Your shower is a canvas where you can express your unique style and create a highly functioning space at the same time. We’ve gathered 10 tips to help you navigate your ceramic shower tile choices PLUS 40 beautiful ideas to spark your imagination.
10 Steps for Choosing the Best Ceramic Tile for Your Shower
When deciding on the shower tile in your bathroom, keep the following pointers in mind.
1. Safety First
According to a study performed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 234,000 people over the age of 15 suffered injuries in the bathroom that required an emergency room visit. Over 80 percent of these injuries were due to falls.
Ceramic tile provides a large variety of options that have slip resistant features in wet and dry conditions so that you can find the right type of tile for your shower. You may also want to consider using mosaic tile for your shower flooring, as smaller tiles with more grout lines can provide even more traction.
Curbless showers allow greater accessibility than traditional shower basins, as there is no step over a threshold. This advantage is especially helpful for those in wheelchairs to maintain safety and independence while bathing. If you require special features in your shower or bath area (such as a grab bar), the strength of installing on a ceramic tile area will give you peace of mind without compromising appearance.
2. Water, Water, Everywhere
Choose ceramic tile, porcelain tile, or quarry tile, which are all part of the ceramic tile family and are ideal for areas exposed to water. This sounds obvious — of course, you want your shower and bathroom to be waterproof. When properly installed using appropriate methods and installation materials, a ceramic tile floor or wall is waterproof, protecting against water that could otherwise ruin your construction underneath. Other building products may claim waterproofness, yet do not have waterproof installation methods, nor are there any mechanisms to achieve a waterproof assembly. This means the finished installation has the potential to leak, trap moisture, and allow residual moisture (hint: splashes) to damage your construction.
3. Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise
Bacteria and mold thrive in moisture-rich areas. Ceramic tile is inhospitable to bacteria and options are available with antimicrobial properties that can suppress and even destroy harmful microorganisms, such as mold, fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Ceramic tile helps create a healthy environment!
A few other health benefits to understand about ceramic tile:
- No allergens: Ceramic tile’s surface won’t absorb any dust mites and discourages the growth of bacteria, fungi, mold, and other irritants.
- No volatile organic compounds: Hazardous gases called VOCs are known to cause nose, eye, and throat irritation; nausea; headaches; and “sick building syndrome.” Ceramic tile contains no VOCs.
- No formaldehyde: Some wood products may contain formaldehyde. Certain levels of formaldehyde can irritate asthma and other respiratory disorders, but ceramic tile does not contain formaldehyde.
- No polyvinyl chloride (PVC): PVC is a resin used in some vinyl flooring and is a regular health concern among medical professionals and builders. Ceramic tile is 100 percent PVC-free.
- No plastic: Ceramic tile contains no plastic and has none of the health or environmental concerns associated with plastic.
- Reduced embodied carbon: Compared to other flooring products that need to be replaced more frequently, ceramic tile’s long life means it is both cost-effective and a smart choice for reducing embodied carbon, as well as other negative environmental impacts, such as resource use, and demolition waste.
4. Clean Up Your Act
Ceramic tile makes cleaning easy as it is not easily stained and can be cleaned with as little as some soap and water — no harsh chemicals needed!
When you’re scrambling to get your house clean, your low-maintenance shower will be a source of pride.
5. All the Feels
Ceramic tile comes in a large variety of colors, shapes, and patterns to create the perfect ambiance for your shower. Create a personal spot of luxury, a comfortable guest retreat, or an invigorating, efficient space. The combination of tiles you choose helps build the perfect setting. For your shower floor, you may also what to consider the texture beneath your feet. Ceramic tile offers a wide variety of finishes that are rougher or smoother than others. Keep your tactile preferences in mind when choosing tile for your shower flooring or bench.
Tiles that are smaller in shape and have more grout areas provide a different texture than larger tiles. You may even choose a river rock tile that has a massage effect on your soul (soles).
