8 Different Types Of Bathroom Tiles Every Homeowner Needs To Know Before They Remodel

Kenneth Wilson

8 Different Types Of Bathroom Tiles Every Homeowner Needs To Know Before They Remodel

Are you planning to get your bathroom remodeled? If yes, then one of the most important decisions you need to make is the new wall and flooring.

The material you will choose will have a big effect on the overall appearance of your new bathroom. Since a bathroom is a place where we clean ourselves, it can easily accumulate germs and bacteria as well as get wet. That’s why the material for your floor and walls is an aspect that you need to consider properly.

One of the most common and popular materials for bathroom walls and floors are tiles. It is both practical and aesthetically pleasing, allowing one to achieve a Pinterest-worthy bathroom. Unlike carpets, tiles also repel water, which makes it easy to clean and remove stains.

If you’re worried that tiles are too bland - I imagine you’re thinking of white square tiles - then you should know that there are many options. Tiles come in different types, varying in colors, shapes, designs, patterns, and textures. You should know that while most types generally repel water, there are some that absorb water as well. It all depends on the material and finish of the tile.

With so many options, it can be difficult to pick the right tile for your new bathroom. To help you decide, here are the most popular types of bathroom tiles so you can find the best-suited one for your remodeling project.

Ceramic Tiles

One of the most common types of bathroom tiles is ceramic. It comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, designs, textures, and finishes. Ceramic tiles can be made to look like rock and wood, sized as penny tiles, or designed with lattice patterns, which makes them suitable for different bathroom styles. But the most popular style would probably be the classic 3”x6” subway tiles which we often see in bathrooms.

Similar to porcelain tiles (which will be discussed after), ceramic tiles are created from pressed clay mixtures which are then kiln-dried at high temperatures. But even if ceramic tiles are made from the same materials as porcelain tiles, it is still less water-resistant. This is probably because they are not as finely ground, even after glazing or sealing it. They won’t absorb water, but compared to porcelain tiles, it is still more impervious.

While the glaze finish helps repel water and allows it to last longer, especially high-grade glaze that helps it resist scratches, some people still go for unglazed ceramic tiles since it creates a rustic finish. It would depend on whether you prefer the practicality over aesthetic - or you could just use unglazed ceramic tiles in areas that rarely or don’t get wet. There is also an option to use glazings fused with digital images to make glazed ceramic more decorative.

Some of the other reasons ceramic tiles are popular because they can be used on both the floor and walls, making the bathroom look seamless. It is also durable, low-maintenance, easy to install, and affordable. This type of tile costs around $1.10 per square foot, which can go up to $25 per square foot depending on the finish, shape, and texture. But do note that ceramic tiles aren’t very comfortable to the foot, so you might want to use bathroom slippers when applying these to the flooring.

Porcelain Tiles

Similar to ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles are made by pressing a mixture of clays into a shape but firing it in a kiln at high temperatures. It also comes in a variety of sizes, colors, textures, finishes, and patterns. It can be used as subway tiles or penny tiles, have lattice patterns, or made to look like wood, stone, and brick. They can also have a matte or glazed finish, fused with high-res digital images to add a decorative touch.

But compared to ceramic tiles, this type is more durable, hard, resistant to scratches, water-repellent, and stain-resistant. This probably because the porcelain clay is kiln-dried at higher temperatures than ceramic clay. In fact, this tile can be used outside the home as it will not fade, crack, or freeze as easily as ceramic. They may chip, but since these tiles are often through-body colored, it won’t affect the appearance as much.

With these advantages, it will be a little bit more expensive than ceramic tiles. These can cost around $1.50 per square foot up to $25 for more complex designs, which is not that far off from the price of ceramic tiles. But porcelain tiles can be more difficult to install as it needs adhesive, so it may affect the labor cost.

Vinyl Tiles

If you’re on a budget, one of the most cost-effective materials for bathroom tiles is vinyl. These tiles cost around $0.95 per square foot.

They are popular not just for their affordability, but because they are easier to install since they can be cut with utility knives and are self-adhering. These tiles are also eco-friendly and reusable, which could be why they aren’t as expensive as ceramic or porcelain tiles.

If you’re worried about the quality and durability, vinyl tiles are resilient and won’t easily crack or break. They are also low-maintenance and not prone to wear and tear. The only downside that is it often considered not as visually appealing as ceramic, porcelain, and other types of bathroom tiles.

Even if they come in a variety of colors and designs, some homeowners prefer the finishes of other tiles. If you’re not that particular, vinyl tiles are still a great option, especially since these can also be made to look like stone or wood.

Marble Tiles

If you’re going for a luxurious bathroom, then you won’t go wrong with marble tiles. This material is a natural stone, specifically, it is naturally crushed and heated limestone. Marble tiles embody sophistication that goes well with both traditional and modern bathroom styles. It comes in a variety of sizes and finishes. Marble tiles can be polished and patterned or veined, creating colorful effects that add texture and elegance to the bathroom. 

