How to Choose Tile for a Shower

by Catherine Amo
Published April 29, 2010 | Updated June 12, 2015

Shower tiles serve two functions: They add to a bathroom's decor, and they protect the drywall underneath from moisture. There is no limit to how you can use wall tiles, from borders to shower murals. What you choose will depend on several factors, including your color scheme, the material used for the tile, and maintenance in the future. These tips will help you narrow down your choices as you shop for tile for a shower.

Choosing Shower Tile:

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  • Select Water-Resistant Tiles

    Glazed tiles are ideal for showers because, unlike quarry tiles, they will not absorb moisture, which leads to mold. If you plan to tile the shower floor as well, choose tiles that are also slip-resistant.

  • Select Tiles Based on the Material

    Shower tiles are available in ceramic, glass, porcelain, metal, and stone. Each has its own appeal, and prices vary accordingly.

  • Choose Your Colors Carefully

    If you plan to maintain the same bathroom decor for a long time or if you're planning to sell your home soon, avoid trends. Instead, choose colors that look timeless, such as earth tones or white. Neutral colors will also allow you to redecorate the rest of the bathroom without having to change your wall tiles.

  • Determine Your Design

    You can choose between plain and patterned tiles to fit any design you have in mind. Some tiles lend themselves well to pictorial images on shower walls, while others are best for borders.

  • Consider Cost

    Using certain tiles, such as glass and marble, to cover your shower walls may be cost-prohibitive. If you have a strict budget but would still like to incorporate these tiles in your design, use them as accents. Intersperse them with less expensive tiles or use them as borders around the edges of the tiled wall.

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    Determine the Number of Tiles You Need

    Do you need enough to tile the shower completely or just enough to cover one shower wall? Figure out how many tiles you need before you begin. Calculate the square footage and add 10 percent.

  • Think about the Size of Your Shower

    If your shower is small, you may not have enough space to create a repeating design with large tiles; however, a design made of smaller tiles may be just right.

  • Imagine Future Maintenance

    Small tiles require the application of more grout, which will lead to more work during cleaning. Think about the time and effort you'll be able to devote to future maintenance before making any buying decisions.