The Best Tiles for Shower Walls

Installing tile shower walls adds value and gives bathrooms an updated look and feel.

Best Overall

The Best Tiles for Shower Walls Option: Home Decorators Collection Polished Porcelain Tile

Home Decorators Collection Polished Porcelain Tile

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Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Tiles for Shower Walls Option: Daltile Restore Ceramic Subway Tile

Daltile Restore Ceramic Subway Tile

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Upgrade Pick

The Best Tiles for Shower Walls Option: MSI Georama Polished Marble Tile

MSI Georama Polished Marble Tile

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Finding the right tile for shower walls is primarily a matter of personal taste. However, it also involves understanding the installation process and—for best results—being able to picture the finished look before starting the project.

Tiles are available in hundreds of designs, surface textures, sizes, and colors, but not all tiles are suitable for installation on shower walls. When shopping for the best tile for shower walls, consider the tile’s visual appeal, whether it can withstand direct water spray, and how challenging the installation will be for DIYers. The following tiles are among the most popular options available, and any one of them can give a bathroom a fresh, updated look.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Home Decorators Collection Polished Porcelain Tile
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Daltile Restore Ceramic Subway Tile
  3. UPGRADE PICK: MSI Georama Polished Marble Tile
  4. BEST GLASS: Giorbello Glass Subway Tile
  5. BEST PATTERNED SUBWAY: EliteTile Antic Feelings Ceramic Patterned Tile
  6. BEST MOSAIC: EliteTile Hudson Tangier Porcelain Grid Mosaic Tile
  7. BEST HEXAGON MOSAIC: Lifeproof Carrara Ceramic Hexagon Mosaic Tile
  8. BEST PEBBLE: Tile Connection Natural Stone Pebbles Mosaic Tile
  9. BEST LARGE FORMAT: Marazzi Travisano Porcelain Floor and Wall Tile
  10. ALSO CONSIDER: Elite Tile Alhama Porcelain Stone Look Tile
The Best Tiles for Shower Walls Options
Photo: istockphoto.com

How We Chose the Best Tiles for Shower Walls

We selected tiles for this lineup after extensively researching dozens of shower tile options. We considered the overall quality of the tile and whether it was waterproof, and we looked at style and design to ensure that this list offers a mix of traditional, trendy, and everything in between.

We evaluated the tiles based on their best use—if a manufacturer didn’t specifically recommend the tile for installation on shower walls, that tile was eliminated. Brand was also given some consideration. For example, the Home Decorators Collection is known for quality tiles, so we looked closely at that brand. However, we didn’t automatically eliminate tiles from smaller or niche manufacturers as long as they were made to withstand installation in showers and buyers were happy with their performance.

Our Top Picks

The following lineup includes tiles in various styles, colors, shapes, and sizes. Whether a homeowner is looking to tile a small shower or choosing tile for a sizable open-aspect shower, one of the following tiles is sure to please.

Best Overall

Home Decorators Collection Polished Porcelain Tile

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Taking top honors is the Carrara polished porcelain tile from the Home Decorators Collection in a semi-large format, measuring 12 inches tall by 24 inches long. Its rectangular shape can be installed horizontally to emphasize the spaciousness of a shower or vertically to draw the eye upward and create a feeling of height.

For a clean or minimalist look, install the tile by itself. Alternatively, create complex appeal by combining this Carrara-look tile with another type of tile in a contrasting color as trim or a feature strip. This porcelain tile is impervious to water and mimics a natural stone look. It measures 0.38 inch thick and has a sheen that gives it a polished look. One carton of tiles covers 16 square feet. It can be installed in indoor or outdoor (unheated) showers or bathhouses. Wipe with a damp cloth or use a pH-neutral liquid cleaner when necessary to wash the tiles.

