Bathroom Paints That Offer the Best Performance

Professionals like us recommend the most durable paints for bathroom walls and ceilings. 100% acrylic water-based urethanes and ceramic interior paints that repel microorganisms offer added performance benefits in preventing mold and mildew growth. 

But paints that provide mildew resistance are not always enough, especially for bathrooms. Since the root cause of mildew growth is water vapor, higher-quality bathroom paints will limit surface moisture absorption. 

With over 25 years of painting experience, we will share tips on understanding all the qualities a premium bathroom paint should have while offering product recommendations for specific needs.

Bad Bathroom Paint Recommendations

Paint recommendations from nonlicensed sources usually provide standard paint advice and often entice buyers with inexpensive, low-performing products that offer little to no added benefit. 

Therefore, consumers are often misled and mistakenly value familiarity with where the paint is sold rather than differentiating performance advantages. 

Cheap interior paints with glossier finishes do not guarantee the protection of your bathroom walls, ceilings, or trim from moisture or mildew, nor offer improved color retention or wipeability.


The Importance of Bathroom Paint Moisture Resistance

Since the paint additives used to prevent surface bacteria, viruses, fungi, and microorganisms only last 2-6 years, it’s essential to use a bathroom paint that assures long-term resistance to surface moisture. 

Ceramic and urethane finishes offer tight cell structures, making the surface nearly impervious, and are the best interior paints at limiting moisture absorption. Here are our top 2 picks for exceptional bathroom wall and ceiling moisture resistance. 


California Paints Aquaborne Ceramic $86


Sherwin-Williams Emerald Urethane $82

Bathrooms are essential to our daily routines. And no matter how often we are reminded that high moisture levels in bathrooms can cause issues, we remain prone to avoid implementing proper precautions. 

Whether winter or summer, homeowners will continue to take hot showers and wash their hands, and rightfully so. 

So, high humidity and sink splashback are inevitable, even if the bathroom has high ceilings or adequate exhaust fans. Therefore, choosing a paint that will resist regular moisture is monumental. 

How Surface Mildew Begins

Over 95% of homes in the US have interior walls covered by open-cell gypsum drywall, a porous material. Builders also utilize cheap paint and primers that do a poor job of sealing the surface. 

Therefore, as interior bathroom walls are continuously exposed to damp, dark, and often humid conditions, mold and mildew growth will begin to thrive over time.

Mildew growth can take place on wallpapered surfaces, fixtures, and flooring. However, walls and ceilings account for over 90% of bathroom surfaces, and mildew-resistant paint can eliminate scum and organic growth within these areas.

You can eliminate the potential of harmful airborne spores and surface contaminations by spending a few more dollars on bathroom paint with built-in mildewcides. 

The Best Antimicrobial, Mold Killing Paint & Primers

If the paint is flaking in your bathroom, it has likely been overexposed to high heat or moisture, and most full bathrooms are frequently exposed to both conditions, mainly from hot showers. 

The third reason could be the result of painting water-based paint over oil

Cleaning the walls and incorporating mold-killing primers with a top coat of antimicrobial paint is the best process for eliminating existing mold issues in bathrooms. Here are the steps and product recommendations.

Day 1

  1. The first step to fixing the issue is to scrape and sand the walls.
  2. If mold is present, carefully wipe the walls with a sponge using a warm bleach solution.

Day 2

  1. After letting the walls dry for 24hrs, it is time to prime them with a mold-killing primer. 
  2. Wall & surface preparations.
  3. Sand the walls and apply a second coat of primer for added protection.
  4. Top-coat with antimicrobial paint

Copper has been used for years and is widely known to kill organic growth, but these raw materials are no longer exclusive to piping. Copper is also infused into paint and fabrics to prevent viruses and bacterial germs. Copper-infused paint kills cells in microorganisms the quickest and most effectively. Here are our top picks for their antimicrobial properties.


Behr Copper Force $38.00


PPG Copper Armor $49.00

Bathroom Exhaust, Moisture, & Ventilation

Most bathroom exhaust fans don’t provide adequate ventilation, but you may be in luck if the room has a window. 

Additionally, most exhaust fans are not placed directly above the shower where the steam originates, causing excessive ceiling moisture and leading to drywall and paint damage. 

Either way, running the exhaust fan for 20 minutes before and after a shower is good practice. You should also leave the entry door open to the bathroom for at least 2 hours after showering. 

Best Flat Bathroom Ceiling Paint

Most ceilings are flat to prevent glare and hide imperfections, but heavily clay-based flat paints will not hold up in bathrooms over time. 

Benjamin Moore Aura Bath & Spa offers a premium matte finish for bathroom ceilings and walls, exceeding some leading brands offering glossy finishes.


Best Bathroom Paint Finishes

Semi-gloss and gloss finishes are not guaranteed to perform and are more suitable for trim. Most prefer a medium luster for bathroom walls, such as eggshell and satin finishes. 

The most well-rounded interior bathroom wall paint is Sherwin-Williams Emerald interior satin. It’s easy to apply and has bathroom paint characteristics that include moisture-resistance and antimicrobial qualities.

While it’s an excellent universal bathroom paint, other products mentioned earlier will outperform it in specific applications. But to be fair, it’s hard to find house paint that excels in every category.

Oil vs. Acrylic Paint Applications

Water-based paints are best for interior bathrooms. They are easy to clean and apply. Acrylic paints also leave far less of an odor.

Hall and secondary bathrooms are often small but are very useful. Latex-acrylic paints will allow quick turnaround times and are offered in zero VOC formulas. So, unless your bathroom already has an oil-based paint, there’s hardly any basis for arguing the use of oil-based paint. 

Shellac and oil-based primers, on the other hand, will seal water stains & wood knot and acrylic paint can easily go over them.

Is there A Winner?

All the products mentioned will exceed your expectations for their intended purpose and are all class-leading innovations in many ways. But they excel and outperform in different situations. So, there is no exact winner. Instead, defining an essential feature and picking the product that best meets that need is more critical. 

However, we recommend against faux finishes in bathrooms where antimicrobial and moisture-resistance features are prioritized. You can also paint bathroom sinks and tubs with the appropriate paint and processes. 

It’s all about choosing your products wisely. Contact the pros at A Touch of Color today for professional help or assistance in selecting the best paint for your bathroom!

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