How to Light a Bathroom. A Helpful Illustrated Guide.

Lighting your bathroom could be a challenging task. Safe, comfortable and aesthetic lighting in the bathroom plays an important role in creating the interior. Luckily, you can implement any design idea and create a cosy atmosphere in the room with the help of modern lighting fixtures and devices.

Today we have prepared a helpful guide on how to light a bathroom — how to select bathroom lighting and its layout. If you are not sure how to light up your bedroom, check this article.

How Much Light Do You Need in a Bathroom?

An ideal option for the bathroom is a sufficient amount of light similar to daylight. It will help to create the most natural light for a natural look and makeup. Since the combined bathroom can be used for different needs, it is better to install a combined type of lighting,

How do you light a small bathroom? The number of lighting fixtures in a bathroom depends directly on how big it is. If the bathroom is quite small, one central light with two or three additional wall lights will be enough. But even if the bathroom is small, it is better to additionally illuminate the washbasin and mirror area, so that all cosmetic procedures would be much easier.

If you have a big bathroom, it is desirable to install different lighting. If the bathroom is spacious enough, then it is necessary to install zone lighting, the features of which will depend on the configuration of the room, design idea and some other factors.

What Should I Need to Pay Attention to When Choosing Bathroom Lighting?

The following important factors influence the choice of lighting:

  • The style of the interior and the color palette. The darker the shade of the walls, the more intense the light sources should be.
  • Size and shape of the bathroom.
  • Features of zoning.
  • Varieties of fixtures, their maximum power and method of mounting.
  • The presence of reflective surfaces in the form of mirrors, tiles and other things.
  • Your needs. Do you need to do your make up in the bathroom? Do you have children that can break the lamps?

What Light to Choose in the Bathroom?

Whether the bathroom has windows or not, you should choose light that will not irritate your eyes.

Is warm white or cool white better for bathrooms? Warm white light with a yellowish tint is considered to be better for your eyes and mood. Which light is better for eyes — yellow or white? Soft yellowish glow will contribute to complete relaxation in the bathing area but a cool bluish light located near the washbasin will help you quickly wake up and cheer up. So, both lights are good for the eyes, but warm white light is more relaxing. 

What Are Bathroom Electrical Zones? Bathroom Humidity Zones

The bathroom should be divided into four zones based on humidity levels. As we are dealing with electricity here, we must be extra careful when we choose lamps for our bathroom.

Here is the explanation of what Zones & IP Ratings for bathrooms are:

  • Zone 0 in the bathroom. This is a space of high humidity: this is where there is water and the steam is concentrated. It is located close to the bath, as well as inside the shower. It is permissible to use 12 watts lamps with a protection index of at least IP 674.
  • Zone 1 in the bathroom. The area next to the washbasin sink and the space immediately adjacent to the bath fall into this zone. Water on this surface can fall both in the form of steam and by dripping. For the first zone, models marked with an index from IP 452 are preferred, maximum the power of 24 watts.
  • Zone 2 in the bathroom. Zone 2 is located half a meter from the edge of the washbasin and the bath. A luminaire model marked IP 242 can be considered safe.
  • Zone 3 in the bathroom. Zone 3 is basically the rest of the space of the bathroom. If moisture gets here, it is most likely only in the form of steam or condensate. Luminaires with a protection index of IP 011 can be used here.

Can Any Light Go in a Bathroom?

As you can see not all lights are suitable for the bathroom. You need to stick to the safety rules and choose proper lighting for each of your bathroom zones.

Can you put a light above a shower? You can only put a lamp which has a protection index of at least IP 674 as this is Zone 0. Be careful. Safety first.

What is the best wattage for bathroom lighting? You need to stick to the Zone Rules when choosing lamps.

What Is the Best Way to Light a Bathroom?

When you are thinking about the best way to light a bathroom, you need to be guided by the following principles: the room should have enough light so that your eyes would not get tired but bathroom lighting also should not be very bright as this will only irritate you. Today, combined lighting at different levels is very popular.

