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I want to know everything about... wall tiles

Tiles play an important role in the design of your bathroom, but choosing the right tiles for your wall does not need to be a difficult process. There are many different decisions to make before you order your bathroom wall tiles. Fortunately, you have plenty of options to create a truly incredible, bespoke bathroom.

Multiuse, wall and floor tiles

Multiuse tiles look equally impressive on bathroom walls and floors. They’re ideal if you’re unsure of whether to use contrasting tiles for floors and walls alike. Wall tiles are typically smaller than those for floors, but they come in a range of colours. The choice of colours and materials is equally wide for floor tiles, which are usually large and easy to fit in bathrooms of all sizes.

Tile materials

There are a few different types of bathroom wall tiles available. These are ceramic (which, by definition, includes porcelain tiles), natural stone and glass tiles.

If you want to learn more about the different types of tiles, check out our guide on ceramic, stone and glass tiles here.

However, it’s safe to say that you can use any of these different materials on your bathroom walls. Ceramic is usually the most affordable option, and while natural stone requires additional maintenance, it is impervious to moisture. Each of the different materials can work well on the walls in any bathroom.

You can also choose between matt finishes and gloss glazes on your bathroom wall tiles. The tile that you order should reflect your lifestyle rather than your immediate preferences as there are differences between the two in terms of maintenance and lighting design.

If you need more information to help you make a decision, take a look at our ‘Matt or gloss?’ article.

Colours for wall tiles

You have free reign here, and with all the wall tiles available, you are truly only limited by your imagination. However, general decorating rules apply. Very dark colours will make a small space appear smaller, unless other decorative tricks are employed to counteract the darkness. For example, a gloss finish on a dark tile will still serve to bounce the light around the room, making it appear larger. Still, a lighter hue with gloss will be more efficient at opening up a small bathroom.

Grout colour also plays an important role in the overall appearance of your bathroom and it can even affect the way your wall tiles look! One of the easiest ways to ensure that you choose the right grout for your new bathroom wall tiles is to hold a sample tile against paper of the same potential colour in your space.

It’s worth keeping in mind that even if you opt for gloss tiles, your grout will still have a matt finish and will absorb the light rather than reflect it.

Choosing the right size wall tiles

Wall tiles are typically sold as squares between 300mm x 300mm to 600mm x 600mm. You can also choose from a selection of rectangular tiles, with the most common measurements being 248x498, 298x498, 248x398, or a slim-line 100x300. However, there are variations on both, especially with tiles that are meant as decorative edging strips. Both square tiles and rectangular ones are excellent choices for bathroom walls. You can always add features and personal touches both through the types of tiles and the colours that you choose.

When tiling your wall, choose smaller tiles for rustic and traditional bathrooms as the lines usually play better to the furnishings and accessories that you choose. If you want a contemporary look, you may find that larger tiles better suit your space in most cases.

For ultra-modern looks, you may want to consider a strong feature wall or only tiling the shower wall. This works well when you add a SplashPanel behind the sink.

If you want to incorporate SplashPanels rather than a fully tiled wall, take a look at our guide to SplashPanels here.

There are also mosaic tiles that give the appearance of much smaller tiles when installed. These are excellent options for feature walls, especially with built-in showers. Mosaic tiles, especially glass tiles, make incredible borders and will draw attention to key features when mixed with larger tiles.

Typically, you can choose whatever size you prefer; the size of the tile has less to do with making the space feel bigger or smaller than it affects the style you desire. If you want to give the impression that a small space is bigger than it is, opt for lighter shades, or white, with a high gloss finish. It is also worth noting that single-coloured tiles that extend to the ceiling will also help to increase the feeling of volume in a small bathroom. Breaking the tiles above sink level may serve to reduce the appearance of space.

How to measure your walls for tiling

There are plenty of different options when it comes to tiling your bathroom walls. You can choose to tile all your walls from floor to ceiling, or only tile the walls that have fittings attached to them, including the shower and toilet. If you prefer a country or traditional style bathroom, then you may want to consider tiling your bathroom walls only half way. For a modern bathroom, you can tile between floor and ceiling, and even consider no tiling at all on certain walls.

To order the number of tiles that you need, you will need to measure each one of the walls that you plan to tile. Measure the height you wish to tile and the width of the wall. Multiply these numbers together to get the square metres that you need. Add the square metres of each wall together to determine the total number of square metres needed for your tiles.

You can order your tiles according to the square metres that you need for your bathroom. If you do plan to implement a pattern with multiple colours, you will need to divide the total number of boxes by the number of colours that you plan to use. Patterns, especially those created with rectangular or unusually shaped tiles, will need to be measured according to the number of tiles required in a square metre space.

Make sure to order an extra box of tiles, especially if you are planning to implement a design or pattern in case of any damage during fitting.

Planning a feature wall

Contemporary bathrooms, especially larger ones in bespoke homes, often incorporate feature walls. These walls are usually larger than SplashPanels, but they can also be as small as just a shower backing.

There are a few tips to keep in mind when planning your feature wall. For a start, a feature needs to contrast with the rest of the room. Consider a feature wall that contrasts colour-wise from the others in the room. Or perhaps, opt for smaller, mosaic tiles in the place of larger ones. While a small feature of glass tiles could be striking, so too will small, mosaic tiles within the same colour scheme.

If you do decide to create a feature that does not take the entire wall, you will need to break that wall into sections when measuring and ordering your tiles. It’s generally recommended that you order additional tiles for your feature wall just in case any tiles are damaged during fitting or for replacement in the years to come.

Preparing your bathroom walls for tiling

When you tile the floors of your bathroom, you need to ensure that the floor beneath the tiles is completely level. If not, then your tiles are likely to crack and break. Although it is not nearly as crucial when dealing with your walls, you should still ensure that the walls have an even surface before attempting to add any tiles to them.

Always check that your contractor has included wall preparation in the quote. If it is not, do not allow any work to be undertaken until the matter has been resolved. If you prefer to prepare the walls on your own, then you will need to ensure that they are level through filler material and sanding.

Considering design and the other tiling elements of your bathroom

Before deciding on your wall tiles, there are a few things that you need to consider first. Firstly, you will need to think about your floor tiles in this space. These tiles should complement each other, but they don’t necessarily need to come from the same range, be the same colour or even be the same shape and size. If you have already chosen your floor tiles, hold the samples next to each other in a similar light to see how they work together.

You can find out more about floor tiles in our dedicated guide.

It’s well worth taking some time to consider more than just the tiles themselves before finalising your purchase. Patterns can create a stunning effect, even if they are quite simple. Rectangular tiles set at an angle can be quite striking no matter what colour you choose, whereas changing the colour on one wall can evoke a modern, sophisticated appeal.

Interested in discovering more ways to add character to your bathroom? Why not take a look at our bathroom furniture buyer’s guide?

There are plenty of ways to liven up even the smallest of rooms and wall tiles are one of the easiest ways to bring added style and sophistication to the room.

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