In a bathroom remodel, selecting the right material for the walls is essential. It has to be tough enough to handle the moisture but handsome enough to please the eye.
Painted walls. Use a less-porous paint such as a semi-gloss or gloss. Be sure to ask for paint with anti-fungal additives to deter mold.
Wooden coverings such as beaded wall board or shiplap provide good protection for drywall, as long as the wood material has the proper paint and good caulking. Wood makes a good covering for the bottom half of the walls near the shower, bathtub, toilet and sink.
Wallpaper can be used, but carefully. Avoid it in a bath with lots of moisture. In less moist environments, use vinyl wallpaper.
Tile is the most obvious choice since it will almost certainly be used in and around the shower, the bathtub and as a backsplash to the vanity. Wherever the tile comes into direct contact with water, such as the shower and tub area, apply a good grout sealer for mold and stain prevention.
Rock has a stately, rugged appeal. If the floor under it is wooden decking rather than a concrete slab, reinforced framing may be necessary.
Keep in mind. Choose colors and patterns that contrast with the materials used for the counters, cabinets and other fixtures. Vertical lines will make a room look taller; horizontal lines look wider and colors can either soothe or energize. In a master bathroom, create the atmosphere of a soothing retreat. If you completely cover walls with tile, it can make the room look busy and overwhelming, especially with smaller tiles. Large tiles mean fewer grout lines and a less busy look, whereas smaller tiles equal lots of grout lines, not to mention extra cleaning. When white tile is used, a contrasting dark grout that compliments counter, sink and toilet colors provides a subtle tie-in effect.
Flooring. Ceramic or porcelain tile have long been staples of bathroom flooring. Other choices include travertine, slate, and marble. The flooring and walls can be of the same material, yet with subtle differences in shades, patterns or size, while retaining continuity of appearance.