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How To Choose A Bathroom Floor Tile

June 21, 2019

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Choosing a bathroom tile isn't always just about the look.

You need to think about how it will wear. What kind of tile is safe on a wet floor.

The price, the ease of installation and ok, ok, the look!

Here are a few more important considerations, plus a comparison of tile types.

How To Choose Bathroom Floor Tile text over different tile samples

Many of you know that right now, we are in the middle of a major Exquisitely Unremarkable bathroom makeover.

To be perfectly honest, that was not the plan. All I really wanted was a new bathtub.

Of course, once the rip out began, it sort of took on a life of its renovations often do.

When we started, there really wasn't anything wrong with the bathroom.

Granted it hadn't been remodeled since 2003, but overall, everything was holding up very well.

Even better, since the tiles were white and the decor was cottage style, fitting the aesthetic of this 1920's beach bungalow, it wasn't outdated.
Plus, I still loved it.

However, when the tub was removed, more of the wall and floor tile came up than expected. After a long search, we were able to track down the wall tiles.

The floor was a different story.

Cottage Style Bathroom with dark vanity, white marble top and black and white checkered flooring

I adored my old tile. It was a classic and fit the house perfectly. I never would've ripped it out, but once it was gone, I didn't really want to put it back.

Just get the same thing, my husband said.

No. I wan't something different, I replied.

Why? If you love so much, just do it again. I had to explain to him that the chance to get a new Barbie only comes around once in a while and you don't get the same one you already have. You want new.

Unfortunately, new wasn't so easy.

Since the bathroom was not a planned project, and I was wrapped up with the girls' project, I really hadn't put much thought into what kind of look I was after...that is not the way I usually operate.

So, I wandered about Home Depot, Lowe's, the local tile shops and virtually on Pinterest and came up with a few choices.

Which just confused me more.

Random tiles samples from a showroom floor

There were way too many choices and each one had its own list of pros and cons. I brought home tons of samples and mapped out a bunch of looks around them.

In the end, I chose something not too far off from what I started with.

Turns out when it comes to those Barbies, I have a type. Who knew?

Keep in mind these are just my thoughts, there are so many, many gorgeous homes out there with these materials on the floor.

Decor choices are extremely personal and I respect that. I'm just sharing a bit of what led me to my decision.

Choosing A Bathroom Tile Floor

1. Evaluate Saddle And Subflooring

I have a carpeted hallway. We already had a marble saddle in place, since it was the perfect choice to transition from black and white porcelain tile to the carpet.

It gave the area a very finished look. We really didn't want to have to replace it, so it was a consideration when choosing a tile.

Of course, it wasn't a deal breaker, however, I will say that it was difficult to find a good looking, transition strip for the wood tile to carpet.

We were unable to find a wood tile saddle. It would've been wood, marble or one of those metal tack strips...which a definite no.

We also needed to make sure we had the proper subfloor for the tile we chose and it was in good condition. Turns out we needed to replace ours.

Keep in mind that the tiles were all different thicknesses. Some of my tile samples would've necessitated a different subfloor for a thinner one so the door would close, etc.

2. Price

Money, money, money. It's always a major factor when renovating.

Marble was the most expensive. The porcelain and glass tiles were mid to low range and wood tiles were the least expensive by far.

Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule, but in general that was what we found...whether we were at the box stores or the fancy shop.

Now, my bathroom is exceptionally small...cottage living and cost wasn't a big factor here. We're also in it for the long haul.

We don't have any plans to move or redo this room again anytime within the next decade. If any of those things were a possibility I would definitely take it into consideration.

3. Installation

If a contractor is installing your floor, you might want to inquire whether a certain tiles will be more expensive to put down. If you're a DIYer, there are a whole host of factors to think about, including your own skill level.

Some tiles are much easier to install than others. The tile I eventually chose required many tiny cuts. It was time consuming.

Luckily, my guy is a DIY pro. There are different tile cutters from hand tools to wet saws. We had them all after years of renovations.

4. The Look we get to the fun part. Modern? Farmhouse? Cottage Style? Small tiles, large ones? And don't forget the color.

Next to the walls, your floor will have the biggest visual impact in the room and help to define its style. With all the choices out there, it could drive you a little crazy.

Types Of Tile

1. Wooden Tile

Wood Tile samples In The Bathroom

I knew I wanted a rustic look. So I started here.

After all, wood tile is all the rage. It's new and definitely a hot trend. I've admired it online and in other people's homes for years and thought for sure this is where I would end up.

Turns out, I didn't love it once it was on my own floor. Compared to the real wood floors in the kitchen and living room, it clearly looked like tile and the idea of grout lines just didn't sit well with me.

