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Installing tile shower walls adds value and gives bathrooms an updated look and feel.
By Glenda Taylor | Updated Mar 6, 2023 11:47 AM
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Finding the right tile for shower walls is primarily a matter of personal taste. However, it also involves understanding the installation process and—for best results—being able to picture the finished look before starting the project.Tiles are available in hundreds of designs, surface textures, sizes, and colors, but not all tiles are suitable for installation on shower walls. When shopping for the best tile for shower walls, consider the tile’s visual appeal, whether it can withstand direct water spray, and how challenging the installation will be for DIYers. The following tiles are among the most popular options available, and any one of them can give a bathroom a fresh, updated look.
- BEST OVERALL:
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK:
- UPGRADE PICK:
- BEST GLASS:
- BEST PATTERNED SUBWAY:
- BEST MOSAIC:
- BEST HEXAGON MOSAIC:
- BEST PEBBLE:
- BEST LARGE FORMAT:
- ALSO CONSIDER:
How We Chose the Best Tiles for Shower Walls
We selected tiles for this lineup after extensively researching dozens of shower tile options. We considered the overall quality of the tile and whether it was waterproof, and we looked at style and design to ensure that this list offers a mix of traditional, trendy, and ever🌳🍌ything in between.
We evaluated the tiles based on their best use—if a manufacturer didn’t specifically recommend the tile for installation on shower walls, that tile was eliminated. Brand was also given some consideration. For example, the Home Decorators Collection is known for quality tiles, so we looked closely at that brand. However, we didn’t automatically eliminate tiles from smaller or niche manufacturers as long as they were made to withstand installation in showers and buyers were happy with their performance.
Our Top Picks
The following lineup includes tiles in various styles, colors, shapes, and sizes. Whether a homeowner is looking to tile a small shower or choosing tile for a sizable open-aspect shower, one of the following tiles is sure to please.
- Tile dimensions: 12 inches tall by 24 inches long by 0.38 inch thick
- Coverage per carton: 16 square feet
- Type: Polished porcelain
- Suitable for indoor or outdoor showers
- Mimics the look of stone
- Large tiles create a clean look
- Installing large tiles can be challenging for DIYers
Get Home Decorators Collection tile for shower walls at .
- Tile dimensions: 3 inches tall by 6 inches long by 0.31 inch thick
- Coverage per carton: 12.5 square feet
- Type: Glazed ceramic
- Assortment of colors and sizes
- Impervious to water
- Not frost-resistant (no unheated bathhouses)
Get the Daltile tile for shower walls at or .
- Tile dimensions: 11 inches tall by 13 inches long by 0.38 inch thick
- Coverage per carton: 9.9 square feet
- Type: Natural marble stone
- Marble strips come preset on mesh sheets
- Offers a high-end custom look
- Neutral color and polished finish
- Should be sealed once or twice a year
Get the Georama tile for shower walls at or .
- Tile dimensions: 3 inches tall by 6 inches long by 0.33 inch thick
- Coverage per carton: 5 square feet
- Type: Glass
- High light reflection
- Easy to clean
- Modern trendy appeal
- Discrepancies in the adhesive layer may show through glass tiles
Get the Giorbello tile for shower walls at , , or .
- Tile dimensions: 3 inches tall by 6 inches long by 0.38 inch thick
- Coverage per carton: 4.16 square feet
- Type: Ceramic
- Attractive floral design
- Use for an entire wall or focal features
- Artsy appeal
Get EliteTile patterned tile for shower walls at
- Tile dimensions: 12.38 inches by 12.5 inches (corner to corner) by 0.25 inch thick
- Coverage per carton: 11 square feet
- Type: Porcelain
- Interlocking sheets hide seams
- Looks like hand-set tiles
- Adds a spa-like feel
- A wet tile saw is required for cutting
Get the EliteTile mosaic tile for shower walls at
- Tile dimensions: 10 inches tall by 12 inches long by 0.25 inch thick
- Coverage per carton: 9.5 square feet per 12 pieces, also sold individually
- Type: Ceramic
- Pleasing honeycomb design
- Easy-to-install tile sheets
- Suitable for whole walls or accent features
- Not for use in outdoor showers (bathhouses)
Get the Lifeproof tile for shower walls at .
- Tile dimensions: 11.25 inches square by 0.38 inch thick
- Coverage per carton: 9.61 square feet
- Type: Natural stone pebbles
- Attractive natural look
- Preset on mesh sheets
- Interlocking to create a seamless appearance
- Requires sealing once or twice per year
Get Tile Connection tile for shower walls at , , or .
