7 Tile Design Tips for a Small Bathroom

Bright Bathroom Tile 1If you want to transform the look and feel of your small bathroom, tile can do the trick!

With endless size, color and texture options, different tile materials offer a world of design possibilities.

Use it on your walls or floor, as a backsplash over the vanity, an accent wall, or all of these together.

No worries, tile will not break your bank, as there are materials, such as ceramic and porcelain that are budget-friendly.

Here are 7 Tile Design Tips to help you start planning your remodel.

How Much Does Tile Cost?

Before getting into the design aspect, its important to set a budget that works for you. Here are the prices for the most popular tile materials as well as professional installation costs, to give you a sense of how much you will be spending.

Ceramic Tile 14 x 14 – 24 x 24 $3.80 – $4.40 / Sq. Ft.
  8 x 8 – 13.75 x 13.75 $4.40 – $5.20 / Sq. Ft.
  6 x 6 – 7.75 – 7.75 $5.20 – $6.30 / Sq. Ft.
  2 x 2 – 5.75 x 5.75 $6.20 – 6.70+ / Sq. Ft.
Porcelain Tile 14 x 14 – 24 x 24 $4.00 – $5.00 / Sq. Ft.
  8 x 8 – 13.75 x 13.75 $5.00 – $5.65 / Sq. Ft.
  6 x 6 – 7.75 – 7.75 $5.65 – $6.75 / Sq. Ft.
  2 x 2 – 5.75 x 5.75 $6.75 – 7.25 + / Sq. Ft.
Marble Tile 12 x 12 – 18 x 18 $5.10 – $7.10 / Sq. Ft.
Slate Tile 12 x 12 – 18 x 18 $5.30 – $7.25 / Sq. Ft.
Granite Tile 12 x 12 – 18 x 18 $5.45 – $7.50 / Sq. Ft.

Also, keep in mind these additional tile installation costs that you might unexpectedly run into:

Demolition of existing floor tile $0.95 – $1.45 / Sq. Ft.
Replace old/broken subflooring (requires hiring a carpenter) $90 – 135 (for around three hours of labor billed at a rate of $30 – 45 / hr
Purchase thin-set or mortar and grout materials $0.9 – $1.9 / Sq. Ft.
Remove bathroom fixtures (sink, toilet, shelving, etc) $250 – 350
Remove waste material (dumpster fee) $150
Install tile backsplash $15 – 41 / Sq. Ft.
Install tile baseboard $2.5 – 3.5 / Ln. Ft.
Install backer boards $20 – 25 / each

7 Tile Design Tips for a Small Bathroom

You can use all or just a few of these tips to design your dream bathroom.

1. Go for Large Tile

Walk in Shower in a Luxury Bathroom with Stone Tile and Wood Accents

Although this idea may seem counter-intuitive at first, it can do wonders for your bathroom design! To create a sense of space in a small bathroom, select LARGE size tile (uniform material) and cover both the floor and walls with it. Selecting light color tile along with light color grout will further visually expand the space, but even dark colors work well with the tile of the right size (as you can see from the image above). Its best to avoid standard size tile, as it may actually highlight the limitations of the space.

2. Create a Feature Wall

Onyx tile accent wall in a small bathroom

If you are looking to do something more original that hang up some pictures or mirrors on your bathroom walls, consider using tile to create a feature or accent wall. To make it stand out as the focal design point, select a tile material different from your main one. You can play around with a strong, unusual color, size or texture of the tile. An accent wall can add a lot of punch to a plain or a very traditional looking bathroom, without changing anything else.

3. Avoid Large Clear Glass Tile

Clear Glass Tile in a Small Bathroom

While beautiful, this tile can easily show moisture trapped behind the glass. As a result you shower/bathroom can look pretty awful just after a few uses. On the other hand, if you love glass tile, you can use small/mosaic size pieces to create a beautiful backsplash or to tile the shower floor.

4. Splurge on a Comfortable Shower Bench

Stone Shower Bench

For true enjoyment, its essential that your bathroom is as comfortable and pleasurable to use, as it is beautiful. If you have a walk-in shower, instead of a tub, its a great idea to install a comfortable shower bench that you will enjoy using for years to come. We recommend selecting either a large slab of stone or a tile with a bullnose or radius edge. This will provide the most comfort for the back of your legs, when sitting down on the bench.

5. Use Marble Tile

Marble Tile In a Small Bathroom

Whether you are looking to create a classic or a modern look, using large marble tile on the bathroom walls and floor will create unparalleled beauty and a sense of luxury. Marble is an ideal material for a high-end master bathroom. However, if you love the look of marble, but its out of your price range, you can install porcelain tile that closely replicates the look of marble, for a fraction of the cost.

6. Incorporate Different Tile Shapes and Sizes to Separate Areas of the Bathroom

Shower with glass doors in small bathroom

By incorporating different tile sizes you can create a seamless and stylish separation between different functional spaces of the bathroom, such as wet and dry areas. This will make a small bathroom seem larger, which adding an air of sophistication.

7. Install tile vertically to create an illusion of height

Vertical Tile in Small Bathroom

Many apartments suffer from low ceilings (especially those located in basements in attics), and this can be especially noticeable in a small bathroom space. The best way to fix this shortcoming is to install rectangular size tile and orient it vertically. This will create a sense of height, and will not leave you feeling claustrophobic every time you use the bathroom.


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