Let’s look at these bathroom lighting levels more thoroughly.

  • Ceiling mounted lighting. The light source, in this case, is fixed on the ceiling or directly below it. If you have a small bathroom it is better if you use only ceiling mounted lighting. Two or three lamps will do.

  • Working lighting. This lighting lights up a mirror, shelves with cosmetics, detergents and a washbasin. You can install the fixture on flexible brackets on either side of the mirror to change the light intensity depending on your needs. A backlight or LED strip can be used, which is placed both around the mirror and under the washbasin.

  • Floor mounted lighting. Floor lamps perform a decorative function, they are able to visually expand the space of the room. Lighting is usually located 40 cm from the floor surface, on the floor itself and under the interior elements. It is possible to equip monophonic or multi-colored illumination of bathtubs or showers.

Combined lighting allows you to create not only comfort in the room but also a certain mood. It can be romantic, peaceful or invigorating — whatever mood you are in.

Can Chandeliers Go in Bathrooms?

Yes, If the lamp (IP20) is not moisture proof then it can be only placed in a place that is safe from water jets and steam concentration.

Can Any Light Go in a Bathroom?

When it comes to lighting up your bathroom you can choose what type of light you want there. Here are a few options:

  • incandescent lamps;
  • halogen;
  • luminescent;
  • LED light.

Are LED Lights Safe in Bathrooms?

LED models are installed in the bathroom as often as luminaires with conventional incandescent lamps. The safety and convenience requirements of these electrical appliances are the same, but LED models have advantages in use.

LED lamps do not need frequent replacement of the light source and consume 5-8 times less electricity than conventional lamps of the same brightness. In addition, you can choose a model with a natural white shade of light that correctly conveys colors. LED lights are great for doing your make-up in the morning.

You do not have to buy new lights to take advantage of the LEDs. You can install LED-lamps instead of traditional incandescent.

How to Choose a LED Bathroom Fixture

  • Practicality. Drops of water and steam leave marks on the ceiling, so it is better to find a model that is easy to care for.
  • Glare and bright spots. Select the light source and its installation location so that glare does not appear and the light does not blind your eyes.
  • Functionality. Adjustable brightness and remote control are options that come in handy in the bathroom.
  • Availability. If you have children or elderly people at home make sure that they can easily use the switches. Provide comfortable lighting for grandparents, place lamps at a safe distance from children.
  • Size. Choose the lighting that fits your bathroom.

How to Light a Small Bathroom?

If you have a small bathroom, you should not go for massive lamps and, if possible, avoid getting a chandelier. Small ceiling-embedded lamps are much more suitable for a small bathroom because you can organize zoning and make the room as functional as possible.

If your bathroom has a low ceiling, it would be more appropriate to choose lighting in the form of sconces, floor lamps or a ceiling chandelier with a luminous flux directed upward. Thus, a play of shadows will be created on the ceiling plane, which will visually make the room much more spacious.

Safety Rules When Choosing Lighting for your Bathroom

Where there are electricity and humidity, there is an increased risk of unforeseen situations that can be dangerous. That is why when choosing, installing and using lighting devices in the bathroom, you need to adhere to a number of rules. You must pay all your attention to safety when designing a lighting scheme. Lighting devices must be leak-tight and positioned so that they do not get drops of water.

