Shower tile transforms the bathroom into a sanctuary, harkening back to the inspired spaces in older-generation homes (but without the clawfoot tubs). Whether your ideas are for modern, accent, porcelain, art deco, a wood-look, or mosaic tile, bathroom shower tile is one way to upgrade this room to reflect your unique creative style.
However, each space within the bathroom has different considerations regarding tile. For flooring both in and out of the shower, for instance, you’ll want tile with more texture that will provide traction.
The best shower tile also increases your property value and marketability once it’s time to sell your home. As any real estate agent knows, buyers love kitchens and baths.
If you’d like to redo your bathroom but are stumped about tile design ideas, here’s a guide from our team at The Tool Scout for shower tile ideas that will suit both your needs and budget.
Bathroom Shower Tile Ideas
Shower tile is a true multitasker. The best shower tile ideas need to consider tiles that are waterproof, durable, and resistant to bacteria, mold, mildew, and germs. Yet, a tile shower also can look elegant and sumptuous.
Whatever tile pattern you choose for your shower tile ideas, making sure that the tiles reach all the way to the ceiling creates a clean and professional look, designers say. This also prevents exposing the shower drywall to water and makes the bathroom ceiling appear taller.
Here are a few bathroom shower tile ideas.
White Subway Santa Monica Tile
Those rectangular, brick-like polished tiles, similar to the tiles found in subway stations, bridge a variety of decorating styles, from contemporary to classic. Yet while subway tile is always fashionable, this Santa Monica Collection shower tile adds an eye-catching twist.
These 4 x 12-inch subway tiles have a handmade look and a high-polished finish. Made in Spain, these shower tiles possess a subtle texture, but their reflective appearance and crisp white color make them glisten, and they are excellent for a black-and-white palette. These types of shower tiles also are highly durable and water-resistant.
Bianco Dolomiti Marble Field Tile
This fine, milky-white Turkish marble tile features a white stone background with smooth yet distinctive gray veining. These stone shower tiles come as large as 24 x 24 inches for flooring, but we like the elegance of the 4 x 4-inch tiles.
Because they’re Dolomite marble, these shower tiles are composed of calcium magnesium carbonate, a mineral often found in sedimentary rock that’s known for its striking visual appeal and high durability. Unlike calcite marble, Dolomite marble is more scratch-resistant. Pair this natural stone in a tile shower with white grout for a virtually seamless look.
Calacatta Honed Marble Tile
Part of the Calacatta Oro Collection from Bedrosians, the California-based tile and stone importer, these 3 x 12-inch shower tiles consist of Italian marble with an exquisite movement and finish. Unlike manufactured tiles, these natural stone shower tiles take their designs from the Earth's extreme pressure and temperature. The result is their stunning veining, variations in color, and uniquely luxurious look.
To keep these shower tiles fresh, the company recommends using a non-sanded grout and sealing the stone before and after applying grout, as well as using a pH-neutral cleaner.
White Mini Brick Tile
AGK Design Studio of La Jolla, California, specializes in coastal modern design ideas down to the smallest detail, including shower tile ideas. It featured these white mini brick tiles for a mudroom dog shower, accentuating the look with a single-mount gold wall sconce and a chrome shower head.
A shower, backsplash, or alcove is an ideal spot for such tiny tiles; they make a tile shower feel cozy compared to the rest of the room, for instance. This type of bathroom shower tile is relatively easy to install. Glossy mini brick shower tiles can also create a high-end mosaic tile appearance that’s clean and uniform. Think art deco for border designs as well.
Walk-In Shower Tile Ideas
Walk-in shower tile ideas can be highly creative. For instance, if you have a glass-panel walk-in shower, a change of color and shape in the shower tile walls and shower floor can create visual separation or seamless flow.
Choosing a dramatic color for these shower tiles can make your shower a focal point, depending on your bathroom design. This type of tiled shower also provides the opportunity to add a second tile option for subtle visual interest without looking too busy.
