Vinyl planks make a beautiful and durable alternative to tiling your bathroom floor – but also your walls. That holds true whether you’re using wood-plastic or stone-plastic, although both have their perks.
The short answer is that yes, you can use vinyl flooring on bathroom walls. In fact, vinyl plank flooring is durable, mold and mildew resistant, and waterproof. That makes it an ideal choice for bathrooms. However, you’ll still have to add a waterproofing layer underneath for shower and tub walls.
Here’s Why You Should Use Vinyl Plank Flooring on Bathroom Walls
Vinyl plank flooring is increasingly popular for use on bathroom walls. That holds true whether Wood-Plastic Composite (WPC) or Stone-Plastic Composite (SPC).
Vinyl plank flooring typically starts as low as $2 per square foot and doesn’t usually go above $30. That’s massively cheaper than tile flooring, which normally starts at $7.34 with (professional) labor for installation. That shift in price can drop a standard 300 square foot project down from $2,203-$4,497 for tile to as little as $750 for the same space.
Tiles are waterproof. However, the grout between them is porous and will often allow water to seep through. That means installing costly waterproofing behind your entire bathroom. This can greatly increase the cost and time needed for the full installation. Vinyl tiles are water resistant even at the seams, which means you can focus waterproofing efforts on areas directly around the shower and tub. In short, you’ll save money for the same waterproofing.
Easy to Install
Most click boards, vinyl tile, and vinyl sheet installs with a minimum of effort or skill. This means the average homeowner can install their own with no special tools or skills. That will save you thousands on installation costs.
Mold & Mildew Resistant
Vinyl is mold and mildew resistant, which means you’ll have fewer problems with either, than with tile. Why? Mold and mildew often build up in grout, requiring frequent bleaching and cleaning to keep it down – unless your bathroom is very well ventilated. Vinyl is more resistant, easier to clean, and easier to sanitize if you do develop a problem.
Before You Start the Installation Process
Installing new wall facing in your bathroom is a big project. It might require several days of removing old materials and adding new. In addition, you’ll need a good basis with which to install new tiles. It’s always a good idea to rip out the old before pricing and looking at the new material options.
Vinyl sheet normally starts at about 0.40 cents per square foot. However, it’s fragile and difficult to install. You probably don’t want to put it on walls yourself. On the other hand, vinyl plank flooring averages between $2.50 and $7.00 per square foot. And luxury vinyl plank flooring averages $5-$12.00 per square foot. This means that to make a good cost estimate, you’ll have to choose a floor plank and price it out.
The square footage of your bathroom walls x cost per foot of material. It’s always a good idea to add a 20% margin for error unless the hardware store is nearby and you’re certain they won’t sell out of your vinyl flooring.
You’ll also have to calculate in extras. However, these also vary considerably depending on the condition of the bathroom, any waterproofing material installed around the tub, and the cost of silicone.
- Optional: Tube of silicone – $2-$20 (the cheap stuff is probably fine), you’ll likely need 4+ or an equivalent water resistant adhesive.
- Waterproofing Sub-liner – If you don’t already have waterproofing sheets installed around the tub or shower, you might want it. Shower membrane and sealing paints normally start from about $30.
- Cutting and installation tools. You can normally rent a vinyl cutter for about $20.
- Trim – Anywhere from $20-$200 depending on trim.
Things You Will Need
Installing vinyl planks is so easy that you won’t need many tools. However, you will need some and a few of them should be specific.
- Vinyl tile cutter. A laminate or vinyl cutter will save you hours. If you have a table saw on hand you can opt for that instead. However, it could tear the edges of the tile.
- Tape measure
- Silicone & Caulking gun
- Mask for when using silicone in an enclosed space
- Cleaning supplies
- A drill with circle or spade bits
Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring on Bathroom Walls in 6 Easy Steps
Installing vinyl plank flooring, even vertically, is an extremely easy process. However, the steps vary depending on what type of system you choose.
Clean the bathroom
Remove any old tile, paper, or vinyl from the bathroom. In most cases, you want to turn off water to the bathroom, pull sinks away from walls, and remove fixtures from shower and bathroom walls. This will allow you to have the cleanest possible install. Then, take some time to thoroughly clean every part of the walls and ceiling. The cleaner it is, the better your vinyl will stick.
Caulk and seal any holes and lay down sealing paint or membrane where necessary
Take the time to go over the bathroom and to assess if any part of your shower area requires re-sealing. Doing so now may help to prevent major costs in the future if you develop a leak. Waterproofing membrane is also relatively cheap, so don’t be afraid to apply it. If you’re using a roll-on application, allow the membrane to fully dry before proceeding.
Decide how to install the vinyl
Map out how to install the vinyl. Your vinyl may be stick-on, it may be click board, and it may be a combination of both. Your vinyl tiles may also be square, they might be rectangular, etc.
