Is Flat or Matte Paint Good for Bathrooms?


When painting your bathroom walls, there are several factors to consider. First and foremost, you want a paint that will stand up to the high humidity, steam, and frequent water splashes. So is flat paint a good choice?

Flat paint can be used in a bathroom, but it isn’t always the best choice. This type of paint does not stand up well to moisture. It is more prone to peeling and cracking over time, so it won’t look good for very long. In addition, flat paint does not wipe down quickly, which can be a problem in a bathroom setting.

In this article, you’re going to learn:

  • What types of paint are best suited for bathroom walls
  • Reasons why flat paint is not the best choice for bathrooms
  • Specially-formulated flat paints that you can use in the bathroom

4 reasons flat paint is a bad idea for your bathroom

When painting a bathroom, flat or matte paints are usually not the best choice. While these paints can look beautiful and stylish, they tend to have a few drawbacks that make them less than ideal for bathroom use. Here are some of the reasons why you should think twice before using flat or matte paint in your bathroom:

Lack of Moisture Resistance 

One major issue with using flat paint in the bathroom is its lack of moisture resistance. Bathrooms are naturally humid spaces, which can cause condensation on walls painted with flat paint.

Condensation leads to water spots and eventually peeling or bubbling of the paint. Any money you spend on painting will be wasted unless you repaint soon afterwards with a more moisture-resistant paint such as semi-gloss or gloss. 

Durability Issues 

Another reason why flat paint isn’t ideal for bathrooms is that it isn’t very durable. In addition, the low sheen of the finish makes it prone to scratches, scuffs, and fingerprint marks that can be hard to remove without damaging the surface underneath.

If you have kids or pets in your home, this could be an even bigger problem since they likely won’t be careful around your walls. This makes semi-gloss or gloss paints much better options since they are more resistant to these damages due to their higher sheen level.

Low Gloss Finish 

Flat paints tend to have a lower gloss finish than other paints, like semi-gloss or high-gloss finishes. Unfortunately, this low gloss finish may make your painted surfaces look duller than they would otherwise, reducing their visual appeal and making them less attractive overall. 

Difficulty Cleaning 

Finally, another downside to using flat paints in bathrooms is that they can be difficult to clean when dirt or grime builds up on them.

Flat paints do not offer much protection from dirt accumulation because their low sheen finish allows dirt particles to easily stick onto the surface and create stains that are hard to remove without damaging the underlying layer beneath them.

Glossy finishes, on the other hand, repel dirt particles so they don’t accumulate easily and can be easily wiped off when needed without leaving behind any residue or damage.

Specially formulated flat paint for bathrooms

Although flat paint isn’t usually a good option for bathrooms, some specially formulated flat paints have been designed to withstand the humidity and moisture of the bathroom environment.

In addition, these paints typically contain special additives that make them more resistant to moisture and mildew, which makes them an ideal choice for painting your bathroom walls.

Emerald Interior Acrylic Latex Paint from Sherman-Williams is explicitly formulated for bathrooms and offers exceptional hide, coverage and washability.

In addition to these benefits, this paint also possesses features such as advanced stain-blocking technology, smooth uniform finish, scrub-stain-block-water spotting and burnish resistance.

Plus, anti-microbial agents inhibit the growth of mold and mildew on the surface while meeting strict VOC regulations. 

Aside from Sherman-Williams, AURA Bath & Spa – Matte offers the ideal paint coverage for high-humidity areas like bathrooms and spas.

It provides a thick hide and gentle coverage that requires fewer coats than traditional paints, making it efficient and cost-effective. In addition, it is mildew resistant, so you don’t have to worry about ruining the look of your space over time.

Furthermore, AURA Bath & Spa – Matte has been created with Natural Color Lock technology that ensures colors will stay true and don’t fade, all while providing an even richer finish so you can enjoy beautiful-looking walls in your bathroom or spa.

Flat paint can be used on bathroom ceilings

While flat paint isn’t usually recommended for bathroom walls due to its tendency to become mildewed, it can be used on ceilings.

The reason is that ceilings are typically the least exposed surface in a bathroom and, thus, less likely to suffer from moisture damage since they don’t come into direct contact with water or steam like walls do.

The key to using flat paint in a bathroom environment is ensuring good ventilation to reduce moisture and that the paint won’t be exposed to water splashes.

If you’re confident these facets are sufficiently addressed, flat paint can save you money while offering an attractive finish. 

The 3 best paint finishes for bathrooms

With so many options on the market, choosing the best paint finish for your bathroom can be difficult. So we’ve compiled a list of the 3 best paint finishes for bathrooms:

Semi-Gloss Finish 

Semi-gloss paint is one of the most popular bathroom choices because it provides an attractive sheen and is easy to clean. It’s also more durable than other finishes, so it won’t chip or flake off as easily.

The downside is that semi-gloss paints tend to show imperfections on walls more than other finishes, so they may not be ideal for older homes with drywall that isn’t perfectly smooth. 

High-gloss Finish 

Glossy paint offers a high-shine finish that looks great in bathrooms but can be difficult to apply correctly due to its highly reflective nature. However, it has excellent durability and is easy to clean.

However, it’s important to note that glossy paints can make small imperfections on walls stand out more than other finishes. This makes them a better choice for newer homes with smoother walls.

Satin Finish 

Satin finishes provide an excellent middle ground between gloss and matte paints. Satin has a soft, reflective sheen that creates an elegant look while forming a slight protective layer, making it easier to keep clean than matte finishes. This versatile finish offers beauty as well as practicality. 

Bathrooms need a special primer

Using quality primer when painting your walls can make a difference in the longevity and look of your paint job. With its ability to bond the paint to the wall, a primer creates superior protection from peeling.

For high-moisture rooms like bathrooms, it’s especially important to use a sticky primer with mildewcide additives for greater protection against the elements.

Despite what you may hear about all-in-one paints, it’s recommended that you always use a good quality primer for an optimal result. Primers are essential for creating a long-lasting paint job that looks great and will endure through time.

Graham Walsh

I want to share everything I know about home improvement in order to help you. Whether you're a home enthusiast or an industry professional, I have the information that you need.

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