A timeless material in the bathroom, this type of tile is more expensive than ceramic or porcelain tiles. It costs around $7 to $85 per square foot, which is more than five times expensive than the previously mentioned bathroom tiles.

Aside from its high cost, it is also hard to maintain and clean. It needs to be handled with care as it is prone to stains, scratches, and etches. To keep it pristine, marble tiles need to be applied with sealant regularly and cleaned with non-acidic products. With its cost and durability, no wonder it is more often used in countertops, backsplashes, and columns. 

Limestone Tiles

If you prefer natural stone tiles that are more affordable, then limestone is a good flooring and wall material. It costs $3 to $11 per square foot, which is a lot less expensive than marble tiles. This type comes in natural and muted tones and hues such as beige, brown, gray, and yellow shades, which helps make the bathroom feel clean and comfortable.

Another advantage of using limestone is that it is soft, which means it is easy to cut and shape into specific sizes and patterns. This makes it easier to install as well as soft and comfortable to our bare feet. But despite being soft, it is still a durable material that makes a great solid and strong surface for the floor and walls. 

However, it requires more maintenance. Since it is soft and porous, it needs to be sealed properly and regularly, especially when used in bathrooms. Sealing it every two years can help prevent scratches and etches. You will also need to use pH-neutral tile cleaner and products, and avoid citrus and vinegar-based cleaning agents.

Granite Tiles

Another natural stone that is popular for bathroom tiles is granite. This material comes in many styles, textures, and colors, but it is most popular for its natural flecks. It looks almost similar to marble, but if you’re looking for elegant streaks, then you might not like this design.

Granite tiles are also durable and strong, but it is harder compared to marble and limestone. However, it is suitable for bathrooms, whether it be for the floors, walls, or countertops because it is moisture and stain-resistant. The only problem with using it on the flooring is it can be slippery. 

Another con of getting this material is that it is expensive. Its cost can range between $12 to $140 per square foot, which is higher than marble. Similar to limestone, it also needs to be cleaned using neutral pH detergent to prevent discoloration or streaks - and by streaks, not the beautiful design you get from marble.

Slate Tiles

If you want a natural stone that is durable and long-lasting, then slate is a great choice. This material is perfect for high-traffic areas as it is one of the toughest bathroom tiles. It is resistant to scratches, chips, cracks, and breaks, making it one of the most sought-after options. Slate is created from clay and shale that has undergone heat and pressure.

Slate tiles come in an array of textures and colors, with each tile having a unique appearance. While some people like the non-uniformity, the uniqueness makes it harder to create a seamless look. In general, it will have a fine-grain texture and can come in rich colors such as copper, red, navy, blue, green, gray. black, sage, and tan.

Aside from its durability, this material is also slip-resistant due to its textured finish. But due to its natural surface, it will need to be resealed regularly. This will keep it in pristine condition and its matte or shiny finish as well as stain-resistant. When maintained properly, the material and its appearance can last for decades. If ever you do get an issue with a specific tile, these can be replaced individually when damaged.

Just like the previously mentioned natural stones, granite tiles are also expensive. This material costs around $5 to $15 per square foot. You should also know that this tile can become really cold, which is something to think about if you live in a cool climate.

Glass Tiles

Glass is one of the materials that is becoming increasingly popular in bathrooms due to its customizability and design options. This type comes in various styles, patterns, intricate shapes, colors, and custom hues, with a finish that reflects the lighting which makes the room shine. One of the popular styles is mosaic glass, which uses multi-colored glass tiles that accentuates the bathroom. Not only does it create a stained-glass effect, but it also makes the room seem visually-larger.

If you’re worried that glass is slippery, these are often textured to make it liquid- and slip-resistant. It also resists molds and stains, making it easy to maintain and clean. However, you will still have a hard time cleaning the grout lines, which is needed to make the tiles more resistant to slips.

This material is hard and highly durable, but it needs to be installed properly to hold up and adhere well. You should know that it is prone to scratches and can chip or crack from strong impact, especially along the edges.

Similar to natural stone tiles, glass is also an expensive material. It can cost around $4 to $32 per square foot, which can even increase up to $160 for more intricate and complex designs.

Are You Ready To Start Your Project?

After deciding on your new bathroom tile and you’re done planning for your project, the next step is finding a contractor to get the job done.

If you’re looking for a bathroom remodeler, I run a partner network of contractors that covers nearly all markets in the United States. No obligations and I think you'll find the pros are on point and responsive. Click the button below to get estimates from contractors in your area.


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Kenneth Wilson
February 1, 2021
Bathroom Remodeling, Ideas & Inspiration

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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