How To Detail Bathroom Floor and Wall Tile

Bathrooms, particularly master en-suites, have become luxurious retreats in many new and remodeled homes. Floor and wall tile selections and installation can make or break the design success of a bathroom, so it is a good idea to consider a few rules of thumb before you choose your tile.

1. Choose a larger format tile for the floor. Twelve inches should be a minimum dimension in any one direction. Use the floor tile on the tub deck and surround. Make sure the grout lines align as they run up the face of the tub deck skirt and onto the tub deck. Lay out the tile to avoid small cuts – maximize full tile placements.

2. If possible, use the same floor tile for the shower curb and the inside of the shower floor. If there is a shower bench, use the floor tile on the bench as well.

3. Choose a wall tile that is a different dimension from the floor tile – for example if the floor tile is a 24 inch by 24 inch square tile, use a small mosaic or a smaller sub way type tile on the walls. This way, the grout line dimensions will never need to match as the tile transitions for floor to wall. If the wall tile is the same or similar in size to the floor tile, and the grout lines do not match, it will look visually incorrect or poorly installed.

4. Try to end the wall tile on an inside corner. Outside cuts of wall tile can look messy, crooked or even discolored. Even the most skilled tile setter has difficulty ensuring a good installation on an outside corner.

Watch the video to see some examples.

  • Li-Na

    Because of the drain slope, is it harder to set large format tiles for a shower floor than it is to set smaller tiles?

    Also, is there a particular reason why the drain is usually positioned in the middle of the shower floor? Am I the only person who does not like standing on the drain cover while in the shower? ;-)

    P/S I did watch your video on the drain trough, I have been eyeing those for some time and was glad you talked about them!

  • Matthew North

    Hi Li-Na – larger tiles needs a more skilled tile setter. It is easier to “fudge” everything with the smaller tiles. Usually drains are in the center of the shower because that requires the least amount of slope that needs to be built up – placing the drain at one end of the shower means the whole floor needs to be built up higher to slope to the drain. This requires more skill on the part of the tile installer so it looks proportional and correct.