tub/shower wall tile decision

lisa_aNovember 30, 2011

I've been researching kitchens for almost 3 years and here we are, redoing the boys' bathroom instead. It's a forced renovation, thanks to a toilet flood 5 weeks ago (what a mess!). So I'm in scramble mode, learning about bathroom reno and I'm really hoping you will help me.

We've chosen all elements but I can't decide which way to run the tile in the tub/shower area. I've looked through houzz.com so I know we can choose between staggered or ... railroaded? Is that the proper term for when the grout lines line up like a grid? Anyhoo, I can't figure out whether these choices are guided purely by style preference or if there is some logical reason for choosing one over the other.

Here are our choices, in case it makes a difference to your answer.

Counter (a remnant piece of Pental Chroma Mohave polished)

Floor tile is United Tile Provenza Sand, 12 x 24

We're running this lengthwise through the space, staggered grout lines.

Backsplash and tub/shower accent tile is American Olean Cepac Serenity in Mountain Meadow,

And finally, the tile we've chosen for the tub/shower wall is Pental Urban Life Parc Noce Matte in 12 x 24 size.

My first thought was to run the 12 x 24 tiles horizontally because that would make it easier to insert a band of accent tiles. But then I chose the shower niche, which is 14 1/4" wide and 22 1/2" tall (two compartments) so I started thinking that maybe I should run the tiles vertically, not horizontally. And do I stagger the grout lines and make them line up?

Here's the floor plan for the space.

The door between the two rooms is going away and that opening will be widened as much as possible. The toilet is currently in the tub but it's not staying there. Although, as my eldest pointed out, they won't have to worry about their aim if it stays in the tub. ;-)

I'm decisioned out so I need your help! TIA!

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I love all your choices. I'm new to a bath Reno - so I'm hoping to get some ideas here as well. I look forward to seeing pictures of you finished bath.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 30, 2011 at 11:49PM
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Thanks for the compliment but I was hoping for an answer to my question, too. ;-)

Bumping up....

    Bookmark   December 1, 2011 at 12:50PM
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Love your tile choices! IMO, placing the tiles vertically in the shower gives it a more classic look. Placing them horizontally gives it a more modern look. So in the end, I think it comes down to which style you're shooting for--traditional or modern. My preference for a vertical placement would be to have the tiles stacked with grout lines that line up. Horizontal placement gets a vote of staggered grout lines. I wouldn't worry too much about the niche--your tile guy will make it work no matter which direction you choose to go.

Love the your eldest's comment about the aim with the toilet in tub! I'm the only female in a house with 3 males so I feel your pain :-)

Hope this is what you were looking for advice-wise. Good luck to you!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2011 at 11:29PM
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I would have thought the opposite - that vertical was more modern and horizontal was more classic. Our style is more traditional - clean-lined traditional or contemporary traditional or whatever. I've never been able to figure out what our style is.

But maybe I'm using the wrong terms.

When I say vertical, I think of this:

modern bathroom design by seattle kitchen and bath Dawn E. Ryan, AKBD

And horizontal is this:

contemporary bathroom design by toronto interior designer Somers & Company Interiors, Gillian Somers

Both of the above show staggered grout lines, here is one of each with grout lines lined up:


contemporary bathroom design by other metros kitchen and bath Cheryl Kees Clendenon: In Detail

And horizontal:

contemporary bathroom design by detroit kitchen and bath Xstyles bath

Both of the above are described as contemporary even though one has the tile going vertically and the other is horizontal. Maybe it's because the grout lines line up that defines them as contemporary? Or not. I found one with vertical tile with grout lines lined up (as you suggested above) that is pegged as traditional.

traditional bathroom design by portland kitchen and bath Artistic Stone Design

Maybe it's the tile and other elements that define traditional or modern and not the way the tile and grout lines run?

I just noticed that in the last photo, the floor tile is run lengthwise with staggered grout lines, just as our floor will be. And here I was thinking that I'd have to both areas the same. But it seems that may not be true.

Any more opinions? I need to make a decision by Sunday. Thanks!

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 1:29PM
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You have the floor tile of the same proportion and dimension running with staggered grout lines. You have a backsplash with the same proportions running horizontal with staggered grout lines.

So now...would it best to repeat that again with the horizontal and staggered grout lines, which, like you, I consider the more classic approach? I am not sure, but I think that could be too much, and maybe it'd be good to go vertical...and your last photo confirms my hunch.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 2:39PM
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Lisa...now you've entered my domain... I'd go vertical, staggered... Horizontal with the 12x24s is much more common these days and I would go against the grain. But where are you putting the accent tile in the shower? My second option would be to go horizontal, but not staggered.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 3:25PM
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Thanks, rhome and twn! I've tallied your two votes for running the tile vertically.

