More often than not, tiles are a top choice for bathrooms of all shapes and sizes. They're perfect for a busy family bathroom, as well as a low maintenance washspace.
They come in a seemingly endless array of materials, finishes and price points, from plains and patterns on stone, ceramic, porcelain and glass, meaning there's something for everyone, whatever your style.
Much like paint effects, the tiles you choose can alter the look of a room, making it feel bigger than it actually is or adding visual interest to a dull space. Unlike paint though, re-tiling a bathroom can be costly and a hassle you won't want to have to repeat often so it's important to choose a design that you won't tire of too soon and will last you for years to come.
'Hotels have been a major influence on recent bathroom design, leading to the popularity of marble,' says Rob Whitaker, Co-founder and Creative Director of Claybrook. 'Porcelain tiles are ideal for using with this look, as they are now available in just about every colour and pattern.'
'For flooring, porcelain tiles are super-practical, washable and waterproof, and made from a material of consistent quality. Now porcelain can replicate marble, stone, timber and terrazzo so cleverly that you can’t tell the difference from the real thing,' explains Rob.
Depending on what you choose, tile prices can vary quite considerably from simple ‘field’ or plain ceramic tiles at the lower end, to glass mosaics and marble at the other.
- See more: Bathroom ideas - 30 stylish and inspiring washspaces of all shapes and sizes
Settling on your budget first will help you to choose your material accordingly but don’t fall foul of a basic bathroom remodel mistake and forget to factor in grout and adhesives costs, as well as include a 10 per cent contingency for breakages. Spares will be useful in case of breakages at a later date.
If expensive glass mosaics or hand-crafted tiles are a must-have but your budget is tight, then think about using your chosen tiles as a feature and tile elsewhere with standard format tiles. Decorative borders will add a cost-effective hit of pattern or colour or think about tiling one area, such as the inside of the shower cubicle.
Poor fitting will ruin even the most expensive of tiles while the cheapest can look fantastic if laid by an expert. If you’re a competent DIYer then invest in a good tile cutter and use ready-made grout if it possible as it is easier to use than powdered.
When choosing tiles, consider size, finish, even grouting. With modern tile technology creating exciting new designs all the time, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
1. Introduce an ocean-inspired look
Inspired by the colours of the ocean and with a crackle-glaze iridescent finish, these porcelain scallop-shaped tiles will add fresh impact to any showering space. Green is very much the colour of the moment, and this vivid shade is both invigorating and refreshing - perfect for a shower area.
The bold shade is offset by the rest of the grey bathroom, from the plain subway tiles on the adjacent walls to the matching faded patterned floor tiles that extend through the rest of the space.
2. Play with shapes and colour for variety
Black and white can be rather austere, so here, Otta Design has incorporated a mix of materials to add another dimension to the space.
The reflective qualities of the marble and the mosaic effect tiles work together to create a luxurious sanctuary. The hexagonal floor tiles provide a subtle pattern without dominating, adding a sophisticated feel that brought the scheme together.
A frameless screen helps to achieve a luxurious wet room appearance, allowing the tiles to come to the fore, with a neat niche for toiletries contributing to the elegant minimalism of the scheme.
3. Choose a vertical hang
'Many people are opting for subway-style tiles fixed in vertical, rather than horizontal brick-bond, patterns,' explains Rob Whitaker, Co-founder and Creative Director of Claybrook.
'While tiles might run all the way up to the ceiling in the wet zones, in other areas of the bathroom, half-height wall tiling offset with a lovely paint colour above ensures plenty of character,' he adds.
4. Mix and match your materials
Beloved by ancient Chinese dynasties, the Moors and the Greeks, the enduring colour combination of blue and white takes on a fresh, modern feel in this colorful bathroom using contemporary furniture and pops of fresh yellow.
This scenic statement tile-look wallpaper echoes the traditional Portuguese azulejos still found on the palaces of Sintra, Lisbon and Porto, yet looks like the real thing when teamed with the rich denim blue porcelain floor tiles.
As well as striking in colour, these porcelain floor tiles add extra safety, too. 'You should always use porcelain tiles in a family bathroom, including a slip-resistant design on the floor, as they are hardwearing and will still look good in years to come.' advises Katie Gisby, senior design consultant at Ripples.
5. Try the unexpected
A perfect and striking and original bathroom decor idea is to hang a chevron motif gives the scheme a refreshing, graphic edge. Coloured tiles laid diagonally are all the more eye-catching against bold dark flooring and co-ordinating fittings.
