Tips for Selecting Bathroom Tiles

What to Do and What to Avoid When Selecting Bathroom Tiles

What do you look forward to the most every day, or almost every day? Is it the hot meal waiting for you at home? Could it be the thought of passing out for a good eight hours of well earned sleep before another workday? For most of us, it is the thought of a hot shower that leaves us feeling relaxed. If you are anything like this, then you know that the decisions made that go into setting up your new bathroom determines just how gratifying that shower can be. It comes down to everything, including the very tile under your feet that you walk on as you make your way to the shower. Here is a review and guide for how tile ties in all the bathroom elements and how you can choose the perfect one (or ones) for your bathroom renovation.

What’s In a Bathroom Tile?

Have you ever wondered why people use tiles in wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens? It’s all about creating a protective layer over the walls and floors to prevent water from reaching them. Without this barrier, water damage occurs, paving the way for microbial growth coupled with expensive repairs. Besides protection, tiles also have an aesthetic effect. They can dramatically give the space a facelift. 

However, not all tiles can work for the bathroom, so you should be specific when choosing bathroom tiles. That is just the word for these tiles – bathroom tiles. These are specifically designed for bathrooms that, as we all know, are almost always wet. 

To Tile or Not to Tile?

Why should you consider tiling your bathroom? After all, you can go in a different direction and save some extra cash. So, why would anyone opt to cover these surfaces with tile? An undeniable reason is protection. You do not want water spilling over the walls and floors to cause water damage and allow mold and mildew to thrive, which results in unsightly spots. Add the fact that tiles are durable and most can resist scratches and stains, and you have a winning solution. Tiles are also easy to clean and maintain and make the room look and feel more elegant. The case for tiles could go on and on, but you get the main premise behind it: protection. 

What Should You Keep in Mind When Buying Bathroom Tiles?

We already identified that bathroom tiles serve two purposes: aesthetics and protection. Is it possible to achieve a balance between these two?  Yes, it is! To help, we have put together some factors that will help you inch closer to this integral decision:

Understanding the Technical Aspects

Wall and floor tiles are not the same. Floor tiles must be durable enough to withstand a lot of foot traffic. They must also have anti-skid properties to protect those walking on them. You do not want to combine slipperiness and water, as this serves as a recipe for injuries and fatalities. Wall tiles are less (but still) about performance and more about appearance. So, you do not need to think about their anti-slip properties and how much weight they can withstand. For walls, even a  thinner tile could do the job. Can you interchange the two? No. Besides, using floor tiles on the walls would only cost you more.  You do not need anti-skid properties.

Use these technical checks when considering aspects of performance in your tile selection process:

  • Are the tiles water-resistant? It beats logic to install bathroom tiles that cannot prevent water from getting to the floors and walls. Bathrooms are wet spaces and are wet almost all the time. The only way to keep the water from seeping beneath the tiles is by investing in water-resistant tiles. Ceramic and porcelain tiles often win on this, but we will cover that later in the guide.
  • Are the tiles porous? Similar to the above, you do not want to use porous tiles in the bathroom as they will only absorb the water. That water ends up in the back of the tiles, next to the very surfaces you’re trying to protect. Eventually the tiles, walls, and floors suffer damage, and you are back to square one.
  • Do the tiles create friction? This point works for floor tiles which must present anti-skid properties even in the presence of water. Only then can you rest assured that people will not skid and fall on the tiles. These tiles should also have a high foot traffic capacity relative to the number of people in your home.
  • Are the tiles scratch-resistant? Have you heard of the Mohs Scale of Hardness? The higher a material ranks on this scale, the more resistant it is to damage resulting from scratches. Does this matter? Of course, it does! The aesthetics of the bathroom come down to how well-maintained the tiles are. So, if you can keep them looking great from day one you can maintain the elegance of the space.
  • How easy is it to maintain the tiles? Here’s a question you may not have thought of but one that you cannot overlook: How easy is it to clean the tiles? You have probably come across tiles that had you wondering if the person in charge of cleaning them was being lax. But it could be that the tiles are almost impossible to keep clean. Take porous tiles as an example, that can take in dirt just as easily as it can absorb moisture. No matter how much you scrub and bleach the tiles, they may seem off. Non-porous tiles, which are easy to clean and maintain, is the better solution.

Knowing Your Tiles

The choice of tile material directly impacts the durability of the tile. When decorating walls and floors you can choose more than one material, which opens up numerous possibilities. But what are the most popular options?

