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Alternatives to bathroom tiles

Updated March 23, 2017

Ceramic tile in the bathroom remains a classic approach to flooring, walls, counter tops and back splashes. However, many decorators have been exploring alternatives to bathroom tile that incorporate innovative materials or surprising finishes. Using different materials in your bathroom can create a softer backdrop than ceramic tile.

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Modular Flooring

One of the hottest trends in carpeting can work in the bathroom as well. Modular carpet tiles, which come individually or in colour-coordinated or patterned groupings, can add colour, depth, texture and style to your bathroom decor. The best news about most modular carpet sets is that they attach to one another as opposed to a floor, making cleaning, maintenance and replacement a breeze. You can use a thin, low-pile option in the bathroom, or use modular hard vinyl flooring tiles. Small segments of modular tile can also work as a back splash around the bathroom sink, but you need to adhere them to the wall.


Whether you seek industrial or spa, eco-design or rustic, concrete offers some interesting options in bathroom finishes. Concrete paint and acid staining can transform a stony surface into something with deep hues or stencilled patterns. Concrete can lend a bathroom a raw and minimalist look or can be finished to give the bathroom classic sophistication. The downside of concrete for floors is that it is slippery when wet. However, if you use a rough finish or combine concrete with modular flooring, it will soften the room. Concrete works well on bathroom counters, and can be shaped into curves for a smoother edge. Stained, stamped and ornamented concrete walls can work in a bathroom, but are too porous to use as shower walls.


The eco-design movement has prompted many people to investigate options in nontoxic finishes that consist of renewable resources. Bamboo wins on all counts and offers the added benefits of creating a gorgeous and warm finish to the bathroom floor, counters or walls. Bamboo may share the appearance of wooden surfaces, but has more resilience in the humid environment of the bathroom. Bamboo maintains its glow longer and has a harder surface than most wood. While you still want to mop up excess moisture off a bamboo floor and counter, the surface is not as vulnerable to mildew as its traditional wood counterparts. You can purchase bamboo vanities, wall cabinets and shelves intended for use in the bathroom, or go custom. Paired with organic textiles, bamboo imparts a spa-like ambience in the bathroom decor.

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About the Author

Nina Makofsky has been a professional writer for more than 20 years. She specializes in art, pop culture, education, travel and theater. She currently serves as a Mexican correspondent for "Aishti Magazine," covering everything from folk art to urban trends. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mills College.

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