Shower Tile Ideas, Tips and Inspiration

Tell all ya friends and neighbors!

Even in the smallest bathroom, nothing can jazz up space quite like shower tile. Inside you’ll find shower tile ideas that we’ve used in our own home as well as investment properties, with all different size bathrooms!


Shower Tile Ideas and Tips To Help You With Your Next Project

We have officially done and sold 2 of our own investment properties. Additionally, my husband has been the project design manager for countless other properties with his real estate investor team.

That means, like, a crap ton of tile and a crap ton of bathrooms.

See what I did there? Crap? Bathroom? Ah, forget it.

Our first gut job project in our own home was our guest bathroom. It was rough but a great learning experience, especially when tiling an entire shower and floor.

When it comes to the shower tile, you want something that fits the vibe you’re going for without being too busy or distracting. Here are some of our favorite shower tile ideas and tips to get you started!

What Type of Tile Is Better for Shower Walls?

When you walk into a store like Floor and Decor or even Home Depot, choosing shower tile can feel super overwhelming, even with ideas of what you want in your head.

Shower tiles can be made with materials like porcelain, ceramic, glass, stone, and more. All of these can work in your bathroom or shower. You just need to consider what you want for your space’s design and functionality.

white and black bathroom with white subway tile with black grout

For example, if you have small kids who will be using bath crayons and splashing water everywhere, you might want to steer clear of glass tile because it can etch and scratch more easily.

Ceramic shower tile comes in many different colors and styles. Still, since the color is only on the top layer, if you chip it, it’s more noticeable.

However, unlike other flooring materials, ceramic tile has the longest life and lowest cost. Its tough, hard surface won’t easily scuff, which is great for a bathroom that gets used as much as ours.

Give and take, ya see?

What is the easiest tile to keep clean in a shower?

Cleaning shower wall tile will be just as easy regardless of if you get porcelain or ceramic tile.

The surface is smooth on both porcelain and ceramic, making cleaning easy, and any bathroom cleaner should do the trick.

plain amber spray bottle with cleaner labels

Since we try to have low or no chemical cleaning products at the house, we either use our DIY all-purpose cleaner or a natural store-bought cleaner. Still, I’ve also used the regular cleaners, which work great!

Pro tip: For under $50, you can get the best handheld steam cleaner that can clean your tile with just water and steam!

Do small or large tiles make a shower look bigger?

marble look tile in stand up shower with black shower fixtures and penny tile floor

Fewer grout lines can make your shower and bath look larger, but there is a caveat.

If your tile has a busy pattern and the pattern doesn’t line up, it can mess with the look and miss the mark in trying to make it look larger.

white beveled subway tile with marble look tile on the floor and marble penny tile in the shower pan and whitewashed wood vanity

We have done plenty of tiny bathrooms with small tile, and even with dark grout, it looks enormous.

vertical stacked subway tile with gold brass shower fixtures

The bathrooms in our second flip, Archie, were very tiny, and by using elongated white subway tile, we could still make them feel larger and more luxurious.

Which is better shower wall tile – porcelain or ceramic?

Porcelain tiles can be designed to mimic the look of other materials, such as marble or wood.

wood look porcelain tile with white freestanding tub
Wood look porcelain tile via Wayfair

We are getting ready to put this fluted wood look tile in our mountain house, and I am absolutely stoked. I’m so giddy to finally see it on the walls.

black and white patterned tile and white subway tile in a small bathroom with black shower fixtures

Ceramic tiles are typically more budget-friendly but usually only for basic solid colors. Once you get into printed tiles like the floor we did in Beverly or the bathroom floor that we put in Archie, your price point will be about the same as porcelain tiles.

Whether you go for ceramic or porcelain, either choice is a versatile way to make better-looking shower walls without breaking the bank.

How much does it cost to put in a tile shower?

This will depend on whether you want to DIY this project or have someone do it.

What we have found is that the tile isn’t the expensive part when deciding to tile a shower wall. It’s the labor.

Labor is outrageous.

For example, in Archie, those bathrooms were tiny.

invoice showing how much does it cost to put in a tile shower

As you can see in the screenshot of our invoice, the materials were under $1000, and the installation was almost 3 times that much.

If you have the patience, you can tile yourself and save a TON of money. I tiled our entire kitchen as my first tile job by myself, and it wasn’t nearly as intimidating as I made it out to be.

Shower Wall Tips and Inspiration

Skip the tub surround

white vertical stacked subway tile and gold finishing edge

If you’re on a budget, a tub with a shower surround like we have in our primary bedroom will be more cost-effective.

However, having tile surrounding your tub makes it feel much more luxurious. It makes you feel like you have a larger shower area.

Solid color tile doesn’t have to be boring

colorful striped shower tile
Rainbow tile bathroom via Fireclay Tile

I have had this image saved for over a year now. Jordan got his dream of having a mountain house, and if I ever get mine of a beach house, I will absolutely have this in one of the bathrooms. I love the idea of creating a look of “stripes” with fun colored tiles.

Go bold

bold navy tile in bathroom with white tub and white shower curtain
Bold navy tile via Apartment Therapy
dark teal painted walls with black shower tile
Black shower wall tile via HGTV

Just go for it, ya know? Let your tile make a statement.

Choose a bold color or a bold pattern and just commit. You can always change it later if you don’t like it, but I think you’ll be surprised how much you love it. Keep your walls neutral and let the shower wall tile steal the show.

Break it up

white beveled subway tile with marble look tile on the floor and marble penny tile in the shower pan

Even though we had white walls and white tile, using a black Schluter piece makes the space feel more separate yet cohesive.

Mix materials

This doesn’t have to be mixing materials like 2 totally different materials (i.e. wood look and stone).

horizontal stripe subway tile in white and olive green
White and green stripe pattern tile via DecorPad

Why not try the same tiles in different colors to create a pattern and a little drama?

vertical stripe shower tile in black and white mosaic pattern
Black and white mosaic shower wall tile idea via House Beautiful

Try it vertical with a mosaic and continue it on the floor if that’s an option. Drammmaaaaa.

After all, what’s life without a bit of drama?

Size matters

Am I right, theydies and gentlethems?

different size white tile in shower wall
Square and subway tile via T Moore Home

But really. Varying the size of your tile is a great way to add interest. And you don’t have to stick with just one size, either.

If you’re not ready to mix sheens like in the above example, maybe you can add visual interest by using different size tiles instead.

You could do all large format tiles on the shower floor and small to mid-sized ones around the shower. You could use a small mosaic as an accent in a niche or even throughout the shower. The possibilities are endless!

Complement your paint color

teal painted wall with teal tile behind white pedestal sink
Bright walls and tile via Glidden

Let your tile work with your wall paint if you’re in love with your bathroom wall paint color.

white subway half wall in bathrom with dark walls and dark shower tile
Bold wall paint color with coordinating tile via HGTV

Either choose a simple white tile that will go with everything, or you can choose a tile in a coordinating color that pairs nicely with your wall paint color.

Don’t forget about grout

white square tile in bathroom with bright colored grout
Bright colored shower wall tile grout via Dezeen

As long as you’re using glazed shower tiles (which porcelain and ceramic are), don’t limit yourself to adding color with bathroom tile alone. Grout comes in tons of colors and can jazz up a space quite nicely!

Quick Hit FAQ for Shower Wall Tile

I hope you found these shower wall tile ideas helpful and now feel more inspired to take on your own shower tiling project.

I think my new favorite tool is a tile saw, and if I ever wanted to work with my hands in a trade, I believe tiling would be it! And if I can do it, I promise you can too!

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