I think if I had a larger bathroom, I would've liked it more. I tried hard to make it work. I played with colors, tile width and patterns, but nothing was right.

In addition, we would've had to lower the subfloor to accommodate its thicker profile and when I spoke to a few contractor friends they said, yes, it's porcelain and strong, but if and when it ever chipped, it was grey underneath.

The wood finish is a simple top coat.

Oh no. That wasn't something I was willing to take a chance on with kids.

It's rare, but chips happen. At least when it happens to's still wood.

2. Marble

Comparing Bathroom Floor Tile with several wood, marble and marble look tiles on the subfloor

That led me to marble. Totally different direction, but the idea of sparkle intrigued me. Once I got it in my head, I was hooked. I was going to have an elegant, rustic look.

Then my husband, my girlfriends and the tile salespeople lowered the boom. Marble is a nightmare, they all said.

It's porous, it can stain and will stain if the kids dropped conditioner, make up or toothpaste on it and in a bathroom, it's going to get slick after a humid shower. Choose something else, they all said.

Boo. Nobody wants to hear that.

However, again, the tile was thick and the subfloor needed to be lowered.

My contractor - ahem husband- wasn't thrilled with any of that. So I passed.

3. Porcelain and Glass Marble Look-Alikes

glass and wood tile flooring choices laid out on bathroom floor for comparison

Marble looks-alike seemed like the obvious choice.

They came in glass and porcelain and were pretty close to the real thing. But not quite.

Something about them just didn't have that same shine and deep crystal sparkle that the real McCoy did.

There was a little too much gray in most of them for my taste and that didn't seem to fit my new rustic glam aesthetic, so I kept searching.

4. All White Porcelain

Hexagon and diamond white mosaic tile squares on wood floor

Through all the shopping and dreaming, I kept thinking about my old black and white cottage style floor.

There was something so charming about it...small, white octagon tiles, the little shiny black diamonds in between.

It really was perfect, but I wanted new. The next best thing was the same floor in all white. I really liked it. It fit the house, the period styling was correct, the scale was right on.

However, since it was a flat matte tile, it didn't have any sparkle.

It also didn't have any way to camouflage dirt, dust and the long black hair that was being brushed in that space. I was so close...

...and then one day, when I was totally done with shopping, my husband literally dragged me into a tile shop and there it was, the perfect floor.

It was one I hadn't seen anywhere else and it was stunning. It was the exact same floor I used to have in black and white, in white...and white...with sparkle and shine.

I was in love. Again.

White On White Hexagon Diamond Tile Floor sample

So yes, I'm totally boring. Although, I prefer to call myself consistent.

And now that the floor is down, I'm absolutely certain it was the right choice for me.

Hopefully, I'll be ready to share it all very soon. We were this close to completion when I decided I wanted a wooden countertop in there.

More construction.

But that's another story.

What's on your bathroom floor?

Kim Signature

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  1. You made the perfect choice! When I first moved into my house I had ugly 'yellowed' sheet vinyl in both the bathrooms. I was house poor so painted the vinyl. One bathroom got painted exactly like a tile I had used in my first house, which I loved! The floors turned out so well that I haven't had the heart to replace them with tile (yet)!

    I can totally sympathize with how hard it is to pick tile; the struggle is real! I honestly don't know how I would choose when it comes time to renovate our bathrooms. It was so easy when I was designing my Mom's bathrooms. Maybe that's the key: I might have to sell the house and design the bathrooms for the new owners - lol!

    1. Choosing for someone else is aways much easier, Sara, I agree! And yes, when we bought this house we renovated everything, so we were very mindful about price. Luckily, cottage style is so simple, the tile was cheap!

  2. Good morning! I love your flooring choice. It is perfect. What's on my floor you ask? Builder grade travertine in my master bathroom. It's sufficient. If I had to replace it I'm certain making a choice for new flooring would be fraught with anxiety and indecision. LOL

    1. Thanks Lisa! The first tile we replaced was put down in the 1960's. It was small little squares, in pastel colors. Not pretty. Your floor sounds fabulous!

  3. I had a custom thassos marble with cream marfil pattern done recently. It is beautiful but honestly, the end cost wasn't worth it. If I was to do it all over, I would have done a ceramic.

    1. Wow, Constance, that sounds amazing! I know marble is so expensive and if your bathroom is any bigger than our tiny closet sized one, I can image it was pricey. I really loved the sparkle of it and in certain patterns it fit the style of my charming little beach cottage...but kids. So I went down the safer path. Thanks so much for the comment and enjoy that gorgeous bathroom!

  4. I think you made a great choice. While marble is the rage accidents happen. Adults drop lotion and makeup. Happens to the best of us.

