One of the most important things to consider when planning a major bathroom remodel is probably also one of the most difficult. The type, size, shape, color, and pattern bathroom tile you choose will have a huge impact on the final look and feel of your bathroom, but it’s anything but a one-stop, one-shot decision. More than any other room in your home, almost every surface in your bathroom can be covered in tile, and it’s important to think about what areas of your bathroom you want tiled, which ones you don’t, and how to make sure all your bathroom tile matches.
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of bathroom tile is probably the floor – after all, if you aren’t going to put a single other tile anywhere else in your bathroom, opting for good, high quality floor tiles is probably the best use of your budget and the best way to get a luxurious look and feel. It’s also an important safety consideration; you want to be sure to get a bathroom floor tile with a good wet slip rating to prevent slips and falls caused by water on the floor. If you’d love to have a real marble floor but can’t afford stone bathroom tile, consider opting for a less expensive printed porcelain tile like this Calacata Tile from Mediterranea – it has the same sophisticated appeal at a much lower cost, and often with better safety ratings.
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Once you’ve decided on the bathroom tile you’re going to use for the floor, it’s time to consider whether or not you want to tile your walls as well. This decision is one that might be a little tougher to make, and is one that might ultimately come down to your budget. Bathroom tile, especially high quality stone tile, can be expensive to buy and expensive to install. Even a simple, relatively inexpensive ceramic tile like this Vesuvio Tile from Tesoro is much more cost and labor intensive than simply slapping a new coat of paint on your walls. But it also looks much, much nicer, and with all the types of tile available these days, it’s also a good way to get a custom, personalized feel for you bathroom. Bathroom tile is also easier to clean and more water resistant than paint, which is worth considering – even in a well-ventilated bathroom – if you take a lot of hot showers.
Now, while bathroom tile isn’t exactly easy to change on a whim the way paint is, it can be customized and accented much more effectively. Single simple mosaic tiles like this Boreal Deco Tile add personality and break up the monotony of a solid tile wall, while slender, elegant tile borders like this Boreal Listello accentuate, define, and unify your bathroom walls. Accent tiles also come in all shapes, sizes, and materials, which makes them the perfect way to add a signature style and personal touch to your bathroom space.
It’s not terribly uncommon to use the same bathroom tile on the walls that you use on the floor, or, to simply continue the tile from the floor up along the walls. This creates a natural 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, or 3/4 wall border that can help visually divide your bathroom, making ceilings seem higher or simply guiding the eye to areas of visual interest. Using the same bathroom tile can save you the headache and heartache of trying to match tile from different collections or manufacturers, and can even make it a little easier to install. If you hate the look of a single monotone tile-type, consider turning square tiles 45 degrees for a diamond effect, or looking for bathroom tile collections that come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes or with matching borders, like this Pietra Latina Collection, so you can get a subtle visual and textural variation without having to mix and match.
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If you’re planning on getting a freestanding bathtub, you can go ahead and skip this one. Otherwise, it’s a very, very important element of your bathroom renovation that you might not have considered. What makes drop-in bathtubs so beautiful in home and garden magazines and TV shows has almost nothing to do with the tub itself and everything to do with the tile mount the tub is set in. This Elegance bathroom tile and others like it are what set luxury drop in tubs apart from tub walls. Instead of a big blank white acrylic wall, you get beautiful tile in the pattern and material of your choosing. But the corollary is that your drop-in tub will only look as good as the bathroom tile you’re willing to spring for, so be sure to give this one some thought, especially if you’re investing in a very expensive whirlpool tub.
Shower tile is the one type of bathroom tile that people really get excited about, especially when they’re planning on building a big, beautiful walk-in shower. This is one area where you really have a lot of room to get creative – from custom mosaics to beautiful patterns and colors, the sky is really the limit on what you can do with your shower, whether you want to stick with the same tile you have on the rest of your floors, go for a bold contrast like this Jade Porcelain tile from KerTiles, or even elaborate patterns of colorful glass mosaic tile in different, smaller shapes. The only restriction, really, is that you want to look for tiles with a very low water absorption rate to prevent leaking, and a good slip rating, again to prevent falls in the shower.
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If you want to add tile to your bathroom but aren’t ready for a major renovation or are a little limited in your budget, adding a tile backsplash is a great way to get the sophisticated, finished look of tile without the big budget. Many modern mosaic tiles come in sheets that are easy to install yourself, and add color and personality to the area behind your bathroom sink and vanity. Some, like this Denver Rust mosaic tile from Cerdomus, can even be used in other parts of the bathroom as well if you decide to incorporate more tile later.
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Finally, it’s important to remember that just because you can tile practically every surface in your bathroom doesn’t mean that you have to to get a look you’ll love. The choices of tile color, material, size, shape, and style are nearly infinite, but while that can seem overwhelming, it can also be terribly liberating. After all, you’re free to pick, choose, design, and execute exactly the dream bathroom you love, whether that means head to toe travertine tile or a simple, elegant accent like this barrier and countertop done in Dolmen mosaic tile.
What kind of tile do you want in your bathroom? Are you looking to do a major remodel, or just update one part of your bathroom? Let me know in the comments!