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Bathroom tiles can add a bright and breezy splash of colour or texture – if you’re on a budget, look for sale bargains and end-of-line reductions, and perhaps consider using fewer tiles. It’s very fashionable at the moment for contemporary bathrooms to be fully tiled, especially in a bathroom with a wet-room or walk-in style shower. Tiles for the floor are as important as tiles for the floor – matching wall and floor designs provide a streamlined look.
TYPES OF BATHROOM TILES
We tend to think of ceramics, porcelain and stone as the main types of tiles used for the bathroom … but there are other options too, such as rigid vinyl floor tiles and encaustic or mosaics which can be used for both wall and floor. The main thing to remember is to only use tiles for the area they are specified for – either wall or floor or both. If you want uniform, precise patterns go for factory made, digitally printed tiles. Hand-made tiles are usually have a more rustic look and can be quite varied in colour and finish.
Ceramic tiles are made from clay, fired at high temperatures, and can be used for any tile requirement … widely available at an extensive choice of price points.
Porcelain tiles are a type of ceramic tile, but made from a denser type of clay, fired at a higher temperature and are consequently considered to be more hardwearing and resistant.
There’s a huge variety of stone tiles available, from real stone to porcelain and ceramic ‘look alikes’. Real stone options include basalt, granite, limestone, quartzite, slate and marble. Always follow installation and care instructions regarding cleaning and sealing. Stone tiles are intrinsically ultra-hardwearing, as long as care and finish recommendations are noted.
Mosaics can be made from ceramic, stone or glass. They’re very decorative, come in a huge range of colours and textures, and will make a real focal-point statement in the bathroom. Usually supplied on a mesh or net backing, and quite straightforward to install. Prices vary hugely, from £10 to hundreds of pounds for a single 300mm square sheet.
Glass tiles are dramatic and colourful, the material itself adds depth and intensity to the colour and even non-coloured glass adds an element of sparkle, light and reflection to a colour scheme. Look out for glass tiles with a hint of sparkle and iridescence.
Encaustic tiles are made from cement, the pattern is inlaid or moulded into the tile, rather than ‘painted’ on. Victorian-style encaustics are a great choice for traditional bathrooms, although encaustic tiles are more often seen in kitchens and front porches.
Terracotta tiles are also known as earthenware tiles. Terracotta (which means ‘fired earth’) tiles are fired at a lower temperature, are often handmade and hand-glazed/decorated. Highly suited to rustic and country-style bathroom design schemes.
If you see the word ‘vitrified’, it means the tile is ceramic, and can be used outdoors as well as indoors – vitrified tiles are frost resistant. Which may or may not be relevant for a bathroom scheme!
Vinyl floor tiles
Rigid vinyl tiles are also known as luxury vinyl tiles – or LVT tiles. Designs can replicate wood, stone, slate, cork or be just plain and colourful. LVT tiles are straightforward to install, ultra-tough, water-resistant and an ideal choice for a busy family bathroom!
STYLES OF BATHROOM TILES
There are so many styles of bathroom tiles around that it’s almost impossible to make distinctions between different categories. There’s a strong trend for combining traditional-style tiles (perhaps intense, mosaic or patchwork designs) with ultra-modern bathroom furniture and fittings. There are trends for combining shiny suites with textured tiles and for teaming colourful tiles with very plain, single-colour suites and furniture. The best suggestion Foam & Bubbles can make is to visit at least two or three showrooms and tile shops to get familiar with what’s currently available. Your choice of concrete-look large format porcelain tiles may change in moments …
OTHER TILE CONSIDERATIONS
A fully-tiled bathroom can feel chilly, it’s advisable to try and include underfloor heating in the budget, as well as radiators. The bathroom floor must be perfectly even and smooth – which may involve a new surface, or at least a coat of self-levelling compound.
Large-format tiles are very fashionable, these tiles can be up to 900mm x 600mm, and require appropriately expert installation – for both walls and floors.
Let your installer/tiler use the grout and adhesive they are used to, and work best with. Most tile suppliers have their favourites also and will recommend the appropriate type. Consider using coloured grouts (such as grey or beige shades) which work well with natural or stone-type colours. Bright white can get grubby and begin to look dull. A regular steam-clean works wonders.
Sealing & Finishing
Stone tile suppliers will suggest finishes, cleaners and sealants that are appropriate to the type and style of stone tiles. Disregard their advice at your peril!