How to Choose Bathroom Finishes - Home Decorating & Painting Advice

How to Choose Bathroom Finishes

Q: What is the right sheen for a bathroom?

A: Bathrooms are tricky; rarely do we actually get to design and live with the style we want. Instead, we inherit whatever someone did years (often decades) ago. And in most cases? Yeah, they’re typically not so great. Luckily, paint is on our side, as long as we know how to choose the right bathroom finishes.

Sheen by Function

First and foremost, the room must function well. Choosing paint colors can be fun, but if you don’t select the right bathroom finishes, the paint won’t hold up. A bathroom tends to be a humid place, even with proper ventilation. You also, most likely, will be cleaning it on a regular basis, which may include scrubbing the walls and trim occasionally (at least in spots).

I typically like the look of flat/matte paint for walls, but those aren’t recommended for high-traffic or high-moisture areas. I tend to use a satin finish in both bathrooms and kitchens because I like the sheen and have found it to be durable, but Glidden officially recommends using semi-gloss which is shiny, but offers the most durable and scrubbable of these finish options.

Trim, Doors or Other Wood Finishes

If you are painting trim, doors, or other wood finishes like a vanity, you should use either semi-gloss or high-gloss. It will still give a pleasing shine to your painted surface, and it will hold up well.

Once you understand which bathroom finishes are right for the walls and trim, you can move on to the fun part: choosing colors! I’ll be doing this soon for my own bathroom (seen above), and I’m looking forward to freshening up the space.

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