Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

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Small Law Survivor
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Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by Small Law Survivor »

We are renovating our master bath. The decision-making involved is a bit stressful - we are working with an interior designer. She is urging us to tile the walls floor to ceiling, but wife and I think "half-tiled" walls would be a better aesthetic - we could change the paint, hang pictures ... whatever.

Doing a bathroom renovation is a classic example of having to make a decision with incomplete knowledge in the context of a decision that one makes once or twice in a lifetime.

Any thoughts or advice on this? Here's a link to what "half-tiled" walls look like.

https://www.decorpad.com/search/half-ti ... room-walls

Thanks in advance.

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evancox10
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by evancox10 »

I think half tiled is more practical and can look quite nice. Design isn't just how things look, it's also how they work. You have some good insights, trust your gut more.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by SuzBanyan »

Small Law Survivor wrote: Tue May 14, 2024 7:27 am We are renovating our master bath. The decision-making involved is a bit stressful - we are working with an interior designer. She is urging us to tile the walls floor to ceiling, but wife and I think "half-tiled" walls would be a better aesthetic - we could change the paint, hang pictures ... whatever.

Doing a bathroom renovation is a classic example of having to make a decision with incomplete knowledge in the context of a decision that one makes once or twice in a lifetime.

Any thoughts or advice on this? Here's a link to what "half-tiled" walls look like.

https://www.decorpad.com/search/half-ti ... room-walls

Thanks in advance.

Small Law Survivor
Assuming you are not talking about space that is a “wet room”, such as a walk-in shower or free standing tub, I think the choice is mostly aesthetics. The NYT did a piece in late April on walk-in showers and most of the spaces shown (outside the wet room) were half-tiled or even no tile. Beyond aesthetics, tile can echo sound more than other wall coverings, so I would only fully tile the walls in a generously sized room. Also, think about the transitions if some areas, like a walk-in shower will have tile to the ceiling and other areas won’t.

I’m doing a modest reno of my baths and my designer was surprised that I was going to add so much as an accent stripe to my tile designs. Like your wife, I figured I can add color or design with paint or art, and it be much less expensive than redoing a tile design that is feeling dated.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by stan1 »

Either is fine as a personal preference, but I'd go with larger format tile (less grout). Floor to ceiling subways would be a lot of maintenance. The designer doesn't have to clean it (or pay someone to clean it).

Tiling walls beyond the tub, shower, and sink wet areas is I think a luxury that is trending into more homes. I'd do it if it would bring you/spouse enjoyment but not sure I would do it otherwise. The larger the room the more I would want something of more visual interest. And you can do full time on some walls such as near the tub/shower and half tile on other walls where you'd want to put art work.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by Sandtrap »

Small Law Survivor wrote: Tue May 14, 2024 7:27 am We are renovating our master bath. The decision-making involved is a bit stressful - we are working with an interior designer. She is urging us to tile the walls floor to ceiling, but wife and I think "half-tiled" walls would be a better aesthetic - we could change the paint, hang pictures ... whatever.

Doing a bathroom renovation is a classic example of having to make a decision with incomplete knowledge in the context of a decision that one makes once or twice in a lifetime.

Any thoughts or advice on this? Here's a link to what "half-tiled" walls look like.

https://www.decorpad.com/search/half-ti ... room-walls

Thanks in advance.

Small Law Survivor
This is a great idea.
If well integrated in the bathroom existing design, do it.

What the "interior designer" urges for you house, is not what she has to live with. To her, it is just another client, another house, done by the book or per current trends. Her suggestions are valuable input of one person. So, keep that context with discretion. Everyone has "great ideas".

This is your house. What you want and live with will make it "your home".

Is this your "aging in place forever home"?
Where are you going to put the safety grab bars?

j :D

personally, full floor to ceiling tile walls look like airport and commercial bathrooms and are highly impersonal.
Last edited by Sandtrap on Tue May 14, 2024 8:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by mrmass »

stan1 wrote: Tue May 14, 2024 8:00 am Either is fine as a personal preference, but I'd go with larger format tile (less grout). Floor to ceiling subways would be a lot of maintenance. The designer doesn't have to clean it (or pay someone to clean it).

