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Floor & Wall Tile

tiles

Some of the most lived in rooms, the kitchen and bathroom, need to be built to last. From the hardware to the appliances, there are big decisions to be made. However, we can't forget that tiles are also a crucial piece of décor in these rooms. Whether it's the shower walls or kitchen sink backsplash, tiles can make or break a room's overall style. Not only should your choices look nice, but they should also be practical. Consider non-slip shower tile or natural looking travertine tile for an added twist to a basic kitchen or bathroom.

Stuck on choosing tile for your kitchen or bathroom? We've recently awarded 10 bloggers with the Wayfair Home Renovator Award for outstanding tiling in a kitchen or bathroom. These bloggers have also shared their tips and tricks for selecting tiles that will make an impact and last through the wear and tear of everyday life. We hope you're inspired by these beautiful room renovations and are now more prepared to add tiling to your kitchen or bathroom!


bathroom tiles

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Miggy from This Little Miggy


miggy tile

Since I chose a white subway tile and a small white hex tile, I would describe these tiles as clean and classic.


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Priscilla from Fashion and Fishing


priscilla tile

We used white, porcelain subway tiles for the shower and light gray, rectangular ceramic floor tiles for the flooring.


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Andrea from Harlow and Thistle


andrea tile

The tiles I used in my basement bathroom are cement design tiles. A revival of 1960s Spanish tiles, these striking tiles recently emerged as a hot new trend, first showing up in restaurants and coffee shops and now popping up in our homes. From geometric to floral patterns, the bold, colorful designs of these tile add interest and intrigue to any room.


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Kelly and Brett from North Country Nest


k and b tile

We would describe the tiles for our guest bathroom floor as traditional and slightly rustic. The tile for the shower has more of a traditional and modern feel.


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Suzannah from Create / Enjoy


suzannah tile

We went with a 2-inch white hexagon tile in a matte finish.


Why did you choose these tiles?

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I wanted a bright, white clean bathroom, something that would feel fresh for years to come. I also think that by laying the subway tile in a sideways herringbone pattern gives the whole look a modern twist.

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I knew I wanted a brilliant white color on my walls to make the room feel bright and airy. And after debating between herringbone versus hexagons for many months, I went with my gut instinct of doing a herringbone pattern on the floors. I really think this pattern makes the room look longer than it really is. We had a hard time finding a mosaic floor tile (the kind that come pre-assembled on a mesh sheet) in the color that I wanted. So we went with single rectangular shaped tiles that we would then use to create the pattern ourselves!

andrea headshot

I really wanted to do something different in our basement bathroom, I love the spa-like look for a master bath but I believe the basement bathroom can be more fun and bold. In general, our basement has a cozy, gastro-pub feel so I decided the bathroom needed to be equally as cool. After doing some research I stumbled upon the cement design tiles and immediately fell in love. The bold pattern of these tiles paired with the black fixtures and wood accents give this bathroom a rustic contemporary feel.

k and b headshot

We found the tile floor at a builder's outlet store (it's a home renovator's haven), and the price was right so we went for it. Looking back, it was probably more of an impulse purchase that ended up turning out really well! We put quite a bit more thought into the shower tile and Brett spent countless hours scouring the internet for different styles and colors. We wanted something a little lighter to offset the dark floor and also wanted a pop of color to tie in with Brett's beautiful vanity.

suzannah headshot

I knew we wanted to do hexagons, and we had done the old-fashioned 1-inch white hexagons in our downstairs half-bath, so I wanted to do something different and larger. Honestly, I initially wanted the large 4 or 5-inch hex tiles, but those can be hard to find and expensive, and come individually rather than on a sheet, so you have to place each one. The 2-inch tiles we found were a great hybrid of the smaller and larger more dramatic ones, and came on one square foot sheets so they were really fast to install!


What are the best tiles to use in a bathroom or shower?