  • Ceramic: If you are working on a budget but still want to achieve an elegant bathroom, this can be your go-to. It is best to use this tile in large bathrooms to get more coverage at reasonable costs. You can then complement the ceramic tiles with a more expensive accent tile for the focal effect you desire.
  • Glass: The beauty and versatility of glass make it an excellent choice for an accent tile. You get to play around with the shine and designs. Remember that glass cannot go on the floor as it poses a high skid risk. But as far as the walls go, have fun!
  • Porcelain: On the higher end, you have got the option of using porcelain. Its’ dense makeup ensures that the hue is present throughout the tile. So even if it chips, you still enjoy the same color on the part that remains. Plus, it lasts forever and is worth the investment.
  • Mosaic: With an endless array of styles, sizes, and colors, mosaic tiles are the way to go when you want to create a truly unique bathroom design. However, these are often slippery when wet so you must check the slip ratings to be ensure you are using the correctly. 
  • Natural Stone: What better way to breathe beauty into space than using stone? It creates a soothing ambiance that completes the haven-like appeal in the bathroom. Sure, it comes with a higher price tag and more maintenance needs but can you put a price on elegance?

In most cases, we suggest limiting yourself to no more than three materials in a room. Any more than this can make maintenance a bit more intensive than it should be.

Honing in on the Available Finishes

Warning: Slippery When Wet

The higher the tile slip rating, the less likely you will suffer a fall when using the bathroom. But how do manufacturers settle on ratings? Easy! They put the tiles to test and gauge their friction. Those with the highest slip ratings are best for floors, and those with lower ratings work wonders for the walls. It might seem like we are trying to drum this in.  We are! You cannot take safety for granted. This is how the ratings are categorized:

  • PEI Class 1: These tiles cannot withstand foot traffic and are only suitable for walls.
  • PEI Class 2: You can use these on walls and floors in bathrooms with light foot traffic.
  • PEI Class 3: Light to moderate traffic is okay for these tiles. You can use them on walls, floors, and even countertops.
  • PEI Class 4: These tiles are so hardy that they can work for medium commercial bathrooms with moderate to heavy traffic.
  • PEI Class 5: With heavy to extra heavy traffic hardiness, you can use these tiles in homes, commercial spaces, and institutions.

Your choice will come down to just how many people will use the bathroom at a time. Is your house full of kids and pets wandering from one room to the next? Or are you a bachelor putting together a pad for you and the occasional guest?

Getting the Measurements

You are getting closer to finalizing your tile selections. To finalize, you need the shape and layout of the room right before purchasing any tiles. To be safe, you should measure and remeasure the bathroom. Better yet, discuss with your Reico professional to do this for you and remove the guesswork!

Start by measuring the total square footage of the floor, then add that around the tub and shower. Most people also tile the shower. If you plan to do this, also get those measurements. Move vertically up the shower to cover your total height and a bit more for safety. The same goes for the bathtub to give you enough room to splash around without damaging the walls. Tiling the wall to cover at least twelve vertical inches from the top edge of the tub should be enough to protect the wall from water.

Is there any other space you would like to cover? Include its measurements too. The total square footage helps you gauge just how much tile you need and the average cost of the installation.

Choosing Layout Options

Ultimately, your tile will end up on both the floors and the walls, but in what pattern? Will you lay the tiles vertically, or will you take on more of a horizontal design? Vertical layouts are ideal for small and narrow bathrooms with low ceilings. Vertical patterns create the illusion of height and reduce the emphasis on how cramped the space may be. This matters when choosing tiles. You will ll want to go with much larger tiles with fewer grout lines, creating a seamless effect. Tiles in the 300 mm *600 mm range should work for such a space.

If your bathroom has the advantage of tall ceilings and a considerable width, you can work with a horizontal layout. It makes the bathroom feel more open and opens up possibilities for different concepts. Why not work with rectangular tiles to make the room feel even bigger? You can also run horizontal tiles on the walls and floors to create the effect of continuity. The space will seem to go on forever.

You can choose any of the following tile patterns based on how big the room is or the illusion you wish to create:

  • Basketweave
  • Arabesque
  • Beveled
  • Brick Tile
  • Diamond
  • French
  • Chevron
  • Hexagon
  • Interlocking
  • Herringbone
  • Large Format
  • Modular
  • Subway
  • Rectangular
  • Circle Mosaic

There are more layout options on the market, and we can always advise you on what matches your style.

Does Grout Matter?

Yes, it does! Grout plays an integral role in the overall bathroom tile appearance. It can be a subtle complement in the background and play into the whole look. In this case, you should use thin lines with colors that match the tiles to create a seamless effect. Or it can be a focal feature. You can make it thick and even alter its color to create enough contrast for an added visual. Note that grout shows dirt, and you must use a sealer to ensure that it does not ruin the whole aesthetic.


Feeling overwhelmed by all these factors... choosing the tile, color and size, the measurements and a quote for the tile and installation. The good news is you do not have to do it alone. We are here to help you with everything, including measuring the size of the bathroom and narrowing down on tile choices. Contact us today, and let’s get started on tile and your entire bathroom remodeling project. 

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