All of your bathroom surfaces can be exposed to daily moisture that is potentially damaging. Protect your investment by choosing the best product for your bathroom flooring, walls, backsplash, and shower. Keep reading to discover that no other material can beat the combination of ceramic tile’s benefits. Then explore the options for ceramic tile, shapes, colors, and patterns that will make the busiest room in your home as beautiful as it is functional.
Six Facts That Make Ceramic Tile the Best Choice for Your Bathroom
Ceramic tile is a superior material for your bathroom because of its safety, water resistance, bacteria resistance, low maintenance, versatile design options, and cost effectiveness.
1. Surfaces Made for Safety
Your bathroom surfaces are going to suffer splashes and literally get showered upon. Ceramic tile offers a huge variety of tile options that provide anti-slip features so that you can choose the right kind of tile for your bathroom. Should you require special features in your bathroom to accommodate a wheelchair or a walk-in shower, ceramic tile’s versatility can be used to beautifully customize your needs.
2. Water Resistance
Water resistance is an absolute essential for your bathroom materials. When properly installed using appropriate methods and installation materials, a ceramic tile floor or wall is waterproof against water (no matter how bad your family is at keeping the water where it ought to be). Other building products may claim to be waterproof, yet do not have waterproof installation methods, nor are there any mechanisms to achieve a waterproof assembly, which means residual moisture can damage your construction. Where there’s a way, water will ….
Ceramic tile has the versatility to provide wall-to-wall coverage with floor, wall, and ceiling waterproofing for your bathroom, enabling you to trust that your beautiful space is highly functional and durable.
3. Mold and Mildew Resistance
Maintaining a healthy environment in your bathroom is important for the wellbeing of your loved ones. This area, which is optimized for our personal hygiene and health, should be as clean and hygienic as possible.
The biggest concern for areas that tend to be exposed to high amounts of moisture, such as bathrooms, is bacteria growth. Ceramic tile surfaces discourage bacteria, as well as mold and mildew growth. In addition to being bacteria-resistant, ceramic tile offers options that are antimicrobial and can suppress and even destroy harmful microorganisms, such as mold, fungi, bacteria, and viruses.
Ceramic tile provides many health benefits that are ideal for any bathroom space:
- No allergens: Ceramic tile is created by a firing process at high temperatures and has a surface that is resistant to bacteria, fungi, mold, and other irritants. Additionally, dust mites cannot be absorbed into ceramic tile — simply sweep them away. This makes ceramic tile a great choice, especially if anyone in your family has allergies.
- No volatile organic compounds (VOCs): Some VOCs emitted by nonceramic building products can contribute to a wide variety of health problems, including “sick building syndrome.” Ceramic tile has zero 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 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. Easy Maintenance
Cleaning the bathroom can be easy. (We know bathrooms have the reputation of being everyone’s least favorite chore.) Ceramic tile simplifies bathroom upkeep, as most surfaces only require simple soap and water — no harsh chemicals needed!
Ceramic tile also offers greater stain resistance and scratch resistance than other materials. Dents and scrapes often seen in other materials (another entryway for water) aren’t the same danger for ceramic tile floors, even after years of heavy traffic. With ceramic tile, you will be able to enjoy a bathroom that sparkles and looks brand new for many years to come.
5. Versatile Design Options
Ceramic tile has the functionality to be installed on all your bathroom surfaces — the floor, wall, backsplash, shower floor, insets and surround, and even the ceiling (think about a tall teenager taking a shower). This versatility allows you the opportunity to choose from a tile “family” of coordinating options for a consistent style or to mix it up by combining various designs that complement each other. Add to the mix the pattern in which your tile is hand-laid and the color of grout you choose, then coordinate with faucets, shower doors, and towel racks for a one-of-a-kind decor that’s devoted to the care of your family. Ceramic tile’s unlimited potential for color, shape, and pattern combinations means your options are truly endless.
Create a serene space you can escape to with luxurious accents or a colorful, efficient space that keeps the kids on schedule — whatever your needs and design vision, ceramic tile will beautifully stand up to constant use.