- Tile dimensions: 18 inches square by 0.35 inch thick
- Coverage per carton: 17.6 square feet
- Type: Porcelain
- Large-format tiles create a dramatic effect
- Suitable for indoor or outdoor use
- Larger size means fewer tiles to set
- Size may overwhelm a small shower
Get the Marazzi tile for shower walls at .
- Tile dimensions: 6.25 inches tall by 12.75 inches long by 0.39 inch thick
- Coverage per carton: 8.8 square feet
- Type: Porcelain
- Attractive design
- Interlocking tile installation
- Easy care
- Suitable indoors or outdoors
- Color may be darker than shown
Get the EliteTile stone-look tiles for shower walls at .
Any of the tiles in this lineup of the best tile for shower walls are well suited for updating a shower, but our best overall pick, the , checks all the boxes. It features a high sheen and is suitable for indoor or outdoor shower installation. Our budget pick, , allows users to create a beautiful, classic look without spending a lot.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Tile for Shower Walls
When choosing tile for shower walls, the primary consideration is whether the tiles are impervious to water. All stone, glass, ceramic, and porcelain tiles are suitable, but linoleum tiles are out. Consider the following features when choosing tile for a shower.
If it’s waterproof, it can probably be installed in a shower, but before buying, it’s a good idea to understand the differences between popular types of tile.
- Ceramic/porcelain: Among the most common tile options are ceramic and porcelain. It can be challenging to tell the difference between these two types of tiles by looking at them, but both are suitable for installation in a shower. Porcelain is denser and fired at a higher temperature, which makes it suitable for some outdoor applications but also more brittle. Ceramic tiles are intended mainly for indoor use.
- Glass: Glass tiles provide an iridescent look and feel in a shower. They’re beautiful when kept very clean, but smudges tend to show up on glass tiles more than on ceramic or porcelain tiles. In addition, the translucent nature of glass tiles allows uneven areas in the adhesive layer to show through. Professional tile installation is recommended.
- Marble/stone: Multiple types of stone are available in tile form, including slate, travertine, marble, quartz, and more. These are typically pricier than ceramic or porcelain tiles, but they’re an attractive option in natural-style homes and bathrooms.
- Linoleum: Linoleum works on a bathroom floor, but it doesn’t belong on a shower wall. Constant exposure to water can loosen linoleum tile backing, and eventually, the tiles will start to peel away from the wall.
Tiles for shower walls are available in various sizes, from about 1 inch by 1 inch for mosaic tile installations up to 18 inches by 18 inches or larger. The general rule is to opt for smaller tiles in smaller bathrooms (or showers) and to reserve large-format tiles for spacious bathrooms. Of course, these are guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules.Also, keep in mind that smaller tiles require more grout lines, and it can be challenging to keep all those lines straight during installation.
Installation and Maintenance
Maintaining a tile shower wall isn’t difficult. It requires rinsing after showering and using a squeegee to remove water that might otherwise leave hard-water spots. For the best results, when deeper cleaning is necessary, use a pH-neutral liquid cleaner that won’t scratch the tile surface.
Installing a tile shower wall is quite a different thing. The surface behind the tile must be waterproof. Building codes vary by community, but in general, it’s standard to install shower tile on a cement backer board. In some cases, local building code may require the addition of a waterproof memb💜rane before the tile can be installed. In no case is it advisable to install ꦐtile on standard drywall, which isn’t water-resistant.
DIYers should follow the installation instructions that come with the tile, which will indicate which type of backer to use as well as the type of adhesive and grout to use. Even the notch size on the trowel used to spread adhesive should be recommended by the tile manufacturer.Last but far from least, always order 10 percent more tile than square footage dictates. This overage will come in handy in the case of accidental breakage of tiles or cutting errors. Any leftover tiles can be saved if an installed tile cracks and needs to be replaced later on. It’s much better to have a few tiles left over rather than needing to reorder another box of tiles while in the middle of a project.
Tile adds an upgraded touch to any bathroom, and many sizes, types, and color options are available. Those who are new to tiling may have a few questions.
Q. What material is best for shower tile?
Something that is impervious to water—such as ceramic, porcelain, or stone—is best for showers.
Q. Can new tile be installed over existing tile?
Depending on the condition of the existing tile, it may be safe to install the new tiles over the old ones.
Q. What is the best size of tile to use in a shower?
It depends on the desired look. Large-format tiles—18 inches by 18 inches, for example—look best in spacious bathrooms, while smaller tiles are more at home in a small bathroom.
Q. What type of tile is easiest to keep clean in a shower?
Tiles with a glazed surface are easier to wash and less likely to stain than unglazed or porous tiles.
Q. What is the most popular tile for showers?
Glazed tile, glass tile, and natural stone are among the most popular tile options for showers.