To Tile or Paint the Bathroom? The Clear Winner

Tile or Paint Bathroom


Your bathroom should be decorated according to your taste. Paint or tiles are two great ways to add your touch to the bathroom and make it as stylish or outrageous as you choose!

Tiles are the best material to use in the bathroom as they provide a more waterproof and hygienic environment. However, paint is the more affordable option and can work well in certain areas of the bathroom, as long as the correct paint type is used. All floor and wall materials used in the bathroom should be water, mold and mildew resistant. 

In this article, we will discuss

  • Various ways you can use tile and paint in the bathroom.
  • The correct tile and paint to use.
  • Pros and cons of tiling and painting the bathroom.
  • The budget required for painting or tiling.

Pro Tip: To get your tile at up to 40% off retail prices, check out the great selection at Stonetiledepot.com.


Can You Use Tiles in the Bathroom?

Stonetiledepot - Mosaic Tile Bathroom
Check out the Opalo White Hexagon Polished Glass Mosaic Tile at Stonetiledepot.


Tiles are designed to maintain their strength, good looks and design while withstanding the rigors of a hot, humid environment! In addition to being durable, tiles are long-lasting, and are oh so easy to clean! 

Tiles might be costly upfront, but they are built to last, saving you on expensive maintenance and repair bills in the future.

Bathroom tiles are available in a range of different materials, from ceramic to porcelain and stone to glass. Each tile material has a purpose, but they are all designed to create a healthy waterproof, space in your home.

Check out my ultimate guide to everything you always wanted to know about bathroom tile. Or read on for some highlights.


Which Tiles Should You Use in the Bathroom?

bright tiles

Before choosing a tile for your bathroom, take a moment to do the research on what is available. 17 Beautiful Bathroom Tile Materials is a handy guide to the best tile materials.

The best tiles for the bathroom are:

  • Waterproof or water resistant
  • Durable
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Scratch, mold, and mildew resistant
  • Aesthetically pleasing


The best tile materials should be:

  • Ceramic – Glazed tiles are waterproof
  • Porcelain – Glazed tiles are waterproof
  • Stone – seal every year to keep in good condition
  • Glass
  • Vinyl


You not only need to select a tile material, but also a tile finish. A tile finish is created by treating the tile material with a glaze, polish, or another process that affects the overall design. 

For much more on tile finishes, be sure to read my post 12 Tile Finishes to Make Your Bathroom Design Pop! 


Tiling an Entire Wall

Stonetiledepot - Marble Mosaic Tile Bathroom
See the Carrara Polished Marble Mosaic Tile at Stonetiledepot.


Tiling entire walls involves time, money, and expertise. Unless you are an avid DIYer, tiling is a challenge, and it might be best to call in the experts for larger projects. 

Before the tiling process begins, the walls and floors need to be cleaned and prepared. This could involve a few days of labor, as you might need to replace or repair old tiles and remove grout.

The beauty of tiling entire walls is that you are free to add different colors and designs through the space:


  • The variety of colors, patterns and designs allows you to create a unique aesthetic.


  • Tile protects existing walls and surfaces from water damage, mold, mildew, and bacteria.


  • It’s easy to keep clean and maintain with regular household cleaning materials.


  • You can easily scrape mold off tiles and grouting, eliminating conditions for these nasty bacteria to thrive.


  • Colors and designs are durable and will not fade.


  • More cost-effective than paint in the long run as you will rarely need to replace tile.



  • Materials used to install tiles are expensive. These include tile adhesives, spacers, and grout. The bigger the area, the more materials are needed


  • The initial outlay of tiles is more expensive than paint for the same area.


  • Some tiles can be heavy, requiring repairs to the existing structure to hold the new tiles.


  • Certain tiles are designed for floors, while others are intended for walls. This means that you would have to buy two different types and sizes of tiles if you are going to use a standard design in the space.


  • Tile grout can crack and discolor, requiring frequent repairs



The costs of tiling a bathroom are determined by the area, the amount of tiles involved, and all the materials required to do the job. Labor costs vary from contractor to contractor, so do your research on the best in your area.