6. Add instant luxury with marble tile
Classic and timeless, Arabescato marble with its striking veining, embodies Italian elegance at its very best and is nearly always on trend in bathrooms.
Additional shades of grey on the blind and the wall ceramics bring cohesion to this simple, stylish look.
7. Channel an artistic vibe
Bathrooms are where tiles really come into their own. The vast array of materials, colours, textures and designs can be used to create both simple designs and artistic creations, from a floor-to-ceiling scheme to a feature splashback or decorative design strip.
Created by interior designs Caz Myers, petrol blues and retro pattern bring this whole bathroom together to create a bold but orderly ensuite. ‘We were looking for something striking and different – these tiles score on both,’ says Caz.
8. Stick with classic monochrome style
Marble floor tiles evoke the refined sophistication of grand Parisian apartments. In this scheme, a marbled floor was chosen for practicality, as well as style.
A plain white painted bathroom wall provides the perfect plain backdrop, while the smart black bathtub with aged brass faucets anchors the look, reinforcing the classic aesthetic.
9. Choose and small and subtle pattern
The devil is often in the detail when it comes to creating a striking bathroom. Keeping it compact, penny tiles are small but impactful.
An excellent choice for bathrooms of all sizes, from roomy spaces to compact ensuites, they add an interesting aesthetic, are extremely versatile and – like any good tile – they’re also easy to maintain in even the wettest of areas.
10. Play with scale
Vinyl has come a long way since its early days, and is now seen as sophisticated yet practical option for bathroom flooring. As well as being incredibly hardwearing, vinyl is also easy to clean and comes in a variety of styles.
In this inviting bathroom, the block colour of the wall panelling and floor allows a wonderfully whimsical wallpaper with a strong motif to shine.
11. Opt for subtle patchwork pattern
Patchwork tiles may automatically make you think of bold colour and pattern, yet depending on the choice of design, you can opt for a far more subtle approach.
These delicate tiles come in colorful designs and completely colour free for a varied degree of subtle pattern. The slightly textured design on the flooring also adds a slip-resistant effect, perfect for a wet room or shower room.
12. Pick the right tiles for underfloor heating
Underfloor heating is an excellent choice in a wet room as it speeds up the drying process after bathing. You do need to make sure you choose the right tiles for the flooring though.
'Porcelain tiles are ideal for use with both wet (water) and dry (electric) underfloor heating systems and are good conductors of warmth,' advises Rob Whitaker.
'The type of underfloor heating recommended can vary depending on the size and shape of the room and its subfloor, but it is important to use a flexible adhesive and grout during installation to allow for thermal movement.'
'The adhesive must be fully dry, which generally takes about seven to 10 days, before underfloor heating can be used.'
13. Match contrasting bathroom tiles
These bathroom tiles in this bathroom by Norsu Home aren't obvious partners but they create the perfect contrast within a small space to create a characterful finish. Matched with CP Hart's Vola taps the result is glamorous.
What are the bathroom trends for 2021?
Once considered a very practical space, bathrooms now need to serve a variety of functions. 'The prominence of bathrooms has also changed in recent years with a huge shift away from being a functional room to being a design-focused room in its own right,' says Sally Cutchie, from BC Designs.
As well as a space to wash, bathrooms need to be a space in which you can unwind at the end of a busy day, an escape from the hustle and bustle of life.
The latest bathroom trends reflect this need for a multi-purpose space, with decor moving away from the minimal and contemporary to a more holistic feel, with luxury materials and a well considered lighting plan a must.
What is the most popular tile for bathrooms?
In recent years, the subway or metro tile has seen a huge resurgence in popularity, most likely because it its versatility.
From the classic look of plain white horizontal subway tiles to the ever-expanding array of colors available, hung vertically, on the horizontal or in a parquet-style pattern for visual variety, the decor options are almost limitless.
What tiles should I use in a small bathroom?
Just because you're limited on space doesn't mean that small bathroom tile ideas are in limited supply, too. Smaller bathrooms, from ensuites and wetrooms to simple compact family bathrooms don't automatically have to be a plain white room to get the feeling of space.
'Natural stone remains a firm favourite of mine for use in bathrooms, not least because there is such a huge range of colours, textures and sizes available,' says Ella Small, Director at Mandarin Stone. 'You can choose to tile the entire bathroom with the same product on both walls and floor to give a greater feeling of space and connectivity.'
Adding color and pattern won't necessarily make a small space feel smaller either - chosen carefully, they can often give the space a cocooning, rather cramped feel.