Product Specs 

  • Tile dimensions: 12 inches tall by 24 inches long by 0.38 inch thick
  • Coverage per carton: 16 square feet
  • Type: Polished porcelain

Pros

  • Suitable for indoor or outdoor showers
  • Mimics the look of stone
  • Large tiles create a clean look

Cons

  • Installing large tiles can be challenging for DIYers

Get Home Decorators Collection tile for shower walls at The Home Depot.

Best Bang for the Buck

Daltile Restore Ceramic Subway Tile

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Get the clean look of tile in the shower without paying premium prices. The Daltile Restore ceramic tile creates a classic subway look while remaining budget-friendly. The rectangular tiles can be installed alone or in combination with tiles in contrasting colors to create a custom look.

The tiles measure 3 inches tall by 6 inches long and are 0.31 inch thick. A single case of Restore tiles covers 12.5 square feet. The tiles are available in bright white and various colors, and they come in additional rectangular sizes to suit any style. Their glazed surface makes them easy to keep clean—just wipe with a damp cloth or use a pH-neutral liquid cleaner. Best of all, they’re available at an attractive price point.

Product Specs

  • Tile dimensions: 3 inches tall by 6 inches long by 0.31 inch thick
  • Coverage per carton: 12.5 square feet
  • Type: Glazed ceramic

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Assortment of colors and sizes
  • Impervious to water

Cons

  • Not frost-resistant (no unheated bathhouses)

Get the Daltile tile for shower walls at The Home Depot or HD Supply.

Upgrade Pick

MSI Georama Polished Marble Tile

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The overall design effect is one of small strips of natural marble, cut and fitted in attractive hexagon patterns, but there’s no need to assemble the pieces like a puzzle. They’ve already been assembled and attached to a mesh backing that makes it simple to install them on the shower wall. Each mesh-back sheet of tiles measures 11 inches tall by 13 inches long, and the sheets are 0.38 inch thick. One box of Georama marble tiles covers up to 9.9 square feet.

The mesh sheets are made to interlock to give the impression of a piece-by-piece custom mosaic installation. The polished marble strips used to create the mosaic pattern will have variations in hue and surface texture, giving the finished shower wall a more natural look. Because marble is porous, users may want to apply a penetrating stone sealer after installation and every 6 to 12 months after that (according to sealer recommendations) to help the tiles resist staining and maintain their natural beauty.

Product Specs

  • Tile dimensions: 11 inches tall by 13 inches long by 0.38 inch thick
  • Coverage per carton: 9.9 square feet
  • Type: Natural marble stone

Pros

  • Marble strips come preset on mesh sheets
  • Offers a high-end custom look
  • Neutral color and polished finish

Cons

  • Should be sealed once or twice a year

Get the Georama tile for shower walls at Wayfair or The Home Depot.

Best Glass

Giorbello Glass Subway Tile

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Those looking for high shine and maximum light reflection need look no further than Giorbello glass subway tiles. The tiles measure 3 inches tall by 6 inches long and are 0.33 inch thick. They are available in an array of attractive crystal clear colors for creating a custom look.

For the best results, the manufacturer recommends professional installation by a licensed tile contractor. Because of the translucent nature of these glass tiles, any discrepancies in the adhesive layer could show through and mar the finished look. In addition, only unsanded grout is usually used with glass tiles to keep from scratching the glass, which can happen with standard sanded grout. The tiles can be wiped clean with a damp cloth, and a glass cleaner can be used to remove any smudges.

Product Specs

  • Tile dimensions: 3 inches tall by 6 inches long by 0.33 inch thick
  • Coverage per carton: 5 square feet
  • Type: Glass

Pros

  • High light reflection
  • Easy to clean
  • Modern trendy appeal

Cons

  • Discrepancies in the adhesive layer may show through glass tiles

Get the Giorbello tile for shower walls at Wayfair, The Home Depot, or Lowe’s.

