Painting a room is an easy and inexpensive way to freshen it up—or even give it a new look. But if you’re thinking about painting your bathroom, you’ll want a paint that resists mildew.

“When moisture soaks into the paint, this enables mildew to grow,” says Rico de Paz, who runs CR’s paint tests. “Paints that are more resistant to mildew not only resist water absorption better but also contain chemicals that prevent it from growing.”

Before you pick the best paint for your room and budget, consider these tips from CR’s experts.

Paint Like a Pro

Play with 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 your vanity, too, and whether it needs a fresh coat of paint. For a bathroom next to a bedroom, consider a color that works well with the bedroom paint color, perhaps a shade that’s lighter or darker. And if white is your go-to color, see “How to Pick the Right White Paint.” 

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. 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 (semigloss does so even more), so be sure to prep the walls to get them as smooth as you can. 

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

MORE ON PAINT

Protect what you aren’t painting. With all their 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 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 the 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 out “How to Paint a Room and Get It Right the First Time.”

Best and Worst Mildew-Resistant Paint

We tested 21 interior paints, and you’ll see all the details 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 Paints That Resist Mildew

Paints That Don’t




Paint Pointers