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Discovering the World of Tiles for the Bathroom

Tiles are a fundamental aspect of bathroom design, offering a blend of practicality, aesthetics, and versatility. When selecting tiles for your bathroom, it's important to understand the characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of different types. In this blog, we'll explore the world of tiles, focusing on porcelain, ceramic, and stone tiles, discussing their costs, slip ratings, safety considerations, installation, and maintenance. Additionally, we'll highlight where each type of tile is best used, from floors to walls, and delve into the beauty of large-format tiles and mosaics. We’ll also explain how an interior designer can assist in the selection, installation, and overall design process.

Porcelain Tiles

Characteristics: Porcelain tiles are made from a finer, denser clay and fired at higher temperatures than ceramic tiles. This makes them exceptionally durable and water-resistant, ideal for bathrooms.  They are available from small to extra-large formats.


  • Durability: Highly resistant to wear and tear, making them perfect for high-traffic areas.

  • Water Resistance: Extremely low water absorption rate, preventing moisture penetration and damage.

  • Versatility: Available in a wide range of colours, patterns, and finishes, including those that mimic natural stone.


  • Cost: Generally more expensive than ceramic tiles due to their superior qualities.

  • Installation: Requires professional installation as they are denser and harder to cut.

Slip Rating and Safety: Porcelain tiles come with different slip ratings (R9 to R13), indicating their slip resistance. For bathroom floors, an R10 rating or higher is recommended to prevent slips and falls. 

Installation and Maintenance:

  • Installation: Professional installation is recommended to ensure a perfect fit and finish.

  • Maintenance: Easy to clean with regular sweeping and mopping. Grout lines should be sealed to prevent mold and mildew growth.

Best Used For: Porcelain tiles are excellent for bathroom floors, walls, and shower areas due to their durability and water resistance.  You can also use the tile as a basin and clad joinery for a luxurious look.

How an Interior Designer Can Help:

  • Selection: An interior designer can help you choose the right porcelain tile based on your bathroom’s design style, colour scheme, and functional needs.

  • Coordination: They can coordinate with contractors to ensure precise cutting and installation and choose the appropriate grout colour to complement the tiles.

  • Design Integration: Designers can integrate porcelain tiles seamlessly with other bathroom elements, such as vanities, fixtures, and accessories, to create a cohesive look.  They will think about the overall look and it’s connection with the rest of the home interior.

Ceramic Tiles

Characteristics: Ceramic tiles are made from natural clay, moulded, and then fired in a kiln. They are generally softer and less dense than porcelain tiles.


  • Cost: More affordable than porcelain tiles, making them a budget-friendly option.

  • Variety: Available in numerous designs, colours, and finishes, offering great design flexibility.

  • Ease of Installation: Easier to cut and install compared to porcelain tiles.


  • Durability: Less durable and more prone to chipping and cracking.

  • Water Absorption: Higher water absorption rate than porcelain, which can lead to moisture issues if not properly sealed.

Slip Rating and Safety: Similar to porcelain, ceramic tiles have slip ratings. For bathroom floors, an R10 rating or higher is advisable.  Though in most cases we try not to use ceramic on floors and stick with Porcelain.

Installation and Maintenance:

  • Installation: Can be a DIY project, but professional installation ensures better results.

  • Maintenance: Requires regular cleaning and sealing to protect against water damage and staining.

Best Used For: Ceramic tiles are suitable for bathroom walls and backsplashes. However, they are not recommended for bathroom floors due to their higher water absorption rate and lower durability.

How an Interior Designer Can Help:

  • Selection: An interior designer can assist in selecting ceramic tiles that match your bathroom’s overall design and ensure they are used in appropriate areas, like walls and backsplashes.

  • Customization: Designers can create custom patterns and layouts with ceramic tiles, adding unique character to your bathroom.

  • Professional Contacts: They often have connections with skilled installers who can handle the tiles delicately and ensure a perfect finish.

