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As someone who takes more than a passing interest in interior decoration, I believe when I say that there never can be too many options. With the Internet at our fingertips, we have access to a vast range of information and architectural styles to incorporate into our homes.
Bathrooms, until quite recently, had been rather neglected in the world of design or to put it more accurately, considered an afterthought. Things have undergone a change since with people wanting their bathrooms done up in ingenious ways. Bathroom tiles, too, have emerged as turning points in changing the look and feel of bathrooms. There are now colors, shapes and textures- a dizzying array to choose from.
And knowing the difference a change of tiles can make in your bathroom, I cannot help but compile a list that might make the selection procedure simpler.
15 Types of Bathroom Tiles
1. Ceramic Tiles
There are a lot of good things about ceramics, the least of all being its ability to be (almost) impervious to water. This particular attribute makes ceramic tiles ideally suited for bathroom walls and floors. They come in a large range of colors and textures- with certain types that even provide a faux-wood finish( in case you are going for a rustic log cabin theme).
They are durable, do not easily chip and are easier on the pocket than some other more expensive options. They are also highly decorative (yes, I am talking about the glaze!).
They can however sometimes be susceptible to staining.
Cheap, easy to install, and displays unusual tenacity. Not my first choice, vinyl tiles have a lot of give in them which is a primary reason why a lot of homeowners opt for vinyl tiles when doing up their bathroom interiors. My experience with vinyl tiles has been conflicted- on one hand, I am not oblivious to their undeniable resilience while on the other, they are not the most aesthetic.
Vinyl tiles, like ceramics, do not chip easily and very rarely break. They are mostly available in solid colors (think red and green squares) but have a few variations that might catch your eye if you look hard enough!
3. Terracotta Tiles
If you want your bathroom to simulate an air of coziness and comfort, terracotta tiles are your best bet. Usually sourced in reddish or brown hues, these tiles are known to be both durable and possessors of strength. They are relatively inexpensive and have middling to high longevity. Raw terracotta stains easy, and has to be layered with sealing agent every two years to prevent the same.
Terracotta tiles hold up well to external force, but can sometimes be victims to accidental water damage.
Added bonus? Terracotta tiled bathroom floors/walls are well suited to colder regions as they have heat retention abilities and never get too cold.
4. Stone Tiles
Think cool floors, grayish under-hues and a stillness that can only be reminiscent of an earlier era. All in the confines of your bathroom.
Out of fashion for a long time, stone fittings have bounced back rather spectacularly. Stone has the ability to lend a space a certain air of elegance and charm, that is hard to replicate with a different material. Previously restricted to shades of slate, stone tiles are now available in primary color overtones as well such as red, blue and green. There are a few different texture variations to choose from- etched, tumbled and sandblasted.
Stone tiles, however, do require careful maintenance and tend to look murky if not cleaned regularly. They also tend to be on the more expensive side and might not be within the average buyer’s budget.
Now, stone has a few different material-classified options to choose from:
Arguably the most popular option in the list, marble bathroom tiles are a staple in most households. Why are they so widely used, you ask? Primarily because of their inherent beauty, a dazzling sheen of cream or white and sometimes even black (in the case of the truly adventurous).
Marble tiles come highly polished, and in usually lightly patterned or veined in darker overtones. Smooth and cool, water slides off them easily, leaving behind no staining. They maintain an even appearance with minimal maintenance.
Marble, however, is susceptible to damage by external forces such as cracking or scratching. One must be wary in that aspect.
Granite tiles are tougher than marble, and more resistant to both staining and breakage. They conventionally come in darker earth tones like gray, light brown and ochre yellow.
On the downside, they are expensive and get very slippery if the water is not sluiced religiously. Best to avoid if likely to be used by the elderly.
My personal favorite from stone floor options, limestone tiles have an innate sense of clean, precise lines that appeals to my architectural sensibility. They come in natural warm tones with undertones of yellow and orange. Limestone is both firm and soft, which implies that it can be molded to fit one’s requirements but holds up well underweight too.
Limestone tiles demand careful tending. It is a porous rock and have to be sealed ever so often to avoid water damage. Additionally, steer clear of acidic cleaning agents and favor those with a neutral pH.
Wooden tiles have a way of imbibing a classic vibe that is at the same time simple but elegant. A tricky tile type to get right, wooden bathroom floors have to be carefully planned and put into actuality for them to actually work. For wood is highly permeable and swells easily with a continued influx of water.
