Should I Use Small Or Large Tiles For Shower Floor?

When embarking on a bathroom renovation through a shower remodeling company, one of the pivotal decisions you'll face is selecting the size of the tiles for your shower floor.

This choice not only impacts the aesthetic appeal of your bathroom but also its functionality and safety. With trends constantly evolving and personal tastes differing, how do you decide between small or large tiles for shower floor?

Choosing between small or large tiles for a shower floor depends on your preferences for aesthetics, slip resistance, and maintenance. Small tiles offer more grip and design versatility, while large tiles provide a sleek look and are easier to clean.

In this article, we'll explore the pros and cons of small and large tiles for shower floor to help you make an informed choice.

Importance of Choosing the Right Tile Size

Choosing the right tile size is a critical decision in any construction or renovation project, impacting everything from the room's aesthetics to its maintenance. 

Here’s why the selection of tile size matters, presented in a concise list format:

Aesthetic Impact: Tile size can dramatically affect the visual appeal of a space. Larger tiles can make a room appear more spacious and modern, while smaller tiles can offer a cozy, intricate look.

  • Spatial Perception: The choice of tile size can influence how large or small a room feels. Fewer grout lines from larger tiles can make a space seem bigger, while smaller tiles can make it feel more compact.

  • Safety Considerations: In areas prone to moisture, like bathrooms, smaller tiles can provide better slip resistance due to more grout lines, enhancing safety.

  • Ease of Installation: Larger tiles may require a perfectly level substrate to avoid lippage, making their installation more complex in certain scenarios. Smaller tiles are more forgiving on uneven surfaces but might entail more intricate grouting work.

  • Maintenance and Cleaning: Larger tiles are generally easier to clean due to fewer grout lines, whereas smaller tiles may require more effort to maintain, especially in grout cleaning.

  • Cost Efficiency: The cost implications vary with tile size. Larger tiles might have a higher purchase price but can cover areas quickly, potentially lowering labor costs. Smaller tiles might be cheaper per piece but could lead to higher installation costs due to the labor-intensive process.

  • Durability and Repair: Smaller tiles can be easier to replace individually if damage occurs, potentially extending the lifespan of the flooring. Large tiles, while durable, may require the replacement of a larger section if cracked.

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Should I Use Small or Large Tiles for Shower Floor?

Choosing the right tile size for your shower floor is more than just a matter of personal preference; it involves considering several factors including safety, maintenance, and aesthetics. 

Whether you lean towards the intricate details of small tiles or the sleek simplicity of large tiles, understanding their benefits and drawbacks is essential.

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Benefits of Small Tiles

  • Increased Safety: The more frequent grout lines found in small tile installations create a textured surface that can reduce the risk of slipping, making them an excellent choice for wet areas like showers and bathroom floors.

  • Aesthetic Versatility: Small tiles offer a wide range of design possibilities. They can be used to create intricate patterns, and detailed mosaics, or add visual interest to a space with their varied colors and textures.

  • Easier Installation on Curved Surfaces: Due to their size, small tiles can more easily adapt to curved surfaces, such as columns or rounded shower stalls, providing a smooth, cohesive look.

  • Repair and Replacement: If damage occurs, it's often easier and less expensive to replace a few small tiles than to replace larger ones, which can make maintenance more manageable over time.

  • Grout Contribution to Design: The increased amount of grout used with small tiles can contribute to the overall design, allowing for creative expressions through contrasting or complementary grout colors.

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Drawbacks of Small Tiles

  • Higher Maintenance: More grout lines mean more potential for grout to become discolored, moldy, or mildewed, especially in damp environments. This can lead to higher maintenance requirements to keep the grout clean and sealed.

  • More Complex Installation: While small tiles can be more forgiving on uneven surfaces, the process of laying them and ensuring even spacing can be more time-consuming and labor-intensive, potentially increasing installation costs.

  • Can Feel Busy: In some spaces, especially larger ones, the use of small tiles over extensive areas can create a visually busy or cluttered appearance, which might not be desirable for those seeking a minimalist or more tranquil aesthetic.

