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I want to tile my bathroom... where do I start?

The resilience and beauty of tiles make them a natural addition to any well-designed, stylish bathroom. They are one of the easiest ways to create a distinctive style in your bathroom, and, owing to their water resistant nature, are a durable option that will last for years. Tiles are also incredibly versatile, so even if you don’t have deep pockets, you can still create a truly unique design.

Regardless of whether your space is large or small, you can use tiles to create an inspired design that really makes the most of the space, but, like any design, there are lots of factors to take into consideration. So if you’re thinking of tiling your bathroom, but aren’t really sure where to start, here are some hints and tips for what you’ll need to take into account whilst planning your design.

Installing floor tiles

Tiles are easily the best floor for your bathroom. They are resilient and, once properly sealed, moisture resistant. Other types of bathroom flooring are prone to damage, so even if you’d prefer not to tile the walls, tiles are still the best option for the flooring.

To learn more about tiling your floors, check out our guide that tells you everything you need to know about floor tiles.

Considering existing bathroom tiles

Before you begin the planning of your new bathroom, you need to consider the existing tiles in your space and whether you plan to keep any of them. You’ll need to check that your new fittings and sanitary ware will work with your existing tiles. It’s worth matching the colour of your tiles with your new fittings. At some point, you may also need to replace the tiles that surround your toilet, basin and other fittings, so make sure you have a decent number of spare tiles to replace them.

If you just want to freshen up the décor, but don’t have a large budget, you may want to consider replacing the tiles rather than refitting the whole bathroom. New tiles can completely transform your space even if you keep your existing furniture and fittings.

Deciding which walls to tile

If you’re planning to completely refurbish your bathroom, it’s generally a good idea to start by considering which walls you want to tile and up to what height. The walls that you decide to tile should work in conjunction with the positioning of your fixtures, especially your shower and basins.

Unless you have a fully enclosed shower with built-in waterproofing, you will need to add tiles or a SplashPanel to your shower wall. The same applies to any wall that has a bathtub positioned against it.

You might wish to consider a feature wall, which will be in striking contrast with the other walls, either in terms of colour, size or finish. As for what you can do with these other walls, this depends on the style or design you’re going for, as well as your budget. If you are working on a strict budget, you may decide to splash out on the tiles that you do need and paint the remaining walls in your bathroom. This is a great idea for smaller rooms and larger bathrooms with a modern appeal.

It is important to consider which walls you want to tile and how much of them should be tiled before you move onto other decisions. Although the materials and colours of tiles will impact your final design, the overall mood of your bathroom is determined by the amount of space your tiles cover.

Measuring your floors and walls

Tiles are most often sold according to the square metres that they cover. It’s generally recommended to begin the process by measuring the floor and the walls you want to tile, so you can estimate costs.

Measuring your walls is quite simple - you need to know the width of your walls and the height you wish your tiles to extend. Multiply these together to get the total square metres for each wall. Add the square metres for each wall together to calculate the total area.

It’s a similar process to measure your floors, taking the length and width of a rectangular room. If you have an L-shaped bathroom, or any other irregular shape, you will simply need to break your floor into non-overlapping rectangles or squares.

Did you know you can enter the total square metres into the calculator on any bathstore tile product to work out how many boxes of tiles you’ll need for the space?

Remember to account for the areas around windows or doors; since calculating this can be tricky, we always recommend to allow for an extra 10% for wastage (cuts, damages and spares).

Understanding the main types of bathroom tiles

One of the great things about tiles is that designs and styles are extremely varied and that the possibilities and combinations are endless. Any number of materials, colours, glazes and sizes can be purchased as bathroom tiles.

Common materials for bathroom tiles include ceramic, natural stone and glass. Porcelain tiles follow the same manufacturing process as ceramic tiles although different clays are used. As a result, porcelain tiles are often referred to separately from ceramics even though they are technically the same type of tiles.

For more information on the types of tiles, check our guide on ceramic, stone and glass tiles.

Adding colour to your bathroom

Selecting the colour of your tile will transform the mood and style of your bathroom. You can get nearly any colour you like, especially if you opt for ceramic tiles. Choosing pastel colours will create a more calming space than vivid colours which will impact the space substantially. Additionally, the type of finish you choose will affect the overall look of your design, so it’s worth keeping both colour and finish in mind when choosing your tiles. Remember that lighter colours and glossy glazes will open up smaller spaces, though you can incorporate any colours and tones that you choose.

You can find more information on our ‘Matt or gloss?’ guide and the ‘Pastel or vivid colours?’ guide

Sizes range between 142x142mm to 600mm x 600mm for square tiles. Rectangular tiles are also common, and these are usually twice as high as they are wide, however, variations do exist.

Mosaic tiles are also available; these feature smaller tiles on a netted backing and create a lot of depth in a bathroom.

Alternatively, why not consider a SplashPanel? These are laminated MDF boards which can repel any water splashed in their direction. These are large enough to work as the backing for a shower wall or the wall behind a bathtub.

Beginning your tile search

The right tiles for your bathroom should be based on strong decisions rather than price. After all, there are plenty of ways to design a bathroom even if you have a strict budget. If you have a smaller bathroom, make sure to check our guide to tiling small spaces.

Now, let your imagination run wild and you could be cleaning and polishing your new bathroom tiles in no time at all!

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