Your bathroom tiles should not only look gorgeous but should also last a long time. So, what is the most durable tile material for your bathroom that also puts on a good show?
Bathroom floor materials range from wood, vinyl, laminate, and linoleum to good old concrete, while walls are covered in many, and not often water-resistant, types of coverings.
While there are many cool materials you can use on your bathroom walls that are not tile, I think at least some tile in the bathroom creates a textured, stylish decor.
And to help you stay on budget with your bathroom tile project, be sure to download our free bathroom tile calculator. It will help you figure out exactly how much tile to order and what it will cost.
The Best Bathroom Tile Materials
Now let’s look at the pros and cons of the leading bathroom tile materials. We’ll explore the most durable tiles, the easiest to clean, shapes and colors, and the price points for all of these tile materials.
1. Ceramic Tiles
Ceramic is cost-effective, durable, and when glazed, super easy to keep clean! Glazed ceramic is scratch and wear-resistant and will not absorb water. Available in various sizes, patterns, shapes, and colors, this popular tile will certainly complement any bathroom space, no matter the size.
The only downside to a ceramic tile is that it can be hard on the feet, so make sure you have a comfortable fluffy rug on the floor to step out onto after you bathe!
Unglazed ceramic tiles are porous, fragile, and slippery when wet. Learn more about ceramic tiles for the bathroom in my post Ceramic or Glass Shower Tile? Pros and Cons.
2. Porcelain Tiles
Porcelain tiles are even tougher and more scratch-resistant than ceramic tiles as they are dried in the kiln at higher temperatures. Available in various designs and colors, porcelain tiles are a popular choice for any sized bathroom. Because of their high-density properties, porcelain bathroom tiles are less porous and water-resistant than ceramic tiles. But they can be very slippery when wet unless you get a textured finish.
Porcelain tiles are heavy and difficult to cut, making a DIY installation challenging. They are costly tiles, available in either matte or high-gloss finish.
With all that in mind, porcelain tiles are still top choice for bathroom floors. Read about the 7 Best Bathroom Floor Tiles here.
3. Terracotta Bathroom Tile Material
Nothing beats the sense of home or creates a cozy, warm, and inviting ambiance quite like terracotta tiles.
Fired from red or earthy hued clay, these tiles are scratch and wear-resistant, but they can absorb water and should be treated with a sealing agent every 2 years to protect them from damage.
Terracotta tiles are resistant to bacteria growth and mold and will last for years if they are looked after. As tiles go, these are warm to the touch, protecting you from the shock of the cold floor when you step out of the bathtub.
4. Glass Tiles
Glass tiles are the perfect way to create a bright and light space! If your bathroom is small and dark or even large but outdated, glass tiles can work wonders! Naturally water-resistant and resistant to stains and mold, glass tiles are easy to clean with warm water and a soft cloth.
Even though glass tiles are durable, dropping something onto them from a height can chip or crack the tile, so be careful where you place them. They scratch easily and are expensive but truly gorgeous.
5. Mosaic Tiles
Like glass tiles, mosaic tiles are stunning. Mosaic tiles are tiny shapes made from different materials like marble, glass, and ceramic. Because of the increasing number of shades, tints, and types available, you can customize mosaic tiles according to your style and needs.
Mosaic tiles should be used on the walls and low-traffic floor areas as they are breakable. While the tiles themselves are stain and water-resistant, the grout between the tiles can become grubby and should be scrubbed often to remove dirt and grime.
Be sure to read Don’t Forget the Sealer! Tile and Grout Guide for tips on how to seal and maintain bathroom grout.
6. Metal Tiles
Metal tiles are most often used on bathroom walls as bathroom accents. Available in a variety of different metallic tones and styles, patterns range from simple squares to more elaborate artistic designs and geometric shapes.
Finishes include stainless steel, bronze, copper, a resin with a metallic coating or solid metal! This type of material allows you to turn your bathroom into a magical space, but be aware that anything metal is costly, so consider your budget before planning this space!
Metal is cold and slippery when wet, so if you use metal tiles on the floor, choose a more textured design to prevent slips.
7. Pebble Bathroom Tile Material
Pebble tiles or river rock pebble tiles, as they are often known, are simply a collection of pebbles held together by grout. These tiles are often used by people who love nature and would like to bring the beauty of the outdoors into their tranquil bathing space.
Pebble tiles are not easy to clean as the surface is rounded, making them hard to sweep or mop. But the look is unique, and these tiles won’t show any water damage!
Your feet might not enjoy the feel of pebble tiles so use these on the backsplash or walls, rather than on the shower floor. Pebble tiles need regular sealing to keep them in good condition.
8. Marble Tiles
Another natural stone tile, marble, is available in a range of patterns and colors and can be matched to any bathroom design. Marble tiles are unique in that no two tiles are the same because of the multicolored vein that runs through their surface.
Marble should be handled with care to ensure a long and beautiful life. It is an expensive material and can be easily scratched and stained because of its polished surface.