Here are a few shower tile ideas for this space.
Bangalow Round Encaustic Shower Tile
Encaustic cement tiles have been popular for years in Europe. These tiles are made from different colors of clay that form sometimes-elaborate patterns rather than having a pattern painted on as a glaze. They have at least two colors in both the body of the tile and the design. Unlike tiles with glazed patterns, their composition ensures that the patterns of these shower tiles will stay vivid for years.
Although they can be porous in a tile shower, their inlaid look allows you to create an intricate pattern and can inspire other shower tile ideas around the room. This encaustic cement tile feels lightly textured; it requires a penetrating sealer and looks best with light-colored grout.
Trident Blue Cement Shower Tile
Riad Tile's distinctive Trident Blue Cement Tiles make a bold statement paired with a glass door and metallic fixtures. This bathroom shower tile has angular shapes in light blue and dark blue shades, creating a mesmerizing effect.
Instead of solid blue tile, sunburst tiles can resemble stars, starbursts, or flower petals, creating a pop of style and personality when you use them throughout a tiled shower or a cheerful tile accent when you team them with a more neutral tile. The pattern and color on this cement tiling are highly durable.
Gray and Black Pebble Shower Tiles
Imagine a tiled shower that feels like you’ve escaped to the rainforest or another exotic location. The boutique design firm of Imperial Tile & Stone in North Hollywood, California, chose these gray and black pebble shower tiles to evoke just such a mood with understated luxury.
Pebble tiles frequently come in marble, stone, or even recycled glass. Use a light-colored grout to heighten the color variations in your shower tile, or add a light-colored shower floor tile for brightness and contrast.
Green Brick Pattern Shower Tiles
Green creates a stunning backdrop in shower tile, especially in an emerald or other jewel shade. Jean Stoffer Design opts for green shower tile ideas to evoke classic timelessness with a modern vibe. Of course, green is always a classic color for those who like subway tile, too.
Whether you arrange the tiling in a traditional stacked form, a staggered brick layout, or in a herringbone pattern, this type of shower tile evokes a soothing feeling of being in nature.
Yet as calming as green can be in the bath or shower, green tile also can make a strong statement. The color translates just as well from economical subway tile to more high-end options, with the layout providing extra visual style as a shower tile.
Bathroom Wall Tiles Ideas
Not all of the tile ideas in a bathroom focus on the shower, however. The bathroom walls provide another inspired place to showcase mosaic, glass, stone, and even wood-look tiles, turning them into a work of art. Complement the tiles on the floor and shower for a truly one-of-a-kind space.
Here are a few tile design ideas for the walls.
Onyx Mist Honed Marble Mosaic Wall Tile
This stunning 24 x 48-inch porcelain tile has such a variegated pattern that we think it will fool anyone into thinking it’s marble, but it's actually a fraction of the cost. The color of this tiling reminds us of clouds in the sky, and its polished finish gives it an elegant shine.
Although durable enough to use on the floor and shower, this tile design also works well on the wall because it resists moisture. Use it to create a striking backsplash above the vanity, or cover an entire wall with this tile to display its beautiful variations on a large canvas.
Cloe White Ceramic Rectangle Tile
A bathroom with white tile sounds basic and dated, but these tiles from the Cloe Collection at Bedrosians have a modern style. One reason for that is their narrow rectangular shape, at 2.5 x 8 inches, which allows for a variety of decor ideas.
Even in white, these tiles have variations in hue and tone, as lifestyle photographer Rennai Hoefer captures in her portfolio of interiors. Made in Spain, this white tile has a smooth gloss finish and is highly resistant to water, scratches, and chemicals.
Seaport Chameleon Ceramic Tile
Another rectangular tile, these breezy and beachy wall tiles from the Seaport Collection at TileBar take their style inspiration from metropolitan seaports, creating a soothing feel. They even resemble sea glass, thanks to their high-gloss sheen and pale color.
