What size floor tile to make bathroom look larger?

carolbarrel07November 7, 2007

I've got a very small bathroom, 5' x 7'. Will be tiling shower surround with 4" ivory color travertine. What size tiles should I use on floor? I like a hexagonal 2" tile on mesh that's 12"x12" per each piece...but will that make the room look small? Should I instead use 12x12 solid porcelain tiles instead of smaller mosaic-type pieces on mesh sheet? What will make the tiniest of bathrooms look the biggest possible? Also, what about mirrors on opposite walls? Thanks in advance for any advice for this newbie on gardenweb!

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I don't think it really matters. You should choose what you like. We now have large format tiles in our master bath floor, and before that we had 6x6 tiles. I've also seen the small hex tiles in other bathrooms and I don't think they made a difference in the appearance of the size. I don't think you can fool the eyes that way. I do think that what helps is to keep the grout lines minimal, and to keep the contrast of the grout and tile to a minimum, so that it doesn't break up the space too much and is not too distracting.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 12:59AM
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I don't know if this will help but it is a handout that the tile store gave me - very interesting...

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 9:33AM
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"My eyes" prefer the uncluttered look of the 18" tile on the diagonal. We have 20" tile in our 10x11ish master bath. It really opens up the space and fewer grout lines is always a good thing :)

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 11:53AM
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I agree.....go big.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 12:14PM
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all a matter of taste

I prefer the small tile for small areas

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 8:52PM
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Large tiles make a space seem larger. Go with 24" x 24" travertine tiles. make sure your floor can support large format tiles.

remember the 4" white ceramic tiles from decades past? There in nothing inherently wrong with those but aesthetically they made the bathrooms look busy, that is why they have fallen out of favor with a vengeance :)

Large tiles, small grout lines will make it seem spacious.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2007 at 10:03PM
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Go with what you like: any optical illusion will be quickly broken when people realize it takes 'x' steps to cross the room anyway.

But the artist in me says smaller tiles make it look larger. In the drawings Pikrika posted, I find myself automatically counting how few tiles it takes to cover the floor in the largest format, and sizewise, that's the impression that would stick with me.

It's a bit like using furniture that fits the scale of the room: a huge sofa makes a small room seem even smaller.

A huge space can succeed by simply overpowering you with scale. A small room needs to be simpler, with every detail carefully chosen for both form and function. In the end, often much more pleasing to occupy, but much tougher to decorate well.

The one thing that WILL make it seem smaller is clutter of any kind!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 5:52AM
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I love the large tiles but was told I couldn't use them. My floor is not level at all and the large tiles would be harder to install and still look good. Check to see how level your floors and walls are before you decide on the size tile.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 7:20AM
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Donna brings up a good point (and others too)...about the smaller tile. I don't think my floor is level in the direction from exterior wall to bathroom door...so that could be a deal-breaker when it comes to laying the larger tiles. Maybe I can get away with something like 6x6 up to 12x12...but then again maybe even 12x12 is too large with uneven floors. Hmmm...I hate these decisons!

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 9:35AM
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Carol, I feel your pain. Though the bathroom flooring is fairly level, I'm concerned about 18" tiles on the wall. These are pretty heavy tiles, and when your tile setter says, "no problem, I do it all the time", I feel concerned enough to check back here for advice.

I personally don't like anything smaller than 12", but have seen smaller and they looked good. It is indeed a hard decision.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 12:32PM
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It's an optical illusion, but an effective one. Your bathroom is big compared to the one I'm about to do, which is 3 ft somethin by 5 ft somethin. In theory, the larger tiles, with less grout lines make for a more open appearance and the sense that the floor space (and ergo the room) is larger. Other tricks are wall hung or pedestal sinks for a similar effect.

Our powder room is also quite small and we have 1 x 2 inch marble mosaic in there, and the room looks huge, again we kept the vanity shallow (an old washstand with vessel sink). More floor area gives the impression of more space.

I've been going back and forth on this and have decided that the BEST way to make our shoe box, I mean bathroom, seem larger is to run the same floor through to the shower without a threshold, and use a glass panel vice a shower curtain to keep everything open (that and a pedestal sink). If I'm going to do that, I'm more comfortable using a small tile so I can have traction in the shower. We're going to use a 1 X 2 Thassos marble mosaic floor and use a very light grout, this should keep the busyness down and hopefully the same aggrandizing effect as in the powder room. Since this is a guest bath, the white grout lines really don't frighten me. Now to figure out what tiles to use on the shower walls. Probably white and a ribbon of glass. Light colors also help expand the sense of space, and besides, I like white for bathrooms.