To prolong the lifespan of marble tiles, reseal the surface regularly and avoid cleaning with harsh chemicals.
Marble tiles bring elegance to any bathroom, but they are slippery when wet, so be careful! Read my post Quartz, Granite or Marble for the Bathroom Vanity to learn much more about how to use this natural stone in the bathroom.
9. Granite Bathroom Tiles
Granite is an extremely hard natural stone. In fact, it is harder than most other natural stones! Granite tiles are ideal for beautiful rustic-styled bathrooms as they are stain and moisture resistant and won’t chip or scratch easily!
Available in a range of patterns due to the variants in the granite formation, the colors range from blue and reddish-hued to beige and brown and even black and white or multicolored.
Granite tiles are heavy! Before installing them in your bathroom, make sure that the floor and walls can support the weight.
Granite tiles increase the resale value of your home, so look after them well. Only clean the tiles with a mild pH-neutral detergent.
10. Engineered Quartz Tiles
Engineered quartz tiles are a bathroom’s best friend! Durable, scratch-resistant, and stain-proof, quartz tiles do not need to be treated or sealed as they are nonporous! As quartz is colorless, polyester resins are added to create color and veining to the materials so that you can choose the perfect color for your space.
When wet, quartz is less slippery than all the other natural stones, and it is resistant to mildew and bathroom mold. Clean the tiles with warm water and dishwashing soap.
While quartz tiles can crack or chip from hard impacts, they can be repaired by a professional.
11. Limestone Bathroom Tile Material
If your bathroom décor includes natural beige, grey, yellow, and brown shades, then limestone is the tile for you! Limestone tiles are soft and durable, adding warmth and comfort to the space.
As the tiles are heavy and difficult to install, you’ll likely want to hire a professional contractor.
Limestone is an expensive material. To make sure that it lasts for many years to come, clean with non-acid materials, and apply a sealant regularly. Even though limestone tiles are durable, they can crack or chip occasionally.
Because of the differing hues in the limestone tile, if any tiles are damaged, simply remove and replace the damaged tile without worrying about matching the color!
|Composition||90-95% ground natural quartz/marble/granite "waste" plus 5-10% polymer resins and pigments||100% natural stone made of quartz, feldspar and other minerals that originates from volcanic magma||100% natural stone that forms when limestone is subjected to high temperatures and pressurized|
|Aesthetic||More uniform colors and patterns than natural stone||Flecks of color, less veining than marble||Heavily veined, no two slabs are the same, wide variety of colors|
|Grades||Highest grade has less veining and richer coloration: Seconds (lowest grade); Standard (commercial grade); First Quality (premium grade)||Determined by colors, pitting, marks, veins, thickness, sourcing location: Grade 1 (builder's grade); Grade 2 (mid-level); Grade 3 (high-grade)||Determined by colors, pitting, marks, veins, thickness, sourcing location: Grade 1 (builder's grade); Grade 2 (mid-level); Grade 3 (high-grade)|
|Cost||$15 - $70 per sq ft material + $10-$30 per sq ft for labor||$15-$140 per sq ft material + $10-$30 per sq ft labor||$15-$190 per sq ft material plus $10-$30 per sq ft labor|
|Cleaning||Nonporous so not likely to grow mold and mildew.||Porous, so will foster bacteria growth if not cleaned daily with soap and water||Porous, so will foster bacteria growth if not cleaned daily with soap, water and soft cloth|
|Durability||Harder and more durable than granite or marble; but can be damaged by UV light and high heat ||Oils and acids can stain; heat-resistant||Softer than quartz; subject to etchings (watermarks)|
|Repairs||Fix small chips or cracks with adhesive or superglue; no need to remove slab||Use epoxy, clear resin or acrylic adhesive for small cracks that don't run through the depth of the stone||Fix with epoxy or marble adhesive; DIY repair kits available|
|Eco-Friendly||Yes - Made by recycling and crushing remnants from other natural stones and materials||No - Excavating can be hard on land, plus exporting around the world uses a lot of energy||No - Excavating can be hard on land, plus exporting around the world uses a lot of energy|
12. Travertine Tiles
Travertine is a type of limestone with a natural stone appearance. Travertine tiles come in various colors ranging from earthy off-whites to rust. Travertine comes in four basic textured finishes:
Larger 12 or 16-inch travertine tiles are often installed in the shower or on the bathroom floor. They are heavy-duty, durable tiles and will increase the resale value of your home! (Read THIS Is What a Bathroom Is Worth on Appraisal.)
As with limestone tiles, travertine tiles are expensive and should be installed by a professional. Treat the tiles with a sealant every year and clean them with non-abrasive detergents.
13. Slate Bathroom Tiles
Slate is an extremely tough natural stone finish material. It is almost impossible to chip, crack, break or scratch, making it a great flooring material for your bathroom. Available in many colors—from tan to black and copper to red—slate will complement any contemporary bathroom style.
The great thing about using slate in the bathroom is its durability; it will look good and last forever! As slate is cold to the touch and slippery when wet, a slip-resistant bathroom mat is must for when you exit the tub.
