How to choose bathroom tiles that are ideal for your room and budget
- By: Ashley Saunders
- April 2019
With seemingly infinite options, choosing bathroom tiles can quickly descend into chaos! Whether you’re adding a new bathroom or remodelling one, tiles set the look and feel. Often, they’re the first thing we see.
As such an important choice, it can quickly turn to indecision. Do we go with the big tiles everywhere? A mix of big and small? Light or dark? How about a feature strip?
Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
Let’s explore how to choose bathroom tiles with minimum hassle, regardless of your budget, room size or your current interior style.
Tile Size vs Room Size
This is often misunderstood and ultimately comes down to personal choice.
For example, using large tiles in a small bathroom will make the room feel cosier. Some will enjoy a more intimate feeling bathroom, while others simply will shudder at the idea.
Smaller tiles in a larger bathroom will mean more cleaning and upkeep as you’ll have a larger surface area to maintain.
Another factor to consider is grout lines. The more intricate the pattern, the busier the grout lines will appear. A busy room is likely to feel smaller.
However, matching grout and tile colours can go some way to blurring the line, making it feel like one solid layer.
When choosing tile size, think about the distance between elements. If your toilet and shower are next to each other, then you’ll want to choose a smaller sized tile as this will make installation easier.
Also, breaking a few small tiles while trying to perfect a tight corner won’t cost as much as a box of large tiles.
Exceptions? Yes, showers
While the above are the general rules, showers are an exception.
Using smaller bathroom tiles in showers will mean there are more grout lines and therefore better traction. So, if you don’t like slipping, choose a smaller or mosaic tile, especially for the floor.
Using two sizes of tiles can provide enough contrast to keep the room interesting without feeling overwhelming.
Can you have too many styles or sizes?
In a word yes. Remember the more you have, the busier your bathroom will feel. And if a bathroom feels really busy, it’s going to feel smaller.
It’s likely that choosing between one and three styles and sizes will be enough to create interest. Then you can curate your bathroom for the season with accessories such as towels, flowers, soaps, and more.
If that doesn’t excite you, then consider using a mosaic tile as a halfway border, around 1 metre up from the floor. This way you’re adding bright, colourful details but doing so in a subtle way.
Is there a right way to position bathroom tiles?
Thankfully, there’s isn’t one right way to position bathroom tiles. However, you can trick your eyes by playing with how you lay your tiles.
For example, laying tiles diagonally rather than in a grid pattern will fool your eyes into thinking it’s a larger area. Whereas busy patterns, like thatch, can make a room look visually smaller.
If your bathroom is a narrow or rectangular room, then consider laying rectangular tiles at 90 degrees. This way a narrow room will look larger as the long side of the rectangle runs perpendicular to the longest walls.
Size isn’t everything – enter colour
When you choose bathroom tiles, colour is also a critical decision. Choose the wrong shade, you’ll spend thousands re-doing your bathroom. Get it right, you’ll love using your bathroom.
This is why it’s so important to pick up samples whether you’re ordering online or from a store.
If you have no natural light and want a more open feeling then chose a light colour bathroom tile. Light and glossy surfaces reflect light better than darker ones. Plus the more light, the bigger your bathroom will feel.
While darker tones are on trend right now, they will make your bathroom feel more intimate.
There are no right or wrong colours, it’s down to you and how you want the space to feel.
Matching tiles and walls
If you plan on tiling part of your bathroom and paint the reminder, then selecting colours which blend is important. There are many ways to approach this.
One of our favourite ways is to use small white subway tiles and a light green or blue shade on the walls (and tub, if possible). This creates a calming atmosphere while providing some interest.
We’ve also seen the opposite work well. Consider using a light grey tile on the bottom and painting the top half of the wall in white.
Creating contrast with painted furniture and hardware
Choosing a basic white subway tile as a neutral backdrop can make the eye focus on the furniture. Refinishing or Upcycling bathroom units is a fantastic way to add contrast against simple bathroom tiles.
You can, of course, mix some of these ideas. For example, small white tiles on the bottom, paired with a light blue on the reminding walls. You can then use a light grey paint on the furniture and faux antique brass hardware.
Speaking of hardware, it’s a great way you can add interest to simple bathroom tiles. There are literally thousands of doorknobs, handles and soap trays out there. And at least one will reflect you!
Calculating the number of bathroom tiles you need
Not great at maths? Don’t worry, as there are a few online calculators which can help you. When you have your figure, add at least 10%.
This extra will be a godsend if you break any or waste a few cutting a tile for a tight space. Not to mention pattern matching!
There’s really no reason to run out of tiles. Whether you’re close to the end or trying to properly match patterns. All it takes is some planning!
Having a figure will make shopping easier. Plus, sale assistants will actually want to help you as you’ve made their life easier!
If you decide to order online, then you’ll save time and money by not having to estimate. Planning is key!
Maintenance (boring but important)
If you hate cleaning, using a bathroom tile which requires a lot of cleaning will drive you mad. So it’s worth checking how much TLC each type of tile requires.
Both porcelain and ceramic tiles are virtually maintenance free and so are perfect for flooring and small bathroom. Just check whether they need to be sealed.
Natural stone, while looking chic, does require more maintenance and needs to be sealed. Stone has more pours which tend to clog up with dirt and grim more easily.
When it comes to purchasing bathroom tiles, make sure you ask lots of questions. It’s worth popping into your local DIY store and speaking with an expert, even if you then order online.
How to choose bathroom tiles
When you choose bathroom tiles, have fun and don’t let it get to stressful.
Firstly match your tile size to the room and the overall feel you’re going for. If you’re going for a cosy shower room, then choose darker tones and larger tiles. Trying to make a small room feel bigger? Use a lighter, more reflective bathroom tile.
Keep your choices down to 2 or 3 tile styles and work with an equally refined colour pallet.
Before settling on a pattern, try laying the tiles out in a few different ways. You’ll see how moving even the simplest tile to a different angle create a unique feel.
Finally, before ordering, overestimate by at least 10%. This way, you’ll have more than enough even if you break a few or need to match a pattern.