Bathroom Tile Choices

Tiles are appearing in more styles and colors than ever before, unleashing new design creativity in the bathroom. Here are some of the freshest tile trends.
Powder Room with Mosaic Tile Backsplash

Zen Style Powder Room

By tiling the wall behind the sink, Andreas Charalambous creates visual interest without overwhelming those lucky enough to visit this mosaic powder room. Small object boxes, reflected in the mirror, are an efficient way to display treasures in a small space.

Tile for the bathroom is not just your mother's aqua ceramic anymore. OK, you knew that. You know about subway tile and stone tile, too. But how about pebble tile? Or tiles with lights? Or glass tile mosaics with semi-precious stones? Perhaps not. Let's take a tour of the latest clay out of the kiln:

Mosaics are the tiles of the moment, says Mary Lou Kalmus, ASID, of Designing Edge in LaGrange, Ill. They can be porcelain, glass or metal, with traditional motifs or modern. And shapes range from chipped pieces to squares, rectangles, hexagons and circles.

Glass mosaics come in intense and myriad colors. And some, such as Ann Sacks designer Erin Adams' Quilt tiles, combine colors. They look almost like pillows, with a center color and then one or two bands of different colors around that. Put together, even Grandma couldn't come up with prettier patterns.

Oceanside Glass Tile's Tessera tiles contain earth oxides such as copper, cobalt, and chrome to make them shine in all their 42 colors. And they're earth friendly, made from recycled glass.

Metal tiles can give a wall or floor the look of medieval chain mail or add spots of shine in your own mosaic design. Sicis' Metallismo comes in stainless steel or polished brass and in shapes such as squares, mini-bricks, ovals, dots, rhomboids and elongated octagons.

Period black and white mosaic tiles are still popular, says Mary Lou, and mosaic tiles fit well into more traditional designs as well as modern ones. Walker Zanger's Antium line lets you bring the look of ancient Roman mosaics into your bath.

Rug mosaics are another traditional look gaining popularity, says Tina Krashna, of Ceramiche Tile in Pittsburgh, Pa. And these tile rugs rival the lushness of any Persian one.

"We achieve the visual intricacy of patterned area rugs with stone and quartz mosaics that will last a lifetime," says Tina. She's been using Sicis' Rug Mosaics.

For a simpler look, Mary Lou says that concrete is continuing to win converts: "Concrete has been on the scene as countertop material for a while, but now we're seeing it used in floors and walls — great for Zen-type environments in a more contemporary setting." Ann's Clodagh flooring is concrete in 14 X 14-inch square tiles with convex sides, softening a hard material.

Doing an about face from the Zen look, decorative and embossed tiles are especially popular, says Mary Lou. She points to Pratt and Larson's new Tropical series, with palm trees and the golds, greens and blues of a South Seas beach scene.

Stone tiles continue to be hot — with a twist, says Tina. Manufactured stone that once looked contrived has made the leap — with technology's help — to perfection. GranitiFiandre's Geologica line is a manufactured stone with all of the drama but none of the drawbacks of the real thing. Made of all-natural ingredients, it's 30 percent harder than the real thing — which makes it work in your real life. The Rouge Languedoc color mimics marble quarried from the Aude region in France — a stunning red background veined with white.

Another, more striking, trend Mary Lou sees is the use of a medley of tiles — both in shapes and materials.

"Many tile lines come in a variety of sizes that can be combined in innumerable ways. But you can also mix porcelain with glass or metal or natural stone. Glass adds sparkle in an otherwise matte look, and a dash of stainless or other metal does the same."

To help you add that sparkle, Daltile's Ahnzu line has metal tiles as well as ones with semi-precious stones — a little bling for the bathroom.

Or, instead of bling, you can go for wattage with Villeroy and Boch's Light Tiles. They have LED lights in wear-resistant ceramic and glow white, blue, or amber. You can leave them on or connect them to a switch, and they'll last for about 100,000 hours — enough to light about 11 years of nighttime bathroom forays.

Ceramiche Tile's Tina agrees with Mary Lou on the mixing-it-up trend — she's seeing a mix of new shapes, including large-scale rectangles, such as 12 X 24 inches complemented with planks of 6 X 24 inches. She says the finish is different today, too.

"The textures have been toned down to resemble sealed concrete and weathered stones. We've moved away from the glossy wall tile with a matching floor to now using the same floor tile on the walls, so a smaller space becomes more expansive."

And Tina sees the current neutral color trend of beiges deepening into still natural tones of greens and browns.

Another of her favorites is pebble tile, where stones or pebbles are embedded in a mesh backing, which can be laid and grouted just like tiles. The rougher surface — as well as the look — makes pebble tiles perfect for any water areas, such as showers or pool decks.

The trends are numerous, says Kalmus, because there's a huge number of new products and ways to use them. She suggests taking advantage of the variety by not limiting yourself in your tile choices.

"Bathrooms used to be more utilitarian. Now they're showcases that can be more than beige and plain tile. I am currently working on a bathroom that is incorporating limestone, handmade ceramic tile and concrete. My advice is to not be afraid to try something different and mix media."

Next Up

What to Remove in a Bathroom Remodel

Are you redecorating or redesigning? Answering that question will help you determine what fixtures to keep for your bathroom makeover — and how big your budget might be.

Style Your Kitchen with the Latest in Tile

From glass to metal to faux hardwood, we profile the latest styles in tile.

How to Clean Ceramic Tile Countertops

Dirt, stains and bacteria on ceramic tile countertops can make any kitchen or bathroom unsanitary. Here's how to properly clean ceramic tile and grout to keep counters beautiful and germ-free.

Style Your Bathroom With the Latest in Tile

From glass to metal to faux hardwood, we profile the latest styles in tile.

Budgeting a Bathroom Renovation

Projecting the cost of a remodel often depends on how many big-ticket items you're replacing and who's doing the work. Here are some guidelines.

Flooring That Stands Up to Bathroom Wear

Choosing the right bathroom flooring can be a daunting task. These tips will help you choose flooring that looks great, is durable and feels fabulous underfoot.

Kitchen Lighting and Flooring

Two of the most important elements in any kitchen are good lighting and flooring. Our experts share the different options for both.

Bathroom Fixture Options

Today's bathroom sink and faucet choices go far beyond the options homeowners once had. Here's a look at bath fixtures to consider when planning your remodeling project.

Guide to Selecting Bathroom Countertops

Bathroom surfaces don't have to be as buff as the ones in the kitchen, so you can focus more on style and design.

Purchasing a Bathtub

When planning your bathtub purchase be sure to consider all of your options -- and there are plenty of them. These tips will help you make an educated decision on what to buy.

Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Consult Our A-Z Guide

Everything You Need to Know

Browse a full list of topics found on the site, from accessories to mudrooms to wreaths.  

How-To Advice and Videos

Get video instructions about kitchens, bathrooms, remodeling, flooring, painting and more.

Watch DIY Downloads Now

Watch DIY Network LIVE

Don't miss your favorite shows in real time online.