6. We Are Family
Ceramic tile families include coordinating shapes, sizes, finishes, and textures of tile so that you can customize your shower to harmonize with the rest of your bathroom for a cohesive and intentional look.
The fact that you can use ceramic tile for your bathroom’s backsplash, walls, floor, and ceiling, in addition to your shower, makes coordinating simple. Choose a consistent color and pattern for the whole space, or a contrasting design for your shower that will make it the bathroom’s main attraction. Ceramic tile’s versatility gives you many beautiful options.
7. It’s All About You
Your shower serves a purpose, and that purpose is specific to you and your family. However large or small your shower, your ceramic tile installer can create both a unique layout for your tile and also any desired niches, benches, or additional accents. So, if your teenagers need a double niche for hair products and you would like a candle ledge away from water spray, it can all be yours! Consider if you need a curbless shower or perhaps a doorless shower, a shower that is more private, or a shower with an open feel. Ceramic tile can meet all of your needs.
8. Coordinated choices
Including too many different types of tile in your shower will give it an overwhelming look. As a rule of thumb, you can consider three different styles (we know it’s hard to choose). For example, choose a mosaic tile size for the shower floor, a larger tile for the walls, and a coordinating texture or design for your shower niche. Coordinate the rest of your bathroom’s ceramic tile within the family of one of your choices. For example, your bathroom floor can be the same as your shower walls and maybe your backsplash picks up the niche tile. Choosing your must-have-dream-tile first will help your other choices fall into place. We’ve seen a niche choice set the tone of an entire bathroom.
9. Think Long-Term Value
Ceramic tile has one of the longest lifespans and lowest life cycle costs of any flooring option, and its durable, hard surface won’t easily scuff, tear, dent, or puncture. Your tile choice will withstand daily use and look great for years to come. But don’t take our word for it — just check out the many centuries-old tile installations that are still intact today.
10. Have Fun!
Choosing beautiful ceramic tile for your shower is fun! Explore your style options and get creative. The safety, functionality, and beauty of ceramic tile ensures you will make a smart choice and gives you the freedom to focus on creating a space your family will love! Download our free Tile Buying Guide companion guide to help you with each step of your tile shopping.
40 of Our Favorite Shower Tile Ideas
With our tile tips in tow, you can start exploring the many design options for your shower. These ideas should inspire you!
1. Marble-Look Walls and Mosaic Flooring
Marble-look ceramic tile walls with a large horizontal running bond pattern and coordinating mosaic grid flooring give this bathroom an elegant look. Using the same flooring throughout the entire bathroom visually amplifies the space.
2. Make Mine a Combo
When you have a tub and shower combination, you may have the opportunity to create a feature wall with decorative tile. We love the color consistency of this decor, especially with the unique tile flooring pattern! For tubs that are not freestanding, consider a tub surround with your ceramic tile choice.
3. Rustic Rectangles
This unadorned, urban vibe is accentuated by large rectangular panels and a curbless shower.
4. Sleek Subway Tile
White subway tile provides a classic feature backdrop that contrasts well with the slate gray flooring (notice that the grout in the subway tile picks up the color of the floor tile).
5. Diamond Rug Accent
This lighter diamond rug accent pattern of tile on the shower wall pops against the darker natural stone-effect tile. The lighter grout accentuates the tile on the floors and walls and compliments the feature area.
6. Modern Octagon and Dot
The varying yellow tones of these octagon and dot shower walls make for a bold contrast with the black grid flooring, creating a striking look.
7. Subtle Accents
Subtle floral patterns accent the earth tones of this shower for a clean, comforting environment. While the shower walls feature a rectangular grid, the flooring uses a mosaic for added slip resistance.
8. Not Your Average Black and White
This modern farmhouse bathroom is a mastery of complements and contrasts: rustic white brick walls against charcoal mosaic shower floor tiles surrounded by a feature floor of unique patterns that bring together all the color elements in this bathroom.