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I'm always a fan of clean and simple looking tile. Of course, I'm a fan of white, but I also like greys and even black. Classic shapes like subway, hex, herringbone, and even penny tile are really speaking to me right now. I think a lot of people are looking to these shapes that have been around for decades in beautiful yet neutral colors for a timeless look that can always be made modern. I like more matte finishes, but depending on the tile a gloss can be nice too. I'm not really into any tile that has sparkle in it though.

priscilla headshot

We learned by error that there is a big difference between floor tile and bathroom wall tile. I originally arrived home from the store with several boxes of beautiful tile in the perfect shade of gray, only to learn that it had a low "hardness rating" and would not be able to stand the weight of people walking or dropping things. So we switched them out for ceramic tiles made for flooring that are slip resistant and durable enough to take a beating from toddler-thrown bath toys. For the shower, we chose porcelain as this is moisture proof and has that classic look that never goes out of style, making them easy to find at a reasonable price.

andrea headshot

It is important to choose the right tile for a bathroom; they need to withstand wet, steamy conditions while also being stylish and beautiful. Natural stone, such as marble, is a great choice for any bathroom because you can use it on the floor and walls creating continuous flow and the illusion of more space. Marble comes in some great shapes and sizes from herringbone and penny to hexagon adding interest without interrupting the flow.

k and b headshot

We are not experts in this area by any means, so our only suggestion would be to go with what you like. It's so easy to fall into the trend trap. We were hesitant at first to go with big, dark tiles because the trend right now is white everything. But after installing them and seeing the whole space come together, we can 100 percent say that we LOVE what we decided. And the best part is that it's us.

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We just did the bathroom floor with tile, so we definitely needed a matte finish for safety when wet, rather than something glossy. We also chose a light – medium gray grout, which looks great and makes the tiles pop, but also is easier to keep clean and free of stains.


How did you install your bathroom tiles?

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We had our tiles installed professionally. The wall tile was laid in a stair step, or sideways herringbone pattern, while the floor was simply installed in white sheets from wall to wall.

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The key for successfully installing tile is to do the prep work! First, we made sure to get our floor as smooth and level as possible by chipping away any old tile, glue, or mortar. We started first on the floor, using a laser level line to get the perfect 45-degree angle for laying the tile in a herringbone pattern. Using 1/8 inch spacers to space out our herringbone pattern, we then used a ceramic mortar to set the tiles in place. For installing the subway tiles in the shower, we first installed a cement backer board in place of the dry wall. We then used a Ledger Board, which was placed the height of one tile + 1/4 inch (two times our spacing) above the tub edge. This will help you establish one full row of tiles all the way around to ensure that you get equally leveled tiles for each subsequent row. Since these were porcelain tiles, we used porcelain mortar and 1/8 inch spacers. Since we used smaller tiles, it was helpful to use a quarter-inch square trowel to apply the mortar. Finally, I really wanted our subway tile to go all the way to the ceiling but I also wanted to add crown molding. Yes, I wanted to have my cake and eat it too. My husband thought I was crazy but in the end, he came up with the idea to notch out the bottom of the crown molding to allow it to lay flat onto of the tile and still go around the entire room. Problem solved. See, I wasn't crazy after all.

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With these tiles, we relied on a professional installer. The cement design tiles require two coats of sealer, our tiler did the first coat of sealer before they were installed and then again once they were laid. We chose a grout to match the background color of the tile so the pattern wouldn't be broken up.

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Kelly: Very carefully! Brett enlisted the help of family for the floor and he was able to tackle the bathroom shower by himself. I haven't graduated up to tile installer yet, so I'll let him tackle this one. Brett: We did most everything by the book and as per instructions. The backer board we put down for the floor and shower was specifically made for bathrooms because it's moisture resistant. We used mortar found at a local hardware store and grout with the booster for added protection.

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We had some demo and clean up to do first. The original floors of our 90s house were a cheap linoleum, over particleboard subfloor. After we removed that, we installed tile boards to give the floor a smooth, consistent base. On top of the tile board, we used a powdered mortar which we mixed, and then installed each one square foot tile sheet. We had laid out some of the tile sheets first to see where the straight edge of the bathroom was, and what they would align too. We chose to line them up flush against the tub. We held off a few tiles and cut them in half to fill in the gaps on the smooth edges. Then we laid the tile sheets and let dry for about a day. Then we put on the grout, also a mix from a powder solution, and wiped off the excess. Once the grout was fully dry, we sealed it with a tile ceiling product, a step we will do every few years to keep it sealed.


