Remodeling a bathroom is messy and expensive, about $9,300, on average, according to And in some metropolitan areas, $20,000 is what it takes. After all that work and expense, you'll want a bathroom that looks good for a long time. And because of all the water that's used in the room, you'll want a coat of paint that resists mildew and moisture.

Depending on the size of your bathroom, you may want to paint it a lighter color to open it up or a darker color to add intimacy, according to the Paint Quality Institute. But whichever color you choose, make sure you pick the right paint and prep the room properly. Here are some pointers from our pros, plus some top mildew-resistant paints from our interior paint tests.

Use a new color. Paint manufacturer websites often have tools that allow you to download a photo of your room, then select wall colors until you find a look you love. Think about the vanity, too, and whether it needs a fresh coat of paint. For a bathroom that's next to a bedroom, consider a color that works well with the bedroom, perhaps a shade that's lighter or darker.  

Pick the right finish. Satin is more durable and shinier than eggshell and is ideal for a bathroom. It's also easy to clean. Use it for the walls, ceiling, and even the trim, because many satin finishes are tougher than they once were. Semigloss is even tougher and a cinch to clean, and it can be used on the walls, ceiling, trim, and vanity if you don't mind a shinier look. A satin sheen draws attention to any imperfections on the walls—and semigloss does so even more—so prep them, trying to get them as smooth as you can. 

Wash the walls first. New paint needs a clean, dry surface to adhere to. Mildew can prevent the new paint from properly sticking and can bleed through the new paint. Remove mildew with a sponge dipped in a solution of one part bleach to three parts water. The room should be well ventilated, so open a window or run the exhaust fan. Wipe down the surface with clean water and allow to dry before painting.

Protect what you don't paint. With all the nooks and crannies, small bathrooms can be a challenge to paint. Apply painter’s tape to the edges of areas you don’t want painted. In our tests, FrogTape’s Delicate Surface, $6 to $9 per roll, left a sharp line and was very easy to remove. Use a sash brush with a tapered tip. Unlike bristles on a flat brush, the bristles on a sash brush are cut at a diagonal, making it easier to control.

Paint, then wait. Once you're done applying your paint, let it dry overnight before using the shower. Otherwise, any water that splashes up or beats down on the newly painted surface can cause the paint to soften and run. For more painting tips, check our article and video, "How to Paint a Room and Get It Right the First Time."

Best and Worst Mildew-Resistant Paint

We tested 24 brands of interior paint. You can see the results in our interior paint ratings. All but three resisted mildew and are good candidates for bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other spaces that can become damp.

Top interior paint brands that resist mildew:

Paint brands that didn't: