Trying to dream up some shower tile ideas? Usually we’d say the shower itself is the best place for a brainstorm — but thinking outside the cubicle and taking a look at these inspirational bathrooms might just be the next best thing.
Tiles are both waterproof and washable, making them perfect for the walls of showers with trays, and for the floors of wet rooms too.
Aside from their practicalities, the availability of tiling in a wide array of shower-fit materials — from porcelain to glass, ceramic to stone — as well as shapes, sizes, colors and finishes, means that the design possibilities are endless.
See: Bathroom ideas – stylish decor ideas for all bathrooms
Shower tile ideas
Whether you’re looking to conjure contemporary cool with subway tiles or channel some classic elegance with panels of marble (or marble-effect) panels, these bathroom tile ideas for showers will help turn your washroom into a waterproof wonder.
1. White marble is a timeless option
'An interior design classic, marble’s cool and opulent aesthetic looks beautiful in a range of interiors, from minimal and laid-back chic to maximalist styles saturated with color', says Lee Thornley, Founder of Bert & May.
'Until recently marble was a luxury statement, timeless but out of reach for many interiors enthusiasts. However, smaller format tiles are now bringing this stunning material into more homes, and it has been lovely to see the beautiful natural patinas within the stone creating a unique and natural design in so many, varied settings.'
White-grey marble is a hugely popular choice that works well either as an accent or in abundance. Even when used generously over large tiles — as in this example — its effect is still relatively understated.
- See: Bathroom tile ideas - stylish looks that are both classic and timeless
2. Get tonal with deep blues
With its calming properties and associations with watery worlds, blue is an excellent choice for shower room tiles. To shake off the clichés, go dark with your choice of shade — and to stop it being too domineering, embrace a little tonal range. In this room, square tiles in a few different tones give a sense of movement to the wall, like gently undulating waves. Pair it with pure white fittings to keep things light.
- See: Small bathroom tile ideas – stunning small space designs for walls and floors
3. Keep it neutral (for now)
‘The tiles in a bathroom are an important part of the room and often span both wall and floor,’ says Isabel Fernandez, Director at Quorn Stone. ‘With this in mind we find neutral colors work well for the tiles, as pops of color can be added through accessories, tap finishes and painted vanity units.’
In this room, a spectacular standalone shower cubicle is clad in white and grey marble, while the rest of the room is treated to a large multi-colored artwork on the wall.
4. Go big with patterns
For an invigorating start to the day, embrace pattern in your shower tiles — and don’t be afraid to use them in bulk. In this room, a rustic tile has been used in repetition to create an all-encompassing, Mediterranean feel.
'We are seeing an increase in bold use of color and pattern when it comes to choosing shower tiling schemes', says Thornley. 'Where previously iterations of fairly traditional 'spa-like', pared back schemes were very popular, the shower is being increasingly seen as an opportunity to add an exciting splash of color and personality into a bathroom.'
- See: How to tile a bathroom wall – experiment with new patterns and textures
5. Create a glamorous nook amid rustic charm
The jewel-like quality of tiling means it has the capability to turn a shower nook into a glamorous getaway. Here, a farmhouse-style design embraces natural textures and wood panelling throughout most of the room, while a partially concealed shower area is picked out in white-grey marble, adding a distinctly luxurious touch.
If the natural stone panels are slightly beyond your budget, it is now possible to get marble-effect tiles made from porcelain that are both convincing and more accessible.
6. Subway tiles are made for monochrome looks
The subway tile trend isn’t going anywhere, and while these on-trend oblong favourites are available in pretty much every color and finish, a classic high-shine white with black grouting will bring some vintage character to a monochrome look. A black border helps break up their wall-to-wall use in this shower space, while a patterned floor makes them feel less utilitarian and more purposeful.
- See: Costly mistakes to avoid when buying tiles – according to experts
7. Journey under the sea with green marble
Of course, Calacatta-style white isn’t the only marble rippling into shower rooms these days, as the material’s sinewy natural pattern makes it a fit for wet rooms in myriad colors. The atmospheric deep sea tones of emerald green are a particularly on trend choice.
‘Our clients are increasingly opting for the richer, darker Verde Guatemala marble we now offer as an option on many of our products and we expect this material to prove ever more popular,’ says James Lentaigne, Creative Director at Drummonds.