Tiling walls beyond the tub, shower, and sink wet areas is I think a luxury that is trending into more homes. I'd do it if it would bring you/spouse enjoyment but not sure I would do it otherwise. The larger the room the more I would want something of more visual interest. And you can do full time on some walls such as near the tub/shower and half tile on other walls where you'd want to put art work.
Definitely consider the less grout option. Maybe even Slabs.
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Watty
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by Watty »

We are just starting a remodel of two small bathrooms and around the tub and shower the tiles will go to the ceiling but we did not even consider putting tile on the walls anywhere else. In the rest of the bathroom the walls are just drywall with no tile.

Even putting the tile halfway up the wall sounds like a bad idea to me for the areas behind the toilet or a stand alone sink. The problem is that if you ever need to get some plumbing work done the tile would need to be taken out to get into the wall. You are unlikely to be able to match the tile ten years from now so you might then need to replace large sections of tile after a minor plumbing repair.

If you do tile the bathroom walls then it would be good to get extra tile to keep just in case you ever need to do a repair.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by bendix »

Most of the civilized world has their bathroom walls tiled somewhere between fully and 3/4. If you use a nice and pleasant to look at tile, e.g. marble or quartz, I think a fully tiled wall will look stunning. If you´re thinking ceramic... meh, I`d probably do 3/4.

1/2 tiled looks like you ran out of money halfways. I wouldnt do that.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by stan1 »

Watty wrote: Tue May 14, 2024 8:28 am
Even putting the tile halfway up the wall sounds like a bad idea to me for the areas behind the toilet or a stand alone sink. The problem is that if you ever need to get some plumbing work done the tile would need to be taken out to get into the wall. You are unlikely to be able to match the tile ten years from now so you might then need to replace large sections of tile after a minor plumbing repair.
If the designer is trying to copy a European hotel the toilet tank is inside the wall and doesn't have external plumbing like shut off valves.

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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by jebmke »

bendix wrote: Tue May 14, 2024 8:30 am Most of the civilized world has their bathroom walls tiled somewhere between fully and 3/4. If you use a nice and pleasant to look at tile, e.g. marble or quartz, I think a fully tiled wall will look stunning. If you´re thinking ceramic... meh, I`d probably do 3/4.

1/2 tiled looks like you ran out of money halfways. I wouldnt do that.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by PeninsulaPerson »

Small Law Survivor wrote: Tue May 14, 2024 7:27 am
... we are working with an interior designer. She is urging us ...

... wife and I think "half-tiled" walls would be a better aesthetic - we could change the paint, hang pictures ... whatever.

The interior designer can urge away but you and your wife should do what you think is right for you. Period.

You'll probably never see the interior designer again. And even if you will - just tell her you want what you want. What does she really care anyway?

(If you do half walls and realize later you wish you had done full walls, you can always fill in with a close match or something that looks like you meant it that way.)

My husband and I have floor to ceiling tiles in our bathroom and we love it. Very pleased. But that's what we wanted! We love those particular tiles.

Definitely do get extra tiles and tuck them away. Get more than you think you'll need not because you'll need them (we haven't, in more than 15 years!) but because it's so easy to get the totally-matching extras now and most likely impossible later.

FYI - it's very easy to put picture hangers up on tile. My handyman helped me with that because I knew he could do the drilling without breaking the tiles. If you wanted full tile walls, don't let that detail stop you.

Good luck with it!

(Oh, and when we were doing our bathroom, we spoke with a lighting designer to help us make a good choice among so many options. She kept pushing for some very expensive lights that we just hated. She was not pleased with us - oh, well! - but we went another way. She has not been in our bathroom since. We're in it every day. Do what you and your wife will like!)
Last edited by PeninsulaPerson on Tue May 14, 2024 10:33 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by bikesandbeers »

We have our smaller guest bathroom tiled to 40 inches all the way around. White subway tile with a black border. This include behind the toilet and the pedastal sink. The towel bars and outlets/switches mount just above the tile.


