Should A Shower Drain Match The Tiles?

How do you envision your perfect shower? With so many available options in shower tiles, making plans for your newly remodeled shower will go much smoother if you make a few critical decisions beforehand. Whether you decide to take on the job alone or hire a contractor, many questions will need to be answered. One of those questions is, "Should my shower drain match the tiles?" We have researched this topic and several other closely related topics to bring you information related to shower tile for a shower that will suit you and all of your needs. 

Shower tile should not necessarily match the drain for functional purposes, but coordinating the shower's wall tile with the floor or drain tile can add a sleek modern touch. While there is no explicit rule to whether your shower drain should match your tile, several factors are considered. When deciding whether or not to cover the walls with the same tile as the drain floor, you will want to think about the following:

  • Safety
  • Appearance
  • Structures already in place
  • Ease of installation

Along with the four items discussed above, several other related questions may come up throughout the course of your project. Should the drain and surrounding tile be flush? What size drain should I use? How do I tile around my existing drain? How do I clean around my drain if removing it is not an option? For answers to all of these questions, and informative discussion of many aspects of shower tile, just keep reading! 

A small shower drain of a modern bathroom with white brown and gray colored tiles, Should A Shower Drain Match The Tiles?

How to Coordinate A Shower Drain with Tile


Larger tiles tend to be more slippery when wet. Unless a slip-resistant tile is used or the tile is specially treated with a non-slip coating, larger tile can lead to falls and injuries. Smaller tile, with less space between grout lines, provides a safer, less slippery surface for your shower. If larger tiles provide the look you desire for your shower space, anti-slip stickers are available as an alternative to special tile or tile treatments. 

For more details on these anti-slip strips, see this product on Amazon.

However, any size tile can cause safety hazards with water pooling in spots if there are high or low spots when the tile is not completely even. Ensuring an even surface before starting your project will ensure a smooth, safe surface.

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While a cohesive look to your shower walls and shower floor may seem appealing initially, don't completely rule out coordinating bigger wall tiles with smaller floor tiles. Small tiles on the floor of showers may be better for safety, but for several reasons are not the best option for wall coverage. Because there are fewer grout lines, large tiles 12" in size or larger are recommended for use on walls to make your shower seem more spacious. Small tiles on the wall can make the space seem busy and cramped, in addition to likely being a tedious job. 

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For an alternative look, consider contrasting traditional large wall tiles with a smaller bold patterned tile for your shower floor. Turning tiles on their sides can create a fun spin on the normal square tile. Mixing and matching tiles is also a great way to achieve a new, modern look and incorporate small and large tiles into your shower space. 

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Consider an alternative drain that a tile used for the shower floor is placed into to create a sleek, uninterrupted look for your shower floor. The tile drain "disappears" into the rest of the tiled floor.

For more details on this shower drain with removable tile insert, see this product on Amazon.

Structures in place

When remodeling a shower, structures that may already be in place need to be considered. Whether it is existing walls, a drain, or plumbing that cannot be removed or that you wish to keep, provisions must be made to compensate for existing structures. Planning must be done before remodeling around any existing structures. Research how to accommodate your particular existing structures before beginning your project.

If they are the right size, drains already in place can be tiled around without much difficulty. If wall tile is in place and you wish to retile the floor, care should be taken to ensure that the floor tile coordinates somewhat with the tile already in place and will fit with the existing wall tile. 

Ease of Installation

Tile generally has the reputation of being fairly easy to install. Most do-it-yourselfers can accomplish your own shower and shower floor, especially with a class usually offered at your local home improvement store. Smaller tiles are more difficult to install and take longer to set than larger tiles. If you plan to mix and match tiles to create a pattern, planning your pattern out on a flat surface should be done ahead of time.

Should The Shower Drain Be Flush With The Tile?

Yes, the shower floor's drain should be flush with the tile around it at the point where the two meet. However, according to experts, point or center drains in tile require a 1/4-inch slope per square foot from all four sides of the drain. A linear drain only requires the shower floor to slope in the direction of the drain. In any case, the drain should be at the lowest point of the shower but still flush with the tile at the drain and tile meeting point.

What Size Drain Does A Shower Need?

Most showers will need 2-inch drains to match with the 2-inch pipe that is recommended. If a 1-1/2-inch pipe is already in place, consider replacing this with a 2-inch pipe, as the 2-inch pipe will allow for faster draining. Changing out plumbing or pipes can seem like a big job, but this choice may be well worth your money, as showers are high-risk areas for flooding.  A 2-inch pipe allows for proper flood damage prevention through more efficient draining. 

How Do You Tile Around A Shower Drain?

Tiling around a shower drain can be accomplished in a few ways according to the drain you choose, or that is already in place. There are two types of shower drains, point or center drain and linear drain. We will discuss how best to tile around both types of drains. 

Point or center drains

Most traditional shower floors utilize a point or center drain. Point or center drains can be round or square and are usually located in the shower floor's center, but can be located anywhere in the shower as long as the floor slopes down 1/4-inch for one square foot in all four directions from the drain. When tiling around a center or point drain, smaller tiles can come in handy for this reason. 

Linear drains 

For a less traditional type of drain than your normal center drain, consider using a linear drain. Linear drains are usually located along a wall on the shower floor, such as the example below. Linear drains provide efficient draining with a sleek, modern look.

Unlike point or center drains featured above, slope angles for linear drains don't have to be as precise or multidirectional. A slight slope in the floor, in the direction of the drain, is sufficient. For this reason, a slightly larger tile can be more easily used when tiling around linear drains. 

For more details about this linear shower drain, see this product on Amazon.

How Do You Clean A Shower Drain That Cannot Be Removed?

If removing your shower drain is not an option, there are steps you can take to ensure that your drain is as clean as possible while leaving the plumbing in place. Start by removing any hair clogs using a long tool such as a screwdriver or needlenose pliers to help pull out hair and other debris that may be stuck to the hair. Pour vinegar and baking soda down the drain and flush with plenty of hot water.

Stronger chemical clog removers are available at most stores if the vinegar and baking soda combination doesn't work for your drain. A plunger or professional plumber may be necessary for stubborn clogs.

Final words

Tiling your bathroom shower space can add value and elegance to your home. Choosing a shower tile can seem like an enormous task if certain factors haven't been considered first. Making these few important decisions before taking on your shower tiling project can make a world of difference and save you time and money. 

For the latest tips before getting started on your bathroom projects, check out our related posts: 

Is Matte or Glossy Tile Better for a Shower?

Small Tub Into Walk In Shower Conversion -What's The Cost?

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