Bathroom lighting buying guide

Bright ideas for bathroom lighting

The bathroom is one of the most used rooms in the home. It’s where you get ready in the morning and where you can unwind after a long day. With that in mind, it’s essential to choose the right lighting for it. With some help from B&Q, you can create a bathroom lighting scheme that helps with everyday tasks and sets a mood for relaxation and indulgence.

Meet our new range of lighting that means your sanctuary will always feel like a zen place, whether you’re getting ready, winding down or lathering up. From flush ceiling lights to sculptural LED designs and mirror-framing wall styles, find lights that set the mood for every part of your day-to-night routine.  


Things to consider before you buy

Take time to consider a few key questions before making your decision. Are you looking for a quick and easy bathroom refresh, or a complete room refit?

The effort and cost involved varies a lot based on the scale of your project. Are you looking to simply replace your existing bathroom lighting and re-use the same fitting? Or is the entire room being re-fitted with lighting as part of a bigger bathroom re-design? In either case, taking measurements will help to give you an idea of your options.

If you are tackling a bathroom re-fit, we recommend selecting your lighting before work begins. That way you'll know if there's any electrical and fitting work that needs to be considered.

Consider your bathroom style and size

Often bathrooms are the smallest room in the house, but this doesn’t have to limit your options. Different types of lighting can be layered together to create harmonious lighting schemes in even the smallest of bathrooms.

Remember, if you don’t have any natural light, your lighting scheme will be solely responsible for illuminating the room room, so be sure that it works for all uses. 

Types of bathroom lighting

There are two ways to light up your bathroom and it's important that they work together. We'll shed some light below on the different types of lighting and how you can co-ordinate them together.

1. Bathroom task lighting. Task lighting will help you to complete your everyday routine, like shaving or applying makeup. Options include recessed downlights, spotlights, cabinet lights and mirror lights.

2. Ambient bathroom lighting. Ambient or mood lighting will help you create the right atmosphere, from get up and go to relaxation. Options include ceiling lights and wall lights.

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Recessed downlights

Recessed downlights are built into the ceiling and lie flush against it. They're modern, sleek, and can easily blend into any decor. To dial up the wow-factor, install in any nooks, recesses or alcoves. Downlights are a great choice for a smaller bathroom, they don't take up munch room but can really illuminate the space.


Spotlights feature a single light fitting that can offer one or many bulbs. Choose between two styles – bar (lamps in a linear design) and plate (lamps grouped together often on a round or square base). With a single fitting, spotlights can easily be changed.

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Mirror lighting

Combine two bathroom essentials in one with an illuminated mirror. These clever space-savers are wall-mounted mirrors that include either integrated or attached lamps for extra task lighting. Look for mirrors with a de-mist function to ensure beautifully lit, fog-free glass every time.

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Cabinet lighting

Light up the space around  your bathroom cabinet with our range of bathroom cabinet lights. Install inside the unit to use as task lighting - making it easier to rummage for toiletries or medicines. Alternatively, fit underneath, or even on the side of the cabinet, to create more ambient lighting.

Ceiling lights

Bathroom ceiling lights come in flush and semi-flush options. With ceiling lights, there's very little space between the light fixing and the ceiling so the full height of the room is used. This makes them a great option for small bathrooms. Look for eye-catching, crystal-cut glass designs to achieve a vintage aesthetic in your bathroom.

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Wall lights

For a more decorative option, try bathroom wall lights. They can be hung at eye level, becoming a focal point and stunning feature in your room. Wall lights can also provide a more functional use to your room, such as a shaver light.

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The amount of steam and moisture in bathrooms means that any light fittings in your bathroom have to be appropriately water-resistant. There are two ways in which we rank the suitability of lights for bathrooms – hazard zones and IP ratings.

Bathroom zones and IP ratings

The IET wiring regulations (the UK’s national standard for safe electrical installation and wiring) divide a bathroom into hazard zones. These zones represent the distance from water sources, and as such determine what lighting is safe to use where. So for example, a light that is over a shower meets with more moisture than one away much further away from it, and so requires lighting with greater resistance to water.

This is how the zones look:


Zone Bathroom location


Inside the bath or shower


Above the bath or shower to a height of 2.25metre (m) from the floor


The area stretching 0.6m outside the perimeter of the bath and to a height of 2.25m from the floor. The distance of 0.6m also applies to the basin.

Outside zones

The area anywhere outside of the above zones


Bathroom lights can be listed with just their suitable bathroom zone, the corresponding IP rating or both. The IP (Ingress Protection) rating, also known as the IP code or International Protection Marking, ranks how effectively an electrical item is sealed against solid and liquid objects.

The ratings are given as the initials IP and then two digits. It’s the second digit that’s key for bathroom lighting and the higher it is, the greater the resistance to water.

Here’s a breakdown of the scale for each of the second digit ratings.

Level Protected against...


No protection


Dripping water


Dripping water when tilted at 15 degrees


Spraying water


Splashing water


Water jets


Powerful water jets


Immersion, up to a depth of 1m


Immersion, beyond 1m

When listed together, this is how bathroom zones and IP ratings correspond:

Zone Minimum IP rating




IP44 or IP45 if exposed to water jets. IP65 recommended.



Outside zones

IP20. IP44 recommended.

Check the listed zones and/or IP ratings to make sure your bathroom lights are safe to use in the desired spots before buying.

For the ultimate in bathroom indulgence, consider a spa bath with LED lighting. Create your own by combining one of our baths with a whirlpool or wellness system that features colour-changing chromotherapy lighting. Perfect for relaxing at the end of a busy day or energising first thing in the morning, these lights combine with the powerful jets to create a truly special bathing experience.


Safety first

Considering recessed downlights? If there is loft insulation above the recessed downlight instead of inhabitants, you might need to install heat diffusers or insulation guards around the lights. These are essential with old-style halogen bulbs as they generate a lot of heat, though we also recommend for LED lights as using without could reduce the life expectancy of your lights.