If you are considering a bathroom renovation that includes choosing new tile for your shower, then you will not want to miss this very important post – most of all because I want to save you from years of aggravation by telling you about the two huge mistakes I made choosing shower tile. And what I wish we chose instead.
We have a large walk-in shower that’s tiled on all four walls and on the shower floor. I absolutely love the style and color of the porcelain tile we chose. It’s so pretty, and modern, and classic (like marble). It was the exact look I was going for when we chose it.
Big Mistake #1
If you look “between the lines”, you’ll also see grout lines. Lots of them! About a hundred of them!
Choosing small subway tile for the entire shower has been the biggest mistake we made when choosing shower tile.
I absolutely love this Nova shower tile, so this is really hard for me to admit.
If we rarely used this shower, the small subway tile would be fine. It would be wonderful!
But this shower gets used at least 4 times a day.
Cleaning the flat surface of the tile is pretty easy. A Magic Eraser is my best secret to wiping off any soap scum that discolors the tile. It’s quick and easy and does not require too much muscle. The Magic Eraser does the work.
The grout is a different story. You see… no matter how much you clean the grout in the shower, it still turns color and makes the shower constantly look unclean if you don’t keep up with it.
The grout may turn an orangey color. This scrubs off with a scrub brush and a little Soft Scrub cleaner. But when you have hundreds of small grout lines to scrub week after week in a large shower, it’s a ton of work!
So the first mistake I made was choosing a small subway tile for our entire shower walls. I wish we had chosen a large (approximatley 12″ x 18″) tile for the shower walls.
Larger tile = less grout.
Less grout = easier cleaning
Something like this…
If you absolutely love the look of the subway tile, then at a minimum, tile the bottom one or two rows (12-24 inches) with the larger tile. The bottom 12 to 24 inches is the area that gets the dirtiest and is the most difficult to clean. Placing the larger tile here will make cleaning much easier!
Something like this…
So please please, please trust me on this if you’re choosing tile for your shower. Choose the large sized tile in order to have fewer grout lines to clean.
Big Mistake #2
The second mistake I made was choosing tile for the shower floor. While I absolutely LOVE the look of the hexagon tile on the shower floor. It’s SOOOOO pretty! But it’s so much work to keep it clean.
Instead, I wish we chose a molded acryclic shower base.
In our former house, we had a custom shower based made for a walk-in shower. My parents also had one made for theirs.
The molded shower bases can be custom-made to fit your shower. It is one solid floor base with an edge that comes up the wall about 2- 4 inches. It’s a slightly textured surface to reduce slipping.
You can see an example of these on Amazon HERE. But there are companies that specialize in making custom sizes.
The two best parts about a molded acrylic shower base are:
#1 NO grout to clean
#2 It’s one solid piece so there are no grout lines for the water to seep through and cause water damage.
I’ve talked about why #1 is so important above. But #2 is just as important
Grout is actually porous. You need to seal it every few years – something I only recently learned and now seal the grout on our shower floor every few years.
Grout can also be damaged by bleach.
Years ago, I used to use a lot of bleach to clean our shower tile. What I didn’t realize was the bleach was damaging the grout. Over time, I think water slowly seeped through the grout. It also must have seeped through the 3-4 inches of cement (or grout or whatever they put below the tile). And it sat in the copper shower pan beneath the tile and beneath the cement until it finally started coming through the walls. The water must have built up over years and the result was a huge mess!
With a one-piece, molded acrylic shower floor, water would not seep through the floor.
So there you go… my best advice (from experience) if you’re choosing tile (and flooring) for your shower.
Good luck with your renovation!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to products I use myself.