Though in recent years the bathroom flooring choices have expanded and now include stamped concrete, hardwood, bamboo and even cork, bathroom floor tiles are still the most popular option in Australia.
So, what are the choices when it comes to bathroom floor tiles? What types of tiles are available, what are they made from, what colours and style are on trend, and – most importantly – how should homeowners and specifiers go about choosing the best bathroom tiles for their home or project?
Types of modern bathroom floor tiles
Ceramic bathroom tiles
Generally manufactured from red, brown, or white clay, these are the most popular type of modern bathroom floor tiles. Fired in a kiln and then finished with glazing, ceramic bathroom floor tiles are not only dense and non-porous, but also slip, stain and fire resistant. In other words, they are ideal for use on bathroom floors and require no special maintenance.
Available in a range of finishes including polished, semi-polished, matte, satin, and glossy, perhaps the only negative associated with ceramic floor tiles is that they are prone to wear if subject to heavy traffic. As such, they are only recommended for light to moderate traffic areas, such as bathrooms.
Porcelain bathroom floor tiles
Like ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles are available in a wide variety of styles, designs, and patterns. However, unlike their ceramic counterparts, their colour and pattern extend beyond their surface and through their full thickness.
They are harder and denser than ceramic tiles which means they can handle heavier traffic, are more stain and water resistant, and are less likely to chip or scratch. On the negative side, this also makes porcelain bathroom floor tiles the more expensive than ceramic tiles.
Standard procedures for cleaning bathroom floor tiles can be followed with porcelain tiles and they have no special maintenance requirements.
Mosaic bathroom floor tiles
Those seeking to make their bathroom floors a feature in their own right are often drawn to mosaic tiles. Available in glass, ceramic, and marble varieties and in a wide range of colours, these gems really allow specifiers to exercise their imaginations.
Those choosing a mosaic bathroom floor tile need to note that, while they are as easy to clean as any floor tile, they require more grouting than alternatives and therefore potentially more maintenance. Also, in some cases they are quite slippery, so it’s best to check the slip ratings of individual products before purchase.
Natural Stone bathroom floor tiles
Natural stone tiles made from granite, marble, slate, travertine and so forth are another option. While they are hard wearing and have grown in popularity in recent years, they also represent the most expensive bathroom flooring option.
On top of that, natural stone bathroom floor tiles are porous. This means that, if not correctly sealed before use, they are prone to water and they stain easily. However, they should not be cleaned with bleaches or strong chemicals as they can potentially damage them.
Still, the earthy beauty associated with these bathroom tiles along with the fact that no two tiles are alike has seen them gain a healthy following. As long as they are well maintained and sealed periodically, they can handle wet areas without a problem. Even though they cost more than cheap bathroom floor tiles, they are worth considering.
Size and colour
Having settled on one of the above options, the next important decisions concern tile size and colour.
While, in large part, colour choice come down to personal taste, there are some general principles here that can help. For example, while dark bathroom floor tiles are good at hiding marks and dirt, they can also create a slightly claustrophobic feel if used in the wrong context.
Conversely, light neutral tones provide a feeling of expanse and are often recommended as tiles for small bathroom floor. They are also recommended for bathrooms that don’t get a lot of natural light. However, light coloured tiles also highlight marks and therefore require plenty of attention.
Before making a final choice, it is always good to take a tile sample home before purchasing. Seen in the new bathroom in question – with its unique layout, lighting, and so on – the colour choice often becomes easier and almost always more reliable.
Tile size is also important. Large bathroom tiles are recommended for bathrooms with high ceilings and plenty of light. Also, because they have fewer grout joints, they can make smaller bathrooms look bigger. This is particularly true if they are paired with a floating vanity.
Meanwhile, smaller tiles are best suited to spaces with a lot of angles and curves. It is difficult to lay larger ones in such irregular bathrooms.
