It’s fairly common knowledge that one of the fastest, easiest, and least expensive ways to enhance the appearance and value of your bathroom is to add new bathroom tiling, or replace your existing tile. But picking just the right bathroom tiles – the style, color, material, size, and installation type – can be a little confusing. Though it’s a relatively inexpensive change, altering the bathroom tiling on your walls, floors, or even in your shower can dramatically change the appearance of your bathroom. So where’s a remodeler to start?
Choosing the right material for your bathroom tiling is one of the very first and most important steps in a major bathroom tile remodel. What material you choose will be a major determining factor in the final look of your remodel, the cost of the tile and installation, and what kind of maintenance you’ll have to do over time, so choose wisely.
Ceramic bathroom tiles are the most common, easiest to install, and are typically the least expensive. Made of fired clay and other materials, ceramic tiles are quite durable. Because they’re typically glazed, they’re non-porous and hold up well against water, scratching, and staining, and require very little maintenance. Ceramic tiles can be dyed almost any color and finished with more or less shine, and formed to a wide variety of shapes, including textures, like those found on this Sienna Blend mosaic tile. They also make an excellent surface for hand painted tiles, but don’t have any of the beautiful natural variance of stone tiles.
Stone tiles, on the other hand, are shaped from natural rock, meaning that no two are quite the same. This is nice for a couple reasons – it means that not only will each and every installation be unique, but also that you won’t ever get an accidental pattern in your tile as you can with manufactured tiles. The flip side is that if you want a very specific color, it may be hard to get a full floor worth of stone bathroom tiling to match. Smaller tiles, like these Marble Mosaic Sheets, are designed to be “close” in color and pattern if you don’t want to hand pick the tiles, but still come with a natural variance on each sheet. Stone is also the most expensive types of tile available, and requires careful and consistent maintenance to keep the stone in good condition.
Finally, glass tiles have a bright, shiny (glassy!) finish and are available in a huge variety of colors and shapes. Typically (but not always) smaller than either stone or ceramic tiles, glass tiles have been traditionally used as mosaic tiles, for decorative rather than functional bathroom tiling. Smaller glass tiles are available in patterned sheets like this beautiful blue Mountain Lake Mosaic. These are bound together with a thin mesh, which makes them simple to install yourself for an easy DIY backsplash. Larger glass tiles are well suited to the walls and shower interior as they repel water and are very easy to clean.
Texture is an important element when deciding on your new bathroom tiling primarily for safety reasons. You never, ever want to put a smooth tile (no matter what the material) on the floor, because it’ll increase the likelihood of a fall accident. Instead, opt for a textured tile like this Chiseled Ivory Travertine Tile from Soci to prevent slipping. Counter and wall tiles should also be sealed and non-porous, to prevent water damage or the growth of mold or mildew.
This one is fairly simple, and probably best left to personal taste, but as a rough guideline, white, yellow, and peach tones will help brighten and warm your bathroom, enhancing the natural light and creating an inviting space, whereas blues and greens will cool it, making it feel light and airy. Darker, more dramatic colors like black, red, or gem tones, as well as gray scale bathroom tiling will create a bold, modern look, while an all white bathroom will work well with a frequently changing decor. If you opt for the last, keep things interesting by mixing shapes, sizes, and styles, like combining this Crystal Ice Blocco Tile with a matching, smaller square Crystal Ice Piazza.
If you live in a period style home, choosing period inspired bathroom tiling can be important to maintaining the overall value of your home. If your home is traditional (or even original) in other ways, matching a historical tile can be incredibly desirable to buyers. Honeycomb tile like this Hampton Honeycomb for the flooring paired with a traditional Subway Tile for the walls is usually a safe bet. Especially done in all white, it’s also one of those very neutral styles that works well with just about any decor you put on top of it – another good thing if you’re looking to sell your house any time soon.
For a more modern design, on the other hand, you almost definitely want to opt for stone (or concrete) tile floors and glass bathroom tiling throughout the rest of the bathroom. The reflective glass surface of the tile (plus the minimalistic but dramatic repeating patterns available from companies like Martini Mosaic) are the heart and soul of modern design, and will definitely help elevate your decor.
Size is an incredibly important choice as well. Smaller bathrooms are typically associated with smaller tiles, but using larger ones on the floor or in your shower can actually make the space seem larger. Using very tiny tiles in a wide space, on the other hand, can make a larger space seem crowded and busy. So pay attention of the scale of the tile in relation to the size of your space. If you need to balance out a lot of large tiles that are starting to look a little bland, consider adding a line of accent tiles like this simple but elegant Fleur De Lis trim to visually divide the space. This is also a great way to merge two types of tile, if you’re salvaging old tile or extending your existing bathroom tiling.
Smaller tiles are another great way to add a little personality to a large wall, and break up the monotony of a large tile pattern. Especially if you’re using large square tile, periodically punctuating the space with an accent tile or even a hand painted one like this Fables And Flowers tile set from Kohler. This can add a nice signature touch, plus a little pop of color or a personalized accent to help unify your bathroom decor.
Mixing And Matching
As a final word of caution, I’d like to point out that even if you fall in love with half a dozen types of tile, it’s never a smart decision to crowd your bathroom with too many patterns. Having a different type of bathroom tiling on your floor, shower floor, walls, shower walls, counter, and back splash can make your bathroom look busy and a little overwhelming. Even the same type or style of bathroom tiling with too many color variations can make your space seem chaotic. Instead, opt for tiles that are in the same hue (if not the exact same color) and play with the size, shape, and orientation of the tiles rather than having a ton of completely different styles. Personally, I love the way this Riviera Waters tile looks with the smaller Pebble Creek tile, which uses three colors – one the same as the “riviera waters” and two similar but in slightly different hues.
Changing out your bathroom tiling, whether you’re looking to replace every piece of tile in your bath, expand your existing tile, insert a mosaic tile or backsplash, or just change on type of tile, you’ll be amazed at what a huge difference it will make in the overall aesthetic of your bathroom. The best part? With so many DIY kits, even complicated, beautiful bathroom mosaics aren’t out of reach for someone looking to do a bathroom tiling project on their own. What kind of material are you considering for your new bathroom tiling? Do you have a color in mind? Let me know in the comments!