9. Better Where It’s Wetter
The blues, yellows, and greens in this mosaic window border add an under-the-sea sensation to this shower’s earthy, variegated subway tile walls and iridescent navy tiled ceiling.
10. Aqua Agua
Vertical aqua subway tile provides an invigorating pop against the white on white subway and the stone-look mosaic tiles completing this look. A curbless shower allows the flooring to flow in and out of the shower (but the water stays IN)!
11. Keep It in the Family
This bathroom uses different sizes and shapes of natural stone-look tile but keeps it in the same tile family of coordinating options.
12. Functional Grid
This dark gray mosaic accent stripe and three-dimensional white wall tile forms a simple grid design that’s fun and functional. Note: The shower floor reuses the same mosaic but with a matte finish and dark grout.
13. Uncommonly Good
The accent wall in this shower combines the look of marble with an uncommon shape. The result is a shower that’s simultaneously classic and modern.
14. What’s Old Is New Again
Using a marble-look for this elongated octagon and dot pattern adds a modern twist to a style made popular in the Victorian era.
15. Stone Grids
The different sizes and shapes of these stone-look tiles build a clean, consistent look both inside and outside of the shower.
16. Warm Wood-Look Tile
You might not think to put wood on your shower walls, but this bathroom pulls it off effortlessly without worrying about water-damaged wood because it’s actually wood-look ceramic tile.
17. Size and Color Contrast
This is a lovely example of juxtaposing colorful mosaic tile as a feature wall and backsplash with large, natural stone-look tile panels. Combining color, texture, and size contribute to the dramatic focus of the feature areas.
18. Shades of Gray
Shades of gray marble-look ceramic tile in rectangles and hexagons define vertical and horizontal surfaces to create a serene and clean master bath getaway.
19. Move Over, Subway Tile
This shower’s dramatic stone effect uses a horizontal accent stripe of pearled subway tile paired with large rectangular grid walls and mosaic flooring.
20. Ultra Modern Geometric Design
Stone-look square tile flooring supports the ultra modern geometric design of these herringbone-striped walls. The lines of dark grout in the white rectangular floating accent wall bridge the bathing areas and become a focal point of the room.
21. Greige Is the New …
“Greige” is the new beige and the new grey — the new neutral everyone is clamoring for! The movement of grain in the floor and shower walls are anchored by perpendicular white mosaic subway tile in this shower floor for a look of modern rustic charm, as well as cleanliness and an air of efficiency.
22. Unleashed Luxury
Glossy black mosaic tile walls and long planks of dark wood-look tile flooring give this shower a spa feel that could easily be implemented in a smaller space (sans the sunken tub). Note the subtly textured floor tile that has the look of linen.
23. Natural Colors and Natural Light
A doorless shower deserves a window to the world! The artfully laid mosaics of this space combine natural colors and reflect the natural light for a space with a fresh and energizing aura.
24. Elongating and Luxurious Accents
As they are both vertically placed, the large rectangular grid tile walls and running bond mosaic accents visually elongate this shower. The pattern created by the different colors in the mosaic adds a unique touch that picks up the curved bench and floor mosaics. Remember that tile can be installed on your ceiling (as shown here) to provide another decor element.
25. Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend
The marble-look squares laid in a diamond grid lead you to the shower laid in large-format tile panels for an elegant and open feel in a relatively small space.
26. Play With Your Grout!
This shower’s dark grout and white subway tile in a herringbone pattern make for a unique design using an economical tile choice. Smaller tiles add additional traction to the flooring and a coordinating accent to the niche. Explore more niche ideas and ideas for colored grout!
27. You Won’t Be Blue
Shades of blue won’t make you blue with this cheerful combination of subway tile with an accent horizontal stripe and pencil trim detail. Psst, we think blue tile might be the next big trend!
28. Accents That Pop
The wide white grout surrounding these square accents stands out against the pixelated design of the mosaic tile shower walls.
29. Modern Mexican Tile
The designs on this shower’s grid flooring add a twist to traditional Mexican tile by using more subdued colors. Hexagon mosaic walls with charcoal grout complete the fun look.