Measuring 2 x 10 inches and about 9.5 mm thick, these tiles are made in Spain and include slight grooves for textural appeal. The coloring in this tile design is subtle enough to complement many decor ideas yet makes for a crisp yet relaxed backsplash or bathroom wall.
Stone and Marble-Effect Ivory Tile
From the Brystone Collection at Keope, these large rectangular tiles are made of unglazed porcelain stoneware. That means that the color in this tile design runs throughout the entire body. Unlike tiles that might show flaking around the edges, this type of tile hardly shows any chips over time.
This tile has a neutral color and a matte finish, making it a good background bathroom tile that can complement the vanity and other fixtures or allow a particular color or accent tile to really pop.
Tile Ideas for Bathroom Floor
The flooring in a tile bathroom doesn’t have to look like just a bunch of blocks anymore. Among the trends in floor tiles is biophilia, which is showing the homeowner's love of nature. Such a decorator might incorporate the look of untreated wood in ceramic tile and other material or have plant motifs throughout the room.
Designers say that bringing the textures and tones of the outdoors into the bathroom through patterned floor and shower tile is one way to create a spa feeling at home. Here are a few other types of shower tile ideas for the floor.
Textile Hex Black Porcelain Tile
Hexagonal black porcelain tiles for the shower floor add to a black-and-white color scheme, which looks doubly modern with a black shower head, black fixtures, and wood accents.
Large-format tiles now come as large as 5.25 x 10.5 feet, aligning with an inspired trend toward oversize patterns. Hexagons, in particular, add geometric interest and style, especially when consumers tend to think of tiles as squares and rectangles.
Although some bathrooms in older homes might have had tiny hexagon tile flooring in a black and white pattern, larger tiles all in the same color set a dramatic scene.
Durham Grey Porcelain Floor Feature Tile
These glazed, patterned porcelain tiles in a satin finish are inspired by the stylish encaustic-style cement tiles that were all the rage during the Victorian era. On a small sample, the grey monochrome pattern looks deceptively simple. However, when placed across a full floor, these tiles pack a punch.
Measuring 45 x 45cm, these tiles have a vintage look that adds visual intrigue to a room of any size. They’re durable and hardwearing, making them ideal for the heavy traffic of a bathroom.
Plaza Wooden Beige Marble Mosaic Tile
These marble tiles resemble wood grain in all its beauty. Their tumbled edges create an organic finish and a casual, rustic feel.
This stone tiling has a polished finish that may display some variations in strength, color, and traction. However, this style is simple to install because it ships in 12 x 12-inch sheets on a mesh backing. For a monochromatic effect, use a neutral grout or contrast with white grout for more visual flair.
Artea Porcelain Patterned Tile
Made in Spain, this porcelain tile resembles encaustic tiles and takes its inspiration from Old World large floral artisan tile patterns. The design has rich tones and subtle contrast that works well with both historic renovations and modern installations.
Measuring 9.75 x 9.75 inches, this tiling is set on a high-quality solid base glaze, making it highly durable and resistant to mold, scratches, and stains. This tiling also has a slightly textured matte finish to provide some much-needed traction in the bathroom.
Small Bathroom Shower Tile Ideas
A small bathroom provides its own challenges when scoping out shower tile ideas. Designers often choose tiles with glossy or metallic finishes to reflect natural light and make a small bathroom feel airy and bright.
Tiles in dark colors can add depth to a small space. However, interior design experts suggest avoiding using tile patterns on every wall, which might make a small bathroom feel cramped.
That doesn’t mean avoiding tiling with a pattern altogether, though. Keep any shower tile design with a pattern below chair-rail height and top it with solid tiling in a light color to draw the eye upward.
Here are a few inspired tile ideas for a small bathroom.
