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Should You Fully Tile a Bathroom or Partially Tile?

By: Mike Lovatt / Last UPDATED: July 5, 2024
Should You Fully Tile a Bathroom or Partially Tile?

When you start redecorating your bathroom using tiles, you’ll find that you are faced with many important decisions. You need to choose what type of tile to use (ceramic or porcelain?), what colour will look best, whether you should look for a pattern… and that’s just to begin with!

In this post, we’re going to take a look at one very specific question: should you partially or fully tile your bathroom? Both options have their benefits as we will see, and there are a few different factors that might ultimately weigh in on your decision.

The Look

The main reason that you will likely choose one of these two options is aesthetic. Do you want your bathroom to have a uniform look across all the walls and floor? Or would you rather have different colors and patterns adorn different areas of the room?

This latter option does present a number of different design choices, which some people will find appealing.

Using a single wall with tiles is a great way to make a statement for example. If you do this, then it will work similarly to a feature room in a wallpapered or painted room. This creates visual contrast which makes a room more striking, while at the same time helping to draw the eye and direct attention. Often this feature wall will be the one by the bath or shower, which has the effect of creating a kind of “zone” especially for that area.

Tiling one half of a bathroom is another option which can make for a striking visual effect while also helping to divide the room up.

Another option is to use tiles as a way to highlight certain areas. By using tiles around the window for instance, you can “frame” the window in that way. You might also use this to highlight the sink and mirror. While creating a focal point might not sound like a huge deal, this is actually key in all good interior design. In most living rooms the focal point is the television for instance – before that it would have been the fire place.

Many people also like to keep the walls and flooring different colors, in order to help orient themselves and break up any monotony that might otherwise set in.

While all this is true though, keep in mind that all these effects could also be achieved with a fully tiled room. This is easily possible thanks to the simple fact that tiles come in an array of different colors and styles: so there is nothing to stop you using one type of tile by the bath and another type of tile on the opposite wall. You can even mix up different sizes of tiles, or use heavily contrasting colors!

Other options include varying between gloss and matte tiles, or choosing stone tiles. Mosaic tiling can also be used to box items in or to create interesting visual features. Popular at the moment is to use mosaic tiles in the shower area to create a kind of cascading effect which adding more colors and visual interest.

That said, a tile is still going to be square and flat, and this means it will still have a certain look. If you really want to inject some variety, then using a little wood, stone, or even paint can help to accomplish that more fully.

How about a bold painted color on two walls and tiles around the bath and sink where you often drip water? Just avoid going overboard with too much contrast – as that can look busy and headache inducing when done incorrectly!

Finally, keep in mind the size of the room. What looks great in a sprawling master bathroom can be a little oppressive in a smaller room that only has a toilet and a small upright shower. In particular, a fully tiled room that is only big enough for one person at a time can sometimes be claustrophobic, as can different patterns and colors. Here, you might consider using a wooden or even stone floor to break up the colors without introducing too much noise.


The other big consideration when choosing materials for your bathroom decorating is the durability. Tiles are excellent in terms of their resilience, as well as their simple maintenance.

People typically choose ceramic or porcelain tiles for bathrooms because they can be easily wiped down if they get wet or if you drip product on them. They likewise aren’t particularly prone to mold or mildew, and they don’t tend to warp or crack either (though ceramic tiles are slightly more likely to crack owing to their slightly more porous nature).

If you are considering using other materials like wood, paint, or carpet however, then this can typically degrade a lot more quickly and thereby mean you end up spending more to replace it more quickly. Even if you use paint on the other side of the room and choose a hard-wearing paint, it will still likely discolor and warp due to the amount of condensation and water. The same is true for wood, which is also prone to mold.

Even the area where the tiles meet the other surfaces can provide an area for mold to potentially set in. That’s why it’s common advice to tile all the way to the floor and then close around the toilet.

Making Your Mind Up

There are a few practical considerations to keep in mind when choosing how much tiling to do then. You need to think about the durability of the material you want to use, what the focal point of the room will be, and how much water you are likely to be dripping at any given time. Of course budget and personal preference also come into play!

There is no wrong answer here, but landing on the ideal design will definitely make a big difference. So have a word with your installation expert and make sure to get the best advice!

Article by Mike Lovatt

Here at Atlas Ceramics we import and distribute high quality products to support the tiling industry. These products include Polished tiles, Matt tiles or Satin tiles for the wall and floor, ceramic and porcelain tiles, natural stone and mosaics, from Italy, Portugal, and Spain.

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