The more I look at that last photo, rhome, the more I like the way it looks. Were you thinking staggered grout or lined up grout as in the pic? I forgot to mention that the grout we chose is very, very close in color to the tile so it may not really matter whether we stagger or line up the grout lines. It will be similar in look to the 1st photo I posted showing vertical tiles. If we line up the grout lines, that's less cutting for the tile setter - that should make him happy - and less waste - that makes me happy.

twn, the 5.5" band of accent tile will run around the tub/shower area above the shower niche (linked below in case it affects your decision) but below the shower head. The shower niche is on the same wall as the shower head because the other two walls are exterior walls. I'll have to draw it out with the tiles running vertically to see how things work.

(twn, I often march to my own drummer, too. For example, I've always preferred honed to polished stone.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Noble shower niche

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 3:56PM
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given that the accent tile is staggered and you are running it horizontally, running the tiles vertically AND staggered kind of makes my head spin. Id do it vertically and not staggered. or you could go ultra modern and run the accent in a wider vertical strip or even several narrow vertical strips in the shower.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2011 at 4:49PM
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I did 12x24 horizontally stacked soldier patter with glass accents. My floor tile is on a diagonal. Here are the best pics I have of it:

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 2:44PM
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remodelfla - I love the way your bathroom turned out. Could you tell me the name of your 12x24 as well as the glass tile. Also, did you need to use any borders around the shower tile?

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 4:26PM
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remodelfla, your bathroom is gorgeous! Thanks so much for posting pics. It really helps to see how you dealt with wrapping the tiles around the corner, too.

Last night, I was trying to figure out how the tiles would lay, mentally running them horizontally and vertically (without staggered grout lines, twn, good point). The tub is 32" x 60" and the tiles are 12" x 24" and 4" x 12" (bullnose pieces). Either way I run the tile, I'm going to have too little to cover the end walls and a little too much to cover the long wall, even with minimum grout lines. I need to measure the height of the wall above the tub and figure out where the shower head, niche and accent tile band will fall next. The accent band may tell me which way we run the 12" x 24" tiles. And I'm okay with that. ;-)

What brand and make is your tub, remodelfla? We plan to redo our master bath next and I want to replace the humongous jetted tub (used maybe a half dozen times in almost 18 years) with a one-person soaking tub that would get used more regularly.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 6:29PM
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Lisa, I just posted a pic of a bathroom layout that you may like. I also want to use 24"x12" in a 3-wall alcove (60"x34") and cannot figure out a pleasing layout. I came across the pic that I posted and I think I like the short wall with the full tile and smaller tiles on the sides. I do not want to do vertical, stacked or otherwise...I like horizontal stacked with minimal grout lines. I'm thinking on the 60" wall doing 2 full tiles with 6" tiles on the sides folding into the smaller tiles on the shorter wall.

Wadda ya think??

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 9:47AM
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Oh, don't tease me! You said you posted it but I don't see it. Where is it?

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 1:14PM
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Is this the post (linked below) that you mean? I thought you meant that you posted in my thread.

It's a nice looking bathroom but I'm not sure how it relates to my situation though. It's two different tiles and possibly different sizes (hard to tell).

Here is a link that might be useful: Tile Layout ?? w/Pics

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 2:55PM
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The pic was just to show you how they did the shorter wall with one full tile. If you like the pic, you could do the same thing on your wall using the 4" bullnose, a full tile and then a 4" piece. You could then do 2 full tiles on the back wall with 6" pieces on the sides.

How were you thinking about doing the short wall horizontally?? As I said, I'm doing the same layout and am trying to get ideas.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2011 at 8:42PM
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Oh, I get it now, sorry. When I first looked at that pic, I couldn't tell whether the end wall was skinny tiles or large tiles made to look like skinny tiles.

We've decided to run the tiles horizontally with railroaded grout lines because it works out best for positioning the niche, shower head and accent tile. Not sure how we'll address the corners yet but we'll figure that out when the tile setter's here. Our friends who hired the same contractor said the tile setter is awesome and was very helpful with these kinds of decisions.

Now I need to figure out which kind of grout to use (contractor uses 2 kinds so we can choose which we prefer). But that's a subject for another thread.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2011 at 11:22AM
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