What Can You Put On Bathroom Walls Instead Of Tiles?

Are you moving into a new home and looking to get rid of those awful bathroom tiles? Or are you updating your current bathroom and wondering what other wall materials are available? While tiles may be the most common choice, there are other alternatives to decorating your bathroom walls. In this post, we will discuss them so that you know what the options are are out there.

Here are alternative materials that you can apply to your bathroom walls:

  • Wallpaper
  • Wood
  • Shower Panels
  • Brick
  • Laminated panels
  • PVC wall panels
  • Stainless Steel
  • Solid Stone Slabs
  • Paint
  • Ceramin
  • Acrylic Sheets

Bathroom walls can be a bit difficult to decorate. This is mostly because the walls are in the "splash zone" and will need to withstand a high amount of moisture or, potentially, direct water streams. Tiles are water-resistant and fairly inexpensive, making them a common go-to option. But they don't have to be your only choice. Continue reading to learn more about the other available bathroom wall options.

Interior of a bathroom undergoing construction


You may not think of wallpaper as an alternative wall option for your bathroom, but it may be worth taking a look at. Wallpaper can give your bathroom a victorian-era feel as well as a bit of character. If you are worried about the wallpaper getting wet, you should know that waterproof types of wallpaper are designed specifically to be steam-resistant. This means that wallpaper is less likely to peel. Many of them can also be covered with a clear acrylic varnish to help resist moisture.

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House bathroom with wallpaper and large mirror above sink


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Interior view of a modern bathroom

Wood is another material that typically doesn't hold well in humid or moist conditions, however, you can explore this as an option for your bathroom walls. It's actually not as rare as you think, as wood paneling can add an earthy feel and complement your shower wonderfully. To help protect the wood, you can paint it with semi-gloss paint and couple it with an oil-based primer or waterproof varnish.

If you are worried about water damage, use wood in the non-splash areas of the bathroom. It may be a good idea to contact your local home improvement store to ask about wood panels and their water-resistance levels. In the meantime, read "7 Types Of Wood Wall Paneling You Should Consider."

Shower Panels

Next to tiles, shower panels are the second most commonly used wall type for bathrooms. The great thing about these panels is that they can be installed over the current bathroom tile. This means that you don't have to go through the laborious process of pulling out the old tiles--which can be costly. These panels are waterproof and can come in a variety of colors, designs, and patterns.

There are shower panels to complement any bathroom decor, and they are offered in a variety of materials, including aluminum, wood, acrylic, and fiberglass. Another benefit of using these panels is that they are very low maintenance and often cheaper to install than typical wall tiles. However, they can create the same sleek polished look. You also don't have to worry about applying and maintaining grout and caulk when installing these panels.


Spa in modern interior with white brick wall

If you are looking for a bit of a bottom flare, brick is a great wall option to consider. Brick can add a minimalist and contemporary feel to your bathroom, as it can offer a striking contrast to the surrounding walls. You may think that brick and mortar may be too porous for the humid environment in your bathroom, which is true to a degree. However, the brick can be coated to make it waterproof, and it can also be painted with water-resistant paint. You can also contact a contractor specializing in indoor bricklaying to inquire about the other options available.

Laminated panels

Laminated panels have been used as a convenient alternative to tiles for the past 20 to 30 years. You will commonly see these panels used in commercial settings, and they are often backed with a waterproof foam or wood core. Laminate panels work great in bathrooms because they are water-resistant, durable, and long-lasting. They are available in a multitude of colors and designs and are fairly easy to install.

PVC wall panels

If you're looking for a hassle-free option, PVC wall panels may be worth taking a look at. These panels are easy to install, are naturally water-resistant, and can come with mold-resistant options. They can be less costly than tiles, depending on their design.

Overall, they are fairly inexpensive. PVC panels are also available in a wide range of finishes, colors, and patterns so that they can match any bathroom decor perfectly. You can also have PVC wall panels custom-made to suit whatever look you are going for in your bathroom.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is also an excellent choice for your bathroom walls. You can typically purchase the stainless steel sheets at a local hardware store or online. The sheets may come pre-cut, or you may need to contact a manufacturer who will cut them for you.

