For that perfect bathroom...


I always thought doing up a bathroom was easy till I laid my hands, rather mind to doing it up myself. It’s not just selecting the tiles of your favourite colour, but also a lot of practical thinking and decision making that goes into tiling this small room. Tiles play an important role in defining the look of the bathroom. And knowing how to select the best ones is that one big decision that ought to be an informed one.    

Know your tiles
Texture: Not all tiling materials are suitable for the high moisture atmosphere of the bathroom. Natural stone such as marble is extremely sensitive to moisture. The porous nature traps moisture from the air and tends to crack because of humidity. Also do not go for laminate flooring as it is not suitable for the wet bathroom floor and can make it really slippery. Other popular materials include porcelain, ceramics and natural stone. Porcelain tiles are fairly limited in design compared to ceramics. Natural stone can be very porous and not last long enough.

Size: If you want to create an illusion of a big bathroom, go in for large tiles. They will create an illusion of a big-sized bathroom rendering a spacious look. However, the big size tiles may not work well for the flooring, considering the mason will also have to efficiently make way for the drainage system. Ideal bathroom floor tile size is 12 inches by 12 inches.

Design: Whether you follow trends or your heart, the end result will be fabulous if you can successfully match your choice of tiles with the overall concept of your home.

Well, not a very difficult task, especially for those who are doing the home from scratch. Patterned tiles are common as contemporary bathroom designs and most of these tiles will immediately and dramatically enhance the look of the bathroom. However, take care not to cover the entire room. Create a focal point by partly tiling a wall. A strip of brightly coloured tiles placed in the midst of bare walls can create a striking appeal that accentuates the structure of the room.

Popular options
Textures: Ceramic is most commonly used, and easy to maintain. Choose from gloss and matt finishes. Embossed tiles in various textures are available in different shapes, colours and sizes. Granite is durable and the toughest. Almost scratch-resistant, it comes with a consistent tone. Designers and architects usually choose dark or dull-tone tiles for commercial premises. The most affordable ones come from China. Other stones like limestone and sandstone are beautiful, but porous and prone to stains and also difficult to maintain.

Solids: With solid colour tiles, add borders of a different colour to accentuate the look. Or create a border by using different colours. This kind of visual treatment can create a more interesting bathroom floor.

When using the same colour tile for the floors and walls, choose a different tile size for the walls or lay the wall tiles horizontally or vertically to create an interesting visual effect.

The long side vertically stretches the walls up, and vice versa. You can also choose a grout colour that contrasts with the tile colour. For example, if you are using white tiles, you could use darker or grey grout for contrast.

Be sure and apply sealers to grout lines in areas of heavy wear to protect and preserve grout colours.  Warm colours like peach and yellow are fun, they make the bathroom feel cozier and they go well with a more country looking bathroom decor. If you use neutral colours like beiges or whites, they will make the room look larger, they reflect light and they are always in style.

Colours like blue, green and violet are viewed as serene or cool colours. Brighter colours like black or red add drama to the decor, absorb light and will make the room appear smaller. In rooms with plenty of windows and natural lighting, consider using darker tiles to offset the ambient lighting.

Favourite colour: If you fall for a pink floor, then add a few pink decorative tiles for the walls or use shapes, textures and borders to give it some visual interest. Select some rows of the walls where you can also use some of the pink tiles placed diagonally. To give your bathroom a contemporary style and look, consider using bright and bold colours with shapes or graphics against plain backgrounds.

Contemporary style accessories and fixtures help provide a modern-looking bathroom. If you are doing your child’s bathroom, you may like to opt for cartoon based themes or refreshing pastels with their favourite characters on the walls and wet area floors.
Concept: Go for a romantic or Victorian look with the use of floral tiles in soft colours like pink, light green or light blue plus ceramic sinks and perhaps a wooden floor.

For a Mediterranean bathroom look, mix terracotta tiles with Mexican or other hand-painted tiles for the floors. For the countertop perhaps mix the hand-painted tiles with another plain colour tile.

Major Adarsh Kochchar from Bangalore carried his passion and art right to the bathroom ceilings. He’s stenciled his vanilla plain tiles with pastel coloured flowers and motifs. “This was the simplest way to add elegance to a simple bathroom space,” he says.

The rest of the space is colour coordinated of course keeping most of it chic and clean.

A ceramic bathroom floor tile is often used because of its durability, resistance to dampness, its safety to walk on when wet and its ease of cleaning. If you select ceramic tiles for your bathroom, consider using a tile that has a slip-resistant surface for bathroom safety, which is one of the best bathroom tile ideas.

If you buy and install unglazed tiles, like terracotta, they will need to be washed frequently because they absorb stains quite easily.  Hindware has recently launched its tiles collection called the 3D Travertino, a part of their Italian collection priced at Rs 350 to 400 per sq. ft.

“These 3D glazed vitrified wall and floor tiles sourced from different parts of the globe and offer ‘infinity design’ - unlimited image variations on the tile covering.

The 3D image printed on the ceramic tiles follows the entire surface with high and low relief embossing that adds depth and character to tile designs,” says Sandip Somany, Joint Managing Director, HSIL Ltd. Vitrified tiles are another new option. Made by mixing silica and clay to form a non porous tile with glassy texture they come in porcelain, ceramic tiles, marbonite and marble textures. Prominent names to look out for are Kajaria, Hindware, Somany, H & R Johnson, Asian and Sogo.

Quick tips
* Not all tiling materials are suitable for the high moisture atmosphere of the bathroom.

* The porous nature of marble traps moisture from the air and tends to crack from the humidity.

* Ask the dealer about the required maintenance for each variety of bathroom tiles.
* Order a few sample bathroom tiles so you can check if the colours and patterns are what you actually want.

* Before buying, make sure that your bathroom tiles are from the same batch as different batches are fired at different times and so often can differ in their sizes. Larger bathroom tiles have less grout lines and make your surface look bigger.

* Bathroom with a low-ceiling can be countered with a narrow strip of feature bathroom tiles running vertically up a wall to give an appearance of a taller ceiling.

Maintenance & cost
* Use walk-off mats to trap abrasive soil before it gets into the bathroom. Sweep, dust or vacuum surfaces regularly to remove loose soil and dust.

* Clean the tile and grout using warm water and a clean nonabrasive cloth sponge or mop.

* Use a neutral cleaner specially formulated for ceramic, porcelain tile and grout to help remove soils that sweeping, dusting, vacuuming or damp mopping leave behind. For extremely soiled tile, clean with a heavy duty alkaline cleaner and degreaser.

* Do not use ordinary household cleaners, as you may degrade the sealer that was applied to the grout to protect against stains.

* Use a ph-balanced cleaner for stony surfaces. Everyday damp mopping with a diluted solution is the best daily care.

* Ceramic tiles range from as low as to Rs 30 per sq. ft to Rs 500 per sq. ft. depends on the size and quality. Vitrified tiles range from Rs 50 upwards. Highlighter tiles with special effects like glass, embossing etc can be priced as high as Rs 1,000 per piece.

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