Whether you are flipping an old house, investing in real estate, prepping an AirBnB, or renting out a spare room, the durability, functionality, and aesthetics are all important factors that can be hard to balance. For a high-traffic space like a bathroom that will not only see consistent use over time, but consistent moisture as well, finding a high-quality tile material is a top priority.
The best bathroom tile to use in a rental property are tiles made of porcelain, ceramic, glass, and vinyl. These types of tile are extremely durable, scratch and mold-resistant, easy to maintain, and aesthetically appealing. Porcelain tile is best for showers, and vinyl tile is best for flooring.
However, choosing the right material is not the only thing you can do to ensure a bathroom stays in tip-top shape for the longest amount of time possible. Grout sealants, cleaning practices, and other maintenance habits all contribute to long-lasting tile, especially for renters.
Note: If you’re about to start a tile project, download my free bathroom tile calculator. It will tell you exactly how much product you’ll need to order and how much it will cost.
Porcelain and Glazed Ceramic Tile for a Rental Property
Porcelain and glazed ceramic tiles are great choices for rental properties. (Unglazed ceramic tiles are less durable and less water-resistant, so you definitely want ceramic tiles with a glazed finish.) Read my post on tile finishes for much more information on this topic. Or see my ultimate guide to bathroom tile, for resources on tile bathroom materials, finishes, costs, sizing, sealing and more.
But every tile material has its pros and cons, so let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of porcelain and ceramic tiles:
Pros of Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles
Porcelain and glazed ceramic tiles are extremely durable and work well in moisture-filled rooms. Their components of stone and silica are naturally water-resistant, which is enhanced during production, so porcelain and ceramic tiles are waterproof.
However, while they are both a type of kiln-fired product, ceramic and porcelain are slightly different.
Though a bathroom may not get the same amount of foot traffic as an entryway or kitchen, it will see consistent use over a long period of time. This makes the need for durability paramount in any flooring or shower tile that is installed when you build or update a bathroom.
Porcelain is made from clays of a higher density than those in ceramic, and porcelain tiles are fired for longer periods of time at a higher heat. This makes porcelain tougher and less porous than regular ceramic, which makes it an excellent option for bathrooms.
Porcelain and ceramic are also more scratch and stain-resistant than other kinds of tile, which is a great feature in a room that is used often.
Read about why ceramic and porcelain are top of the list when it comes to choosing bathroom floor tile.
Cons of Porcelain and Ceramic Tiles
On the downside, porcelain is not invincible and will crack if struck with particularly heavy objects, especially metal. It is also more expensive than other types of tile. For bathrooms that only need a small amount of tile, that may not be too much of an issue.
Ceramic tile is similar in composition to porcelain, but it’s far less expensive. Manufacturers are also able to produce a much wider variety of sizes, styles, and patterns of ceramic tiles, which are just as scratch-resistant as porcelain tile. Tiles made from ceramic are just as easy to maintain as porcelain but are also easier to install as they are far less difficult to cut to size.
The biggest drawback of ceramic tile is its poor water resistance. Because it is more porous than ceramic, it can absorb and retain more water than the more expensive tile. However, this can be counteracted by using a high-quality grout and sealant.
For more on which bathroom tiles are most water-resistant, check out my post Are Bathroom Tiles Waterproof? (Spoiler Alert: No, most aren’t.)
Glass Tile for a Rental Property
In terms of mold resistance, glass tile is the best. Since it is completely waterproof, glass tile is a particularly good guard against mildew, mold, and stains. Because of its versatility, it also comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, finishes, and colors. It can even be manufactured using recycled materials.
Installation is extremely easy, and the versatility makes it easy to cut around drains and tight corners. It is also wonderfully easy to clean—just wipe it down with a wet cloth.
That being said, while glass tile is remarkably durable, it’s susceptible to scratches over time. However, this can easily be prevented by taking good care of it, frequent cleanings, removing dust, and removing build-up that will scratch the surface of the glass.
Another thing to consider with glass tiles is where you intend to use them. If you only intend on using wall tiles, glass tile is great. However, using glass tiles on the floor could create a slipping hazard, especially if the glass has a glossy finish. Any slipperiness can be counteracted by using a more textured glass or a larger amount of grout between the tiles to provide a better grip.
By the way, if you want to save money by using paint on part of the bathroom, be sure to read this post first: To Tile or Paint the Bathroom? The Clear Winner.
Which is the Best Bathroom Tile for a Rental Property? Glass or Ceramic?
|GLASS TILES||CERAMIC TILES|
|Water-Resistant||Yes, impervious||Yes, but with 0.5-3% absorption|
|Varied Shapes, Sizes & Colors||Yes||Yes|
|Uniform from One Tile to the Next||Yes||No|
|Easy to Clean||Yes||Yes|
|Requires Frequent Cleaning||Yes||No|
|Easy to Install||No||Yes|
See this post for more on my head-to-head comparison of glass vs. ceramic bathroom tiles.
Vinyl Tile for a Rental Property
The cheapest option available for bathroom flooring is vinyl. Vinyl flooring is longer-lasting than some other alternatives and is remarkably scratch-proof! Vinyl flooring can be bought in sheets, tiles, or planks, and is easy to install and maintain. You can also purchase vinyl flooring that is completely waterproof and intended to be used in the bathroom.
It is easy to clean vinyl tile flooring. All you need to do is sweep and mop! Though both the tile and plank shapes may be more aesthetically pleasing in some areas, for residences with children, opting for the sheet version of vinyl may be a good idea. Its seamless installation provides even fewer opportunities for water to seep through cracks.
The one drawback is that vinyl is not a suitable material to use in a shower, so if you intend on using the same material for flooring and the shower area, springing for a ceramic or glass tile is the better option. While vinyl is waterproof, its seams are not as impervious to water as the grout-sealed edges of other tiles.
If you’re the type of person who likes to review every single option before choosing a tile material for your rental property, be sure to read my post 17 Beautiful Bathroom Tile Materials. After you do, you might be more comfortable making a final selection of porcelain, glazed ceramic, glass or vinyl.
The Importance of Grout
For ceramic, glass, and porcelain tiles alike, the front-line defender against mold and mildew is grout. A good grout not only supports tiles through natural movement due to temperature and pressure, but it is also durable and easy to maintain.
While you can choose which grout you use in your remodel, it is always a safe bet to go with the manufacturer’s recommendation, which can be found on the packaging of purchased tiles.
One way to make sure grout stays clean and keeps out moisture over time is to use a good sealant. Using a grout or tile sealant is an especially good idea when using ceramic or stone tiles, as they are more porous and absorb more moisture. A sealant not only prevents moisture absorption but also helps the tile and grout stay clean longer.
See my guide to tile sealers for more information about exactly what type of sealer to use and how to apply it.
Best Rental Property Bathroom Tile and Tubs
If you want to get your tile at wholesale prices (up to 40% off retail), try ordering at Stonetiledepot. There is a huge selection of excellent bathroom tiles for any rental property.
If you’re remodeling a rental property bathroom, you may also be interested in a new bathtub. Be sure to read my post 3 Best Bathtubs for Rental Properties.
And finally, if you want to DIY the installation of the tile in the tub surround, I’ve got you covered here, too. See How to Replace Tile Around a Bathtub (12 Steps).
Note: Before you embark on a bathroom remodel for your rental property, be sure to download my Save Big $$$ Cheat Sheet. You’ll get designer hacks that can literally save you thousands of dollars. Just fill out the form below and I’ll send it straight to your inbox.