Best Patterned Subway

EliteTile Antic Feelings Ceramic Patterned Tile

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A smattering of attractive floral designs on these patterned subway tiles can complement a variety of decor tastes, including rustic Italian to boho to shabby chic. The Antic Feelings line of patterned ceramic tiles by EliteTile offers the same floral pattern in a handful of attractive hues that can be used on an entire shower wall or combined with other tiles to create focal points or accent strips.

The tiles measure 3 inches tall by 6 inches long and are 0.38 inch thick. One carton of these tiles covers 4.16 square feet. This design features a smooth satin finish that provides a muted rather than high-gloss effect. A pH-neutral, nonabrasive tile cleaner is recommended for occasional cleaning, and the tiles can be wiped down with a clean damp cloth after showering to prevent water spots.

Product Specs 

  • Tile dimensions: 3 inches tall by 6 inches long by 0.38 inch thick
  • Coverage per carton: 4.16 square feet
  • Type: Ceramic

Pros

  • Attractive floral design
  • Use for an entire wall or focal features
  • Artsy appeal

Cons

  • Pricey

Get EliteTile patterned tile for shower walls at Wayfair.

Best Mosaic

EliteTile Hudson Tangier Porcelain Grid Mosaic Tile

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The sophisticated design of EliteTile’s Hudson Tangier mosaic tiles will add an upscale look to any shower wall. Best of all, these miniature 2-inch-by-2-inch tiles need not be installed one at a time. They come preset on interlocking mesh sheets, ready to align on the wall. The tiles are 0.25 inch thick, and the sheets measure 12.38 inches by 12.5 inches. Make note that the dimensions are measured from corner to corner rather than side to side, so measure carefully before ordering.

The individual porcelain tiles have an arabesque design that adds interesting visual texture and mimics hand-set mosaic art, giving the whole bathroom a fashionable Mediterranean feel. One carton of tile sheets covers up to 11 square feet. For the best results, wipe with a clean damp cloth or spray with a pH-neutral, nonabrasive cleaner when deeper cleaning is necessary.

Product Specs

  • Tile dimensions: 12.38 inches by 12.5 inches (corner to corner) by 0.25 inch thick
  • Coverage per carton: 11 square feet
  • Type: Porcelain

Pros

  • Interlocking sheets hide seams
  • Looks like hand-set tiles
  • Adds a spa-like feel

Cons

  • A wet tile saw is required for cutting

Get the EliteTile mosaic tile for shower walls at Wayfair.

Best Hexagon Mosaic

Lifeproof Carrara Ceramic Hexagon Mosaic Tile

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Reminiscent of a honeycomb design created in nature by bees, Lifeproof’s Carrara ceramic mosaic tiles can impart a fresh look to any bathroom. The surface mimics lightly mottled marble with a soft sheen. The white-based tiles come preset on interlocking mesh backing for easy installation, and users can customize the look by selecting a matching or contrasting grout color.

The Lifeproof mosaic tiles measure 10 inches by 12 inches, and the sheets are 0.25 inch thick. They’re impervious to water and can be installed on an entire wall or used to create feature strips or focal points when combined with other shower-appropriate tiles. One carton of these hexagon mosaic tiles covers up to 9.5 square feet. Wipe wet tiles with a soft absorbent cloth, and use a pH-neutral liquid cleaner when necessary.

Product Specs

  • Tile dimensions: 10 inches tall by 12 inches long by 0.25 inch thick
  • Coverage per carton: 9.5 square feet per 12 pieces, also sold individually
  • Type: Ceramic

Pros

  • Pleasing honeycomb design
  • Easy-to-install tile sheets
  • Suitable for whole walls or accent features

Cons

  • Not for use in outdoor showers (bathhouses)

Get the Lifeproof tile for shower walls at The Home Depot.

Best Pebble

Tile Connection Natural Stone Pebbles Mosaic Tile

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Getting the natural look of stone pebbles couldn’t be easier. Tile Connection’s natural stone pebble mosaic tiles feature small stones cut to a uniform 0.38-inch thickness and then buffed smooth before they’re affixed firmly to a mesh backing. Stones are selected by size and shape and glued in an interlocking pattern on the mesh sheets. When installed side by side, the pebbles interlock to create a seam-free design. Various natural stone color combinations are available.

