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Best Type Of Tile For Shower Walls

There are so many decisions to make when thinking about bathrooms, including which type of tile is best for shower walls. Obviously, they must be waterproof, but is one type better than another? We've researched to see what the thoughts are on the best shower tiles and have it for you here.

Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

The best tiles for use in the shower are as follows:

  • Ceramic
  • Porcelain
  • Stone
  • Glass
  • Concrete

We'll look at each one and see why they make such great tile for the shower and if there are any cons to their use. We'll also investigate if one is better, which needs sealing, if you can use floor tile on shower walls, and if one type is easier to clean than another. So please, keep reading for more great information on shower tiles.

Modern grey designer bathroom with herringbone shower tiling, Best Type Of Tile For Shower Walls

The Best Types Of Tile For The Shower Wall

Showers are our great refuge at the beginning or end (or both) of our days. There's nothing more relaxing than standing under that steady stream of water to wash away our stress. This is why you don't want a tile that's going to leak and stress you out with moisture in the walls. So let's look at the tiles which work best for the shower.

Ceramic Tiles

Modern en-suite bathroom with gorgeous ceramic tiles

Ceramic is undoubtedly the most popular choice for shower walls. It's been used for years and comes in a huge variety of colors and styles. It's non-porous and easy to install and cut with the appropriate tools. The grout lines will need sealing and some maintenance over the years, but this is a relatively easy task that most homeowners can do themselves.

Most people will choose a slightly larger tile for their shower walls than they do for the floor but that rule isn't written in stone. Many tiles will come in the same finish and various sizes to allow for some optimum designing capabilities. You can even choose contrasting tile to create a decorative stripe or niche.

Ceramic can be slick, so be sure and choose an appropriate style for the floor of your shower.

A mesh-mounted matte mosaic tile like this is a great choice for a shower floor as it won't slip.

Click here for this product on Amazon.

Pair it with a glossy ceramic subway tile for your shower walls.

Click here for this tile on Amazon.

Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain is almost the same thing as ceramic tile. The main difference is that porcelain fires to slightly higher temperatures and is therefore a slightly denser and harder material. This makes it slightly more difficult to cut, but also more durable than standard ceramic tiles. It is probably the second most popular tile shower wall material. 

Porcelain also is fired through, which means the color holds true through the tile. If it chips, though the edge will still be jagged, it won't be a totally different color material beneath. This can be nice as it allows for some time before a repair must be done. Like ceramic, porcelain uses grout to hold it in place and fill the in-between spaces. The grout does need sealing and maintenance every couple of years.

Tiny porcelain mosaic tiles like this rainbow pattern are sold on mesh grids. It's easy to hang these as you would larger tiles and end up with a super detailed shower wall. Just spread the tile adhesive to the back of the mesh and apply it to the wall. All of the little in-between spaces will have to be filled with grout though.

Click here for this tile on Amazon.

Stone Tiles

Luxury Bathroom with Stone Tiles

Third in popularity are stone tiles. Marble falls into this category. Besides marble, slate, granite, travertine, and limestone are all used. Stone has a very elegant and luxurious feel to it. Though the color choices are more limited than those find in ceramic tile, stone makes up for it with its natural veining and the option to go with gloss, satin, or textured matte finishes.

Because stone is porous, these walls will definitely need a special sealant. Otherwise, grime from minerals in the water, cleaners, soaps, and shampoos will build upon the surface. Stone tiles are typically more expensive than porcelain or ceramic, though not always. Some porcelain and ceramic tiles can be quite expensive depending upon the style. 

This is an example of the rough, honed face of a travertine type tile.

Click here for this tile on Amazon.

Glass Tile

Nice bathroom with natural stone tiles and wood cabinet.

Glass tiles have grown in popularity over the last couple of years. They come in many beautiful colors and tend to be in sizes similar to that of the popular subway and mosaic ceramic tiles. It is a bit more expensive than either porcelain or ceramic and is also trickier to cut and install. If budget is an issue, you could always consider using glass tiles as an accent as in the bathroom above.

Glass tiles do clean easily, but they also require more frequent cleaning since soaps like to stick to them. They are light and translucent which can be an excellent choice for a small space.

Here's an example of a light grey glass subway tile.

Click here for these tiles on Amazon.

Concrete

Concrete is a nontraditional choice for a shower wall and isn't technically tile. But it can be painted to look like tile. It can also be put on over existing tile if you want a new look without taking out the old. An advantage to concrete is you'll have no grout lines that can grow mold or mildew. Just seal your concrete skim with good waterproofing and you'll be good to go.

Is Porcelain Or Ceramic Tile Better For Shower Walls?

This is one of those six of one, half dozen of the other, types of question. It breaks down to two thoughts. Budget or durability.

If budget is your concern, you're going to find bigger deals on the ceramic side of the aisle. Ceramic subway tiles can cost less than $2 per square foot. So for a 95 square foot shower, your cost will be less than $200. 

If durability is your main concern, porcelain is denser and harder than ceramic tile. It's going to wear longer and look better if it gets chipped. But for either tile, you're going to need grout and your grout is going to need some maintenance as you use your shower over the years.

Does Porcelain Tile Need To Be Sealed?

When porcelain tile is created, it has a natural glaze. This glaze seals the tile and protects against moisture infiltration. Occasionally you may come across an unglazed porcelain tile which would need sealing, but this would be an unlikely choice for a shower wall. Even if the finish is matte, it will have an impenetrable surface.

The only place you would even need to seal this gorgeous deep blue porcelain tile is on the grout lines. The natural process of firing the porcelain tiles with glaze creates a glass-like surface on each individual tile.

Click here for this tile on Amazon.

Can You Put Floor Tile On Shower Walls?

With ceramic, porcelain, and stone tiles, there is no difference between wall and floor tiles. You can put one on the floor, and one on the walls, and vice versa. Some people like tiny mosaic tiles for the floor and bigger tiles for the showers, and some people like the exact opposite. Even the bumpy pebble style tiles you see used for shower floors are also used for accents and to line niches inside of tiled showers.

These pebble type tiles are often used on the floors because they provide a better grip for bare feet. However, you also see them used as accent points, or to line shower niches on the walls.

Click here for these mosaic squares on Amazon.

What Type Of Shower Tile Is Easiest To Clean?

Of the tiles we've discussed, glass is the easiest to clean. A simple glass cleaner and a soft cloth are all you'll need to wipe away the soap scum and mess. Porcelain, then ceramic is next, and you can use a simple bathroom cleaner and cloth to get them sparkling.

A soap scum cleaner like this is all you need for porcelain and ceramic tiles.

Click here for cleaner this on Amazon.

For stone tiles, you'll need a specialized cleaner made specifically for getting at the natural surface of the stone. We think this one below works well.

Click here for this cleaner on Amazon.

So Many Beautiful Choices

Showers are both functional and luxurious. With all of the different choices when it comes to wall tile, it's easy to create the look and feel you want in your bathroom. The main thing to keep in mind is that you want it to be strong against water and to keep any grout lines maintained. 

We hope you enjoyed this post here at HomeDecorBliss.com. For a few others that may be helpful, please check out these below:

How To Clean Mold From Shower Grout (Incld. Naturally)?

Is Porcelain Or Ceramic Tile Better For Showers? What Homeowners Need To Know