How To Select Bathroom Tile


Q. What are some tips or guidelines you use in picking bathroom tile? I’d like to re-tile a master bathroom floor, sink backsplash/wall, shower wall and floor. How many patterns would you choose? Where would you use a small pattern vs a large pattern? Glossy or Matte? Mixing materials like Marble and porcelain? Karen

aatile9 A. I do dozens of bathrooms per year and the type, size and look of the tile depends on the design aesthetic you are creating. There are no rules, I have found making recommendations based on the function and aesthetics work best. Learning about the tile options and current trends in bathroom design will help in making your decisions.

Create A Plan- This is a layout determining where the tile will be. No worries, your plan can be a hand sketch or elevations of each wall, it doesn’t have to look like this plan below. It is a guide for the tile installer to follow detailing where the different tile sizes, styles and heights will be. In the first image a larger scale subway tile gives the floor depth and definition while the second image features a mosaic tile floor adding texture to a zen-like bathroom. If you shop at a smaller tile store the professionals there can assist with your layout if you have a general idea of the look you want. Even as a professional designer I rely on my local tile store to see the latest trends.


Tile Types- Maintenance and durability are always a high priority on my clients list, here a few popular choices. Porcelain tile always scores high, wearing like iron and is virtually maintenance free. I like using them on floors and in showers. Ceramic tile for a sleek smooth finish, also very durable and sometimes requires a sealer. Natural stone- there are several different types and finishes, most of my clients that want a natural stone are going for a textured more organic look, requires a sealer. Glass tile- very popular in bathrooms and easy to maintain when used on the walls. If you like the look of a solid glossy tile, I suggest using them on the walls verses the floor from a practical stand point and slipping then find a coordinating tile for the floor maybe with a bit of pattern.


Tile Selections- Start by selecting what you like don’t worry about durability or cost. Once you have determined what you like you can find the look in different types of tile and at different price ranges. You may fall in love with a particular pattern and then use the same pattern in different shapes and sizes to create interest or you may want to mix different tiles together, anything goes.  Below is a tile I just used in our beach bungalow renovation, a wood look alternative.


Designer Tips- If your bathroom is small the maximum tile size I suggest is a 12 x 12 or smaller-Run the floor tile on a diagonal when possible it really opens up the space-In the shower use a decorative border at eye level and turn the top half of the shower tile to a diagonal-Use tile on the walls if you love tile or switch to wainscoting if you don’t- Add a back splash above the sink you will thank me later- Consider a recessed shelf in the shower for shampoo and soap-I hope my tips help make the selection process run smoothly friends and don’t forget you can always email me.


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  • Kylie

    This is coming at a very good time for me. I am trying to pick tile for our bathroom – picture below- I know horrible quality! So sorry about that. We have an all tile shower on the only wall space in this picture where there could be one (it was drawn on later so it isn’t on this drawing). I want to do white subway tile with some type of decorative strip. Not sure what size and not sure about what tile to do on the floor of shower or flooring outside of shower. We are probably running vinyl hardwood throughout the entire house and our builder said we could run it into the bathroom as well. Any advice on this? I don’t know what to do and feel stuck! Any advice is much appreciated :)