14 Types of Bathroom Tile You Need to Know Before You Remodel

Use this bathroom tile guide to help sort through the many price, maintenance, and design options.

Bathroom tile comes in a wide variety of materials, shapes, and colors, but not all are suited for wet spots. One crucial factor to consider when installing bathroom tiles is vitreousness, which is the tile's ability to absorb water. Nonvitreous tile, such as terra-cotta, absorbs moisture and is appropriate only for accent areas. Vitreous tile, on the other hand, works well in spots prone to splashing, making it a more suitable choice for shower walls and other bathroom areas.

A tile's finish also matters, as glazed tiles are impervious to water, but unglazed ones are not. In general, all bathroom tiles should have a high coefficient of friction to prevent slipping. Use this overview of 14 common bathroom tile choices, including maintenance tips and bathroom tile ideas, to help you choose the best material for your space.

patterned tile floor and subway tile shower
Julie Soefer Photography LLC

Cement Bathroom Tile

Cement-bodied tile, a cured sand-and-mortar mix, is a nonvitreous tile with excellent durability. Some cement tiles look rough-hewn, while others sport smooth finishes. You can also find a large variety of colorful, graphic patterns that make a statement on floors and walls. When sealed, cement tiles can be cleaned with non-acidic cleaning products, such as those designed for natural stone.

Average Cost: $10-$30 per square foot, uninstalled

Ceramic or Porcelain Bathroom Tile

Ceramic and porcelain tiles are made of a mixture of clays pressed into shape and fired in a kiln at high temperatures. When glazed, this material is an ideal bathroom tile. These popular tiles, including the classic 3x6-inch subway tile, come in an array of colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes, so the tile design ideas are nearly endless. They can even be glazed with high-resolution digital images fused onto the surface to create patterned designs. In addition, glazed ceramic or porcelain tiles are easy to keep clean and can be mopped or wiped down with a mild detergent and water.

Average Cost: $3-$30 per square foot, uninstalled

Decorative Bathroom Tile

Decorative tiles can be made of a range of materials and embossed or decorated with images or patterns, such as leaves, birds, or stripes. These look particularly striking when collected in a mural or mosaic, as a border, or used for an accent. Proper upkeep and cleaning will depend on the tile's material and finish, so refer to the manufacturer's instructions for best practices.

Average Cost: prices vary widely depending on material and style

bathroom sink with blue tile flooring and wood shelving
Marty Baldwin

Glass Bathroom Tile

Glass tile has an elegant, reflective surface and comes in a range of stock colors and custom hues. Glass tile in a bathroom is often used in mosaics or as a focal point on walls. Because they're breakable, glass tile is best used on walls or low-traffic floor areas. This material is impervious to liquids and resists staining. However, you might spend more time scrubbing the grout lines because it's often used in small formats.

Average Cost: $4-$50 per square foot, uninstalled, or up to $160 per square foot for more intricate shapes or designs

Granite Bathroom Tile

Granite, available in various colors and textures, is harder than most other natural stones. It works well on bathroom countertops or floors in high-traffic areas. To avoid streaks or discoloration, clean granite tile with a mild detergent that's pH-neutral.

Average Cost: $5-$140 per square foot, uninstalled

Limestone Bathroom Tile

Limestone, a natural stone, typically has a honed surface and is usually found in brown, beige, and yellow hues. It's appropriate for countertops and flooring, but the surface should be resealed every two years. Avoid acid-based products and use a tile cleaner designed for natural stone for maintenance.

Average Cost: $2-$11 per square foot, uninstalled

Bathroom with marble shower
Edward Gohlich

Marble Bathroom Tile

Marble is a natural stone created from limestone that has been crushed and heated by the earth for millions of years. Sophisticated and traditional, marble tile can be highly polished and comes in many sizes. Marble can be patterned or veined, adding appealing color to a bathroom. The surface will need to be resealed regularly to prevent staining and etching. It should only be cleaned with non-acidic cleaners.

Average Cost: $15-$85 per square foot, uninstalled

Metal Bathroom Tile

Metal tiles can be made from solid metal or resin with a metallic coating. Available in various finishes, including bronze, copper, and stainless steel, these tiles are often used as bathroom accents in conjunction with other types of tiles.

Average Cost: $50-$200 per square foot, uninstalled

Traditional style blue white bathroom
Werner Straube

Natural Stone Bathroom Tile

Typically rough and imperfect, tile made from natural stone, including granite, slate, limestone, or travertine, can be equally at home in rustic or contemporary bathrooms. Because these materials are not typically impervious to water, this type of tile requires a waterproof membrane to withstand moisture in a bathroom. Stone tile should be resealed at least once a year to protect the surface from water.

Average Cost: prices vary widely depending on the type of stone

Quarry Bathroom Tile

Extruded and fired at high temperatures, quarry tile can be semivitreous or vitreous. It's fired unglazed with bisques in many colors, sizes, and shapes.

Average Cost: $8-$13 per square foot, uninstalled

Saltillo Bathroom Tile

Saltillo tile is dried but not fired, creating a low-density, nonvitreous product with a rough texture. Its natural imperfections can add rustic charm, but this tile also absorbs water readily. Because of this, the surface should be sealed well to protect it from stains. You can clean the tiles with a mixture of white vinegar and water or a natural stone cleaner.

Average Cost: $1-$8 per square foot, uninstalled

Bathroom with dark walls and wooden cabinets
Edmund Barr

Slate Bathroom Tile

Slate is a fine-grain stone created from shale and clay, transformed by heat and pressure. Featuring a textured surface that's naturally slip-resistant, slate is typically used on floors, walls, and countertops in large-format applications. The surface must be regularly resealed to maintain a shiny or matte finish.

Average Cost: $4-$25 per square foot, uninstalled

Terra-cotta Bathroom Tile

Terra-cotta tile is fired at low temperatures. Its low-density, nonvitreous qualities make it suitable only for dry areas. However, if glazed, it can be used in other bathroom areas such as floors or walls. Terra-cotta tiles, often seen in square or hexagon shapes, should be cleaned with mild dish soap and water and resealed regularly.

Average Cost: $1-$15 per square foot, uninstalled

Terra-cotta tile bathroom shower tub
Emily Minton-Redfield

Travertine Bathroom Tile

Travertine is a limestone formed from minerals that have been dissolved in groundwater and pushed through the earth's crust by water. This multilayer stone is available in earthy colors and offers a sophisticated choice for walls and floors. Travertine tiles are often installed in larger 12-inch or 16-inch squares. They can be cleaned with non-acidic soap and water and should be resealed every few years.

Average Cost: $3-$10 per square foot, uninstalled

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