Best Bathroom Backsplash Tile Ideas
Tile is a natural choice for a bathroom backsplash. Its water resistance and durability protect walls from water and moisture, and it presents an opportunity to add color and personality in these traditionally neutral spaces. Since a backsplash will not see the weight and wear of foot traffic, your choices in tile types are practically limitless. But there are a few types that work particularly well in bathrooms. In this guide, we walk you through popular bathroom backsplash tile ideas with detailed information on material, construction, upkeep, and cost.
Ceramic Tile Backsplashes
Known for its versatility, strength, and moisture resistance, ceramic tile is a natural fit for a bathroom backsplash.
Some of the earliest ceramic tile dates back to 1,000 B.C., and its manufacturing process has not changed much since then. Tiles are made by blending clay and minerals into a fine powder then adding water to form a paste that is pressed into shape and kiln-fired. Glazed tiles can produce bright colors, while unglazed tiles offer more muted shades. If you choose unglazed tile, be sure to apply a sealant prior to grouting to prevent stains.
Ceramic Tile Pros and Cons
As one of the more affordable tile options, there is a ceramic tile to fit nearly any budget and design preference. Glazed tiles are particularly easy to clean and maintain. One drawback of ceramic tiles is that they are kiln-fired at a lower temperature than porcelain tiles, making them less dense, more porous, and therefore more permeable to water absorption.
Average cost per square foot: $2 – $5
Porcelain Tile Backsplash
Porcelain tile is similar to ceramic tile but with a few key differences. Its composition is also clay, but it is denser than ceramic and is kiln-fired at a higher temperature. This results in a tile that is harder and more water tight, two features that are important for a bathroom backsplash. They also come in glazed or unglazed varieties.
Porcelain Tile Pros and Cons
Porcelain tile can be shaped to mimic the look and feel of pricier materials like natural stone and wood, making them a more affordable option than the real deal. Even so, porcelain has a higher price tag than ceramic tile, something to consider if budget is a concern. Porcelain is denser and less porous than most tile and has a very low water absorption rate. For this reason, it makes an excellent choice for a bathroom. Its higher density also makes porcelain more difficult to cut, so calling in a professional installer is recommended.
Average cost per square foot: $3 to $10
Glass Tile Backsplash
If a unique, bespoke look is what you are after, consider glass tile for the bathroom backsplash. Glass tile is made by heating fine glass powder with colored dye at a high temperature, opening up a bathroom’s color possibilities even more. It is also non-porous and impermeable, making it a great choice for backsplashes that see a lot of water and moisture.
Glass Tile Pros and Cons
Glass tiles’ reflective surfaces bounce light around a room and create the illusion of more space. With a 0.0% absorption rate, they are completely waterproof and easy to clean and maintain. Some tiles are even made with recycled glass, making this an environmentally-friendly choice. A potential con is the price — glass is one of the more expensive tile materials. A bathroom backsplash typically requires a smaller amount of tile than in a kitchen, however, which can help mitigate the increased cost.
Average cost per square foot: $16 – $30
Stone Tile Backsplash
Luxurious and full of character, natural stone tile elevates any bathroom backsplash. Marble, quartzite, granite, and limestone can be cut to various tile sizes and honed to a polished or matte finish for a custom look. Natural stone is porous, so regular sealing is essential to prevent water absorption and damage.
Stone Tile Pros and Cons
The beauty of natural stone is hard to match. Depending on the finish, natural stone can impart a layer of texture to a bathroom that is visually appealing. A drawback, however, is the higher cost, not to mention the ongoing upkeep required to maintain water resistance.
Average cost per square foot: $4 – $16
Mosaic Tile Backsplash
Mosaic tile adds a touch of pattern and personality to a bathroom. Available in hundreds of sizes, textures, and finishes, mosaics can create a distinctive backsplash. Because tiles are typically small, they are mounted to a mesh sheet for easier installation. While glass is the more common material, mosaic tile can come in natural stone, pebbles, glass, and porcelain.
Mosaic Tile Pros and Cons
Its limitless colors and patterns make mosaic tile a fantastic bathroom backsplash option. Neutral color schemes are common in a bathroom, and mosaic tile creates an opportunity to show off some color or pattern without overpowering the room. A potential drawback is the price point — similar to glass, mosaic tile is priced higher than ceramic and porcelain, which is a reason why it is most often used for smaller areas like backsplashes and insets.
Average cost per square foot: $16 – $30
Terrazzo Tile Backsplash
The terrazzo tile trend has resurged in a big way. Open Instagram or a glossy interior design magazine to see its speckled surface of color. Its composition of cement mixed with small pieces of glass, marble, or quartz creates a unique look that is stylish yet playful.
Terrazzo Tile Pros and Cons
A cement base makes terrazzo tile strong and durable, which is why it is often used in commercial spaces. Terrazzo can be manufactured with recycled materials, making it a more sustainable tile choice. It is easy to clean, but must be sealed regularly to maintain a waterproof surface. Terrazzo is a trendier look for the home, so there is a chance it may look outdated before other tile types.
Average cost per square foot: $10 – $30
How to Choose a Bathroom Backsplash
There are thousands of options for bathroom backsplash tile, between material, shape, color, and orientation. So how do you choose? Here are a few factors to keep in mind when making your bathroom tile selections.
Consider your lifestyle and budget: Think of your household and who will use the bathroom. For example, if you have kids, the backsplash will get wet regularly, which could impact the material you choose.
Stay within a color palette: For bathroom tile, stay within two or three colors for design uniformity.
Design around your favorite tile: Pick one show-stopping or favorite tile and coordinate around it.
Change up tile scale/pattern: If you plan to use tile for flooring, shower, and backsplash, consider using the same tile in different sizes for visual interest. You could also use the same size throughout, but lay the tile in a different pattern. If you have a standard brick layout for your shower, you can lay your backsplash in a chevron pattern.
Purchase tile in a single batch: Colors can vary from lot to lot, especially with natural stone, and buying tile all at once eliminates the possibility of drastic color variations.
The backsplash is only one element of a bathroom’s design. For the best results, your tile choice should coordinate with the room’s other features, including the shower or bathtub, flooring, vanity, fixtures, and hardware.
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