Tiles can make or break a bathroom so here are some design elements to consider before making your selection
No matter how well designed your new bathroom is, choosing the wrong tiles can have a devastating effect on its overall look and feel. The right tiles, however, can turn a bathroom into one of the highlights of the house. If your bathroom’s looking a bit shabby but you’re not yet ready for a full renovation, tiles may be just the thing to give the space a facelift.
The right choice of tile can take a bathroom from workaday to ‘wow’, without you necessarily having to change anything else. Size, shape, material, colour and finish all come into play when choosing tiles, but there are many other factors to consider, too. We help you narrow down your selection.
Size and shape
The size, shape and layout of your bathroom will influence the size and shape of your tile. Generally, the larger the room, the larger the tile, and vice versa, but there are no hard and fast rules. It really comes down to the design, style and layout of the room.
TIP: It’s often thought that large tiles in a small bathroom make it appear even smaller. Although this is generally true, it’s not always the case. Large tiles in a small bathroom can create the opposite effect and make quite an impression, as long as the majority of tiles can be applied without any cuts.
Think of the surfaces that require tiling as individual planes interacting with each other. Where do they start and stop? How do they meet? What size are they and are there any windows or niches to factor in? Which planes accommodate the vanity basins, shaving cabinets, mirrors, toilet, bath, taps and shower?
Thinking this way should help you to choose a shape and size of tile that best complements your space, and flows with the lines created by the design.
If you’re using a couple of different sizes of tile within the bathroom (which is often the case), make sure their proportions work together. It’s important that the tiles line up properly everywhere they meet.
For example, if you’re using a 300 x 300mm tile on the floor, the wall tiles should be sized in multiples of 300mm – 100, 150, 600, or 900. Look at how the floor meets the wall in this bathroom. The width of two floor tiles equals one wall tile, so the grout lines match up perfectly.
Speaking of grout lines, people tend to choose tiles without thinking much about how they’ll look once grouted. While small tiles can look great, be mindful of the large number of grout lines that result possibly appearing too busy and unappealing.
Mosaics are often on display in the showroom without the grout, so will look different once grouted up in your bathroom at home. Ask your supplier if there’s somewhere you can see them with the grout on, if you’re concerned about the end result.
TIP: Grout colour will greatly affect the final aesthetic. While contrasting grout will further define the shape of the tiles and create a busier surface, grout in a similar or matching colour will create a more subtle appearance.
Colour and finish
There are many tiles available that look amazing in their own right, but if the style, colour and finish don’t complement the style of your bathroom and fittings, they will very quickly lose their appeal.
Also be mindful of how well the tile is going to date. If it’s longevity you’re after, then sticking to neutral colours or natural stone will do the trick. You can always accessorise with the latest trends and colours to keep it looking up-to-date.
If your bathroom is dark with minimum or no natural light coming in, use lighter coloured tiles – they’re more reflective and will brighten the space.
On the other hand, if your bathroom gets a lot of natural light, particularly direct sunlight, high-gloss tiles may be too reflective and create glare. A semi-gloss or satin would be a better alternative in this case.
TIP: In small bathrooms, try using tiles of the same colour on the wall and floor. This will help to create a more spacious feel.
Karyn McRae 8 October 2015
Houzz Australia Contributor. Interior Designer at McRae & Lynch Design.