bathroom’s look.
Contributed By: Ion McBain
Ion McBain is a successful businessman and runs the website, 1stPaintingContractors.com which provides top quality painting services specializing in residential interior and exterior walls.