Slate is expensive and not a DIY option, so factor the contractor’s costs into your budget when planning this installation.
14. Sandstone Bathroom Tile Material
Sandstone is made from tiny sand-sized particles. Sandstone tiles are available in tans and beiges, creating a natural look in your bathroom. While sandstone tiles are extremely strong tiles, they can be worn down by foot traffic over time.
Sandstone is porous, so it will absorb water. The tiles will need to be sealed properly initially to prevent water absorption and staining, with regular treatments and maintenance to keep the tiles in good condition.
Sandstone tiles can be slippery when wet, so choose a textured finish to prevent slipping.
15. Onyx Stone Tiles
Onyx is a translucent stone similar to marble in that each piece has different variations in color. Because it’s fragile, you’ll want to hire a professional to install it in your bathroom.
Because of its fragility, onyx tiles are often backed with resin, fiberglass, or mesh to strengthen them.
Onyx tiles will absorb moisture and will scratch and stain, so protect the tiles using an impregnating sealer. Only reseal when water collects on the surface of the tile.
The best way to use onyx tiles in your bathroom is as a mosaic, combined with other materials to create a perfect kaleidoscope of color!
16. Resin Tiles
Resin tiles are the ultimate DIY solution for bathrooms! Resin wall tiles are an economic solution. Available in various patterns and designs, and as peel-and-stick products, resin tiles are durable and water-resistant.
Resin tiles are available from your local hardware store, or, if you are feeling creative, make your own! Watch this video to find out how.
17. Terrazzo Tiles
Terrazzo is a marble chip and concrete material, polished to a smooth finish. Terrazzo tiles are often considered art because of their unique, eye-catching colors – no two tiles are alike!
Terrazzo tiles are great for using on the floors, walls, or backsplash in the bathroom. They are expensive simply because of the work that goes into manufacturing them.
These tiles are hard-wearing, hygienic, durable and are naturally water, bacteria, and stain-resistant. Although terrazzo tiles are slippery when wet, you can get a textured finish.
Did you know – radiant heating can be installed under your bathroom floors to warm up the room while you bathe, providing a warm floor for you to step out onto after your tub time? My article Are heated bathroom floors worth it? will detail everything you need to know!
How Much Does Bathroom Tile Material Cost?
The price of tiles depends on the supply, the availability, the materials used to make the tiles, and of course, where you are located!
Most tiles are readily available if you live in or close to a big town or city, but if you are a fair distance away, the suppliers will add additional costs for shipping. And don’t forget to factor the cost of installation into your budget.
The below table will give you an idea of what you can expect to pay for bathroom tiles:
|TILE TYPE||TILE PRICE PER SQ FT|
|Ceramic||$0.50 - $20.00|
|Terracotta||$1.00 - $6.00|
|Limestone||$2.00 - $11.00|
|Travertine||$3.00 - $15.00|
|Porcelain||$3.00 - $25.00|
|Slate||$4.00 - $15.00|
|Glass||$5.00 - $50.00|
|Granite||$5.00 - $140.00|
|Marble||$8.00 - $85.00|
|Terrazzo||$15.00 - $30.00|
|Onyx||19.00 - $59.00|
|Quartz||$36.00 - $75.00|
|Metal||$50 - $200.00|
However, if you order your tile from Stonetiledepot, you will get up to 40% off the retail price! (I am an affiliate for Stonetiledepot which means I make a very small commission if you click on my link and order there, but it won’t cost you anything extra at all.)
How to Choose Your Bathroom Tile Material
Before you decide on a tile, consider these 5 simple questions:
- What is your style? Gather a few designs that you like and are specific to your taste – don’t take any suggestions from anyone else – this is your space and sanctuary!
- Which tiles do you really like and will make you happy? Choose 3 that make you excited and are within your budget.
- How big is the bathroom space to be tiled? Include the space around the tub, inside the shower, around and behind the toilet and sink, around the windows and door, and finally, the open floor and wall space. Will your choice of tiles fit into this space? Read my post What Size Tile Is Perfect for Your Bathroom!
- Are your chosen tiles functional and practical, and do they suit the aesthetics of the space? Are they waterproof and not slippery when wet?
- Will maintenance be easy if the tiles break and need to be replaced? Are replacement tiles readily available from the supplier?
So What Is the Best Tile Material for Your Bathroom?
The best bathroom tile materials are durable, easy to clean, fit your budget, and are beautiful! The tile materials we discussed give you a range of excellent options. Next you’ll want to choose the best tile size and tile color for your bathroom remodel project. Read my posts for indepth information on how to make your selections.
And be sure to read my ultimate guide on how to choose bathroom tile! I cover everything from the best bathroom tile size, to how to waterproof your shower walls, what color tile is easiest to clean and everything in between.
Note: If you’re about to embark on a bathroom remodel be sure to download my Save Big $$ Cheat Sheet. You’ll get designer hacks that can literally save you thousands of dollars on your project. Just fill out the form below and I’ll send the PDF straight to your inbox.