How to Choose Bathroom Tile Colors

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Tiles are easy to clean and virtually stain resistant. Plus, they don't retain odors, bacteria or allergens. These characteristics make tile an excellent choice for both your bathroom flooring and walls.

One issue some people find with tiling their bathroom is that once a tile color has been chosen, it is difficult to change. Unlike a stucco wall, you can't simply paint over your tiles if you decide to go with a different color pattern. That makes choosing the right color for your bathroom tiles a somewhat difficult task, but here is some helpful information that might aid you in your decision making process.

How Color Affects the Room

Just like other parts of your home, the colors you choose for your bathroom will affect how the room feels, and how it makes people in the room feel.  When using tiles, you have the ability to create complex color patterns since each individual tile can come in its own unique color. Complex color patterns can seem overwhelming and a bit discomforting, which are two characteristics you don't want your bathroom to have.

  • Dark colors: can make the room feel small and cramped.
  • Light colors: can make the room feel broad and expansive.
  • Mixed colors: offer a unique design, but should be used in small sections so they aren't overwhelming.
  • Warm colors: create a calm, soothing atmosphere and offset the cold, cool look of bathroom fixtures.
Dark Tiles

Dark Color Tiles

Light Tiles

Light Color Tiles

Tile Types

There are various types of tiles you can choose for your bathroom. The tile colors available will depend upon the specific type of tile you choose. Here is a quick look at a few common tile types:

  • Ceramic: Available in a wide array of colors, ceramic tiles are the most common type of tiles seen in a bathroom. They are very easy to clean, easy to install, and are fairly affordable.
  • Porcelain: Porcelain tiles are more durable than ceramic, and are available in a wide array of colors as well. The main difference between porcelain and ceramic tiles is the lack of glaze coating. Since porcelain is not glaze coated like ceramic tiles, chips in the tile are less noticeable.
  • Glass-mosaics: These types of tiles are typically small, and come in primary and secondary color schemes. They are great for creating complex color patterns, and can even be used to create bathroom images and murals on your bathroom wall.
Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain Tiles

Glass Mosaic

Glass Mosaic Tiles


A common element that is overlooked in bathroom color and design is the grout used for the tiles. You can go in several directions when selecting the grout for your bathroom. If you want to add a bit of contrast, you can use your grout as an accent color. If you want a more seamless look, try to find a grout that will complement the tiles you've selected for your bathroom. This will help bring the tiles together, especially if you've selected a pattern that comes in various blends and shades.


Once you've finished setting the tiles in your bathroom, you're basically stuck with the colors you've chosen unless you plan on completely changing the tiles in the future. If you are looking for alternative methods to change the color scheme of your bathroom without going through the difficult task of a full bathroom remodel, here are a few bathroom decorating ideas:

  • Fabrics: Bath towels, sink towels, shower curtains and window treatments can be used to add new colors to your bathroom without changing the tiles you've selected.
  • Décor: Decorative items strategically placed around your bathroom, like on countertops or on a door, can give your bathroom a new look and feel. Choose items that contrast in color to create an accent, or colors that complement your tiles to create a seamless look.
  • Paint: If you only have tiles on your floor or countertop, you can paint your walls or bathroom door to create various color schemes.
  • Rugs: Want to add a new color pattern on your bathroom floor? Try using a bathroom rug as an accent. If you've grown bored of your tile flooring, use large rugs, or multiple rugs to cover as much tile space as possible.

Tiles on a Budget

There are different ways to use tiles in your bathroom on a tight budget. If you can't afford to redo an entire section of your bathroom, choose a small area to add new tiles to. Small, sectioned areas of the bathroom, like an alcove for bath products in your shower, can be highlighted with mosaic tiles of mixed colors. You can also give a plain wall of white tiles a new look by creating accent lines or borders with different colored tiles.

Last Updated: July 21, 2011
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About Matthew Cenzon Matthew Cenzon has been writing for numerous publications since 2003, covering topics ranging from health and nutrition to the real estate industry. He is one of the contributing writers for, and is a college graduate of the University of California, Riverside, with degrees in English and Asian literature. Matthew’s interest in interior design and home improvement stem from his background working in the residential real estate appraisal business for over five years, where he witnessed many of the Do's and Don'ts of home decor.

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