Bondi Pink Encaustic Floor Tiles
Although designers like reflective surfaces in a small bathroom to make this space bright, a tile floor is one area where you don’t have to go too glossy, especially with a smooth finish on the walls.
These handmade encaustic tiles have a geometric pattern, which you can arrange into a pleasingly repetitive design. Crafted from cement, this tiling also has a light texture for added protection against slippery patches.
To increase durability and water resistance, the manufacturer recommends using a penetrating sealer. Add a light-colored grout to let the pattern speak for itself.
Marta Gris Ceramic Wall Tile
Measuring 8 x 24 inches, this plank-style tile comes in a light grey hue that coordinates with most color schemes. It also has a glossy finish that works well in a small room, adding contemporary polish and crisp, clean lines.
The narrow dimensions of this tiling enable vertical as well as horizontal installation, creating inspired possibilities for visual interest. The sleek style of this ceramic tile particularly complements modern decor, creating an open feel when used on its own or teaming well with a patterned tile in the shower.
MSI Havenwood Platinum Matte Porcelain Tile
This porcelain plank tile resembles wood and features grey tones with darker knots for a realistic touch. Measuring 8 x 36 inches, this tiling has a glazed smooth finish with a low sheen and slight variations in tone, providing for visual movement in a small room.
Perhaps best of all, these wood-look tiles are highly water-resistant and skid-resistant. Pair them with a white or charcoal-colored grout to create a visible pattern, or use a grey grout for a virtually seamless look.
Matte White Subway Bathroom Tile
These 2 x 6-inch retro brick tiles combine the classic yet contemporary feel that homeowners love about subway tiles. This soothing white tile suits any color scheme and creates a crisp feel in a small bathroom, especially on a shower wall.
This tiling also adds dimension and detail when installed through their petite size. They’re mounted on sheets of mesh about 11.5 inches square for a professional-looking installation.
We like this style as a backsplash or on shower walls. Pair this white tile with white grout for that traditional subway-tile look, or use a light grey or charcoal grout for black-and-white touch.
Bathroom Tile Buyer's Guide
Tips for Choosing Bathroom Wall Tiles
When it comes to bathroom decor ideas, a huge consideration is how to keep the shower tile walls free of mold and mildew. While the type of grout you choose can help, you don’t want water to seep through or beneath the tiling, allowing moisture to grow.
Matte shower tile certainly shows less grime and can give your bathroom a rustic aesthetic. However, glossy porcelain or ceramic tiling tends to be the best shower tile for areas exposed to lots of water and is easiest to clean with products found at your local grocery store.
Stone tiles such as marble have an upscale appeal, but these require more maintenance than shower tile. Tile professionals recommend sealing stone tiles during installation and before applying grout. Stone tiles also need to be resealed from time to time to protect them from stains and signs of wear.
Tips for Choosing Bathroom Floor Tiles
Your number-one concern when choosing a bathroom tile floor is to provide traction. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that about 234,000 people ages 15 or older have taken a trip to the emergency room after being injured in the bathroom, mostly due to falls.
Consider shower tile ideas that include slip-resistant features, especially for a shower floor. Other tiles, such as encaustic concrete tiles, may provide traction through their fine granular texture. You can also add traction by using small tiles with more grout lines instead of large, smooth tile slabs.
Tips for Using Tile in Small Bathrooms
The best shower tile ideas for a small bathroom keep in mind the decorative flow or how the shower tile will coordinate with the fittings and fixtures. Tiles with a glossy finish, as well as small tiles, can make a small room feel larger.
However, a small tile bathroom with every wall and floor covered in tiling might feel clinical, especially with all white tile. Instead, take a look at bathroom tile ideas that add contrast and visual interest, such as a patterned tile floor in a different color or texture.
Tips for Choosing Bathroom Tile Colors
Unless you’re redoing the entire bathroom, the colors of your existing fixtures, the vanity, and the cabinetry will inspire the color palette of your shower tile ideas. Obviously, if you’re starting from scratch, you can select from a color family that aligns with the overall style of your home.