Stone Tiles

Characteristics: Stone tiles include materials like marble, granite, limestone, and slate, offering a natural and luxurious appearance.


  • Aesthetics: Each stone tile is unique, adding natural beauty and elegance to the bathroom.

  • Durability: Certain stone types, like granite, are extremely durable and long-lasting.


  • Cost: Generally more expensive than both porcelain and ceramic tiles.

  • Porosity: Many stone tiles are porous and require sealing to prevent water absorption and staining.

  • Maintenance: Requires more frequent maintenance, including resealing.

Slip Rating and Safety: Stone tiles can be slippery when wet, so it's crucial to choose a finish that provides adequate traction. Honed or textured finishes are preferable for bathroom floors.

Installation and Maintenance:

  • Installation: Professional installation is strongly recommended due to the weight and complexity of handling stone tiles.

  • Maintenance: Regular sealing and cleaning with stone-specific cleaners are necessary to maintain their appearance and durability.

Best Used For: Stone tiles are ideal for bathroom floors and walls, especially in areas where a luxurious aesthetic is desired. Large-format marble tiles can create a stunning, seamless look on floors and walls.

How an Interior Designer Can Help:

  • Selection: An interior designer can guide you in choosing the right type of stone for your bathroom, ensuring it matches the desired aesthetic and functional needs.

  • Sourcing: They often have access to high-quality stone suppliers and can source the best materials for your project.

  • Design Details: Designers can incorporate stone tiles into the bathroom design in innovative ways, such as creating feature walls, custom flooring patterns, or elegant vanity tops.

Large-Format Tiles and Mosaics

Large-Format Tiles:

  • Characteristics: Large-format tiles (generally larger than 15x15 inches) can make a small bathroom appear larger by reducing grout lines.

  • Advantages: Fewer grout lines mean easier cleaning and a more seamless, modern look.

  • Best Used For: Floors and walls in the bathroom, particularly in spaces where their size can be fully appreciated.

How an Interior Designer Can Help:

  • Visual Impact: An interior designer can help you use large-format tiles to create a sense of grandeur and spaciousness in your bathroom.

  • Installation Expertise: They can work with experienced installers to ensure these heavy, large tiles are properly aligned and securely fixed. 

  • Integration: Designers ensure that large-format tiles complement other bathroom elements and enhance the overall aesthetic.


  • Characteristics: Mosaic tiles are small tiles (often less than 2 inches square) that come in sheets for easy installation.

  • Advantages: Add texture and visual interest, excellent for creating intricate patterns and designs.

  • Best Used For: Perfect for shower floors, backsplashes, and accent walls. Their small size and grout lines provide good traction, making them ideal for wet areas.

How an Interior Designer Can Help:

  • Creative Designs: Designers can create custom mosaic designs that add a unique touch to your bathroom, from intricate patterns to stunning murals.

  • Texture and Depth: They can strategically place mosaics to add texture and depth, enhancing the tactile and visual appeal of the space.

  • Professional Installation: Designers can ensure that mosaics are installed with precision, creating a flawless and durable finish.

Choosing the right tiles for your bathroom involves considering factors like durability, water resistance, cost, and maintenance. Porcelain tiles offer unparalleled durability and water resistance, making them ideal for floors and walls. Ceramic tiles, while more affordable, are best suited for walls and backsplashes. Stone tiles provide a natural, luxurious look but require more maintenance and professional installation. Large-format tiles can enhance the sense of space, while mosaics add texture and aesthetic appeal, particularly on floors and as accents.

By understanding the characteristics, advantages, and disadvantages of each tile type, and with the help of an interior designer, you can make an informed decision that combines functionality, safety, and style, creating a beautiful and luxurious bathroom space. An interior designer’s expertise can simplify the selection process, ensure professional installation, and integrate tiles seamlessly into your overall bathroom design, resulting in a stunning and cohesive look.

You can get in touch with us to discuss your project: @modestelondon,,

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