Can You Hang An Oil Painting In The Bathroom?

Can You Hang An Oil Painting In The Bathroom

The right artwork can really make a room sing, and oil paintings can create a particularly bold statement. But what about when you want to decorate your bathroom or similarly wet location? Should you hang an oil painting in the bathroom?

Hanging an oil painting in the bathroom isn’t the best idea thanks to excess moisture, steam, and similar conditions. These common issues in a bathroom can wreak havoc on an oil painting, causing water damage, mold, cracking paint, and more. While you can take some precautions that will make displaying artwork in your bathroom possible, it’s best to stick to reproductions.

Besides the fact that an artist would prefer their masterpiece not hang above a toilet, bathrooms aren’t the best location for oil paintings. This doesn’t mean you can’t add some style to your restroom, but it’s worth knowing the risks and alternatives first.

What Are The Risks When You Hang An Oil Painting In The Bathroom?

To be clear, your bathroom is not an ideal location for an oil painting. However, if you insist on hanging an oil painting in the bathroom, at least prepare for the following problems.

1. Mold Can Develop On The Oil Painting

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Bathrooms are prone to high humidity levels. Condensation develops on multiple surfaces when you take a shower, and to a lesser extent, a bath. This excess moisture can also collect on your painting, even if you don’t notice it.

It can accumulate behind the painting, under the paint, on the frame, etc. When moisture sits for extended periods, it encourages mold growth. Especially on soft or porous surfaces like paper or canvas.

And even trying to protect your painting under glass won’t do; moisture can form between the glass and artwork, causing more damage. Once mold forms on your painting, you can’t simply wipe it away. Your only hope at that point would be a professional art restoration expert.

2. The Oil Painting Can Crack And Buckle

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When water covers a hardwood floor, like in a flood, it makes the boards warp. You’ll notice them buckling and essentially being ruined. This is thanks to water that seeped through the cracks and caused the boards to expand, contract, and lose their shape.

The same phenomenon can happen to an oil painting when it experiences prolonged moisture contact. The moisture settles into the painting, causing the fibers in the canvas or paper to buckle.

Also, the humidity and changing temperature levels will affect the wood framing the canvas stretches across. When these boards contract and expand, it moves the canvas beneath the painting.

Oil paint tends to be brittle when dry, so frequent movement results in cracking the paint. This buckling and cracking give the painting a warped look that significantly detracts from its appeal. Plus, there’s little you can do to correct the problem.

3. The Oil Painting Is Susceptible To Water Damage

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Even if you’re fortunate not to have mold develop or cracking paint, water damage can destroy your painting. You know what they say, oil and water don’t mix. Well, neither do oil paintings and water.

Water damage can lead to discoloration and overall compromises the original beauty of the artwork. Therefore, it’s best to hang oil paintings away from water sources.

Extra Considerations For Hanging An Oil Painting In The Bathroom

So, is it ever okay to display an oil painting in the bathroom? Maybe. Here are a few situations in which you might be able to get away with it.

You Have A Half Bathroom

Are you displaying the oil painting in your powder room? A powder room, or half-bath, only has a toilet and sink. This means there’s no tub or shower, which is typically the biggest source of moisture and humidity in a bathroom. 

You Regularly Run The Exhaust Fan

You can expand your artwork options if you have a high-quality exhaust fan installed. An exhaust fan and proper venting effectively eliminate the excess moisture from the bathroom. Even if you have windows in the bathroom you can open, they won’t do what an exhaust fan can do.

Of course, you also need to run the fan religiously after every shower. So, think about who uses the bathroom. For example, if young children or your preoccupied teen shower in it every day, do they remember to switch on the fan?

If not, even with an exhaust fan, it’s best to find another place for your oil painting.

It’s A Spare Bathroom

If the bathroom is a spare bathroom that is rarely used except for the occasional guest, an oil painting might survive. And, you need to make a point to leave the door open to allow for adequate airflow.

You Don’t Like Long, Hot Showers

The hotter the water, the more steam your shower makes. But what if you take ridiculously short showers and only like cold water? Cold showers still produce some humidity, but nowhere near what a hot shower creates.

You Have A Large Bathroom

If you have an overly spacious bathroom, it won’t fill so quickly with humidity. Add to that an exhaust fan, and you can keep excess moisture at bay very well. Plus, the painting won’t need to hang too close to a water source.

What Artwork Is Best For The Bathroom?

No matter what precautions you take, steer clear of hanging original pieces in the bathroom. You have to recognize that some damage is highly possible, if not inevitable.

Therefore, stick with prints or reproductions if there’s a particular painting you enjoy. Over time, prints will still experience some damage, but the cost will be significantly lower, and they’re replaceable. If you get a reproduction on canvas, select one with a protective varnish.

You can also opt for more sculptural work made from materials that can better withstand moisture. Examples of these include solid plastic, stainless steel, aluminum, and copper. In a pinch, shop for bathroom decor in the outdoor or garden section of the home improvement or decor store.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the ideal conditions for displaying an oil painting?

The best place to display an oil painting, besides a museum, is a cool, dry room with an even temperature. Avoid hanging the artwork close to heat sources as high temps will cause the painting to deteriorate over time.

As mentioned above, also avoid wet conditions and lots of humidity. Don’t hang the painting in direct sunlight, as this will eventually lead to fading and discoloration.

If the painting is exposed to high levels of dust, keep a soft brush on hand to routinely and gently clean the painting. If you plan to do any remodeling, at least cover the painting, or better yet, relocate it until the work is finished.

What are some creative ways to add personality to a bathroom if you don’t want to hang art or paintings?

Just because hanging an oil painting in the bathroom isn’t the best idea, you can still add some flair. After all, no one wants a dull space in their home, no matter what room it is.

To add some design and personality to your bathroom, you can use a vibrant shower curtain and bath accessories. You can also have a unique inlay included in your shower surround when you do your tile.

Other options are a fun paint technique on the wall or an interesting tile pattern on the floor. Let your imagination soar and decide which way shows your personal style the best.

How much does it cost to have an oil painting professionally restored? 

Depending on the extent of the damage, it can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,500 or more. Many professionals will have a minimum charge of $500.

More extensive restoration jobs could even reach beyond $10,000. Now you can see why it’s ill-advised to display priceless originals in the bathroom.