Expect to pay around $15.00 – $20.00 per sq ft for the average tile installation, while some contractors charge per hour.

Actual installation cost will depend on whether you:

  • Are replacing existing tile


  • Repairing an existing tile surface


  • Replacing an existing non-tile surface


  • Tiling on new construction


Fill out the form below and I’ll send you my free bathroom tile calculator. It will tell you exactly how much product you’ll need to order and how much it will cost.



If you are handy and want to try tiling around the bathtub yourself, I have a detailed post with step-by-step directions.

You’ll need to prepare the substrate behind the shower walls or on the bathroom floor. This is VERY important. If you are going DIY with tiling or want to know more about what to expect from your contractor, be sure to read my post on How to Waterproof Behind Shower Walls.


Can You Use Paint in the Bathroom?

small bathroom

Before deciding to use paint in the bathroom, we should discuss the different types of paint available and the reasons for using paint over tiles. Paint is an acceptable material to use in the bathroom as long as you use the correct paint for the job.

Using the correct paint in the bathroom is extremely important because:


  • The bathroom is often hot, humid, and wet: ideal conditions for mold, mildew, and bacteria to thrive. And mold and mildew aren’t healthy companions.


  • Moisture from your tub, shower and sink can damage paint, eventually causing the paint to peel. Peeling paint can allow moisture to seep through to the surface underneath and cause hidden mold, mildew, and rot.


  • Water damage to the structure of your home is costly to repair.


Which Paint Should You Use in the Bathroom?

wainscot bathroom vanity

Painted walls are common in many bathrooms. Traditionally, paint was the most budget-friendly way to ensure a healthy, mold-free wet environment, with white being the color of choice. 

High-gloss paints used to be the paint of choice as they generally performed better in damp environments and were easier to keep clean.

However, while glossy paint was easy to clean and it protected walls and floors from dampness, it did not contain any mildew-resistant properties.

These days, modern technology ensures that paint is thoroughly tested for use in all different environments. You can be certain that if the specific paint you choose is labeled as safe to use in the bathroom, it has been well and truly tested for the purpose!

My article Do You Need Waterproof Bathroom Paint? Yes and No! will help you navigate choosing the best paint for your bathroom.


3 Key Properties of Bathroom Paint

couple paints a bathroom

The very best paint to use in the bathroom should:

  • Have a washable finish. Bathroom paint will regularly be exposed to moisture, and it should be resilient enough to stand a wipe-down when required.


  • Have mildew-inhibiting properties. Choosing bathroom paint with anti-microbial additives will help resist the growth of mold and mildew.


  • A tight structure. This allows lower-gloss sheens to work as well in high-moisture environments as higher-gloss paints


Bathroom paint is available in several sheens and finishes, allowing you a wide range of colors and textures with which to spruce up your space. Specialty paints are a good idea in areas where ventilation might be a problem.


Bathroom Paint Finishes

Paint Bathroom or Tile

You can find paints in all of the following finishes:


High-glossA good, tough option for smaller surfaces like cabinets, windows, woodwork, and trim, but not suitable for larger areas like walls.
Semi-glossA good all-round paint with a shiny finish, perfect for the bathroom, especially the ceiling.
Satin A slight gloss, best for low-moisture bathrooms.
Acrylic EggshellWashable with a slight sheen. Great for use in wet areas.
FlatA smooth matte coating, suitable for low-traffic areas, tends to absorb moisture.


Painting an Entire Wall

Paint the Bathroom

There are many ways to paint a wall, with many different tools available for the job, from paintbrushes and rollers to using a simple sponge for a rustic effect.

Bathroom walls are constructed from different materials, from brick to plywood, so before you begin, ensure that you have the correct primer and paint for the type of walls that you have.

Painting the bathroom is not something you will do annually, so to ensure that you have the correct color and type of paint for the area, test the paint on the wall by using a sample from your local paint store. Once you have decided on which paint to use, you can buy the required amount and begin painting!

