A Designer’s Guide to Selecting the Best Tiles for Your Bathroom

One of the reasons choosing tiles for your bathroom can be so tricky is that there are many options, but not all of them will still look current in a few years. The most important factors to consider are the size of your bathroom, your preferred colors, and what installation pattern you want.

Tile Sizes

Different parts of your bathroom call for different sizes of tiles. For example, if you have a shower bench, a larger slab will feel more comfortable to sit on than a lot of smaller tiles. At my design firm, we usually use matching slabs of the same material for both the shower seat and the sink countertop. Mosaic tile has more grout lines, which makes it suitable for shower floors. More grout lines equal better drainage and more traction. 

Tile Colors

The most popular tile for bathrooms is white subway tile. I recommend choosing a bright white tile if your toilet, bathtub, and sink are also bright white. Sometimes, a warmer white (such as a biscuit color) is preferable, especially in traditional houses.

I consider bold accent tiles to be dated. Instead, combine a neutral tile (like white, cream, or gray) with an interesting wallpaper or paint color.

Tile Materials

Ceramic is the most affordable tile, so it’s a good choice for covering large areas such as your floor. Porcelain is more expensive, but many people prefer it for the following reasons: It’s more durable, and the color goes all the way through the tile instead of being merely glazed on top. Glass tile is excellent for an accent wall, but it’s also slippery, so don’t use it on the floor.

Tile Placement

Tile should be used on every side of the shower. I like to encourage my clients to cover the shower ceiling with tile instead of paint since paint can peel in humidity.

The right tile choices can make or break a bathroom, so it’s worth your time to research and proceed with caution. After all, it’s a costly mistake to pick the wrong tile.

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Margaret Chambers

Margaret Chambers, a registered interior designer (RID) and member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), leads Chambers Interiors and Associates. Her colleague Caitlin Crowley helped edit this column. Find more design advice at chambersinteriors.com/blog

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