    Looking forward to the reveal.

    Second time I commented. Hit the wrong button. If this another I haven't lost my mind.


    1. Hi Cindy! You are so right, accidents do happen and I'm kind of a perfectionist when it comes to decor. At least with things looking clean, I can't stand dirt or stains and our bathroom marble counter was full of stains from toothpaste, soap and make up. No amount of sealing could battle a bathroom full of teens. I just figured the floor would be the same.

  5. When we were fixing this house up before we moved in 18 years ago, we put pine floors in the whole house! Every room and even the closets have this flooring. Its been great! We vacuum and then mop. Done! Hides hair and dirt etc...

    I like what you've chosen!

    1. I love the journey you took to get to the right flooring. It made me realize how many of us go through this process. I absolutely love what you picked. So great when our husbands know us so well and see just the right one and end our second guessing.
      I am going through picking out flooring right now and I am more confused than ever and there is a budget to consider. We are building a house in high desert area and my dilemma is between engineered destressed hardwood flooring or wood tile flooring. Like you I don't want grout lines and tile is so hard on stand on all day but the samples I am seeing are so realistic looking, distressed and you can feel the texture and fit tongue and groove together. I only been on about 30 sites listening and reading about all the pros and cons. Because we are building and it is 2500 sq. ft. this can really add up so I am trying to be mindful of it all. I pray I have as great a outcome as you, when all is said and done, because your choice is beautiful!

    2. Deanna, those floors are the dream and you're right, they are totally durable. People misjudge wood, I think. My grandmother had wood in every room, including the bathrooms. They were original from the 1800's...clawfoot tubs and the toilets were pull chain. Coolest room ever, but I don't think they floors were always dry. However they always looked amazing!


    3. A house in the dessert sounds fantastic, but the building from scratch must be a bit overwhelming! I can only imagine the decisions you are faced with on a daily basis. There are way too many choices on the market today. They can drive you batty. The wood tile choices alone are crazy. We must have brought home at least a dozen...different plank lengths, widths, finishes, colors, distressing and textures. And yes, some definitely looked just like wood...just not next to my real wood floors. I think if you do them throughout, they will be beautiful and no one but you will ever know the difference! Best of luck with your build. I'm sure it will all be fabulous.

  6. That’s so awesome that you have a handy husband who knows how to do that kind of work and update your bathroom. It may take time but you save so much money! I bet the bathroom looks beautiful.
    Happy first day of summer.

    1. Thanks Julie! Yes, I'm getting what I want, but the rip out started the day before Easter...and we're still not done. He's a weekend warrior and I've been indecisive. Not the quickest combination when it comes to renovation! Happy Summer to you, too...I hope we get some of it soon!!

  7. You made a good decision! It looks beautiful! It's a lot of work but very rewarding!

    1. Thanks Angela! It’s a huge change from the red, but I do love it so far.

  8. I had that same black and white floor in my bathroom a few houses ago! Right now we have porcelain large square tiles that look like marble in a flat finish.

    1. I love that black and white tile, Penny. It's a classic, no doubt.

  9. Choices like these can be so overwhelming! That's where a lot of my procrastination lies, because sometimes I have a hard time making that final choice. I agree that the wood tile was a definite no-no in your bathroom.

    We aren't DIYers so we had both our bathroom floors redone a few years ago. Both bathrooms are teeny.The main hall bath has big square tiles that are textured and layered with dark gray, blue and brown. We love them. Get compliments on them all the time. Our master bathroom also has the larger ceramic tiles, but they're flat, matte and beige. Turns out, I don't like them. The grout gets discolored and the tiles get hairspray build-up on them, which is hard to get off. I also don't really care for the color anymore. Oh well - live and learn! I think your new tile will look fantastic. Can't wait to see the final result.

    1. These choices are overwhelming, Melanie! Paint is so easy to change. Tile, not so much…so the pressure is on! The choice is especially difficult when you really like what you had! I have to say, I really like this one. We put a very simple flat, matte, white square in the other bathroom when we renovated a few years ago, sounds like your beige tile. I’m not a big fan either! Although, I doubt we’ll be changing that one anytime soon!!

  10. Kim, we have done most of the renos in our cottage ourselves, and I had no idea that there were so many obstacles that one could face in doing one job. We took the easy way out and just layed vinyl that looked like your original pretty floor. Jerry did do our postage size (literally) guest bath when we first moved in and did a good job too, but it is so dated now (after 30 years) but will stay this way forever for our use..Can't wait to see the final stage. So far it is sounding wonderful..Thanks for your visit. I guess I will always have blue and white. When you reach a certain age, you just know, and it is all good..Happy first day of Summer. It is a beautiful one here..xxoJudy

    1. I totally understand your blue and white obsession, Judy. It’s been years and red and white are still my favorites. When people ask me if I’m sick of the colors, I always say nope, and why deviate from what makes your decorator’s heart sing? ☺️

      DIY is not easy, there are always pitfalls and unexpected troubles that pop up along the way. However, it’s a great skill to have and saves a lot of dough for sure. I know your bathroom is still gorgeous and not at all dated. It’s a classic and classics never go out of style!