6. Cost Effectiveness
Ceramic tile is a cost-effective option for your bathroom because of its durability and low life cycle cost, which includes lower yearly maintenance than any other flooring option. Ceramic tile has one of the longest lifespans of any flooring option and can effectively help you increase the resale value of your home.
Ceramic Tile for Your Bathroom
Ceramic tile is a go-to for bathroom surfaces because of its high moisture resistance. Choose between ceramic tile, porcelain tile, and quarry tile — all of which are part of the ceramic tile family and are all ideal choices for splash-prone bathrooms.
Ceramic tile is a great option for any bathroom flooring, walls, backsplash, shower or ceiling. It is available in glazed or unglazed surfaces, as well as a wide variety of different finishes. Ceramic tile offers different options for slip, stain, and scratch resistance to go with your favorite ceramic tile shape and color.
You may also want to consider porcelain tile, which is a subset of ceramic tile, for your bathroom surfaces. Because porcelain tile is fired at higher temperatures and for a longer time, it is denser than regular ceramic tile, less permeable, highly scratch-resistant, and even exceeds granite in hardness and strength. In fact, porcelain is the only type of ceramic tile that meets the “impervious” rating for water absorption (0.5 percent or less), making it a great choice for freeze/thaw conditions, such as outdoor bathrooms. Porcelain tile also comes in glazed and unglazed options. Unglazed porcelain tile is often called “through body” because its color is consistent through the depth of the tile and makes any unlikely scratches virtually undetectable.
When planning your budget, keep in mind that porcelain is often more expensive and — because it is denser — requires some specialized cutting tools.
Quarry tile, another subset of ceramic tile, differs in that it is extruded from the clay mixture into a tile shape (instead of pressed) before being fired.
Quarry tile is available in a variety of natural tones — including tan, brown, grey, black, and red. The rustic characteristics of quarry tile work well for indoor bathrooms in which you want to create a modern farmhouse decor or charming Spanish or Italian influence, and is especially appropriate for outdoor bathrooms, as it can withstand extreme temperatures (heat to frost). Terra cotta tile can look similar to red quarry tile but does not provide quarry tile’s moisture resistance, durability, or versatility.
Best Ceramic Tile Designs for Your Bathroom
Now it’s time to consider tile shape and design. We’re highlighting the following examples to give you some ideas for your bathroom surfaces. Remember that you’re not limited to just one — combining different elements is how you create a unique look!
Although mosaic tile is technically defined as tile less than nine inches squared in any shape, “mosaic” is now often associated with the creative combination of colors, shapes, and even textures, that have emerged with new manufacturing technology. Small mosaic tiles are generally mounted on strips or sheets to make installation easier.
Mosaic tiles often look great on smaller surfaces, making mosaics an excellent option for backsplashes, insets, and accents. The increased tactile quality of more grout joints in small mosaics also makes them an excellent (and lovely) choice for shower floors.
A shape often found in mosaics is circle, or “penny,” tile. The small size of penny tile lends itself well to backsplashes, insets, showers, and bathrooms with limited floor space. Used on walls, penny tile creates a dramatic effect!
Square tiles give you great flexibility for experimenting with different styles and sizes. Contrast striking colors and textures or pair your square tile with other shapes to create a unique pattern.
Square tile comes in a wide range of sizes and creates the ideal backdrop for accent areas.
Rectangles are a popular tile shape that appears in everything from large-scale panels to intricate mosaics.
Smaller rectangular “subway tile” is once again a trending tile option for bathroom tile. Subway tile easily combines with other shapes and offers innovative options for size, color, layout, grout, and dimension that allow you to make your bathroom all your own.
Both a modern and vintage style, hexagon tile will add a fun honeycomb look to your bathroom surfaces. Hexes come in a variety of sizes, and we recommend playing with tile and grout color to best take advantage of this shape’s charisma.
If you like the idea of hexagon tile but want something even more unique, opt for one of the emerging new shapes in tile. This trending option for feature areas comes in a variety of different sizes and shapes to match your most creative motivation.
