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Bathroom Lighting Guide: How to light your bathroom

Modern bathroom lights

Lighting your bathroom presents various challenges that you won’t find in other rooms of your house. The bathroom is the wettest and steamiest room in your home and therefore safety is paramount. Many bathrooms can also be quite small and lack natural light, for example, so getting the mood right is crucial, while also making sure that there is appropriate light to perform your daily tasks like shaving and using the mirror. These are your prime concerns when shopping for bathroom lights.


Recessed bathroom lights

The main bathroom light will generally be switched on using a pull-chord, for safety reasons. If you do have a light switch it should be positioned outside the bathroom. Bathrooms are places that get wet, steamy and humid and therefore your lighting design should reflect the dangers involved in this.

Safety should always be at the forefront of your mind when planning your bathroom lighting. All bathroom lights come with a safety rating which indicates their suitability for different zones in the room. This is called an IP rating, and the higher the rating the more protected the light is from the effects of water and steam. An IP rating of 65, for example, is required on all lights inside a shower.

Its also a requirement that all luminaries used in a bathroom must be protected with an appropriate R.C.D. For more information about IP ratings and bathroom lighting safety, speak to a Scotlight Direct adviser.


Bathroom lighting should be layered so that it combines task lighting, ambient lighting and accent lighting.

Bathroom LED lights

Task lighting is focused on helping you perform a specific job and facilitates everyday bathroom tasks like shaving, showering and using the mirror. Task lights should be appropriately bright and functional, but diffused lights are often best for avoiding glare on mirrors or chrome fittings. Glass and ceramic lighting is preferable to other materials that could be damaged by water and humidity, such as wood, leather or fabric. The main source of light in the bathroom commonly comes from recessed downlights, or a central ceiling light which can range from a simple flush ceiling fitting to an elaborate 5-arm bathroom pendant.

Ambient lighting creates a mood in the bathroom and will generally have the purpose of being relaxing and mellow, allowing you to create a pleasant space in which to relax in a bath or spa, for example. One way to add ambience is with lights recessed into alcoves or into the floor.

Accent lighting adds depth, shades, focus and textures, and is often used to draw attention to features or areas of the room. This is usually created by using a mixture of spotlights, downlighters and LEDs to light features from above, below or behind, and they are commonly low voltage and often fluorescent.

Top 5 tips for bathroom lighting

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