It’s important to map out placement before you start putting the tiles on. Some people prefer to chalk or pencil out the full line of where each tile should be, so that once you get started, it’s just a matter of filling in the blanks. This can definitely help you to get a better end result. However, it will also take longer. Choose to or not to based on your own confidence and time. This also allows you to settle on a pattern rather than simply tiling up and down.
Start from one corner and work your way down/up
Pick a corner and get started. It’s almost always a good idea to work from one side of the room and across, so that all tiles are evenly placed from one point. That means only one side of the room is likely to have half tiles if the room is short. Here, your installation technique should depend on what type of vinyl board you have.
Click board: Apply silicone to the wall and allow it to dry based on the recommendations. Fit your click board together lengthwise and then snap it into the wall and press it into the silicone. Hold it in place until it sticks.
Tiles with Adhesive – Add adhesive such as silicone to the wall and then peel and stick the tile on top of it. The double bond reinforces the glue on the tile – which is often not intended to hold the tile vertically.
You’ll always have to trim some tiles to fit. Use a vinyl cutter or a utility knife depending on the thickness of the tile you’ve chosen.
Install hoses and fixtures
Mark out where the hoses and fixtures were in the room on the tiles you install over those holes. Then, use a drill or a utility knife to puncture those holes and feed the pipes through before sticking the tile down. This ensures you can easily reach those lines – which you can’t do if you glue it down first.
Once your bathroom is filled in, you can add trim to the corners or to any uncovered lines. Most vinyl doesn’t necessarily need trim, so you can assess if this step is necessary based on the final look and feel of your bathroom.
How To Install Vinyl Plank Flooring on Shower Walls
You can install vinyl plank flooring on your shower in the same way as you can in the rest of your bathroom. The only differences are taking slightly more time to assess waterproofing.
- Vinyl cutter
- Tape measure
- Pencil / chalk
- Drill or utility knife
- Waterproofing membrane (optional)
Clean Your Shower
It’s important to thoroughly remove any existing tile or shower covering before starting new. Then, thoroughly clean the shower. This gives the new vinyl the best possible chance of adhering to the walls.
Waterproof Your Shower
Take time to assess if you should be applying a waterproofing membrane or coat before you apply the tiles. When in doubt, always go for a new coat. It’s better to spend an extra day on your shower and not have to worry about it leaking than vice versa.
Mark Out Tiles
Plan and mark out your tiles using a measuring tape or chalk. Here, you can use the shape of the tile to draw out where you want the tile, so every placement is planned in advance. This is useful even if all your tiles are the same, but essential if you’re using a color block or other pattern.
Install the Water Lines
Cut or drill the water lines for the tile that goes over the faucet fixture. You don’t have to pull them through yet, just make sure you have the tile ready.
Apply adhesive, such as silicone, in the first marked out area, and then apply the tile. Work your way up and across. In most cases, you will have to cut tiles to fit corners and the top or bottom of the shower. In this case, it’s better to start from the top and work your way down, because you’ll be covering the bottom of your tiles anyway.
Caulk and Seal the Finished Result
Once your tiles and the silicone under them are dried, caulk the edges of the tile along the shower and in the corners of the walls. This improves the seal and reduces the chance that water will seep under the tiles and cause the adhesive to lose its grip.
If you still have questions about how to use vinyl flooring on bathroom walls, this FAQ should help.
Can you put luxury vinyl on walls?
Yes. However, you may have to use a separate adhesive to get it to stick properly. In addition, you’ll want to ensure the edges are sealed to prevent water seepage. That’s especially important if you’re using a wood and plastic composite.
Is vinyl peel and stick good for bathroom?
In most cases, vinyl peel and stick tiles can be a great alternative to ceramic tiling. However, you will have to reinforce the adhesive, which isn’t meant for water damage or for hanging vertically. Use a water-resistant adhesive such as silicone for the best results.
What can I use on bathroom walls instead of tiles?
Nearly any water-resistant material makes a great fit for bathroom walls. However, availability and costs likely depend on your area. For example, a popular luxury bathroom wall material is stone or granite. However, this is costly. Vinyl flooring like linoleum, peel and stick, click board, and luxury vinyl board are all other great alternatives.
Eventually, if your wall option is waterproof, easy to hang, and can stick to your walls, it’s probably a good choice. However, you may want to pre-seal the bathroom if you’re unsure how waterproof the final result will be.
What are the problems with vinyl plank flooring?
Vinyl plank flooring is normally designed to last 5-10 years, after which it will have to be replaced. It can last longer on walls because it doesn’t have anyone walking on it. However, if you do have wood and plastic composites, they can degrade and break down over time, especially in high humidity environments. This means you may have to replace the walls sooner than you would if you opted for a more durable material.
Vinyl flooring can make an excellent and durable alternative to tile and ceramic. In most cases, you can install it yourself at minimum cost. And, because most vinyl flooring lasts at least 10 years, you’ll see significant cost-savings over installing tile for the same period.