A fundamental rule of design is that form follows function. In other words, you focus first on making sure that home upgrades meet your practical needs, and then consider how they’ll add to the overall aesthetic of your design.
However, since you have to live with your renovated bathroom space, the form and function of your shower floor and walls deserve equal consideration.
How can you choose the options that not only deliver comfort, safety, and your preferred level of maintenance but also beautify your spaces and create the spa-like atmosphere you crave? Here are some tips for selecting the best shower floors and walls for your home improvement project.
Table of Contents
- Different Types of Shower Tiles
- Considerations When Choosing Shower Tile
- How to Choose the Best Shower Floor Tiles for Your Upgrade
Different Types of Shower Tiles
When you first start looking at shower floor tiles, you may be overwhelmed by the number of options for colors, patterns, textures, glazes, sizes, shapes, and more. It’s certainly nice to have a range of choices, but you need to narrow it down.
One of the quickest ways to do that is to select the product type you prefer. The three most popular tiles for shower flooring and walls are ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone tile. But how do they differ? And what benefits does each have to offer?
Ceramic tile is made from clay that has been fired in a kiln to create a strong and durable surface material. It offers several benefits that could make it your top choice for a shower enclosure.
This cost-effective product comes in an expansive array of sizes, shapes, colors, and features, ensuring plenty of opportunities for versatile design.
From a functional standpoint, you may be concerned about the porosity of ceramic, but tiles that are glazed and properly installed are virtually waterproof, making them a great choice for bathroom spaces.
Ceramic tile tends to be the lightest option in terms of weight, so if you’re remodeling an upper-floor bathroom and installing a lot of tile, this may be a relevant consideration.
Like ceramic, porcelain tiles are made from clay. However, ceramic and porcelain have some distinct differences.
Porcelain is composed of a denser, more refined clay mixture and then fired at higher temperatures. This makes it slightly heavier than ceramic but also less porous and more robust. It can be more expensive, but it offers greater durability and longevity.
Porcelain tile is well-suited to high-traffic areas as well as wet environments. It’s incredibly water-resistant, even before it’s glazed or treated, making it ideal for surfaces ranging from a shower pan to wet room walls. If you’re concerned about slipping, you can choose matte or even textured finishes for increased stability.
3. Natural Stone
While you might turn to marble and granite for countertops in your home, you have a lot more options when it comes to your shower enclosure. Products like quartzite, travertine, slate, and even river rocks can transform your shower into a breathtaking, natural haven.
However, there are a few caveats. Natural stone is by far the most expensive option and stone is naturally porous, which means you have to seal it regularly to prevent staining and other harm. With that being said, stone has a natural texture to it, even when buffed, which can make for a less slippery shower floor surface.
Considerations When Choosing Shower Tile
Because there are benefits and drawbacks to each type of tile, take time to consider which product best suits your needs.
Are you concerned about durability in your busy household? Wondering if the required maintenance will fit into your schedule? Are some members of the family more likely to slip and fall on slick surfaces? How does your tile choice work with your bathroom design?
Here are a few considerations that will help you choose the right options for your shower walls and flooring.
Whatever tile you choose needs to hold up to the demands of your household. Strength and durability are usually at the top of the list when it comes to utility, particularly if your home has youngsters prone to dropping items on the floor, risking cracks and chips.
Comfort and safety are also major concerns. A non-slip surface is vital for anyone with stability issues (children, the elderly, and those with disabilities). Keep in mind that options like small, mosaic tiles with more grout can help to increase friction on a shower floor while adding beauty to your design.
As for waterproofing, porcelain is probably the winner, but glazed ceramic and sealed natural stone can hold their own. Just make sure to keep the grout in good shape and caulk appropriately for the size of the joints to prevent leaks.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Only you can decide your tolerance level when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. Glazed ceramic and porcelain tile are easy to clean and maintain with an all-purpose household solvent, while natural stone needs regular sealing and may require the use of specialized stone cleaners.
However, if you love the look of slate, marble, or granite, you might be willing to go the extra mile when it comes to upkeep. Don’t forget, you’ll also have to clean the grout. While all three tile types may be available in large-format tiles (requiring fewer grout lines), only porcelain and natural stone are offered in full slabs.
Natural stone is typically regarded as offering the most luxury and beauty when it comes to home upgrades, although you’re sure to have personal style preferences. Keep in mind that both ceramic and porcelain tiles can be made to mimic marble, granite, and other natural stone types with varying degrees of authenticity.
Cost is always a concern with home improvement, whether you’re gutting the entire bathroom or focusing on new shower tile installation. Generally speaking, ceramic tile is the most cost-effective option, followed by porcelain, and then natural stone. However, this could depend on the brands and features you select.
What Is the Best Non-Slip Tile for Shower Floors?
While the slickness of your shower walls might not matter, you definitely want a non-slip surface for the floor. Glazed ceramic is likely to be the most slippery, with smooth porcelain coming in a close second.
A textured porcelain could work, as could smaller ceramic or porcelain tiles with more grout. Still, natural stone is the clear winner here, and studies show that higher quartz content contributes to a less slippery surface when wet.
Is Ceramic or Porcelain Tile Better for Shower Floors?
When choosing tile flooring for your shower enclosure, practical concerns like waterproofing and nonslip function must be addressed. In both cases, porcelain comes out ahead.
Learn more about the differences between ceramic and porcelain.
What Type of Shower Tile Is Easiest to Clean?
Ceramic and porcelain tiles are incredibly easy to clean. If you’re diligent, you can keep them relatively pristine with little more than a shower squeegee and intermittent wipe-downs with an all-purpose cleanser. Grout lines may require extra attention, but if you choose large-format tile, you’ll have less grout to contend with.
How to Choose the Best Shower Floor Tiles for Your Upgrade
Ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone tiles are all good choices when upgrading your shower stall. Choosing the best options for your home will depend on your budget, your needs, and your personal style. Doing your research on the best shower floor and wall tiles will help you to choose the products that add optimal function while beautifying your living spaces.
Which tile are you learning more towards? We’d love to hear about your project in the comments section below!