Bathroom Tiles

bathroom tile panels


There have been a plethora of new wall and floor covering systems coming onto the market in recent years. But bathroom tiles have remained one of the most popular materials when it comes to decorating bathrooms. This is despite the new, increased competition.

Tiles are used a lot more extensively in warmer climates where the cold surface temperature is less of an issue. Living areas, hallways and even bedrooms get tiled regularly. They are primarily used in bathrooms and kitchens in the UK because they are too cold underfoot for use elsewhere.

The amount of options available in the tiling sector is simply massive. There are literally thousands and thousands of different choices. Shapes, sizes, colours, finishes, patterns, and materials all vary hugely so there will definitely be something on the market that suits your needs.

tiles around a bath

Bathroom Tile Materials

When we talk about bathroom tiles it is sort of inferred that we are talking about ceramic wall and floor tiles. In reality, there are a lot more materials available that can be used in both these situations.

Cork, mirror, glass, vinyl are all available in tile format and are used regularly in bathrooms. But it is ceramic and stone tiles that are the most heavily used and the ones most associated with bathroom decoration.

Most standard wall and floor tiles are made from a fired ceramic material. They can be glazed or unglazed and come in a bewildering range of sizes and designs. There are even various different shapes available – not just the standard rectangular or square one we see most often.

There are also natural stone tiles that are used in high-end bathroom installations. Some stone tiles will be familiar to you while others might be known but not often seen.

Ceramic Bathroom Tiles

These are by far the most common type of tile found in UK bathrooms.
The tile is made from a form of clay and other compounds which is fired at high temperature until it is firmly set. The surface can be glazed or left unglazed. Glazed tiles will be easier to keep clean as the unglazed ceramic surface will be ever so slightly porous.
They have a pattern on the surface that can be used to emulate a whole range of marbles, stone, geometric patterns and even wood.
Ceramic tiles are relatively thin compared with real stone and they snap cleanly when scored. This makes cutting relatively easy although complex curves and cut-outs are still a tricky proposition.
Sometimes ceramic tiles will be referred to as porcelain. This is not strictly accurate because there are tiles made from porcelain itself. This is a type of ceramic but it is quite specific. It is denser, harder and less porous than other ceramics.
It is important to ensure that you have sufficient tiles for any work you are starting plus extra to use in case of future repairs.  Check the batch numbers on the boxes of any tiles that you have to ensure they are all the same. The firing process makes the final colour vary considerably between batches.

Natural Stone Tiles

For a step into real luxury why not look into fitting natural stone tiles?
These tiles are simply cut from naturally occurring stone, so there is no firing process. They are seen as a better choice for the environment because firing uses a lot of energy.
Real stone will have naturally occurring variations in colours, patterning and imperfections. But this is also part of their attraction.
There are many types of stone that can be used as tiles and you will probably be familiar with the most popular varieties:
Some natural stone tiles will need sealing. This is to ensure dirt and water does not penetrate the surface of the stone detracting from its good looks.

What Are The Alternatives To Bathroom Tiles?

There are quite a few. A lot of the products are no better than tiles when it comes to maintenance and some are considerably worse.

  • Painted Plaster – this will not cope very well with the wet conditions of bathrooms and is not suitable for use in showers
  • Timber Cladding – similar to painted plaster in that it just does not cope well with moisture
  • Bathroom Wall Panels – can even look like tiles but has none of the drawbacks

So if you want to make life easier for yourself you need to do away with grout altogether and fit waterproof wall panels in place of bathroom tiles.


Are The Alternatives Easy To Fit?


Panels are also much easier to install than tiles.

Preparation is everything if a tiled wall is going to look first-class. So everything has to be smooth, primed and perfect otherwise any unevenness will show through in the grout lines.

Panelling is much more forgiving and can be installed over a variety of surfaces with little or no preparation needed. This means that hacking off old tiles, skimming and plastering are all unnecessary making for a much quicker, cleaner and cheaper fit.

So what are the disadvantages? The answer is none, really. The only significant difference that we can see is that there is a much wider choice of designs with tiles.

Find out more about bathroom wall panels here.


Why Are Tiles Still So Popular?

Mainly because people are unaware that there is a suitable alternative.

Tiles are the first product that most people turn to when decorating a bathroom but people are slowly coming around to the idea of using something else in this high-demand area of the home. The amount of hard work that is needed to keep tiles looking pristine is huge. And it is a thankless task because once the grout has turned mouldy it is almost impossible to eradicate without raking it all out and starting again.

The simple fact is that this grout is not maintenance-free, unlike modern panelling systems which provide a “fit and forget” surface.

bathroom tiles - problems with grout