  11. Isn't it funny you ended up choosing something similar to what you have even though you wanted a new Barbie?? Haha. I can relate to the nightmare of choosing though. So many choices, it's overwhelming. I would def not want to have to change subfloor though. I don't blame hubby for that. How blessed you are to have a hubby who can do that kind of work. Looking forward to the final reveal!

    1. He really is so talented, Florence. And thank you...the reveal is coming soon!

  12. I also didn't know they made wood tile now. Not sure I would like it either. Although I sorta liked that white distressed wood look.

    1. It's very pretty, but honestly, I prefer the real thing and if I could get my husband to put it down - even in the bathroom - I would!!

  13. I am not a stranger to rolling around the many options when it comes to decision time.
    I vacillate, go backwards, forward, repeat and sometimes even put things on hold.
    So I empathized with you . . . having not seen your final, final look,
    I am liking the “Barbie” I think is yours above . . .

    We just changed the flooring in our “main bathroom.”
    Decision trips . . . MANY.
    In the end . . . we went with a wood plank vinyl look.
    Anything would have been an improvement.
    Carpet in a bathroom, who does that!
    I am happy with the new look, even though it is colder on the toes
    when making a bathroom trip in the middle of the night.

    We were graced today with blue sky, sun, warmth on this, the first day of summer.
    A welcomed YAY indeed!

    1. Blue skies are always a good thing, Lynne and we've had too few of them lately. Carpet in the bathroom, huh? I've seen it. It does feel warm and comfy on chilly toes, but it's just not practical. I know firsthand, since my mom had carpet in the kitchen when we were growing up! Can you believe it? Nutty!

      Enjoy the week my friend!

  14. Making those kinds of choices is so hard! You did good!

    1. Thanks Mari! Paint is so easy to change, but when it comes to tile, it’s a little more permanent and therefore daunting!

  15. I think my brain actually hurt when we added on a new kitchen and laundry room at our old house in 2004. So many choices and so much sensory overload when in the big stores looking for something. Not sure I want to do that again even though I wouldn't mind having a new floor in our bathroom. I do love what you chose!

    1. Thanks Dewena and that's exactly how I felt!! I'm glad to have it behind me now.

  16. I love the final choice you made Kim. It's real pretty and I think I would have been heartbroken to lose those old tiles you had in the bathroom. They remind me of a bathroom floor in an old bed & breakfast we stayed in in Paris. So lovely. Can't wait to see how your whole bathroom turns out.

    1. Oh, that sounds like decorator's dream trip!! And thank for the kind words!

  17. Kim, I love the choice you made! It is so difficult to make decisions when there are so many options available. I'm a "give me three to choose from" sort of person. It just makes my life easier. Thankfully, all of our floors downstairs are concrete, so we don't have to fool with flooring choices -- just rugs...and that is a completely different nightmare!! Love and hugs!

    1. Thanks Benita! I have to say, I’m glad the tile is done and I do love it. Phew! One decision down. I get it with the rugs. I think that’s worse than choosing tile! You have such a great eye, though, everything at your place always looks like it came from a magazine shoot!
      Hope it’s a great week!

  18. Hi Kim,
    I am excited see your bathroom.
    I do understand the wanting to be sure you REALLY want this to be it! I did the same when we recently purchased our new furniture. It takes time to think about how it will ALL look in the LONG RUN. ;-)
    Another great, honest post, thank you!

    1. Thanks so much, Carla. When it comes to decor, I am a long run girl! I love to change out the accessories for a fresh look, but the foundation of a room and its big pieces tend to stick around for decades. Ooh…and new furniture! Exciting!!

  19. What a great post! This was very helpful because I am in the planning process of a bathroom re-do. And marble saddles....I had NO idea what this was called. We have a marble saddle leading into our master bath and it was always so funny looking to me because there was this beautiful piece of marble and then....late 60's tile. LOL! I'm sure it was all the rage back when our home was built. I do want to keep our marble saddle for sure if possible.

    1. Mandy, I'm so glad that you found this post helpful! That saddle was a real weighted heavily on our decision, because like you, it was too pretty for us to get rid of! I wish you luck with the redo and I hope you'll let us know when it's complete and what you chose! Thanks for the comment and the visit!