The Best Tile To Use in a Shower

There are many things to keep in mind when deciding about the best tile to use in a shower, starting with your shower design. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution, which can make choosing the best one a bit complicated. On the other hand… this also means you have a lot of freedom when choosing tile for a shower, and you can put your creative skills to work to create the perfect shower.

The 95% Rule Of Shower Tile Installation

The first thing to keep in mind is that your shower tile needs to be approved to be used on a wet location, and this means remembering: 95% of the back side of the tile needs to be in contact with the adhesive that glues it to the walls or floors. Mosaic tiles in particular may not be able to reach this number, particularly if you install the thinset with a notched trowel. So consider this before you buy individual mosaic tiles that are too small.

You may be able to get away with mosaic imitation tiles visually look like lots of little mosaic tiles, but are just a regularly sized tile with mosaic on top. If you buy glass tile or mosaic tile, make sure the retailer or manufacturer can guarantee it being acceptable for submersion use, as the floor of your shower should be treated like it was a submerged surface.

Slippery Tiles Are Dangerous

6"x6" porcelain floor tiles

6″x6″ porcelain floor tiles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While small tiles may not be up to scratch in terms of adhesion, larger tiles may be actually bad for your health, particularly if you are tiling the floor. Large ceramic tiles are remarkably slippery when wet, and the lack of grout lines can make them a health and safety risk. The answer? Choose shower tiles that are treated with a slip-resistance surface, and have a good slip-resistance ratio.

If you are in love with a large, slippery tile for your shower, consider using it on the walls and also to frame the central area of the shower which can be tiled using a smaller, slip resistant tile in a similar or contrasting colour. It will still look like a beautiful designer shower, and still be practical.

Building Curved Benches

Since you are designing your own shower, adding a curved, comfortable shower bench is perfectly possible. However, you will need to keep those curves in mind when choosing the best tile to use in a shower with curved surfaces, as you will most likely need to choose small mosaic tiles at least for the angled surfaces. Smaller tiles can also be used to build the borders so there is a curved edge that doesn’t bite into the back of your legs. Some shower tiles offer a bullnose or radius edge for maximum comfort.

This also applies if you are installing a luxury steam shower that requires a slopped ceiling, as smaller tiles will look more graceful on slopes.

Translucent Materials and Glass Shower Tiles

English: 1" x 1" glass mosaic tile

English: 1″ x 1″ glass mosaic tile (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Glass shower tiles are the epitome of style and modernity, but they can also show easily the signs of a bad installation. If you choose clear glass tiles and there is space between the tile and the board you will see how water vapour gets trapped there and condenses, creating the perfect environment for bathroom mould and making your new shower look awful in just a few weeks. Smaller tiles are easier to install and less likely to cause problems. On the bright side, glass panels are easy to clean and make small rooms look larger.

Water Can Stain Natural Stone

Some areas have water with a high mineral content, and this can cause staining in some types of shower tiles. For example, if you opt for a porous, natural stone look, water may just take too long to dry and mineral build-up will leave stains pretty quickly. So if you hate the idea of drying your shower after every use and want a low maintenance shower tile, choose a synthetic material with a finish that allows water to slide right off. Large slabs and glass panels are much easier to keep clean than small mosaic or natural porous stone such as ledgestone tile.

At the end of the day, the best tile to use in a shower will be the one you find more visually attractive and can still provide you with the safety and water-resistant features you’d expect on a tiled shower. If you are unsure whether a particular type of tile can be made to work with your design, ask the helpers at the home improvement store as they may be able to provide you with a way to adapt it, or alternative solutions that still look great.