This guide is designed to give you inspiration and practical insights so you opt for the right bathroom tile for your space.
Bathroom tiles should be an essential part of your design and can create a stunning impact when done right.
It can be tricky to balance functionality with style. Tiles do many things from protecting the walls in baths and showers to making it easier to keep the bathroom clean.
BATHROOM TILE MATERIALS
From a practical standpoint, there are some materials that are better suited to the level of moisture found in a bathroom. There are also variations in how easy the tiles will be to work with and install plus the obvious price differences involved. Man-made tiles are generally more affordable and easier to look after than real stone tiles and are therefore a better option if you are decorating your bathroom on a budget.
PEI stands for The Porcelain Enamel Institute. It is the rating which determines the recommended application for a tile. Most tiles will have a PEI rating (from 0-5) to enable you to check whether your chosen tile is suitable for its intended purpose. A one means you can only use the tile on a wall whereas a five means it is suitable for the floor/heavy traffic area.
MAN MAN TILES
Porcelain and ceramic tiles are easy to clean, are water resistant and are one of the least expensive tiling options.
Since the materials are very similar (both made from natural clay) and look almost identical, they can sometimes be confused with one another but they are produced slightly differently.
Porcelain tiles are made from denser clay (finely ground sand is added) and fired at a much higher temperature making them less porous than ceramic and extremely hard wearing - suited to high traffic areas. They are simply to look after and can be used on both the floor and walls. They can give the look of natural stone. They come in glazed, unglazed (will need regular cleaning and sealing) and polished finishes and are resistant to scratches.
Ceramic tiles are the most popular of all tiles but not as hard wearing as porcelain - be sure to check if you can use the particular tile you like on the floor, for example.. They are cheaper than porcelain, easy to cut and fit, easily maintained and the decorative glaze makes them resistant to high humidity and stains. They come in a wide variety of colours, patterns and shapes to suit all styles.
Gloss or Matt finish?
Gloss tiles reflect light so they are work well in smaller spaces where you want to make the space feel bigger and brighter. The one disadvantage is that smears will show up easier on the shiny surface.
Matt tiles have the advantage of not showing water marks as easily as gloss tiles and they can be made to look like other materials such as stone, wood and cement.
NATURAL STONE BATHROOM TILES
Natural stone is quarried out of the ground so each tile will have its own unique patterns, markings and texture.
Marble in its pure form comes in various shades from greys to green and black. It has distinctive veins running through the material that give it an elegant and luxurious look. You can use marble on the bathroom wall and floor but polished marble should be avoided as flooring due to the risk of slipping when wet.
It is important to ensure that the marble tiles are sealed correctly no matter which finish of marble you have chosen. The sealant will protect the stone from stains and reduces water absorption. Be aware that sealing will darken the colour of the marble quite a bit.
Travertine has natural pits which gives the tiles their individuality. It can be found in a wide variety of warm tones from beige to chocolate. It is best to get filled travertine to prevent water penetration. It is prone to chipping, is porous and will stain so is better for use on walls as you will need to clean and seal it regularly.
It is best to get it installed by a professional as it is heavy, thick and can be difficult to align the tiles evenly.
Limestone is a softer stone than some of the other natural stones so it can be scratched and needs to be sealed. Even though it is porous it is remarkably durable and makes great flooring. Pale versions are popular but it comes in darker shades too.
Slate is less porous than some other stones and generally cheaper than marble or granite. It is naturally slip resistant so it a great choice for bathroom flooring especially for those who are less steady on their feet.
Slate will still need to be sealed to maintain its finish but is resistant to scratches and stains.
SHAPES, COLOUR AND SIZE
For smaller bathrooms, opting for a larger bathroom floor tile will help open up the space. Be aware that using large tiles in a very small space will require most of the tiles to be cut. You will also need more adhesive.
Smaller tiles will require a lot of grout lines which can make the floor look very busy.
Cleaning will be easier if you use a darker or patterned floor tile with a light and plain tile on the walls.
Using the same type of tile on the floor and walls can create a sleek, continuous look but be sure to choose tiles that come in both matt and gloss finishes so you can keep the uniform look without compromising on safety with slippery floor tiles.