Disastrous? Not quite. A wood-tiled bathroom does not imply that everything is tiled in wood. The area around your shower, for example, should not be. The same goes for the wall behind the toilet bowl and under and around your sink. If you happen to be a proud owner of a large-ish bathroom that has space that is adequately distanced from water outlets, that is the place to put wood tiles over.
Pro Tip: Use rugs to soak up water run-off.
Lino. Eco-friendly, durable, cheap. Linoleum is a great idea for flooring throughout the house, not just in your bathroom. It can be installed on one’s own- it is little more than cutting and pasting. It can also be custom-cut to adhere to one’s design sensibilities and structure.
Lino requires easy maintenance- a quick scrubbing with soap and water is usually enough. However, it can require frequent replacements as it ages pretty rapidly. Additionally, scratches show up easily on the surface.
7. Cork Tiles
Cork tiles are soft and pliable and tailor-made for the elderly, as they provide cushioning in the eventuality that someone trips and falls. In addition to this, they are also anti-fungal and anti-bacterial and might be a potential choice for installation in a bathroom for a child.
Cork floors are easy to clean but are also easily damaged. Cork must also be sealed very well to ensure that minimal seepage of water occurs. Inadequate sealing and an absence of frequent reapplication will cause the material to warp and curl. To prevent discoloration, ensure that a buildup of dirt is avoided as best as possible!
Not the best idea if you are clumsy in the bath, glass tiles nevertheless have a lot going for them. They can be textured to avoid slipperiness and are also easy to clean. Their biggest selling point is the ease of customization, with the reflecting surface a primary tool in the creation of an ambiance. Colored glass tiles are available in a range of patterns and designs to suit one’s preferences. Mosaics are arguably the most popular.
Glass has both the upside and downside of being hard and brittle- it is durable but can crack easily if something is dropped on it from a height.
9. Cement Tiles
Decidedly less chic than its precursor, cement tiles promise years of service (given that it is accurately installed) and easy maintenance. It holds up very well in the face of adversity (noisy children, rambunctious pets) and withstands scratches. Cement is basically a sand-and-mortar mix. It is evocative of a certain industrial architectural theme that might appeal to some.
Because cement is porous, it must be sealed well and the bathroom drained off water regularly. Advisable for bathroom walls than floors, if I were to be asked. These tiles can also be considerably expensive.
Slate is a metamorphic rock that comes in a specific grain and texture and quite a few colors- red, tan, navy. It is resistant to chips and cracks and is durable. It does however need to be sealed against water and requires proper maintenance.
The cons are in comparison few and far between. Slate is a cool rock, and is best avoided in a cold country. It can also have quite a hefty pricing.
11. Saltillo Tiles
Saltillo is a specific variety of non-vitreous rock with natural imperfections, most commonly found in tones of ochre yellow and gray. It requires careful sealing as the rock in its natural state readily absorbs water.
12. Metal Tiles
Not a conventional bathroom tiling option, metal might still redeem itself with a lot of built-in benefits. To start with, metal is durable. Metal tiles might either be molded from actual metal or from resin with a metallic coating. It comes in a vast array of textures and finishes- copper, steel, and bronze. They are usually quite easy to clean.
Metal tiles, however, can be prone to rusting due to continued contact with water. This can be remedied or prevented by a good drainage system or by availing oneself of a rust-repellant glaze( temporary solution).
13. Travertine Tiles
A member of the limestone family, travertine is a porous natural stone. It is versatile both in terms of size and pattern, and has an impressive selection of colors to choose from.
Travertine is quite inexpensive, which is a point in its favor in case you are looking for a remodel that does burn a hole through your pockets!
Pro Tip: Sealing the tiles after installation is imperative, to keep water retention and damage at bay.
14. Quarry Tiles
Quarry tiles are similar in texture to bricks, although they are harder. These tiles are composed of ground minerals fired at high temperatures. The high-temperature origin process leads to a very unique texture. Quarry tiles are available in different colors.
Added bonus? Quarry tiles are non-porous.
15. Porcelain Tiles
Porcelain is the end result of dense clay being fired at very high temperatures, higher than in the case of ceramics.
Porcelain is famously low maintenance and resists wear and tear. They are also undeniably beautiful. They promise durability and are adequately moisture-resistant.
On the flipside, porcelain can be quite expensive. Careful installation is necessary.
In conclusion, like with any choice, choosing bathroom tiles can be a more difficult endeavor than it appears to be. There are several factors to keep in mind- the size of the bathroom, texture, the overall architectural style of the house and budget. Add to it the individual specifics of each tile and there is certainly no dearth of options for one to make their choice from.
My advice would be to choose judiciously and hold in stead the “wow” factor- that one feature that will make your bathroom stand apart.