Can you paint bathroom floor tiles
Home renovators on tight budgets should consider painting their existing tiles. With several high quality anti-bacterial, water-resistant epoxy paints on the market, this a great way to drag outdated bathroom floors (that are otherwise in good condition) into the present. A note of caution though: DIY tile painting jobs can take up to a week in total and poor work can result in peeling of chipping paint jobs.
Mix and match
Should you match floor tiles with walls? There’s no simple answer to this often-heard question. As ever, it comes down to taste.
Yes, bathrooms that pair black bathroom floor tiles with white bathroom floor tiles can be spectacular, but the same can be said for bathrooms in which the same tiles are used on the floors and walls. Then there is always the possibility of only taking the contrast part of the way. For example, co-ordinating wall and ceiling colours but choosing different, tile sizes, shapes or materials is a popular option.
Regardless of choice, it’s important to again remember that floor tiles require higher levels of wear resistance and slip resistance than wall tiles. While its fine to run floor tiles up walls the converse is not true. Non slip bathroom floor tiles are the only option for bathrooms.
How much do bathroom floor tiles cost?
- Ceramic tiles range in price from $30 - $50 per square meter for ceramic
- Porcelain tiles range in price from $50 to $100 per square meter
- Natural stone tiles range in price from $80 to $130 per square meter
- Mosaic tiles range in price from $25 to $90 per 300mm x 300mm sheet
DIY – how to lay floor tiles in bathroom
DIY installation is an option, but it is not without its challenges. For example, before laying tiles it is important to establish that the bathroom has a good, flat subfloor. Otherwise, the tiles will not flat and are likely to crack.
DIY jobs involving ceramic or porcelain tiles are easier than those with natural stone tiles which are heavy and difficult to cut. Similarly, smaller tiles are better for DIY jobs because they are easier to position.
Novices will also find tasks like cutting perimeter tiles and laying tiles diagonally or up against shower tiles difficult. On top of this, there is the difficulty of working crouched down or on your knees for extended periods of time. Therefore, most decide to leave the job to professionals.
Six of the best bathroom tile ideas
1) Mosaic bathroom floor tile
‘Dogbone Basketweave Carrara & Nero Marquina Honed Marble Mosaic’
Available in 300mm x 300mm sheets and with a chip size of 25mm x 48mm x 10 mm, these mosaic tiles feature a distinctive basketweave shape.
Colour: Off white
Price: $25.18 per sheet
2) Black and white bathroom floor tiles
‘Pattern Tile Modern Black & White 2844 200X200 Matt’
These encaustic-look Black & White series rectified porcelain tiles boast elaborate patterns formed from a palette of delicate and dusty hues. With a matt finish that emphasises patterns and colour, the charming Black & White series is intended to create timeless and traditional interiors.
Colour: Black & White
Price: $53.81 / sqm
3) White bathroom floor tile
‘Launceston matt concrete look tile’
With square edges and a tile thickness of 8mm, these tiles feature a matt finish and lightly textured feel. Though made of porcelain, they come in a random selection of different faces to create the effect of polished concrete. Easy to clean and maintain, they are suitable for use on floors and walls, and look best with matching coloured grout.
Price: $53.00 / sqm
4) Grey bathroom floor tiles
‘Travertine silver polished porcelain tile’
Replicating the beauty and performance of natural stone, these tiles combine strength and reliability with evocative characteristics. Tiles measure 300mm x 300mm and can be relied upon for years of timeless performance.
Price: $51.70 / sqm
5) Patterned bathroom floor tiles
‘Middleton Beach encaustic look tile’
Inspired by encaustic cement tiles, these porcelain tiles present as delicate and lightly textured. They feature cushioned edges and are easy to clean and maintain. With a tile thickness of 6mm, they are recommended for use with grey grout.
Colour: Blue, white, and grey
Price: $58 / sqm
6) Natural stone tiles
‘Almond Milk Tumbled Travertine’
Boasting a defined balance of practicality and aesthetics, these tiles are hard wearing and reliable.
Price: $80.59 / sqm