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Bathroom Tile, at Different Heights

How high should you tile your bathroom walls?  Floor to ceiling is chic, but tile wainscotting also makes an impact.  This guide will help you decide how high to tile in your bathroom.

Standard Tub and Shower Walls

The minimum code height for a tub or shower enclosure's water proof covering is 6' above the finished floor height. A practical height, when working with full sized 12" tiles is 6 courses. This results in a height that meets the minimum with a bit to spare when the grout lines are factored in. When I install shower tile about half of my clients go for tile all the way to the ceiling in the shower areas. This extra tile work adds little to the cost of the project and can give a modern look to an older bath. The big decisions come with tiling the rest of the room.

Tile Work Outside of the Shower

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  • Tile baseboard height: The first level of wall tile is comprised of a "tile baseboard." This level of wall covering provides some robustness for aggressive mopping and reduces the chances of mold growth from a miss-aligned shower curtain or some aggressive play by children in a tub. Tiles can be special bull-nosed tiles with a finished "edge" or cut from the basic floor tiles.
  • Tile wainscot:  The next level up the wall provides some additional protection above the baseboard level. This height also adds a design element that is gaining popularity in bathroom remodels.  Just like their wood cousins, tile wainscot can be capped with a decorative "chair rail" in wood or tile. The use of accent tile, and mosaics, can break up a plain field and add texture and color.
  • Wall tile at the backsplash level:  This level of wall tile follows the height of the back splash that dresses up the back of the vanity and lavatory areas.  Like the wainscot-height tiles, these are often capped with a specialty tiles or moldings.  Accent strips can encircle a room seamlessly and are often followed through the shower or tub areas.
  • Shower wall-height tiles: This is one of the lesser used heights for complete rooms, but is regularly used for walk in shower or curbless type applications. These typically only incorporate a corner of the bathroom or extend along a single wall.
  • Floor to ceiling tiles:  This is a bold and dramatic way to showcase a bath. A spa like atmosphere can be experienced at home with floor to ceiling polished marble or tumbled travertine. As an added bonus, properly-sealed floor to ceiling tiles are quite mold resistant.

You can look at your bathroom walls a blank canvas, and you can look at tile as a palette with infinite choices.  Remember, bathroom tile design isn't just about color and texture -- carefully consider the height at which you place tile on your bathroom walls when designing.

Kevin Stevens is a Networx - http://www.networx.com - writer.  Read more articles like this one - http://www.networx.com/article/bathroom-tile-at-different-heights - on Networx.com. 

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