The Best Paint for Bathrooms

a nicely painted and furnished bathroom

Choosing the right type of paint is more important for the bathroom than anywhere else. Condensation and humidity can peel wall paint and breed mold or mildew. But not all paints work well. This article will help you on your quest to find the best paint for bathrooms.

Bathroom Primers

Priming is the first and most important step for a paint job, especially if you want flat or matte paint in the bathroom. A primer paint sticks to whatever you’re going to paint and smooths it out. In doing so, it:

  • Covers dark colors.
  • Provides a surface for the paint to stick to.
  • Blocks out stains and odors.
  • Covers imperfections in the wall like patches or repairs.
  • Optimizes the surface so fewer coats of paint are needed.
  • Seals porous surfaces from moisture.
  • Saves you time and money.

Pro Tip: Clean and lightly sand your walls before priming to degloss the surface.

Factors to Consider

As we mentioned previously, no single paint will take care of everything. You need to take the following into account when picking the right paint:

Type of Paint

The base is the most important consideration in choosing a new paint. The two most common bases are oil and latex paints.

  • Oil-based paints are durable and moisture-resistant. However, they release large amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which cause dizziness and headaches. They also need solvents and spirits to clean up, both of which are poisonous. As a result, they’ve fallen out of favor with homeowners.
  • Latex-based paints are water-based, giving them similar characteristics to oil-based paints. However, they don’t release VOCs, making them more environmentally friendly.

Mildew and Mold Resistance

Mold and mildew grow in warm, damp environments, like a bathroom after you just got out of the shower.

A mold- and mildew-resistant paint protects your painted surfaces from damage. Additionally, some paints have antimicrobial properties or fungicide additives to stop the growth of harmful microbes..

Pro Tip: Keep your bathroom ventilated to prevent mold from accumulating, either by opening the window, letting the bathroom fan run, or using a dehumidifier. 

Moisture Resistance

Because bathrooms have high humidity, they suffer from condensation, which can cause the paint on the walls to bubble, flake, and peel. Thus, they need moisture-resistant paint.

Moisture-resistant paints keep condensation from seeping into the walls where it can breed mold and mildew. They’re easy to clean because the smooth surface repels dirt.

Pro Tip: Some paints are described as “washable,” which means they resist moisture.

Paint Color

When painting a bathroom, consider how the color affects your mirror’s reflection. Picking the wrong color will alter your complexion when you look in the mirror, making it harder to get ready in the morning.

Light or neutral shades, like whites, creams, and grays, are popular for bathrooms because they’re calming and reflect more light to give a clearer and brighter reflection. Darker shades, like blue and green, will absorb more light, giving a less vibrant reflection and emphasizing dark circles and blemishes. 

Best Paint Finishes for Bathrooms

a white-painted bathroom
Photo Credit: Jawcam / Canva Pro / License

Generally, the glossier the finish, the more effective it is at repelling moisture. You don’t have to use one finish for the entire bathroom, especially if you want to use the same paint in other rooms.

Below are the following finishes best suited for bathrooms:

High Gloss

High gloss paints are durable and easy to clean. They create a hard finish that stands up to minor dents and dings and repels dirt and fingerprints. They also resist mold and mildew, forming a layer that prevents moisture from seeping through. Their glossy finish makes colors more vibrant and adds light to bathrooms.

However, high-gloss paints are more expensive than other types of paints. Their reflective finish might brighten the room, but it also highlights previous repairs and, depending on your bathroom’s lighting, can cause an uncomfortable glare.

Best for: Smaller surfaces like trim and cabinets


Semi-gloss paints offer the same benefits as a high gloss but with a less reflective finish. As a result, they’re ideal for bathroom walls and are better for touch-ups.

Best for: Bathroom walls, cabinets, trim


A satin finish is more subdued than gloss, making it worthwhile if you don’t want a glossy finish. Its slight protective coating makes cleaning easier than eggshell or flat paints. Essentially, you get the benefits of a gloss finish in a less expensive and more muted package.

However, satin doesn’t handle moisture, mold, or mildew like glossier finishes, so you’ll have to paint more frequently. Also, satin paint isn’t very durable and will wear down over time. Because of this, it works best in low-moisture bathrooms.

Best for: Bathroom walls, bathroom ceilings, trim


Eggshell finishes are usually not recommended for bathrooms because they don’t resist moisture as well as glossier paints. However, some brands make moisture-resistant eggshell paints suitable for bathroom walls. They’re also usable if your bathroom is well-ventilated or isn’t prone to high moisture (e.g., a powder room).

Best for: Powder rooms

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use flat or matte paints for my bathroom?

Professional painters avoid these finishes because they trap water, making them prone to mildew, flaking, and peeling. They also absorb light instead of reflecting it.

Can I paint my bathroom with acrylic paint?

Yes, you can. Bathrooms are full of water and humidity, and acrylic paints, being high-quality water-resistant paints, have no problems with either.

When to Hire a Pro

Choosing the right paint for your bathroom can be challenging, but it’ll go a long way in making it shine. If you are unsure what paint to pick, Paint Gnome can connect you with local pros to get a quote quickly.

Main Image Credit: SolStock / Canva Pro / License

Stuart Kushner

Stuart Kushner is a writer and aspiring product designer based in New York City. When he isn’t writing about home improvement projects, Stuart enjoys heavy metal music, exercise, and trying new food and drinks.