  • You must not install lighting fixtures above the bathtub as heated glass in contact with moisture can cause the bulb to explode.
  • Lighting fixtures must not have open wiring and cables.
  • You should not use the extension cords and tees.
  • If there are sockets, they should be placed at a safe distance from the washbasin, shower and bath.
  • The electrical network in the bathroom must be earthed.
  • You need to properly develop a lighting scheme for the bathroom, and this task should be entrusted to professionals unless you know what you are talking about.
  • Metal parts of fixtures must be protected from corrosion.
  • You must not get incandescent lamps in the bathroom, since if water drops fall on a heated glass, the lamp may burst altogether, and glass fragments will scatter around the room.
  • You must use only those fixtures that perfectly tolerate moisture.
  • You should have ventilation in your bathroom so that the room dries up quickly after your showering.
  •  Install luminaires with a suitable degree of protection IP in wet areas. The second digit in the IP marking indicates the degree of protection against liquids. The higher the number, the better the protection. It is also important to take care of the insulation of the wires. At a distance of 70–100 cm from moisture sources, use models with the protection of at least IPx5 or IPx6. These are special products for highly humid places, that are safe even in the event of a direct hit from water jets.
  • Is it possible to install a lamp with this level of protection above the bathroom? Yes. Higher protection is needed only for models that are built into the bathing tank or are located directly under it. In the latter case, waterproof fixtures are installed (IPx7 or IPx8).

How to Place Light in the Bathroom Correctly? Useful Tips

You must be very careful when choosing the location of lighting devices in the bathroom. Here is some advice on how to choose where to put lighting fixtures in the bathroom:

  • Lighting should be uniform, so the following rule should always be taken into account — the more light sources there are in the room, the lower their power should be;
  • The light must be properly distributed in all functional areas of the bathroom;
  • It is important to avoid glare, and for this, you should not direct the lamps perpendicular to reflective surfaces — it is better if they are located at an angle;
  • A common mistake is to place one lamp directly above the mirror. The reflection will be slightly distorted in this case. It is better to use mirror lighting on the sides, or on top and sides;
  • The highlight in the interior can be made thanks to adding some color: colored shades, original ceramic tile inserts. But it is better not to place such details in the area of the mirror as this will distort the reflection;
  • If you want to experiment, you can experiment with the location of the LED strip: it can be placed under the side of the bath, under the windowsill;
  • It is better to connect different fixtures in the bathroom with separate lines because you will not need to turn on all the lighting at once.

What Functional Zones in the Bathroom Can We Distinguish?

If your bathroom is quite spacious, then it is necessary to highlight several zones with its own lighting:

  • washing area, where the washbasin and the mirror are located;
  • bathing area with bath or shower;
  • area for changing clothes, folding clothes or washing.

In addition, you can also light up furniture — shelves, cabinets, bedside tables can have small built-in lamps that provide a soft light that can illuminate the entire contents of the cabinet and save you time searching for your toothpaste.

Mirror and Washbasin Lighting

The mirror must be lit so that the reflection in it is as natural as possible, without unnecessary shadows which will distort the color.

In this case, it is better to avoid lights under the mirror, as well as colored lighting which will create unnecessary color spots on your reflection. It is better if the light is as soft as possible, so the shades can be matte or white. Your best option is to place the light fixtures on the sides or around the perimeter of the mirror. You can use any bathroom-friendly fixture, but it is better when lighting is as close as possible to natural daylight.

Bathtub and Shower Lighting

Lighting the bathroom is optional, as it largely decorative. However, it does create a cosy and relaxing atmosphere. So, you can install several fixtures in the shower, hang a few sconces over the bathroom, or even arrange the bottom lighting in the bath. Everyone has long known that taking a bath is more relaxation than a hygienic procedure and appropriate lighting can make it even more comfortable.

Decorative Lighting

You can use lighting that does not carry any direct functions but is intended only to decorate the interior and create a unique atmosphere for sufficiently spacious bathrooms with interesting architectural details. You can light up anything you like: steps, nooks, windows, other elements of the room. Today there is even a tile in which LEDs are built-in.

Also, floor lighting can very stylish. You must use durable lamps such as those for garden paths and their power should be no more than 5 watts. You can create a unique interior and visually push the boundaries of the bathroom with their help.

Bathroom lighting is intended to perform several functions at once, and therefore the approach to organizing lighting requires taking into account a variety of factors: the type and power of the lighting device, location, security, design and your preferences. But you also must not flout the safety rules which I have mentioned above.



I am passionate about making my home a better place and I want to share all my knowledge with you.

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