The Tile Connection sheets measure 11.25 inches tall by 11.25 inches long, and one carton covers up to 9.61 square feet. The pebbled look will enhance many decor styles and bring the feeling of nature indoors. Once installed, consider applying a penetrating stone or tile sealant and reapplying once or twice per year as suggested by the sealant manufacturer. Clean with a damp cloth and occasionally with a pH-neutral liquid cleaner.

Product Specs

  • Tile dimensions: 11.25 inches square by 0.38 inch thick
  • Coverage per carton: 9.61 square feet
  • Type: Natural stone pebbles

Pros

  • Attractive natural look
  • Preset on mesh sheets
  • Interlocking to create a seamless appearance

Cons

  • Requires sealing once or twice per year

Get Tile Connection tile for shower walls at Wayfair, The Home Depot, or Lowe’s.

Best Large Format

Marazzi Travisano Porcelain Floor and Wall Tile

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Large tiles like these 18-inch-by-18-inch Travisano tiles by Marazzi make a splash in oversize showers, walk-in showers, or glass-front showers where the full impact of their dimensions can be seen and appreciated. Made of porcelain, these tiles are suitable for indoor and outdoor shower installation.

They are 0.35 inch thick, and users can opt to install only the 18-inch-by-18-inch tiles or mix it up by incorporating smaller tiles to break up large spaces or define features. One carton covers 17.6 square feet. Cleaning is simple—use a clean cloth or squeegee to remove excess water after showering and use a pH-neutral liquid tile cleaner for occasional deep cleaning.

Product Specs

  • Tile dimensions: 18 inches square by 0.35 inch thick
  • Coverage per carton: 17.6 square feet
  • Type: Porcelain

Pros

  • Large-format tiles create a dramatic effect
  • Suitable for indoor or outdoor use
  • Larger size means fewer tiles to set

Cons

  • Size may overwhelm a small shower

Get the Marazzi tile for shower walls at The Home Depot.

Also Consider

EliteTile Alhama Porcelain Stone Look Tile

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For a unique tile designed to enhance the appeal of any shower, take a look at EliteTile’s Alhama stone-look porcelain tiles. These quality tiles feature an elongated baroque design and come in two earthy hues. With their staggered rows, the Alhama tiles interlock and create an ornate look that’s gently toned down by a muted satin finish.

These porcelain tiles measure 6.25 inches tall by 12.75 inches long and are 0.39 inch thick. A single carton covers 8.8 square feet. They are suitable for both indoor and outdoor shower installation. Care is simple; just wipe down after showering with a damp cloth or use a squeegee, and use a pH-neutral liquid cleaner when necessary to remove soap scum or water spots.

Product Specs

  • Tile dimensions: 6.25 inches tall by 12.75 inches long by 0.39 inch thick
  • Coverage per carton: 8.8 square feet
  • Type: Porcelain

Pros

  • Attractive design
  • Interlocking tile installation
  • Easy care
  • Suitable indoors or outdoors

Cons

  • Color may be darker than shown

Get the EliteTile stone-look tiles for shower walls at Wayfair.

Our Verdict

Any of the tiles in this lineup of the best tile for shower walls are well suited for updating a shower, but our best overall pick, the Home Decorators Collection tile for shower walls, checks all the boxes. It features a high sheen and is suitable for indoor or outdoor shower installation. Our budget pick, Daltile tile for shower walls, allows users to create a beautiful, classic look without spending a lot.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Tile for Shower Walls

When choosing tile for shower walls, the primary consideration is whether the tiles are impervious to water. All stone, glass, ceramic, and porcelain tiles are suitable, but linoleum tiles are out. Consider the following features when choosing tile for a shower.