[Related: Tile Trends We Love: Think Outside the Box]
Advanced design and manufacturing capabilities are now able to add unique qualities to ceramic tile. Illusion tiles have a mosaic quality but are actually traditional shapes that form patterns depending on how they are installed.
Decorative and Patterned Tile
Bathroom spaces can be an opportunity to use a decorative tile for a “wallpaper” look on your floors or walls or maybe in your shower niche. Smaller areas benefit from the use of this beautiful effect, giving pizzazz to your space when there might not be room for additional decor details.
Using wood in a bathroom is surprising — one overflow from a toilet and a traditional wood floor can be ruined! Traditional wood products do not have the water resistance or durability necessary for a bathroom or other rooms in your home exposed to moisture. Ceramic tile allows you to use beautiful wood textures in your bathroom and also use the same flooring throughout your entire home, from the living room to the kitchen and the bathroom to the bedroom.
New technology in ceramic tile manufacturing brings you metallic-finished tile, perfect for today’s decor preferences that accentuate individuality.
[Related: Tile Trends We Love: Industrial Chic Tile]
Dimensional tile is becoming an increasingly popular tile option that adds a textured look to your space — taking your home to another dimension! Manufacturing advances allow for dimensional tile to be any shape, most often curves or geometric shapes that create spectacular feature areas for your bathroom.
Tile Pattern Ideas for Bathroom Surfaces
Even when you’re on a strict budget or are using a monochromatic color scheme, you can choose a ceramic tile pattern to create a truly unique space. Check out a few of our suggestions below to get started, and remember that you can personalize any pattern with unique accents.
Grid Tile Pattern
The grid tile pattern works well on any bathroom surface and can be paired with any ceramic tile type or color, offering great flexibility. Combine this uncomplicated pattern with a single color of tile for a clean, contemporary effect or use it as a simple arrangement for a more intricate tile feature. The grid pattern is a particularly nice choice if you are hoping to use a ceramic tile that looks like natural stone.
Checkerboard Tile Pattern
The checkerboard pattern (shown here set at an angle) gives you lots of room to play when designing your bathroom surfaces. Go with a black and white color combination for a simultaneously vintage and modern look, or make the pattern your own with unique colors or an offset grid. (Our example above shows beautiful ceramic tile with a marble effect, but it has the lower cost and higher durability of ceramic tile.)
Running Bond Tile Pattern
The running bond pattern can be set in even offset spaces, step-and-repeat (as shown here), or random offset and can give even a small space an open, uninterrupted surface line. What a great pairing this makes with a curbless shower!
The running bond pattern is especially appropriate for wood textured tile. Combine this pattern with irregular lengths and widths of wood-look ceramic tile and the result is generally indistinguishable from hardwood flooring — though ceramic tile is more durable and vastly more water-resistant.
Octagon and Dot Tile Pattern
The white octagon and black dot (diamond) pattern has been popular since even before the Victorian era. Choose this timeless pattern for historical properties or reverse the principal color and use colored grout to bring this look into the 21st century.
Chevron and Herringbone Tile Patterns
Find more ceramic tile patterns for your bathroom surfaces by downloading our free tile layout patterns template.
Accents — the Beauty Is in the Details!
Before finalizing your design plans, remember that you’re not limited to the exact pattern you choose. Create something truly unique by adding different shapes and borders, varying textures, or featuring a section of mosaic tile. Many manufacturers have coordinating tile “families” that might help you think of different applications. Whatever you can imagine is possible with ceramic tile! Here are some of our favorite tile WOWS that might spark your imagination.
[Related: Colorful Bathroom Floor Tile Ideas]
Jump in — the Water’s Fine!
Now that you’ve learned about the benefits of ceramic tile and your many options, it’s time to get started on your beautiful bathroom! Find more inspiration by exploring our style galleries for shape, color, and texture ideas; downloading our free Tile Buying Guide; and referencing our tile layout patterns template.