Bathroom Tile Design Ideas & Tips

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Design Concept

Tiling your bathroom is one of the most functional remodeling projects that you can undertake. Following the most practical and functional approach, you can choose to design the parts of your bathroom that need the most work in order to control moisture and keep your floors slip-free. If you're interested in going above and beyond the ordinary, you can use tiles to overhaul your bathroom's look and feel. Stay close to the basics that allow you to create a safe and practical space, or let yourself out of the box, and be creative with textures, shapes, colors, and patterns. Design a theme, create an artistic ambiance, or keep your bathroom's atmosphere bland. Stick to one approach, or choose a theme that enables two extremes to meet halfway.

Your shower walls, bathroom walls, floor, and vanity are all ideal places for tiling. You can choose to install tiles on your floors only, or you can choose to tile everything including your walls and shower. Tiles can dramatically influence your bathroom's overall theme, so make sure that you have a plan before you start remodeling. It's okay if your plans change, but try to have a strategy that will streamline your tasks.

Contrary to other design strategies that you may have learned, your tiles do not need to be uniform. For a charming look and feel, you should feel free to mix and match shapes, materials, colors, textures, and patterns. For example, you can use different types of tiles on your floor and shower wall. You can also use the same type of tile in a different shape and color. Coordinate materials, colors, shapes, and sizes to give your bathroom a unique personality.

Typical Costs

Tile prices usually vary based on the material, quality, and design of your selection. The square footage of your bathroom will also influence how much you need to spend. If you have a bigger bathroom, you will need to tile a larger surface area and buy more tiles, even if you choose to work with the least expensive material.

In general, glazed ceramic tiles usually sell for $1-$20 per square foot. Unglazed quarry tiles for an average of $2 a square foot, and tailor-made art tiles can cost more than $25 each. Porcelain tiles cost around $2-$4 while terracotta tiles are available for $2.50 per square foot.

Keep in mind that designer and hand painted tiles may be more expensive, while generic colors and styles will cost less. If you are looking to cut costs, you may want to find a standard version of your favorite specialty tiles. If you absolutely love a particular designer tile, you can purchase expensive tiles to install in strategic places and patterns to create an artistic vibe that's subtle. That way, you can create the decorative effects while minimizing the amount that you need to spend.

You can also save money by tiling your own bathroom and creating your own patterns. If you're comfortable, make the entire project a do-it-yourself job - it's possible to tile an entire bathroom in one weekend. Hire a professional to work on the tough spots, and do most of the bathroom yourself. By choosing your costs, have tremendous flexibility over the amount that you will need to spend.

How to Find the Right Bathroom Tile

Bathroom tiles aren't just about appearances. You'll want to select décor that is as practical as it is pretty. Above everything, you want a bathroom that is easy to clean, slip-resistant, and persistent through wear and tear. What good is a pretty tile if it's growing mildew everywhere? Not even the most beautiful design could be worth a mess like that.

In general, wall tiles can be shiny and slick to contribute to the bathroom's overall aesthetics. Floor tiles will need to be slip resistant to keep you safe when you step out of the shower. This being said, you might want to save that gorgeous glazed-glass tile mosaic for your walls instead of your floors.


The majority of bathrooms contain ceramic tiles, which are simple to install, durable, and easy to disinfect. Ceramic tiles are available in a variety of colors, and they are easy to replace. If one tile breaks or sustains damage, you can remove that tile and replace it with another without spending a substantial amount of money. In contrast, a roll vinyl floor needs to be completely replaced if it becomes damaged. If you use ceramic tiles, make sure that you buy a couple of extras. Down the road, if a tile breaks, you may not be able to find an identical version. By keeping a few tiles on hand, you'll be prepared for any unexpected repair jobs that arise.

Vinyl tiles are likely to be your least expensive flooring option, and it is available in sheets for easy installation. A major problem with vinyl tiles is the potential for water damage, since the vinyl material can contribute to the dampness of the bathroom. If you opt for vinyl, make sure that the material is nonporous and that all the edges mesh together as tightly as possible in order to prevent gaps where germs can grow and cause mildew.

Glass tiles are ideal for people who appreciate creative designs. You can use glass tiles to decorate every inch of your bathroom including your walls, shower, tub, and floor. Glass tiles can resist water, and they will last a long time. If you decorate your bathroom with glass tiles, be sure to select small pieces to ensure that the weight distributes efficiently. Glass tiles are excellent options for people who wish to create a mosaic or artistic ambiance.

Marble is most expensive tiling option. It can create an extremely elegant look for your bathroom, but it requires a larger investment than ceramic, glass, or vinyl. Marble tiles require the highest level of maintenance, and the material is more damage prone than ceramic.

Other options for tiles include natural stone and terrazzo. Both of these cost less than marble (the most expensive choice) while lending to a similar look and durable feel. You can achieve elegance with natural stone and terrazzo tiles, but be prepared to invest more in maintenance and cleaning costs.

Last Updated: January 19, 2012
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About Ritika Puri Based in California, Ritika Puri has worn a number of professional hats ranging from blogger to quantitative researcher, martial arts instructor, and cartographer. No matter what she does, she loves to write and specializes in topics related to home improvement, personal finance, and business. She writes regularly for's Financial Edge section, and her work has appeared on SF Gate, Yahoo! Finance, and The Chicago Sun Times Online. She holds a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College and an M.A. in Demographic and Social Analysis from the University of California at Irvine.  

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