These sheets can provide a contemporary look in your bathroom and are naturally water-resistant. You also won't have to worry about installing and maintaining grout when using these sheets, as they are simply screwed into place with caulk applied on their seams. You can use the sheets on the non-splash area of your shower or the entire shower itself (though the latter may look a bit industrial).

Solid Stone Slabs

Black tiled bathroom corner

If you are looking to create a bathroom fit for a king (or queen), solid stone slabs are the way to go. Keep in mind that this option may be more expensive than other alternatives, but it's so worth it. The stones can be installed in the entire bathroom wall or just the non-splash areas. You can also mix and match different stones for a mosaic or ancient-Roman appeal.

Installation is fairly easy, only requiring the stones to be pre-cut and applied using caulk. You can install the stone slabs yourself or outside outsource the job to a contractor, and it shouldn't take more than a day's worth of work to do.


Modern contemporary style bathroom with beige tile walls, black and white pattern floor, wooden shelves and cabinet

Paint is probably one of the easiest and cheapest alternatives can you decorate your bathroom walls. Not only can they offer unlimited and creative decorating options, but it can be applied within an hour. Paint may not be as durable as tile, panels, stones, or other options (though there are waterproof paints available). However, if you make sure that the bathroom walls are waterproof, the painted surface can last quite a while.


You may not have heard of Ceramin, as it's a relatively new wall and flooring alternative gaining popularity throughout Europe. Ceramin is a waterproof composite material; totally contaminant free and 100% recyclable. The cool thing about this material is that it can be designed to look like ceramic tiles, wood, or natural stone. This means that you can use this Ceramin for any decor and your bathroom.

It is available in a variety of designs, styles, and colors. If you are looking for a way to give your bathroom a spa-like feel, this material may be worth inquiring about at your local improvement store.

Acrylic Sheets

Acrylic sheets offer a super simple installation and a traditional or contemporary feel to your bathroom. These water-resistant sheets are typically sold individually or in sets of at least 5 to 10. Acrylic sheets can be inexpensive or on the high end of the call spectrum, depending on the manufacturer and the design that you choose.

The only downside is that they may have limited color availability (such as white and off-white). However, you don't have to worry about cleaning shower grout with these sheets, and they only require a frequent wipe down to keep them clean.

Interior of a bathroom undergoing construction

Do bathroom walls need to be waterproofed?

Yes. Your bathroom must have a waterproof membrane beneath the tile's bonding mortar or other material on its wall surface. Bathroom walls are exposed to moisture and direct water daily, making waterproofing a must to prevent issues with mold, leaks, and possible structural damage.

Where should pictures be placed in a bathroom?

Pictures can be placed anywhere in a bathroom. Common areas include above the toilet (centered) or on the walls adjacent to the shower. You can also add a couple of pictures on both sides of your vanity.

How do I make my bathroom look expensive?

There are several ways that you can make your bathroom look more expensive. Here are a few:

  • Lay a bathtub table across your tub and place a book and a sage smudge stick on top of it.
  • Replace your current curtain rod with a curved rod to make your shower look a bit fancier.
  • Take a magic eraser to the caulk and grout around your shower to make it sparkly white.
  • Place a waterproof speaker on your shower wall and add a few nature sounds-- make your own little spa right at home.
  • Place your sink soap bar on a handful of pebbles so that the water can drain on them instead of a soapdish.
  • Add a few small plants to the window sills of your bathroom--succulents will stand out most.
  • Hang a groovy bar light on a hook and attach it to your bathroom wall for beautiful light effects.
  • Use glass jars to stock your daily grooming essentials such as soap, cotton balls, and Q-tips.

Wrapping Things Up

Interior of 1970's style master bathroom with old fashioned wall paper design, old bathroom finishes and carpet in closet area

We hope that this post has introduced you to the other wall options available for your bathroom.

Before you go check out our other posts:

81 Coastal Bathroom Ideas That Will Inspire You

53 Industrial Bathroom Ideas

An interior of 1970's style master bathroom with old fashioned wall paper design, old bathroom finishes and carpet in closet area, What Can You Put On Bathroom Walls Instead Of Tiles?

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One comment

  1. I have several boxes of Smartcore – Waterproof Interlocking Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring left over. Can I use this as a surround for a stand alone tub?

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