So, you’ve embarked on a very exciting … ok, somewhat stressful, bathroom renovation. You know which fixtures you want to include; you’ve picked out the new toilet and sink. You’ve even decided on a brand new vanity.

Now comes the hard part. What will you put on the walls – paint, tile?

Given the fact that over the last few years I have renovated no fewer than three bathrooms, I’d like to share the tips I’ve learned for figuring out the answer to that question.

The first bathroom I renovated happened to be the powder room. I decided to use the same tile that I’d used in the hallway and the kitchen. It really was beautiful tile, all terra cotta but with subtle variations in the orange and brown tones. The problem that I realized months after the renovation was that the little pockmarks in the surface that make it look so natural have a nasty habit of capturing dust and dirt.

I ended up having to mop nearly every day just to keep them looking clean!

Tip #1 Find a tile you love, then ask as many questions about it as possible. If you find that there are characteristics that you can’t live with, take elements of the tile that you want and look for another tile that’s similar.

Tip #2 Start with one tile that you love, then build one or two other tiles into the design. One type might be the floor tile, while another will be great on the wall. Approach your choices with an eye to combining the tiles. The finished bathroom will look like an interior designer had a hand in creating it.

Tip #4 As per my own experience, consider how much future maintenance the tile you’ve chosen will need. Perfectly smooth porcelain and ceramic tiles are nearly maintenance free. All they need is a quick wipe or mop and you’re done. However, natural stone may need to be sealed periodically, and a light colored grout may show dirt more quickly than a darker color.

Tip #5 Subway tiles may be a huge trend right now, but consider whether or not they fit the style of your bathroom and home, in general. Also consider how you’d feel when that trend falls by the wayside and something else takes precedent in the public imagination.


Contributed by: Aaron Gruenke foremost expert in bathroom fixtures and designs.