A pocket door will also work wonders.


    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 1:04PM
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My floors are not level and I did 12x12's.
My contractor had to use Durarock on all the walls before he installed my wall tiles, regular drywall won't hold them.
A pocket door is exactly what I did. I had to move my closet in about 2" to accomidate the pocket. I love it!


    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 6:51PM
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Carol...for the leveling they can use thinset under the hardibacker to help bring it level..or are you laying this on concrete? Even so you can still have the floor leveled..

I would avoid the big tiles on the shower surround...I actually think a larger tile but cut in half looks great...like 6x12's done in a brick pattern...

I just had 18 inch tiles done on a brick pattern and it looks great in my small bathroom...I have a pocket door that separates the two rooms...tub only had 5'x3.5 feet of floor space and the other room is 6'x 4.5'....it worked great...I also used the hexagon in two other bathrooms and while I like it (really only used it because of the ease of laying it) I really feel the bigger tiles on the floor make the room look much bigger than the smaller tiles...

I'll try and post pics of both tomorrow to give you an idea! :)

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 12:05AM
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Tara, Why did you say to avoid the 18" on the wall? Did you use the 18" tiles on the floor?

Would love to see pics.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 12:22AM
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Hey Mari...I had just had a long discussion about this with the tile guy I had come out...I went with 18" on the floor mainly because I thought it would be quicker to lay...I didn't figure they'd weigh a ton and it'd kill my back to set them..so I had to get him to set them for me...he said that many builders/owners think it will be easier to lay the bigger tiles and that he discourages them from doing so especially on the wall because of the weight...and he said he's had more repairs on the larger tiles than with smaller...he says they could work on a wall you just have to know what you're doing and some folks don't I guess...

Here is a shot of the hex pattern I put on my guest bath...
I'm grouting this morning on the larger tiles so I'll get a pic and post it later...

1 Like    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 7:40AM
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Thanks for the pic. Your floor looks lovely. Are you doing a wainscot with larger tiles? Love your wall colour. What brand/colour is it?

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 11:24AM
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I'm tiling another bathroom and used the large 18 inch in a brick pattern..left my camera at the other house so I'll try and post it tomorrow...The color is Sherwin Williams Basket Beige...it's really soothing....The 18 inch tiles are just on the floor..I just never realized how HEAVY they were until I tried to lay them out before tiling..I knew immediately I had to call in help to get them set...that's when we had the long discussion about large tiles being the craze and the issues with them..on a floor they're less likely to have some of those issues....hth!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 1:02AM
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Yes, the floor can be leveled but it might bring on more issues. My floor sloped down toward my entrance door. If we had made it level, and installed Ditra, I would have been as high as 1" when I met my hardwood flooring. These are things to go over with your installer BEFORE you choose the tile size.


    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 7:14AM
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Wow, thanks for continuing the thread! I've decided to use the 2 in hex on mesh backing, and now that I see that pretty photo you posted I'm glad I did. Now, the tub/shower surround is going to be 4x4 chiaro travertine, with an accent line of zig zag 3 x 12 noce/chiaro listello.

We have a jacuzzi tub installed (now you know how I cramped up the space!)... and to conceal the plumbing we had a kneewall built. Now for my next question: what should we do on the kneewall to blend the 4x4 ivory-colored travertine surround with the 2x2 beige/ivory mottled hexagonal tiles that will be on the floor? I don't want it to be too busy, and I don't want to simply paint it. The jacuzzi tub itself is white, so what kind of tile should I put on the kneewall? This is where we can get creative, and this is also where we can easily spend too much $ and make a mistake that won't look too good. What is out there on the market that's fresh, clean-looking and will make the side wall of a jacuzzi tub look awesome?

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 7:38AM
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Is it O.K. if I use wall tiles for the flooring of my bathroom. Pl. reply immediately. M>Peters

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 7:28PM
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Bigger tiles are best for making small spaces look bigger. If the room is narrow and long big rectangular tiles going lengthwise across narrow width draws room out. Also doing a row of the same colour on the bottom row of wall tiles draws the floor out and up giving illusion that the room is wider.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 2:41AM
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"I love the large tiles but was told I couldn't use them. My floor is not level at all and the large tiles would be harder to install and still look good. Check to see how level your floors and walls are before you decide on the size tile. "

Some self leveling cement can take care of that. You just have an extra step before you do your floor.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2014 at 1:58AM
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