  • Cost Considerations: Although individual small tiles might be less expensive, the overall cost, including labor, can be higher due to the intricate nature of the installation and the need for more grout and potentially more cutting and fitting.

  • Grout Deterioration Over Time: The larger amount of exposed grout can be susceptible to wear and tear over time, requiring more frequent resealing or repairs to maintain its appearance and prevent water damage.

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Advantages of Large Tiles

  • Modern, Spacious Look: Large tiles can make a small space appear larger by minimizing visual interruptions. The fewer grout lines contribute to a seamless, expansive feel, enhancing the room's overall aesthetic with a clean and modern look.

  • Less Grout Maintenance: With fewer grout lines than smaller tiles, large tiles require less maintenance. This makes them particularly appealing in areas where cleaning ease is a priority, reducing the time and effort needed for upkeep.

  • Faster Installation: Although individual large tiles are heavier, the installation process can be quicker because fewer tiles cover the same area. This can potentially reduce labor costs and time spent on installation.

  • Versatility in Design: Large tiles are available in a variety of materials, finishes, and colors, offering versatility in design. They can be used in contemporary to traditional settings, and their large surface area showcases the material's beauty with fewer interruptions.

  • Durability: Due to their size, large tiles are often thicker and more robust, which can contribute to the overall durability of the flooring or wall application, offering a sturdy surface area in high-traffic zones.

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Disadvantages of Large Tiles

  • Challenging Installation on Uneven Surfaces: Large tiles require a perfectly level substrate for installation. Any irregularities can lead to cracking or lippage (where the edges of tiles are higher than others), necessitating more prep work.

  • Higher Initial Cost: While the installation may be quicker, large tiles often come with a higher price tag per tile. Additionally, the need for a perfectly level base and specialized tools for handling can increase installation costs.

  • Difficult to Handle and Cut: The size and weight of large tiles make them more challenging to handle, cut, and install, especially in tight spaces or around obstacles. This can limit their use in areas with complex layouts or many fixtures.

  • Waste Factor: When cutting large tiles to fit specific spaces, there may be more waste compared to smaller tiles, which can be more easily adjusted and utilized in various layouts.

  • Limited Use in Small Spaces: In very small rooms, large tiles can overwhelm the space or require numerous cuts, potentially detracting from their aesthetic appeal and making the room feel disproportionate.

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FAQs on Tile Size Selection

Can large tiles make a small room look bigger?

Yes, large tiles can create the illusion of a larger space by reducing visual fragmentation with fewer grout lines.

Are small tiles more slip-resistant than large tiles?

Generally, yes. Small tiles have more grout lines, which can offer better slip resistance compared to large tiles.

Do large tiles require more maintenance than small tiles?

No, large tiles typically require less maintenance because they have fewer grout lines, which is often the most challenging part of tile maintenance.

Is it more expensive to install small tiles than large tiles?

It can be, due to the more time-consuming process of laying small tiles and the increased amount of grout and detail work involved.

Can I use large tiles in a small bathroom?

Yes, but careful planning is needed to minimize cutting and waste, and to ensure the scale of the tiles does not overwhelm the space.

Are small tiles suitable for high-traffic areas?

Yes, small tiles can be very durable and suitable for high-traffic areas, especially when choosing a hard-wearing material.

Selecting Tile Size for Shower Flooring

Deciding between small or large tiles for your shower floor involves weighing various factors, from aesthetic preferences to practical considerations. 

Both options offer unique benefits, making it important to consider your specific needs and desires for your bathroom renovation. 

By carefully evaluating your options, you can create a shower floor that not only looks great but also meets your safety, maintenance, and budgetary requirements.

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About the author

Hi my name is Jeremy Maher. My wife, 2 kids and I went through Contractor Nightmares for 3 years straight.

Ben, Mark, and I teamed up to start Phoenix Home Remodeling to help homeowners remodel without the common contractor nightmares.

Learn more about Jeremy's expertise and topics he likes to write about on his author page.