The Shocking Reason You Should Never Use Wallpaper in Your Bathroom

It may look nice, but there could be serious consequences to wallpapering your bathroom.

As one of the smaller rooms in most homes, bathrooms should, in theory, be among the easiest to decorate. Replace a light fixture, install a new shower curtain, and you've got a room that looks practically brand new before you know it. However, in their quest to make their bathrooms more appealing spaces, many people make a critical (and often costly) mistake: hanging wallpaper.

Though some bright florals or zebra stripes may add character to an otherwise lackluster room, Ottawa-based certified mold inspector and remediator John Ward of Mold Busters says doing so could put your health in danger.

The moisture droplets from your shower—or even a plumbing leak—can wreak serious havoc on your space in no time at all. If that moisture lands on your wallpaper, or even on the glue securing it, "you then have a major risk of black mold developing," cautions Ward. He notes that a mold problem can develop extremely quickly—often within 24 to 48 hours of moisture attaching to an organic material, like wallpaper, the cellulose in which can also provide mold the nutrients it needs to spread.

So, how do you know if your existing wallpaper has been affected? Ward suggests looking for bubbling or peeling sections of wallpaper. If that's not enough evidence for you, peeking behind the wallpaper can provide confirmation. "You're likely to see major discoloration and even black mold," which typically presents with green or black circular or oblong patches, and often has a slick texture.

If you've already got wallpaper on your bathroom walls, there are ways to reduce your risk of mold developing behind it, however. "The most important thing to remember for bathrooms with wallpaper is to keep them as dry as possible," says Ward.

His recommendations? Repair leaks as soon as you notice them, install an exhaust fan in your bathroom to reduce moisture, and thoroughly dry off any surfaces that become damp when you shower—your wallpaper included. However, it's not just wallpaper that can present a serious problem: Ward also recommends avoiding using wood or carpet in your bathroom, both of which dry slowly and can contribute to mold growth.

Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more