How To Choose Shower Tile When Remodeling A Bathroom

Making The Right Shower Tile Choice When Remodeling a Bath

When you're remodeling your bathroom, you have many choices to make when it comes to the rooms look and feel. From the vanity to the shower fixtures, to the shower tile, you need to pick materials that are functional, get the job done, and look fabulous doing it!

When it comes time to choose your shower tile, slip resistance, curves and even the mineral content of your water can all affect your choices. In fact, along with these factors, choosing the perfect shower tile, often your shower's design will play a role in the type of tile that can or should be used.

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Some Considerations When Choosing Shower Tile

This tile takes on a rather monolithic appearance, such that the individual tiles seem to blend together into one wall, one bench.

Design and use will often dictate your tile choice. For example, if you include a curved shower bench in your plan, you'll need to choose a smaller tile. While that might seem like an easy choice, you need to find a tile that is suitable for both floor and wall use as well as approved for use in a wet location. That means, when it's installed, 95% of the back side needs to be in contact with the thin set. Often thin set is installed with a notched trowel and not all tiles – especially many mosaic tiles can meet this threshold. 

Larger tiles are an excellent choice for barrier-free shower designs and aging in place. But is it safe? Smaller tiles offer more grout lines and better slip resistance. So if you're looking at a larger tile, look for an excellent slip-resistance rating. A tile with an A or B rating is ideal. Larger sized textured porcelain tile can be a great choice.

If you choose glass or sheet mosaic tile, it is up to the manufacturer or retailer to inform you if the tile is acceptable for submersion. Your shower floor should be built like it will be submerged. Your design-build contractor can help you with the specifics, and will most likely offer you a range of appropriate choices when finalizing your design and materials choices.

Choosing the Right Shower Tile

While technical reasons, like using a submersible tile, and slip resistance will begin to narrow your choices, there are other elements to consider that can help you to narrow the field further.

• Pick your 'must have' tile first.

If you have a dream tile you're considering for your remodel, choose it first. Sometimes you may find a unique accent tile that speaks to you, or maybe it's something as simple as knowing you want clean, white subway tile. Either way, choose your significant feature first, then build around it.

• Think about how it will feel.

A slab feels much nicer to sit on that smaller tile, and a curved edge will feel great on the back of your legs. Sitting on a shower bench with no eased edge can be hard on your legs. Plan to use a slab with a bullnose or radius edge for your bench.

• When selecting mosaics, be careful!

This multi-colored mosaic provides a pop of color in this condominium bathroom.

Remember to pick out a mosaic tile that offers at least 95% contact to the backer board. That is the minimum contact you need for proper water resistant installation. 

• Small colored glass is easier to work with than large clear glass.

Glass is a beautiful look that is clean, sleek and contemporary. However, glass can be challenging to work with. Some clear glass tiles can show moisture trapped behind them and look awful after just a few uses. Smaller, colored glass tile is a better choice. 

• Consider Universal Design

Picking a large-format, slip-resistant tile and a one-way slope for easy access to the shower is you're planning on aging in place, is an excellent choice. As another benefit, using one tile throughout the bathroom can also make the room look much larger. 

• Think About Maintenance

Nobody likes to clean, and maintenance is definitely something to think about, especially if your an older homeowner and you're aging in place. Porcelain or ceramic tile is a perfect choice as they're virtually maintenance free. (Double check to see if they need to be sealed!) Natural stone, while it looks fantastic,  requires more maintenance and will need periodic resealing and they tend to hold dirt and grime more. If you want the look of stone, consider using it on the floor away from the wet areas. Glass tile is also a great look, but unless it's textured, stay away from using it on the floor, it's super slippery.

• Finally, Consider Scale

Large-scale tiles are a leading trend when it comes to bathroom floors right now. If you choose to go there, you can use the same tile cut in a smaller size in a different area of your bathroom. For example, if you're using a 12x24 tile on the floor, use the same tile in 2x2's to continue color across the floor, creating a more slip-free shower floor. The top image in this blog is an example of large-scale tile in an owner’s suite.

Choosing the right bathroom tile is really about both aesthetics and function. Make sure to check the specs when selecting so you'll have tile that is designed for the purpose, for example, a good slip-resistance rating for floors and submersible tile for the shower stall. Today, you have an almost infinite variety of styles, patterns, textures, colors, and materials to choose from. Your design-build contractor has the expertise to help you to narrow your choices. 

If you're planning a bathroom remodeling project and you live in the greater Madison, Wisconsin area, give the experts at Degnan Design-Build-Remodel a call. We've helped hundreds of Madison area homeowners to create their dream bathroom, and we can help you!

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