We get complements on it all the time. I don’t ever to ever be doing plumbing in the wall. I do have half a case a subway tile just in case since we use the same tile in our master and kitchen.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by stan1 »

Risk of having to open up the wall for a plumbing issue can be mitigated if the toilet is on an interior wall and the other side is accessible through the drywall.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by 123 »

The more "style" you add to walls the higher the chance that the specific style doesn't age well or becomes a negative when it comes time to sell the home. Plain walls are ageless, never go out of style.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by barnaclebob »

Full tile does look more modern but it doesn't feel as livable and getting the overall design right is more critical. I'd like it in a bathroom when I'm on vacation but not to use every day.

Our bathroom is white wainscotting on bottom and a nice blue on top, so a similar look to half tiled.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by rich126 »

Designers often get carried away spending other people's money. They can be helpful but often push people into higher price items where they earn commissions or kickbacks from. It is your house so do what you want.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by flarf »

It's just aesthetics and flow. A master bathroom with stone floor to ceiling on all the walls would look weird in an otherwise nondescript ranch. A master bathroom with MDF baseboards and painted walls with a fiberglass tub surround would look ridiculous in an otherwise luxurious home.

If you do floor to ceiling all around, vet the installer carefully. That's a job for a true professional, not a handyman. It's a real art to deal with walls that are not perfectly plumb and corners that are out of square (which they all are to some extent), especially if you go with large-format pieces.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by makeitcount »

We recently redid 2 bathrooms. Tile floor to ceiling in the tub/showers with the remaining walls being free of tile.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by rogue_economist »

I consider paying someone to tell me how to decorate roughly as useful as setting money on fire. I agree tile to the ceiling is odd.

That said, bathrooms need physical wall protection at least halfway up the wall due to the moisture and for ease of cleaning. Above that can be painted but don't use wallpaper. Even better spring for skim plaster.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by Alfonsia »

Just redid our primary, it was half covered in wood paneling, awful, dated, ugh. it is now lovely plain nothingness. Replaced with bathroom appropriate board and skimmed, primed, primed and painted. Radically matte paint. Bath is only there for aesthetics. Shower is fully tiled. Our last house was new construction with no wall tile and I really liked it. It's only a grown ups bathroom, there is no splashing.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by Circe »

123 wrote: Tue May 14, 2024 10:00 am The more "style" you add to walls the higher the chance that the specific style doesn't age well or becomes a negative when it comes time to sell the home. Plain walls are ageless, never go out of style.
I agree. And the fewer grout lines, the easier to clean.

The exception to this would be if you had a steam shower or for some other reason, expected a lot of water to be everywhere. I use an easier-to-clean paint for walls outside the shower, like semi-gloss or satin (matte for the rest of the house).
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by Mr. Rumples »

The purpose of tile was to protect walls from water splashing. The less the better; half tile.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by Wanderingwheelz »

More than the decision about how high to with the tile should be the competency of the craftsman who installs it. In our last house the person we hired put one of the natural marble tiles on backwards, thus in just the right light I could tell that the dull side was mistakenly faced up. When washing it it was obvious since the sponge slowed down over the one tile. Also, a better job could have been done in getting the titles flush- it wasn’t bad.. it’s just I think he could have done better. Same with the tile floor.

In our foyer/kitchen remodel more tile had to be purchased to complete the job and what the contractor bought the second time didn’t exactly match the color of what went down first. They had to research the batch #s on the original boxes, track some down, tear it up and redo it.

Good luck with the project!
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by ResearchMed »

Circe wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 6:17 am
123 wrote: Tue May 14, 2024 10:00 am The more "style" you add to walls the higher the chance that the specific style doesn't age well or becomes a negative when it comes time to sell the home. Plain walls are ageless, never go out of style.
I agree. And the fewer grout lines, the easier to clean.