30. Textured Accent Wall
This curbless shower pulls off a minimalist pattern and color scheme by including a highly textured accent wall.
31. Stone Age
This shower’s patterns are anything but stuck in the stone age. Contemporary stone-look square tile is laid in an off-center grid accented by a diamond banner with running bond mosaic borders. Learn more about grid patterns by downloading this free tile layout pattern template.
32. Marble Chevron Mosaic
The soft color changes in this shower’s marble chevron mosaic wall add a softening touch to the rest of the shower’s clean-cut lines (and we love the black pencil trim on the niche).
33. Crosshatch Wood-Look Tile
Surprise! Wood-look tile in the shower! The crosshatch mosaic wall design creates a unique twist by making the walls the feature tile instead of the shower floor.
34. Row After Row
Bold rows of mosaic rectangles in the stone-effect tile pick up the dark cabinet tones, as well as the darker wood-look ceramic tile flooring.
35. Mixing It Up, Naturally
Natural stone-effect tile in your shower and bath area is already a modern trend, but this beautiful bathroom takes it one step further by using various sizes of rectangles in an off-center pattern. Mosaic tile in the shower flooring and shelf area accents this clean design and the running bond grid flooring pattern directs your eye toward this unique combination.
36. Zero to Sixty
This high-glam chrome-effect wall mosaic tile that extends from the vanity to the shower is definitely an escape from the rat race.
37. Go Big or Go Home
These large gauged porcelain tile panels/slabs create a dominant elegance. Add wood-effect tile planks and custom printed wall ceramic tile panels and you have a look that rivals your majestic view.
38. True Blue
Surround yourself with shades of blue mosaic ceramic tile for a truly refreshing shower experience.
39. Artistry and Craftsmanship
Ceramic tile’s versatility helps you reflect your personal design style. The craftsmanship of ceramic tile on this feature wall creates a focal point of beauty — a work of art in your shower!
40. Nothing to Hide
Shower doors are another decor element to consider — doorless, frameless, and how about this unique partially frosted option! What a beautiful way to add privacy and still display the gorgeous dimensional shower wall tile. (Don’t overlook the mirrored niche!)
Installing Your Shower Tile
All of the above shower tile benefits and designs only pay off if your tile is properly installed.
Some homeowners may think installing shower tile is a DIY project, especially if they have previously tiled a project . As well, tile installers who may do quality work on less complex projects, such as a backsplash, may not be skilled in shower installations. Tiling a waterproof system (such as a shower) has specific standards and methods and if not followed, may create a poor installation or what is referred to as a “leaky shower.”
The #1 inquiry received by the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) is regarding a leaky shower.
Download this NTCA tip sheet on leaky showers.
While specific causes for a leaky shower may have to do with the tile installation, shower liner installation, and/or how the shower door was installed, a leaky shower can result in:
- Damage to your walls, subflooring, and rooms beneath the shower
- Offensive odor
- The growth of mold
- Cracked, discolored, and/or loose tile and grout
- A growing water bill
Properly installed ceramic tile is part of a waterproof installation system that is time-tested as a trusted material for high moisture areas, such as showers The key to ceramic tile’s waterproof installation system is that it’s properly installed using appropriate methods and installation materials.
This is where the extreme importance of hiring qualified labor comes in. A qualified tile installer has the education, experience, and skills to ensure that your shower tile installation:
- Looks as it should (no botched designs)
- Is part of a waterproof installation system, preventing damage to your construction (and hefty repair costs)
- Will last as long as your house itself does
To learn more and ensure your new shower tile installation is reliable, consult our guide on what to know before hiring anyone to install new tile.
Whew! That was fun! Don’t want to stop? Look here for more shower tile, niche, and bathroom tile examples and visit our design gallery for inspiration on all your tile projects throughout your home.
BONUS: Free tile layout pattern template for choosing the perfect shower tile grid pattern.