Best Tiles for Shower Walls and Floors
The bathroom is an area of the home where many homeowners like to get creative with design choices. Because most bathrooms today include some kind of tile, exploring tile options can be the perfect chance to modernize your bathroom. Geometric tile for the floor adds visual interest, shower niches can be an opportunity to add a pop of color, and let’s not forget about backsplashes and walls.
Remember that tile isn’t just a design choice. It also serves the important purpose in keeping your bathroom free of moisture damage. In this guide to the best tiles for showers, we will discuss which types of tile to choose for your shower that will look good, fit your budget, withstand exposure to water, and keep you safe.
Best Tiles for Shower Floors
When picking out the best shower tiles for a remodel, the top factors to consider are cost, safety, water-resistance, and of course, appearance. While some homeowners choose the same type of tile to cover their shower floors and walls, shower floors should get special attention for safety purposes.
When you and your family are showering, you want to make sure that the floor is not slippery. Choosing smaller, or mosaic-style, tiles will help give your feet more grip. Tiles that are textured and matte will help prevent slips and falls as well. As you choose your tile, you can look at its dynamic coefficient of friction, or DCOF rating. It’s recommended that tiles that are going to be used in wet areas, like the shower, have a DCOF rating of 0.42 or higher.
Mosaic shower tiles also come in a few different options for materials to fit most budgets. Below you will find the best choices for shower floor materials.
Thankfully, one of the best tiles for shower floors also happens to be the most cost-effective and versatile. Ceramic tile can be used in almost any room of the house. But it is a popular option for bathrooms and showers because of the glaze, which makes it extremely water-resistant and slip-resistant.
There are unglazed ceramic tiles available, but this is not recommended for the shower – and especially not shower floors. The glaze also protects the shower tile from stains and scratches, which will be helpful when you’re cleaning off pesky soap scum.
Ceramic tile is made by forming the quarried materials into a mold. This means that it can be made in practically any shape and color, providing endless design options. Installation is about $2 to $5 per square foot. Most shower floors are about 15 to 40 square feet, so the overall cost to install ceramic floor tiles in the shower will be quite affordable.
A step up from ceramic tile is porcelain tile. Porcelain tile is harder, denser, and even more water resistant than ceramic. This is because it is fired at a higher temperature, providing it with even more benefits for the shower.
Porcelain tiles come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. Although some types of porcelain tile can be slippery, when you choose this type of tile for a shower floor, your professional contractor will make sure it gets the glazing it needs to act as a waterproof and non-slip surface.
Keep in mind that with these benefits comes a higher price tag. Glazed porcelain tiles range from $3 to $10 per square foot. Like ceramic tile, the fact that it’s molded means it also can be made into an endless array of shapes and colors, and the glaze added is an extra layer of protection.
Best Tiles for Shower Walls and Backsplashes
While ceramic and porcelain tiles work best for shower floors, they are also a good fit for shower walls thanks to their waterproof and non-slip qualities when glazed. In fact, ceramic and porcelain tiles are found on tons of shower walls in U.S. homes. However, because shower walls do not get as much direct contact as the floors, there are additional tile options that can be a good fit.
When choosing shower wall tiles, think about how easy it will be to clean, tile size and appearance, water resistance, and cost. Larger tiles, for example, can work well for shower walls because they do not need to be as non-slip as shower floors. Some homeowners will also want to vary their shower floor and shower wall tiles for a more modern look.
In addition to ceramic and porcelain, you might want to consider the following materials for shower walls and shower backsplash tiles.
Natural Stone Tile
Natural stone tiles – such as granite, marble, travertine, and quartz – are more porous and less waterproof than ceramic and porcelain tiles. When sealed – as they will need to be to go in a shower – they can also get slippery when wet. While these features are no-go’s for the shower floor, they do not rule out natural stone tiles for shower walls and backsplashes. Natural stone tiles are beautiful, grainy, and natural looking, and can breathe new life into your shower area.
Keep in mind that natural stone tiles can get costly. They range between $2.30 and $20 per square foot. This is why many homeowners will add them as a shower accent area to spruce up the space while keeping costs down.
Glass is another material that is not suitable to be a shower floor tile. These tiles are durable, water resistant, and very easy to clean – but they are not non-slip. This instead makes them more ideal for shower walls, backsplashes and accent areas in the shower.
Glass tiles can give your shower a bright, airy, and transparent appearance. For smaller bathrooms, this can help to lighten the space and make the room appear larger – especially when paired with sleek frameless glass shower doors.
Keep in mind that glass tiles can get pricey – they range between $16 and $30 per square foot on average. If you love the look of glass tiles but want to keep bathroom remodel budget low, choose a small accent area to feature the glass tile.
Which Types of Tile are Not Good For Showers?
With so many options for tile, and beautiful ones at that, you might be tempted to explore some other materials for your shower tile. Here are tiles that should not be considered for the project.
Durable and eco friendly, it’s no wonder that concrete tile is a popular option for flooring. However, this tile is not a good fit for the shower because of its very porous nature. Homeowners will have to constantly reseal the tile to keep water out, and the longevity of the concrete tile will be impacted. If you are drawn to concrete, you might consider it as a flooring or kitchen countertop option instead.
While laminate flooring can easily mimic more expensive types of flooring, it does not work well in the bathroom. There is no such thing as a completely waterproof laminate floor, so you will run into issues if you try to install this in a bathroom or shower area.
Natural stone tile: Another eco friendly option to bring the outdoors in, and each piece is going to be different from the next. Since it requires a sealant to keep out stains and damage, this will be slippery in the shower. It’s also very porous, more so than even concrete, making it unideal for the bathroom. Instead, you can look into a laminate bathroom countertop or laminate floors in the kitchen.
The Versatility of Ceramic and Porcelain Tile
As we mentioned before, ceramic and porcelain tile can be made into practically any shape in a variety of sizes, colors and prints. This means you can also go for that natural stone look without having to worry about the cost or upkeep of the real thing.
If you love the look of marble, stone, wood or concrete, there are glazed porcelain and ceramic tiles out there that are painted to look just like it. Not only will your shower look great, you will also rest easy knowing that it will be easy to clean and ready to withstand its watery abode for decades to come.
Finding a Professional Shower Tile Installer
If you are in the process of planning a larger bathroom remodel, we recommend taking a look at our full bathroom remodel guide. We can answer any questions you might have about the remodeling process, and point you in the right direction for exploring types of showers, sinks, bathtubs, and more. If you are ready to speak with a contractor, take advantage of our growing network of trustworthy contractors in your area to compare the best prices.
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