What's one tip you would give someone who is looking to install tiles in their bathroom?

miggy headshot

Hire a professional with good references! Luckily our tile guy (and our contractor) were good guys who stood behind their work. They tiled our floor the first time and it looked terrible. You could see each individual sheet of tile and there were really wide grout lines...it was awful. Well both our contractor and tile guy agreed--they ripped it up and did it all over again at no additional cost to us. And since the wall tile was so tricky, again, I'm really glad we hired it out! As for the tile itself--gather lots of inspiration photos and then go with what you really love. Don't try to predict what you'll like 10 years down the road--you have no idea what is going to be cool and "in style" then. As long as it's not too crazy or trendy, if you go with what you like now you then you get what you really want at least one time. If you try to go with something you think you might like in 10 years then you might never really get what you want.

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Always start tiling in the middle and work your way out! For floor tiling, start in the middle of the floor and work out towards the walls. For tiling a shower, you want to start at the bottom near the tub in the middle and work your way to the up and outwards.

andrea headshot

First, make sure you are in love with the tile you select, if you don't love them in the store you will never love them on your floor. This is especially true in the frequently visited bathroom. And, one last tip, be sure to buy extra, you don't want to end up in a jam by not having enough.

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Kelly: Tile can get quite expensive, so shop around and visit outlets and liquidation stores and home improvement thrift stores. And speaking to my point before, do what you want, not what you feel like you should do because of design trends. You're the one who needs to enjoy it and live in the space! Brett: Great prep is key, especially making sure your backer board joints are flat and there are not any high spots.

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It is so worth the work!! This bathroom is probably my favorite room in our house right now, and the quality and durability of the tile just makes the space feels so much nicer. We actually did this bathroom at the same time as our powder room downstairs, over about two weekends of work, so it really went pretty fast! There are so many choices of tile out there now, so you can really get a custom look and add a lot of character to a space for not very much time or money! Do it!



kitchen tiles

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Sarah from Room for Tuesday


sarah tile

The tile I selected for the kitchen backsplash is timeless, classic subway tile with an organic surface. I love the variation and handmade look, as opposed to a perfectly flat tile. It gives the backsplash more depth, captures the light, and adds interest to standard subway tile.


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Brenna from Suburban Snapshots


brenna tile

I love these tiles so much I could marry them. The tiles are literally small panes of stained glass, they're handmade in sheets and then cut into blocks or other shapes depending on the customer's order, and every brick is a little different from the next in texture, color and pattern. They look like a blue summer sky on a hazy beach day.


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Leslie from Paper Daisy Design


leslie tile

The tiles are actually a printed tile made to mimic cement tiles. Most people immediately comment on the flower aspect, but I love the geometric pattern of the design.


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Teresa from Ale and Tere


teresa tile

Our lovely kitchen had brown/tan linoleum tiles that we wanted to replace. Originally, we were trying to save the Terrazzo floors that were under the tiles, but after removing the linoleum we realized the Terrazzo was stained pretty badly. My husband rented a machine and spent a chunk of time trying to restore the floors with no success. It was a lost cause that resulted in white Carrera tiles! The tiles had a beautiful organic pattern that tied in with the colors of the cabinets. We opted for arranging the tiles in a diagonal pattern and really love the way they turned out.


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Jessica from Garvin and Co.


jessica tile

We used glossy white 2-by-7 subway tiles.


Why did you choose these tiles?

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I opted for subway tile because of its classic appeal. This particular kitchen was designed to be light, airy, and minimal... a rectangular tile set in a traditional running bond pattern was the obvious choice!

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The rest of our kitchen renovation was very linear and modern, and nothing like many of the lovely farmhouse style renos we'd been seeing. While I love the clean look of a simple subway tile, I wanted to do something bolder in the kitchen, especially since our living space is relatively small and wide open now. Our countertop has sea glass and shells in it, and we live in a maritime town, so the look of these tiles fit right in – they give a beachy feel without beating you over the head with anchors and starfish

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Because we were working with the existing granite, I wanted to choose a bold pattern to highlight both the black in the granite and the white of the cabinets.

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The color really played well with our cabinets and because the kitchen space was so small, we wanted to brighten up the overall look of the space. They were a middle tier for us as far as pricing, but we really liked the way they tied in with all of the details of the kitchen and stretched our small budget. Since the kitchen space was so small, I wanted to add some height and extra character by placing the tiles diagonally.

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The white subway tile is a timeless choice. Since we were going to do a herringbone pattern, we wanted it to stand out, so we chose the longer, skinnier tile.