‘Green marble works extremely well with brassware and accessories in warm brass tones or dark antique finishes, helping to create a refined, luxurious look.’
8. Don’t forget about the floor
Making a point of difference between the walls and the floor opens up all sorts of design possibilities: if you don’t think the space (or your morning brain) can quite take a patterned wall, move it to the floor. Remember, however, that texture is just as important as pattern.
‘With any bathroom project it is also worth considering the slip resistance of the tiles – a balance of beauty and practicality should be met!’, warns Fernandez. ‘In most instances a natural finish is sufficient for bathrooms, however in wet rooms we would always recommend using a porcelain tile in a ‘grip or R11 finish’, designed to offer more traction in wet conditions.’
9. Embrace color
‘The main trend that we are seeing is that our customers are increasingly being bold and more adventurous in the colors that they are wanting to use in their tiling,’ says Thornley. ‘Last year we saw a huge rise in interest for our pink range, where we are now seeing greater interest in colors that relate to the outdoors, so our greens, blues and yellows, with our earthy oranges and terracotta being a huge trend as we move into summer.’
- See: Tile trends – from Art Deco to terrazzo and outdoor tiles
10. Mix and match to inject personality
If you’re struggling to choose between intricately tessellated Moroccan mosaics and slick panels of Italian marble, then don’t. It’s perfectly possible to make two tile styles work together in one shower. In this example, high-shine, irregularly shaped tiles sit happily alongside marble slabs, tied into one another with ease thanks to a mirroring color choice.
11. Create a standalone statement with tiling
Shower tiling doesn’t have to be confined to a cubicle. If you’re looking for a practical backsplash to a standalone bathtub and shower head, use tiles to turn an awkward wall space into a work of art. Here, just part of the wall has been filled with patterned tiles to create a deliberate feature, framed like a picture with wall paint. Tiling just a small — but carefully chosen — area is great for using more expensive tiles to make an impact without breaking the budget.
- See: Space-boosting tricks you can use when choosing tiles for tiny bathrooms
12. Get geometric with your marble
Large panels of marble allow full appreciation of the material’s natural motif, but using it in small amounts lends focus to the details. In this room, the stone’s irregular layers are contrasted with the strong geometric lines of a patterned tessellation, which is both instantly impactful and endlessly entrancing.
13. Bring the whole room together with all-out tiling
For rooms with more open-plan shower areas, tiles can be used to either zone an area, or encourage a boundary-less feel. In this wet room, wall tiles run out of the shower space and across the bath to tie this area together. The floor tiles continue across the whole room, reassuring all users that their soggy feet won’t do damage wherever they tread.
14. Create color-coordinated contrast
If yours is a north-facing bathroom – or one with a small window that allows in little natural light, you can use shower tile ideas to change the whole tone of the space. Picking tiles with a white background – for light and space enhancement – and a warm accent color – in this case, yellow – can make the space feel brighter and warmer, which is always welcome in a bathroom.
If you are going for a bold color like this introduce some contrast between the walls and floors to create interest, but ensure the color-match is spot on.
15. Embrace the trend for terrazzo
Terrazzo is having a moment, and no wonder – its wonderful range of designs are perfect for both contemporary and traditional bathrooms, shower rooms and wet rooms. If you want to use it sparingly for impact, putting it across just one wall, like in this space by Ca' Pietra, is a good way to do so.
What is the best tile for a shower?
Porcelain, glass, stone and ceramic all work really well in a shower space. But regardless of what material you choose, Thornley warns you should understand it fully before getting started.
‘One of the most important things for shower tiling is to make sure that you know what kind of tile you are using, and to ensure that you install it correctly. Different materials need different treatment, it will not only make a huge difference to the longevity of your bathroom, but also to the finished look if you get it wrong.’
What is the easiest tile to keep clean in a shower?
For Fernandez, porcelain is the way to go for a low-maintenance result. ‘They are a great option for bathroom spaces as they require no sealing and most bathroom cleaners can be used to keep them looking their best,’ she says. ‘A porcelain tile can also be used in conjunction with a epoxy resin grout which ensures the grout lines remain free from discolouration and any dreaded black mould.’
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