Choose the Best Steam Shower Tiles for a Spa-Like Bathroom

Transforming your ordinary bathroom into a relaxing, spa-like oasis is easier than you think. The secret lies in strategic design choices, like your selection of shower tiles. With the right steam shower tiles, you can create a space that promotes tranquility, rejuvenation and comfort in your own home.

But not all tiles are created equal when it comes to withstanding the hot, humid conditions inside a steam shower. You’ll want to choose tiles that are durable, low-maintenance, and enhance the ambiance you desire.

Steam Shower Tile Material Options

The type of material you choose for your steam shower tiles will impact aesthetics, durability, and ease of maintenance. Here are some of the most popular options to consider:

steam shower tile ideas

Porcelain Tiles

Porcelain tile is an excellent choice for steam showers thanks to its dense composition and water-resistant properties. Made from finely ground clay and fired at high temperatures, porcelain tiles are less porous than ceramic and better able to withstand exposure to heat and moisture.

Porcelain tiles come in a wide variety of styles, from matte to high-gloss, and even textured finishes that mimic materials like wood and stone. Rich colors and dramatic patterns are available to match any design vision. While more expensive than ceramic, porcelain tiles offer superior durability and easier maintenance in the long run.

Ceramic Tiles

The most budget-friendly option, ceramic tiles make a fine choice for steam showers with proper sealing and care. Available in a broad range of colors, shapes, and designs, ceramic tiles lend themselves well to creative custom looks.

While not as impenetrable to water as porcelain, high-quality ceramic tiles provide good resistance to heat and moisture. Their softer finish also makes them less slippery. Opt for ceramic tiles with low porosity ratings. Stay away from hand-painted ceramic tiles, which can fade over time with repeated steam exposure.

Natural Stone Tiles

For a touch of luxury, natural stone tiles like marble, granite, and slate bring elegance to a steam shower design. Their innate beauty and variation create a visually striking statement. However, most stone has some level of porosity, making tiles more prone to damage from heat and moisture.

Natural stone tiles must be extensively sealed prior to installation and regularly resealed to maintain water resistance. This added maintenance, along with their premium cost, makes natural stone less ideal for steam showers than ceramic or porcelain. But their undeniable good looks still make them a popular choice.

Glass Tiles

With their impervious, easy-to-clean nature, glass tiles seem like an obvious steam shower choice. While glass tiles themselves are completely nonporous, the grout joints used in installation can be a vulnerability. Grout must be properly sealed.

Glass tile costs more than ceramic or porcelain and requires cautious installation to prevent cracking or chipping. Tiny mosaic glass tiles are great for adding an accent wall or splash of color. Larger glass tiles can lend a feelings of openness. Just take care not to create a slipping hazard.

Shower Tile Sizes

Shower tiles come in a range of sizes to support design goals. Smaller tiles like 2″x2″ or 4″x4″ mosaics help make shower spaces feel more expansive. Their grid-like patterns also have a classic appeal.

On the more modern end, larger format tiles like 12″x24″ create a sleek, seamless look. While fewer grout lines look crisp, larger tiles make a small shower space feel more closed in. A smart compromise is a combination of tile sizes to add visual interest.

Shower Tile Shapes

Beyond the standard square or rectangular tile, unique tile shapes allow you to make a design statement in your steam shower. Here are some options to consider:

  • Subway – Rectangular tiles in a classic brickwork style
  • Hexagon – Six-sided tiles for honeycomb-style patterns
  • Penny rounds – Circular tiles with an antique vibe
  • Diamond shape – For a bit of flash and elegance

Shape options are abundant, but be wary of going overboard. Thoughtfully incorporate one or two unusual shapes for accent rather than making them the whole design.

Shower Tile Patterns

Creative use of tile patterns adds visual dynamics to your steam shower design. Here are some ideas to ignite your imagination:

  • Linear – Straightforward grid layout
  • Herringbone – Rows set in opposite direction create interest
  • Mosaic – Small tiles form an artistic focal point
  • Accent strip – Varying patterns separated by thin strip
  • Border – Perimeter has a different tile than body

Since patterned tiles have more grout lines, prioritize larger grout joints and seal them well. Limit overly complicated patterns for a calmer spa aesthetic. Simple does wonders in a steam shower setting.

Shower Tile Layout

Meticulous planning of your tile layout will ensure your design intention shines through. Some key factors to address:

  • Orientation – Horizontal or vertical direction of tiles
  • Grout color – Contrasting or matching grout lines
  • Scale – Proportion of tile sizes
  • Color – Thoughtful use of color to create focal points

Be sure to map out the entire space during the planning phase. Mixing up shape, scale, and color of field tiles, borders, and accents makes for greater visual impact.

Shower Tile Installation Tips

Proper installation is key to getting the most out of your steam shower tiles. Here’s what to keep in mind:

Choose the Right Backerboard

Cement backerboard provides a stable, waterproof foundation for tile installation. Use specific moisture-resistant backerboard for steam shower walls. On floors, a waterproofing membrane offers additional protection.

Achieve a Level Surface

Any imperfections in the substrate will transfer through, so take time to ensure the surface is perfectly plum and level. For walls, install backerboard with seam tape and thinset mortar.

Select Quality Products

Use polymer-modified thinset mortar suitable for wet areas. Make sure grout is silicone or epoxy-based. Apply a quality water-repellent sealer once installed.

Consider Professional Installation

Steam shower tile installation is complex. Unless you’re very skilled, have a professional handle it to ensure lasting quality and water protection.

Steam Shower Tile Maintenance

Keep your steam shower tiles looking like new with proper maintenance:

  • Re-seal tiles every 1-2 years with a penetrating sealer
  • Use a non-abrasive cleaner designed for showers
  • Squeegee after each use to minimize moisture
  • Inspect grout and caulk; re-apply as needed
  • Watch for mildew and treat quickly when detected

With diligent care, most quality shower tiles will last upwards of 10-15 years before needing replacement. Be sure to prep and seal new tiles when the time comes.

The right steam shower tiles promote relaxation while standing up to heat, moisture, and everyday use. Focus on low-maintenance materials like porcelain and ceramic in shapes and patterns that appeal to your aesthetic sense. Plan the layout carefully and install tiles properly for lasting quality. With tips from this guide, you’ll choose tiles to match your vision of a home spa oasis.

We would love to hear about your steam shower tile selections and experiences creating your own at-home spa. Please share your stories and feel free to ask any questions!

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