Tile Application: Your Bathroom

What is the best tile for your bathroom?


Your bathroom has to stand up to wet conditions, frequent cleaning, and still look good while doing it. Not only does a fully tiled bathroom make it more water-resistant, it is a stunning design statement as well. How do you know what tile to choose for this application?

First, let’s go through basic terms that are important in choosing your bathroom tile.
The following water-proof ratings were developed by The American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The tests to get these ratings consists of first boiling the tile for five hours then immersing the tile in cold water for another 24 hours and then measuring its gain in weight from the original dry state. The amount of absorption is stated as a percent of change from the dry weight.

Water absorption of more than 7.0% by volume. These tiles are mainly used in dry areas of the house.

Water absorption of more than 3.0%, but not more than 7.0%. A semi-vitreous tile is less porous than a non-vitreous tile.

Water absorption of more than 0.5%, but not more than 3.0%. A vitreous tile is less porous than a semi-vitreous tile because more of the tiny spaces between clay particles have been filled with glass.

Water absorption of 0.5% or less. An impervious tile is the least porous — in fact, it is essentially waterproof — but instead of calling it super-vitreous or waterproof, the creators of the test settled on impervious. It is sometimes referred to as porcelain.

Coefficient of friction
For floor tile, this Coefficient of Friction (COF) ranking is important. The test establishes how much force is required to move an object across the face of the tile, dry or wet. It tells you how resistant a tile is to slipping.

For safety in wet areas or in flooring applications where accessibility is a concern, look for a tile with a high coefficient of friction. This property is measured on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the most slip-resistant, or just “wet” or “dry.”

Want the look of wood but the durability of tile? Check our last post: Wood Grain Tile

Now how do these apply to your bathroom application?


Tiles for your bathroom walls do not need to have a very high coefficient of friction. It really doesn’t matter how slip-resistant they are! Walls only get wet on occasion, so the tiles used on the walls can be non-vitreous to semi-vitreous. A personal favorite of mine is subway tile- it goes with everything!


The tiles you use on your floor need to have a dry coefficient of friction, meaning you won’t slip and fall while hopping out of your shower. These tiles should be semi-vitreous to vitreous, holding in little to no water, as it is possible to experience constant or standing water. 


The driest and lowest water absorption tiles need to be placed in your shower. I’d say vitreous to impervious, though impervious tiles aren’t completely necessary. They can be more expensive and will outlast your house, you, your children, your grandchildren, and beyond. No need for that, don’t you think? Those tiles can be saved for an outdoor application! Stick with vitreous tile and your wallet will thank you!

Still not sure what tile to use? We can help! Our staff of interior designers and tile specialists would be glad to assist in choosing the right tile for your bathroom (or any application!). Our new Tile Center will be opening at the end of this month, but don’t wait until then to come see us 🙂

For more information on Dalton Carpet One, stop by the showroom at 3690 Atlanta Highway, Suite 108 in Athens, Ga., call 706.353.0547 or visit www.daltoncarpetone.com.

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