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How to Pick the Perfect Neutral Bathroom Color

One of the cheapest ways to get an instant room makeover is with paint. But how to pick the perfect neutral paint color, especially for a bathroom; can be tricky.

Bathrooms can have weird lighting issues depending on whether or not they get natural light. If you’re trying to work with existing tile and floors, picking a neutral color to paint your bathroom gets extra hard. Read on to find out how to pick a neutral paint color for your bathroom you’ll love.

Pick the Perfect Neutral Bathroom Color
The cool blue wall color doesn’t fights the warm undertones of the tile and floor.

What to Know When Picking Out Your Bathroom Paint Color

  • Reflections from tile and fixtures bounce light around. Your wall color could look a different shade in the morning and at night.
  • Wall color can be hard to match to your floor and wall tiles.
  • Tile grout can make your wall color look wrong if the tones don’t match
  • No natural light? You’ll be trying to match a color based on the type of light bulb you use.
  • Undertones in tile and porcelain – like your sink and toilet – can make a neutral paint color look muddy.


Why Choosing a Neutral Paint Color is Your Best Bet

  • Unless your bathroom fixtures (tub, shower and sink) and flooring are pure white, picking a neutral color for the walls is your best bet.
  • You can brighten a room that gets little or no daylight with a pretty neutral shade that has a warm or yellow undertone.
  • A neutral wall color gives you lots of flexibility to add color in your accessories like towels, mats and shower curtains.
  • Neutral doesn’t mean beige or white, but it can. Grays and blue can also be neutral depending on the shade.
Pick the Perfect Neutral Bathroom Color
The warm green walls work with the floor but not the cool gray tile.

What NOT to Do When Buying Paint

  • Don’t pick your paint color at the store.Take your swatches home to compare each one in the natural light
  • Don’t pick a paint color before you pick out your tile. Look at your swatches and tile side by side in natural light
  • Don’t pick paint before you choose new flooring. You know what I’m going to say! Lay those paint samples next to your floor and tile in natural light

What You SHOULD Do When Buying Paint

  • Ready to Rehab Your Entire Bathroom?Wait until you have your tile, grout, fixtures and new flooring samples picked before deciding on paint. Then bring your paint samples home and look at them with all the other samples in daylight.
  • Just Updating Your Wall Color? Matching existing fixtures and tile means picking a new wall color in your bathroom. Pick a time of day with the most natural light. If you don’t have a window, turn on all lights. Bring home your paint samples and look at them next to your tile and fixtures.
  • Make Your Bathroom Feel Warmer. If you don’t get a lot of natural light and want the bathroom to feel warmer, choose a color with a warm undertone.
  • Make Your Bathroom Feel Cooler. Perhaps you get a ton of sunlight or you live in a hot climate. Choose a color with a cool undertone.


How to Pick the Best Neutral Color for Bathrooms

Know your undertones. Undertones are the secret sauce to picking the right shade of white, beige, gray etc. Except for true primary colors – like red, blue, yellow – all colors have an undertone.

Our skin has undertones of pink, yellow and blue for example. The undertone is what makes red “warm” (yellow or pink undertone) or “cool” (blue undertone).

Whites and creams are super difficult to match because their undertone isn’t always obvious.

If your tile has a warm pink undertone and you choose a cool wall color, the room will feel “off”. See what I mean with this granite tile.

To choose the best neutral paint color for your bathroom, pick a paint color with the same undertone as your tile, flooring and fixtures.

Pick the Perfect Neutral Bathroom Color
This granite needs a paint with a cool or pink undertone like Creamy or Unfussy Beige.


Pick the Perfect Neutral Bathroom Colors
Pink marble tile works best with pink or yellow undertone paint like Cotton White or Choice Cream.


Pick the Perfect Neutral Bathroom Color
Cool white marble needs a paint with cool undertones like Wishful Blue or Pure White

How to Find a Color Undertone


  • Start by looking at your colors in natural daylight. Natural daylight doesn’t have an undertone.
  • Natural daylight is ideal to match color. A slightly overcast day is perfect. Choose a spot just out of direct sunlight to compare colors.
  • Artificial light creates warm or cool light depending on the light bulb or source of light. Fluorescent bulbs are usually cool white while incandescent bulbs are warm.
  • When you look at paint samples in your bathroom, any light will warm up or cool down all surfaces which is OK to match them.

In your TILES:

  • Natural tiles such as limestone, travertine or granite usually have warm undertones, so your paint also needs a warm undertone.
  • White marble usually has a cool undertone but each slab is different and rose or colored marble will have undertones.
  • Ceramic, glass and porcelain tile will have either cool or warm undertones.

See How 5 NEUTRAL PAINT COLORS Can Have Blue, Yellow or Pink Undertones:

Any of these neutral colors would look amazing in a bathroom. Use your tile and lighting to tell you which shade is right for yours.

Pick the Perfect Neutral Bathroom Color

Example Sherwin Williams bathroom colors

  • White
    SW7005 Pure White
    SW6385 Honied White
    SW7104 Cotton White
  • Cream
    SW7012 Creamy
    SW6379 Jersey Cream
    SW6357 Choice Cream
  • Gray
    SW7071 Gray Screen
    SW7050 Useful Gray
    SW6275 Fashionable Gray
  • Beige
    SW9166 Drift of Mist
    SW7573 Eaglet Beige
    SW6043 Unfussy Beige
  • Blue
    SW6808 Celestial
    SW6240 Windy Blue
    SW6813 Wishful Blue

Anyone of these SW colors are awesome neutral bathroom colors for resale!

What You Need to Know About Picking Paint

  • Take paint samples home to check before buying
  • Use natural lighting when you’re picking color
  • Check paint samples against tile and fixtures
  • Understand the undertones in tile, fixtures and paint

Use Eggshell or preferably Satin finish for walls,  Satin or Semi Gloss finish for moldings, doors and cabinets. Matte or Flat paint isn’t recommended for the bathroom because it’s impossible to keep clean.