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Need to know... Bathroom tiling basics

Need to know... Bathroom tiling basics

Few of us ever give tiles a second thought. They’re porcelain or ceramic and stuck to floors and walls in bathrooms and kitchens that need to be waterproof. That’s everything, right?

Well, no. If you’ve started your journey to revamp a bathroom, you’ll know there’s actually quite a lot to consider when it comes to finding the right tiles. The term “spoilt for choice” springs to mind because there are so many to choose from. Straight lay, offset and herring bone, Mosaic, chessboard and diagonal patterns are just some examples. Then there’s the material, shape, size and colour to consider even before you get to the grouting!

It can all be a little daunting, so here’s a quick guide that covers what you need to know about tiles for both bathroom walls and flooring…

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There’s a wide range of material options when it comes to tiles but some are best avoided in the bathroom. Limestone, for instance, is a poor choice as it offers poor water resistance – a crucial consideration for a bathroom.

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are the most commonly used type of tile in just about every area of the home. They’re relatively inexpensive, extremely easy to clean and, providing they have been glazed, are impervious to water damage. Being the most common material, it has the largest range of shapes and colours too. Just be aware that in a bathroom, untextured porcelain tiles can be very slippery when wet. Households with very young and very old members should take this into consideration.                               

Natural stone is also a popular choice for bathrooms. Slate works particularly well for flooring as it’s not only impervious to water but is also textured, so it’s naturally slip-resistant.


Marble and granite tiling add a luxurious feel and while they are also pricey, they can be worth the cost when you want to create a glamorous or up-market atmosphere in a bathroom.

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Shape and pattern

Tiles come in a variety of different shapes that can be laid in various patterns. The two most common are square and rectangular – also known as ‘metro’ or ‘subway’ tiles. These can often be bought in a wide range of sizes, so you may be able to buy the same pattern of square tile in 10x10 and 30x30 dimensions. They are commonly laid in either the traditional straight-lay or brick-lay styles.

However, many tiles also come in other shapes such as hexagonal, triangular and plank dimensions. These can be tied in even more ways of laying such as herringbone and modular patterns.



Tiles aren’t just available in different colours and textures as there are decorative patterns too. These are embossed and decorated in a variety of patterns and images, from traditional Victorian mosaic patterns to modern interpretations which can even have prints such as leaf or bird motifs on them.

What's right for you? 

The most important thing to consider when choosing a new bathroom floor is your own taste. After all, you are the one who will have to look at it everyday, make sure whatever decision you make it one that suits your bathroom and reflects your own unique design preferences.

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