What are the best tiles to use for a kitchen backsplash or floor?

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It truly depends on the project! I love a smaller tile for a backsplash- under four inches. The shape also depends on the room and overall aesthetic. Regarding the finish and material, I always recommend something durable and cleanable. A glossy or glazed surface is much easier to clean and easily wipe.

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For the backsplash, whatever you love and whatever you've budgeted for. I've seen all kinds of unique materials used there, some maybe not so practical, but to each her own. We went with a vinyl plank on our floor despite everyone we know insisting we install ceramic. I had no interest in hard tile. I'm too clumsy and I like warm feet — radiant heat wasn't in our budget. Plus, I love that the vinyl floats, so if we ever decide we want the wood floors in our dining area revealed again, we just pull it back up. We used expert installers who made a very uneven floor almost perfectly smooth and level. Since the backsplash is the centerpiece of the kitchen, we went with a neutral, simulated concrete look on the floor.

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Ceramic or porcelain tiles are a fantastic choice for a backsplash for an easy-care backsplash, but marble can be a beautiful choice if sealed properly. The tiles I used have a matte finish, but a highly-polished finish is just as durable. The choice is really more of an aesthetic one.

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There are a few things to consider when choosing kitchen backsplash or kitchen floor tiles. Like how much use is the kitchen going to get (ahem… do you cook every day or is your kitchen just for looks). If you are cooking on a daily basis, then my suggestion would be to choose a backsplash that's durable and easy to wipe clean. As for a tile floor, if you go with a darker color and a darker grout, then you won't have to worry if you accidentally spill spaghetti sauce on the floor. Material all depends on budget, but I am really into the wood grain ceramic tiles right now. They are beautiful and add so much character to any space.

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You really can't go wrong with a basic subway tile. You can put your own twist on it by switching up the pattern or adding a darker grout, but you want to stay away from making it too busy. Glossy white is easy to wipe clean, and with a white grout, you want to keep the grout lines thin so they don't stain. For flooring, I love a dark tile, in a larger herringbone pattern, or even a white hex tile with dark grout.


How did you install your kitchen tiles?

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For my previous kitchen, we hired a professional. We didn't have the time to finish the project, as we were moving into the house. Since moving onto my new renovation, my husband has been taking care of installing our tile. It's actually easier to do than you might expect.

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We were recommended a local woman installer who came and spent 12 hours getting around 30 square feet of tile up on the walls. She had to make some small, precise cuts in a seriously fragile material and did it expertly — she didn't waste a single tile. Plus, she was a pleasure to have around.

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I wanted the pattern of the tiles to fall a certain way in the area between the counter and the cabinets. This required me to lay tiles on a 45-degree angle. Generally, this isn't any harder to install than a straight lay, but it required more cuts and made the installation a bit more time consuming. It was an investment in time I was willing to make for the look I desired.

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We initially thought about installing them on our own, but because of the detail in the pattern, we opted for a private contractor.

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We hired professional contractors to install our tiles because of the complexity of the pattern. The walls are not perfectly flat or level, so when we knew we would be in over our heads. The installers did start in the very center, focal point of the kitchen which was behind the range and worked their way up and out.


What's one tip you would give someone who is looking to install tiles in their kitchen?

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Prep accordingly and taking your time! Tiling is really the easy part... it's the prep work that is tedious, but it makes all the difference.

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Tile installation is no joke. If I had to live with crooked grout lines I'd lose my mind. I'd advise that if you don't have lots of experience installing tiles, or a lot of patience and willingness to learn and do it right, then definitely hire out. We paid our installer $40 per hour, and she was an artist and expert. I can't even begin to think about how many tiles would have been sacrificed to a DIY installation. No regrets

leslie headshot

Installing a backsplash is a great beginner project. The most important step for insuring a smooth and easy installation is to make sure your backer-board is level and straight. This is especially important at the seams where the boards meet. Once you have a good foundation, the installation of tiles is easy.

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My one tip would be to have a plan before you start. Make a plan of everything you want to do and then tackle them in order. For example, paint the cabinets before installing the floor tiles and change out the vent-hood before adding the backsplash. Having a plan helps you stay on pace and motivated!

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Order lots of samples! Match your tile up with your cabinet and countertop color, take the tile with you to choose paint and mock up the pattern on the wall with some painters tape before installation to be sure you love it before you move forward.


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