The exception to this would be if you had a steam shower or for some other reason, expected a lot of water to be everywhere. I use an easier-to-clean paint for walls outside the shower, like semi-gloss or satin (matte for the rest of the house).
[emphasis added]


An exception to having "as few grout lines as possible" is that it may be prudent to have smaller tile sizes on the shower floor IF it's not a bathtub combo.

Those "cracks and the grout" can provide a less slippery surface when there is lots of water on the floor, and maybe some soap or shampoo as well.

And IF you are tiling the floor, consider the tile finish. This is perhaps not the place for a nice polished tile surface. IF that's what you are using for the walls, for example, try to get the "same" material, but in a very slightly pebbly or other "less finished" surface for that floor area. This can provide a nice secure floor surface even when wet/etc.
If it's stone (vs., say, ceramic tile), at least try to get a "honed" finish rather than regular "polished", if you don't want something even slightly less polished.

In our primary bathroom, we used 2" x 2" for the shower floor, with a vaguely rough finish (not as smooth as honed, but not actually "pebbly"), and used honed 12" x 12" for the rest of the entire shower enclose, and a bit over halfway up the wall for the rest of the bathroom.
The regular floor part (between shower and sink/etc.) is something like 2" x 6" honed finish, again to minimize slipping, as that floor can get wet when someone steps out of the shower, etc.

It's almost everyday that we are both glad we have the shower floor like that. :happy

And at the suggestion of our contractor, we used grout that was a bit on the darker side on the shower floor surfaces, although not actually "dark". (My first inclination had been to go very light, give the shading of the marble.) It hasn't shown much change even in the middle of the shower floor, compared with around the edges, even after many years.

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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by Circe »

RM, I totally agree. I was thinking in terms of the walls only. For floors, a rougher surface and more frequent grout would be safer. Many years ago, the little black and white tiles on bathroom floors were popular for a reason!

I had a friend who had 12" x 12" polished stone tiles in the foyer, master bath and kitchen because he liked the look. Those are all places where there would likely be water and thus were dangerous if you didn't have the right footwear on.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by Duzz78 »

Many tile manufacturers make the same tile in a smooth and textured finishes. In our bathroom, we purchased both types in same tile in same size. Contractor cut the textured tile into 2 X 2 inch squares for the shower floor. We also used that same textured tile on our bathroom floor in its original size. Bathroom floors can also get wet, so do not want slick tiles on this surface.

We also used a commercial grade grout that was antimicrobial, stain and mold resistant. No sealing needed. I just use a squeegee and towel dry the tile and grout after every use. Clean the shower every often. Very low maintenance. After several years looks the same as day one. Tile manufacturers should be able suggest such grouts. Mapei Flexcolor QC and TEC Accucolor are commercial grade brands.

Bathrooms I seen with tiled walls is usually around 42 " high with a bullnose. Tile used was either porcelain or ceramic. You could have an accent wall in your sink area. Add tile from countertop to ceiling on the back wall only. Not the sidewalls. This especially looks finished when the vanity area is block in on the sides by wall.

My bathrooms do not have tile on the walls. In fact, no home i have lived in had tile on the walls outside of the tub/shower areas.
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by muffins14 »

I prefer full tile. To me half tile looks more like “we ran out of money and skipped the other tile” rather than “we enjoy the flexibility of mixing and matching cool colors and wallpaper over the years to follow our aesthetic preferences”
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Re: Thoughts on "half-tiled" walls in a master bath reno

Post by Mysterious »

We did 48” (or so) high walls on all sides of the bathroom. The shower wall went floor to ceiling and was the back wall. We did slabs of tile vertically.

Pro:
Easy to clean
I have less to paint
There is a visual break
Easy to install accessories into the drywall

Cons:
None
(I had the tile guy install the toilet paper holder, shower rod, and grab bar into the tile)
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