Renovation tip: Choosing the right bathroom tiles

Tiles are often overlooked by homeowners but aside from adding to the functionality of the space, they also have the ability to add a “wow factor” to the house through simple mix-and-match. Here’s a basic guide for picking the best tiles for your bathroom:

tiled bathroom spi

Whether you’re renovating or remodeling, the bathroom is where you can achieve instant equity and ultimately add value to your property. 

Tenants and home buyers alike deem the bathroom important not just for its main function but also for the purpose of retreat and relaxation. Investors, therefore, are aiming to strike a perfect balance among practicality, functionality and aesthetics.

As simple as they are, tiles contribute largely to the overall appeal of the bathroom. They can influence the illusion of size and even the mood in the space. The bathroom, then, contributes to the overall appeal of the house.

How do you determine the right tiles to use for your bathroom?


Common types of tile

Before beginning the project, it is important to understand the different types of materials available and determine which one will suit your needs best.

The most common types of tile include:

Ceramic tiles

Ceramic tiles are considered as the best option for the bathroom and other moisture-prone areas because they are finished with a durable glaze, making them dense, non-porous and, therefore, resistant to fire and slip.

In general, ceramic tiles have a high water absorption rate, which lowers the risk of water penetration and surface stains. Since they are easy to clean and maintain, they are also deemed as one of the longest-lasting bathroom products in the market and are cheaper than other types of tiles.

However, ceramic tiles are usually prone to wear and chipping so it is recommended for parts of the bathrooms with only light to moderate traffic such as the walls.

Porcelain tiles

Porcelain or vitrified tiles combine the advantages of both durability and style, providing flexibility for applications, particularly on the wall and the floors.

Due to the strong nature of the tile, brought by its thickness and high density, it is most suitable for parts of the bathroom that see high traffic such as the floors. They are also generally resistant to stains and scratches and are easy to clean and maintain.

Most porcelain tiles have PEI 5 Rating, making them the hardest wearing tiles in the market.

Stone tiles

Natural stone tiles give a natural earthy feel to the bathroom. Like porcelain tiles, they are both durable and aesthetically pleasing.

However, unlike other tiles, natural stones have unique patterns. Therefore, no two stone tile surfaces will be the same. The common styles and colours of stone tiles include granite, limestone, travertine, marble and slate.

This type of tile is porous and, therefore, prone to absorbing water, lubricants and stains. Periodical maintenance and seal application are highly recommended to avoid stains and damages on the surface and ensure longevity.

Avoid bleaches and other strong chemicals to ensure that the surface remains flawless and intact.

Mosaic tiles

Mosaic tiles are often used to add a ‘wow factor’ in the bathroom. They come in a wide variety of colour, style and size that will create a unique feature on the overall design for the space.

However, this type of tile has a tendency to be slippery when wet so it’s best to check the slip rating standards to avoid accidents.

While glass mosaic tiles are quite easy to clean, more grout lines would mean more cleaning.

Tiling the bathroom

Aside from the type of tiles, you also need to consider slip wear ratings, the measurement of tiles and their placements as well as the colour combinations to be used.

Slip-wear ratings

More than the colour, size and finish of the tiles, your top consideration must be the slip-wear ratings—higher ratings generally mean more durable and safe tiles. 

Slip rating tests assess the frictional characteristics of the surface to determine the safety of the tiles in different environmental conditions. It also measures the long-term wear throughout the life of a tile, considering the installation process, wear characteristics, cleaning maintenance and potential traffic.

The ratings are divided into five, as follows:

  • PEI Class 1 Rating: No foot traffic is expected. Recommended for wall use only in residential and commercial dwellings.
  • PEI Class 2 Rating: Light traffic is expected. Recommended for walls and bathroom floors.
  • PEI Class 3 Rating: Normal or light to moderate traffic is expected. Recommended for walls, floors and countertops.
  • PEI Class 4 Rating: Moderate to heavy traffic is expected. Recommended for all residential, medium commercial and light institutional applications.
  • PEI Class 5 Rating: Heavy to extra heavy traffic is expected. Recommended for all residential, heavy commercial and institutional applications.

Size and placement

Factor in the size, shape and layout of the bathroom as well to determine which type of tile would best complement the space you’re planning to fill in. The proportions must work together to come up with a creative tile layout and ultimately avoid awkward cuts and messy applications.

Traditional square tiles are often the go-to for most homeowners, but long, narrow, large format and mosaic tiles may also add character to your bathroom or act as your accent tiles that will flatter the overall bathroom design.

Large format tiles, in particular, are generally recommended on large bathrooms to emphasize its size, make the bathroom look elongated and implement a flawless finish.

However, homeowners with small bathroom can also use large format tiles to minimise grouted joints and make the space seem bigger. Penny rounds, mosaic tiles, oversized diamond patterns are among the top suggestions for ‘enlarging’ a small bathroom.

The illusion of size may also be influenced by the layout of tiling. Vertically-placed tiles can emphasize the height of the space and are, therefore, recommended for small bathrooms with low ceilings. Horizontally-placed tiles, on the other hand, create the illusion of width, making the bathroom appear wider and longer than it is.

You may also opt to lay tiles diagonally to make the room appear larger and add spark and vibrancy to a small space. This may, however, present a challenge when cutting points for diagonals. Experts can assist you in this stage or you may pick up DIY tool kits to implement diagonal placement.

For shower tiles, consider the type of drain installed to avoid too much grout lines, which can result in a messy-looking space.

While it’s advisable to mix and match tiles to inspire a “wow factor” and promote practicality, experts suggest limiting the types of tile in the room to a maximum of three to promote a harmonious appearance.

Aside from engaging professionals, homeowners are also advised to take home a tile sample before they buy to see how the colour, size and finish of their chosen tile will actually look like in their home.


Finally, homeowners can use different colours to influence the mood in the bathroom. Consider the natural light that may or may not be present in the bathroom to determine the colour schemes that will complement the space.

Darker shades and colour schemes promote a warm and inviting ambience while also hiding trails of dirt. However, they can make the room feel enclosed.

Consider pairing dark hues with reflective finishes to balance the warmth with a hint of light and brightness.

On the other hand, neutral color tones promote a cool and tranquil ambience as it promotes a simple and basic overall design. It can also make a small space feel more spacious and open.

Renovation tips

Bathrooms can definitely influence the value of your property so it’s important to plan the renovation carefully and ensure high-quality work without overcapitalising.

Set a realistic budget by considering all possible costs, including demolition works, waste disposal, materials and builders’ fee. Before even beginning the project, think of ways to save on certain fixtures without compromising quality.

Factor in a contingency plan as well so you’re prepared for any unexpected costs. This could be around 15 to 20 per cent of your original budget.

Following a strict timeline can also help you save money on your renovation project.

Bathroom jobs in Australia, including full bathroom replacements, functional improvements and repairs and updates often go on for 21 to 25 days, according to the Housing Industry Association (HIA).

Save time by going through a thorough planning process. A month’s worth of planning is worth it once you transition to renovating and ultimately oversee a smooth process.

Remember: A good bathroom renovation balances form and function — adding both value and style to one of the most relevant spaces in your investment property.


The information has been sourced from Inside Out, Italian Ceramics, Destination Living, The Spruce and the Smart Property Investment website.

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