Cove base tiles? Yes or no?

s8thrdAugust 15, 2013

Aesthetic opinions please: We're doing our bath very traditionally, in white subways, with a white-and-black mosaic tile floor. We were going to use 6x6 white cove base tiles along the bottom, then pencil tiles, then the subways. But we're cutting the pencils because they're too expensive. (Not sure why they cost so much!) We're trying to decide if we should cut the 6x6 cove base tiles too, and just use subways on the wall (plus a chair rail).

Would the 6x6 cove base tiles still add significantly to the look, or would they not "work," or, at least, not add significantly, without the pencil tiles? If they don't yield a better looking bathroom, we'll just cut them and save a little more money.

Anyone have any thoughts on this, from their own experience?

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I think they make for a more finished look at the floor. I would use a simpler bullnose at the top and eliminate fancier chair rail before I would eliminate cove base.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 6:33AM
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Thanks for your thoughts! We'll probably keep it.

Any other thoughts out there?

(Re the top, our choices are basic bullnosed tiles or a chair rail, and we want to maintain the existing traditional look; the bath is from 1916 and was clearly rather upscale, with a big mud cap. We did our other bath with basic bullnose and it does not look period at all.)

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 2:39PM
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If you can, keep them both. I think that the chair rail may look a bit top heavy if the regular tile dies into the floor and there is no cove.There is also not really a dirt collecting corner if you have cove. I recently moved into a house that had the requisite subway tile reno in the mid 2000s (I like subway but it's a 1963 modern house so not really appropriate) ...but there is no cove base. The tile just kinda dies into the floor and it looks a bit cut off at the ankles.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 3:16PM
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Thanks; that's probably what we will do.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 12:46PM
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Numerous times I've substituted a painted wood baseboard in place of a tile/stone baseboard. Sometimes it's been for cost, usually it's because of the design. You can get the profile you want with wood. If not with a stock molding, it can be built up.

I have to say I prefer the look of some sort of baseboard when transitioning from a mosaic floor to a subway wall tile. And as has been mentioned, the baseboard doesn't just frame the subways, the baseboard also compliments the chair with regards to symmetry and balance.

I have had zero issues with wood baseboards in bathrooms. And I've done many. Properly prime, then paint with a semi-gloss or if you prefer a gloss paint.

In commercial construction, a sanitary cove is usually required because of how the room will be cleaned. In residential, it's not a concern. Often times I find today's tile/stone base pieces just lacking in the detail or scale that I want in the room.

Just another option to think about.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 10:56AM
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Here is an interesting option - using the subways vertically with the pencil instead of the cove tile (this could also be an option for someone whose subway tile doesn't come in a cove.

Traditional Bathroom by San Francisco Interior Designers & Decorators ScavulloDesign Interiors

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 1:08PM
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Thanks to both of you for the comments!

Re a wood baseboard, I know that it is sometimes done and is an idea worth considering, but we're just not going to put a wood baseboard in a tiled bath. When I've seen pictures it has not seemed right to me. And, this isn't some showplace master bath treated with TLC but an extremely heavily used family bath. (One of only two baths in the house, and the only one upstairs.)

Re the vertical subways with pencil, I've never see it, and I like that look! (Though, those seem bigger than the field subways.) The thing is, our issue is with the cost of the pencil tile -- it costs as much as the chair rail and was breaking our budget. Oddly, the cove base tile is much cheaper than the pencil tile, and, being 6x6, doesn't cost more per linear foot than vertical 3x6 subways. So it's a look to consider but it doesn't help the cost issue.

What I would REALLY like to know is: Who makes that medicine cabinet in the picture??? I don't suppose anyone knows?

We want one EXACTLY like that. The same look, and addressing the same situation as in that photo, in that it needs to straddle drywall, a chair rail, and field tile. Most recessed cabinets can't do that -- they have a lip edge which is made to sit flush on a flat wall. We need 1-1/2 inches of flat, finished cabinet sides, as in that one, to handle the depth differences. I haven't been able to find one; we may solve the problem by getting a semi-recessed cabinet instead. But, they protrude at least 3 inches, and the only one we've liked at all has a big heavy crown moulding that we're not crazy about.

It's probably one of those $1200 medicine cabinets anyway!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 3:33PM
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Ugh! I just realized that that photo is clickable and is from Houzzz. (I should have tried clicking first thing.) Somebody already asked about that cabinet -- turns out that it was custom made!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 4:43PM
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Glad you like the look - me too! I understand about the cost - I have also wondered why the trim tiles are so dang expensive.

If you click on any of the pictures from Houzz, like this one it directs you to the original Houzz photo - often there is more info there. In this case, it does say this is a custom medicine cabinet, but if you have the picture, at least now you may be able to find someone to make one for you - hopefully it wouldn't cost $1200!

What about using wood chair rail molding at the top and keeping the pencil by the cove? Does that help the $$ enough?

Traditional Bathroom by Philadelphia General Contractors Hanson General Contracting, Inc.

Here is a picture of cove without pencil:

Traditional Bathroom by Los Angeles Architects & Designers Tim Barber LTD Architecture & Interior Design

and another:

Traditional Bathroom by Philadelphia Media and Bloggers Restoring our 1890 Victorian

one more:

Traditional Bathroom by Minneapolis Artists and Artisans Clay Squared to Infinity

I personally would keep the cove, even without the pencil rather than just run the subway to the floor. Alternatively (and maybe preferably) I would go with Monogct's suggestion to use wood baseboard instead of the cove and pencil.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 4:55PM
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Jrueter, thank you so much for finding those photos! That's really helpful.

Given that we're aiming for a simple yet very traditional look (and it's a small bath), I think the cove base without the pencil fits the bill. Our chair rail is simple -- along the lines of the one in the last photo, not heavy like the top photo -- so i think the balance is fine. (Actually, our whole look is like the last photo, with light gray grout and small hex floor.) Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2013 at 6:43PM
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