When renovating or building a bathroom, choosing the right tile material is just as important to a bath's function as it is to the overall room design and aesthetic.
With so many tile materials to choose from, each with its unique look and feel, it can be challenging to know where to start. This article will explore six popular tile materials: porcelain, ceramic, natural stone, cement, cork, and luxury vinyl tile, and where they are best used in a bathroom setting.
Porcelain is a ceramic tile fired at high temperatures, making it denser and more durable than standard ceramic tiles. It is made from a mixture of clays, feldspar, and kaolin, which are molded into the desired shape and then glazed for a smooth, waterproof surface. Porcelain tiles are ideal for bathroom use because they are highly resistant to moisture* and staining, making them a popular choice.
Pros: Durable, low maintenance, waterproof, available in a wide range of colors, textures, and finishes
Cons: Can chip, *grout lines will require maintenance/sealing, more expensive than ceramic and LVT
Best use: Flooring, shower floor, tub, and shower surround
Ceramic tile is made from a mixture of clay and other minerals molded into the desired shapes, glazed, and fired at high temperatures. Ceramic tiles are affordable, versatile, and easy to install. They are available in various colors, sizes, and patterns, often making them popular among homeowners.
Pros: Affordable, durable, versatile, easy to install, and available in many colors, sizes, and patterns
Cons: Not as water-resistant as porcelain and prone to chipping
Best use: Flooring, tub and shower surround
Natural stone tile is made from raw materials such as granite, marble, slate, and travertine. Each type of natural stone has its unique look and feel, making it a luxury choice for adding beauty and elegance to the bathroom. However, it's important to note that natural stone is porous and requires regular sealing to protect against staining and water damage.
Pros: Adds style, beauty, and elegance to the space and increases resale value because of its exclusivity
Cons: higher maintenance and requires special care, more expensive than other tile materials since it is a limited resource
Best use: Flooring, shower walls, and countertops
Encaustic cement tile is made from a mixture of cement, sand, and pigments that are molded into the desired shape and then cured. Cement tiles are known for their durability, slip resistance, and unique texture and pattern, making them a popular choice for flooring and accent walls. Because these tiles are traditionally hand-made, their variability provides ageless character to a room.
Pros: Durable, slip-resistant, eco-friendly, adds texture and pattern to the space
Cons: More expensive than other tile materials, prone to staining
Best use: Flooring or decorative wall
Cork tile is made from the bark of the cork oak tree and is known for its eco-friendliness, comfort underfoot, and warmth and softness to the touch. Cork tiles are also sound-absorbing, making them an excellent choice for bathroom flooring.
Pros: Eco-friendly, comfortable underfoot, warm and soft to the touch, sound-absorbing
Cons: Can be scratched or dented, more expensive than some other tile materials
Best use: Flooring
Luxury Vinyl Tile:
Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is a type of vinyl flooring that resembles natural stone, wood, or ceramic tile. It is a popular choice for bathroom flooring because it is durable, waterproof, and easy to install. LVT is available in a wide range of colors, patterns, and finishes, making it a versatile option for many bathroom designs.
Pros: Durable, waterproof, easy to install, available in a wide range of colors, patterns, and finishes, sound absorbing, budget-friendly
Cons: Not as environmentally friendly as other tile materials, over time, can tear or warp
Best use: Flooring
Hogan Design & Construction’s Top Tile Choices
Options for flooring are endless, depending on an individual's budget and desired look. We typically recommend porcelain and LVT as the best options since they are waterproof, durable, and require minimal maintenance. For those who want to express their unique style and are less concerned with upkeep, we recommend encaustic cement tiles or natural stone. Their beauty and character cannot be beaten.
For shower tile flooring, we highly recommend porcelain. However, more critical than the tile material, we recommend a mosaic or smaller tile pattern that requires more grout lines that help to provide the slip resistance one would want in the location.
Ceramic and porcelain tiles are great options for the shower and tub surround. For a touch of luxury, natural stone provides extra warmth and character.
For bathroom walls, all options but cork and luxury vinyl tile are great choices depending on your budget.
Ultimately, when choosing tiles for your bathroom, it's essential to consider the tile type and where it will be placed. Consider the maintenance and material performance, as well as the aesthetics, when selecting your bathroom tile options, and you are sure to love your bathroom design for years to come.
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