Always make sure that the walls are clean, grime-free, and dry before you paint. 



  • Using paint in the bathroom will allow your creative juices to flow – you can paint a solid color on one wall, with different colors on the others, or create elaborate designs to your liking!


  • Paints containing anti-mold agents will prevent mold and mildew from growing on your walls and fixtures, keeping the space germ free.


  • Paint is the best and easiest option for the budget and getting the job done quickly.



  • Cleaning and preparing bathroom walls for a fresh coat of paint can be a lengthy job! Some dirt and stain patches are impossible to remove, and you might end up having to sand or even replaster parts of the wall first.


  • Not all paint is suitable for the bathroom, so you might have to spend a bit more on specialty paint.


  • Paint is not as waterproof or durable as bathroom tiles.


  • Walls and floors will need to be repainted every few years, depending on how often you use the bathroom.



The costs of painting a bathroom are determined by the type of paint you choose, labor including prep time, and the supplies needed for the job – paint brushes, tape, etc.

The cost per sq ft is generally around $1.00 – $3.00 depending on the surface area. Or $350.00 – $850.00 per room.

Use this excellent cost calculator to work out the costs of painting your bathroom space.


Combining Paint AND Tile the Bathroom

Stonetiledepot - Cement Tile or Paint Bathroom -3
See the Handmade Chevron Honed Cement Tile at Stonetiledepot.


While using paint or tiles in the bathroom is a great idea, there is another option: Using paint AND tiles!

Tiling half a wall or specific spots is a great way to save on costs while still waterproofing strategic areas such as the shower and around the tub.  

These strategic areas could include:

  • The floor. Any areas around fixtures, fittings, and faucets will get splashed often!


  • The ceiling. Areas directly above the shower and the tub will receive the most direct moisture


  • Any walls. Walls next to the tub, shower, and sink should be waterproofed to prevent water damage from water vapor and splashing – don’t forget to place tiles around the window frames to protect them from dampness!


  • The backsplash around the sink faucet. This area is used most often and should be protected from water splashing against the wall surface


Although tiles and paint are the best choices for any bathroom, read 12 Cool Bathroom Wall Materials That Are NOT Tile for alternative ideas. 



  • Tiling half a wall or strategic area will cost less as you’ll need fewer tiles and grout and much less paint to cover the area.


  • Areas that receive the most traffic and moisture are protected!


  • Beautiful tiles will last a long time while paint colors can be changed from time to time to update the décor


  • Smaller packs of tiles can be purchased to cover individual areas to make a statement in the space, saving costs



  • Some tiles and paint colors might only be available in standard packs and sizes. This means you might have a surplus of materials


  • Painting and then tiling is time-consuming, so plan for a few extra days to complete the job



Overall Cost of Tiling vs Painting the Bathroom

Stonetiledepot - Marble Tile or Pain in the Bathroom
Check out the Calacatta T Honed Marble Tile at Stonetiledepot


This handy table will give you an idea of what it will cost you to paint or tile an average-sized 8 x 8 ft bathroom.  


Tiling entire wall$700 - $1000N/A$13.50 - $83.00
Painting entire wallN/A$35 - $100$62.50 - $125.00
Tiling and painting walls$250 - $500$35 - $100TBA
Tiling shower$400 - $600N/A$21.39 - $28.78
Tiling part of the shower$350 - $500$35 - $100$30.00 - $120.00


So Will You Tile or Paint Your Bathroom?

white bathroom with skylight and lots of natural light


Tile your bathroom, at least in the wet areas, if you have the budget to do so. After all, tile is durable and the best option for waterproofing. Beyond that, feel free to use water-resistant bathroom paint to enhance your bathroom decor. 

Note: If you’re about to embark on a bathroom remodel, get my Save Big $$$ Cheat Sheet. It contains designer hacks that can literally save you thousands of dollars. Fill out the form below and I’ll send the PDF straight to your inbox.

Tags: bathroom paint, bathroom paint finishes, bathroom tile, bathroom tile cost, bathroom tile materials, Tile or Paint the Bathroom

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