For specific colors of shower tile ideas, designers say to keep in mind the size of your bathroom as well as the surfaces that you want tiled. For instance, keep these bathroom tile ideas in mind:
- Neutrals, soft pastels, and light colors give a small bathroom a subtle bright and airy feel.
- Darker hues such as black, navy, or deep brown tend to work well in larger bathrooms. A dark tile for flooring looks fresh and modern paired with light wall tile.
- If you love a glass or mosaic tile, a vibrant pattern, or a deep hue, try using it in the shower or as a vanity backsplash so that it doesn’t overwhelm the entire room.
Bathroom Tile FAQs
What Should I Consider When Choosing Bathroom Tiles?
Before you order samples of any tiling style, remember these broad categories when evaluating your shower tile ideas:
- Your budget: Tile comes in so many styles, shapes, and sizes that it’s easy to fall in love with a particular look such as white marble or Art Deco without first thinking of the price.
- Your color scheme: As we mentioned, your existing fixtures will influence your color choices, from black and white to blue tile.
- Locations to tile: You might not want to tile every wall. Then again, you might want to give the room an organic flow with a variety of tile textures for the floor, the shower, and the walls.
- Tile size and shape: Subway tiles measuring 4 x 16 inches look modern yet timeless; however, large tiles such as 12 x 24 inches are another trend that makes a space feel larger. Hexagonal tiles, even in a solid color, add visual pop.
What Is the Best Tile for a Shower?
The best tile for a shower will suit both the size of your bathroom and your personal taste. In general, though, we’ve found that the best shower tile is ceramic, porcelain, or even glass. These tiles have a polish that makes a bathroom look bright and up-to-date.
Natural stone tiles can provide an organic beauty in the shower, but you might not want the added maintenance of sealing them beforehand. In that case, the other shower tile design ideas we've mentioned, including tiling that resembles marble or wood, might offer the spa-like feel you crave.
How Much Does It Cost to Tile a Shower?
Because of the range of tiling available, it isn’t easy to pin down a ballpark cost for retiling a shower or bathroom. The price depends, of course, on the size of the bathroom, the materials, and the style.
However, HomeAdvisor.com notes that you can expect to spend an average of $12.50 per square foot to retile a shower. Including labor, homeowners spend about $2,000 on average for this project, depending on square footage, shower tile type and design, contractor rate, and related expenses.
What Can You Use For Shower Walls Instead of Tile?
Tile isn't the only choice for the shower. Designers also recommend these other durable, waterproof ideas if you don’t want to use tile:
- Acrylic panels: These are difficult to scratch or crack, and they have a smooth, seamless look
- PVC panels: Light yet hard-wearing, these seamless panels also prevent mold growth behind the shower and are easy to install.
- Marble: A solid sheet of marble definitely resists mold, fading, scratching, or chipping. It’s pricey, but it has an undeniable wow factor and boosts home value.
- Stainless steel: While you might not instantly think of stainless steel for the shower, it can be cut and shaped to fit any size and looks highly modern.
- Stone resin: Sleek and durable, stone resin resists scuffing, chips, cracks, and mold with a warmer texture than other alternative materials.
- Wood: Manufacturers make nautical wood panels that resist moisture and warping.
- Paint: Companies also now have paint that resists moisture and steam, plus it wipes clean, providing for a creative yet durable alternative to tile.
The Bottom Line
Bathroom tile doesn’t have to be strictly utilitarian anymore. The bathroom might be one of the most practical rooms in the house, but it’s also a place to face the day or unwind in the tub or the shower and let your stress melt away.
Why not get creative with your shower tile ideas?
If you have questions about installing shower tile, or if you need any other tile ideas from our team at The Tool Scout, feel free to reach out. We'll be glad to recommend the right tools and materials for any job, whether it's a bathroom or basement remodeling, as well as any other beginner DIY projects.