Type

If it’s waterproof, it can probably be installed in a shower, but before buying, it’s a good idea to understand the differences between popular types of tile.

  • Ceramic/porcelain: Among the most common tile options are ceramic and porcelain. It can be challenging to tell the difference between these two types of tiles by looking at them, but both are suitable for installation in a shower. Porcelain is denser and fired at a higher temperature, which makes it suitable for some outdoor applications but also more brittle. Ceramic tiles are intended mainly for indoor use.
  • Glass: Glass tiles provide an iridescent look and feel in a shower. They’re beautiful when kept very clean, but smudges tend to show up on glass tiles more than on ceramic or porcelain tiles. In addition, the translucent nature of glass tiles allows uneven areas in the adhesive layer to show through. Professional tile installation is recommended.
  • Marble/stone: Multiple types of stone are available in tile form, including slate, travertine, marble, quartz, and more. These are typically pricier than ceramic or porcelain tiles, but they’re an attractive option in natural-style homes and bathrooms.
  • Linoleum: Linoleum works on a bathroom floor, but it doesn’t belong on a shower wall. Constant exposure to water can loosen linoleum tile backing, and eventually, the tiles will start to peel away from the wall.

Size 

Tiles for shower walls are available in various sizes, from about 1 inch by 1 inch for mosaic tile installations up to 18 inches by 18 inches or larger. The general rule is to opt for smaller tiles in smaller bathrooms (or showers) and to reserve large-format tiles for spacious bathrooms. Of course, these are guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules.

Also, keep in mind that smaller tiles require more grout lines, and it can be challenging to keep all those lines straight during installation.

Installation and Maintenance

Maintaining a tile shower wall isn’t difficult. It requires rinsing after showering and using a squeegee to remove water that might otherwise leave hard-water spots. For the best results, when deeper cleaning is necessary, use a pH-neutral liquid cleaner that won’t scratch the tile surface.

Installing a tile shower wall is quite a different thing. The surface behind the tile must be waterproof. Building codes vary by community, but in general, it’s standard to install shower tile on a cement backer board. In some cases, local building code may require the addition of a waterproof membrane before the tile can be installed. In no case is it advisable to install tile on standard drywall, which isn’t water-resistant.

DIYers should follow the installation instructions that come with the tile, which will indicate which type of backer to use as well as the type of adhesive and grout to use. Even the notch size on the trowel used to spread adhesive should be recommended by the tile manufacturer.

Last but far from least, always order 10 percent more tile than square footage dictates. This overage will come in handy in the case of accidental breakage of tiles or cutting errors. Any leftover tiles can be saved if an installed tile cracks and needs to be replaced later on. It’s much better to have a few tiles left over rather than needing to reorder another box of tiles while in the middle of a project.

FAQs

Tile adds an upgraded touch to any bathroom, and many sizes, types, and color options are available. Those who are new to tiling may have a few questions.

Q. What material is best for shower tile?

Something that is impervious to water—such as ceramic, porcelain, or stone—is best for showers.

Q. Can new tile be installed over existing tile?

Depending on the condition of the existing tile, it may be safe to install the new tiles over the old ones.

Q. What is the best size of tile to use in a shower?

It depends on the desired look. Large-format tiles—18 inches by 18 inches, for example—look best in spacious bathrooms, while smaller tiles are more at home in a small bathroom.

Q. What type of tile is easiest to keep clean in a shower?

Tiles with a glazed surface are easier to wash and less likely to stain than unglazed or porous tiles.

Q. What is the most popular tile for showers?

Glazed tile, glass tile, and natural stone are among the most popular tile options for showers.

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Glenda Taylor

Staff Writer

Glenda Taylor is a BobVila.com staff writer with a background in the residential remodeling, home building, and home improvement industries. She started writing for BobVila.com in 2016 and covers a range of topics, including construction methods, code compliance, tool use, and the latest news in the housing and real estate industries. 

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