Bath Tile Wainscoting

Joe's Blog

When I designed our master bath, I knew from the onset that I wanted to use glazed porcelain floor tile that resembled tumbled marble. It has a weathered, old world look that I find more interesting than traditional polished marble. Plus, porcelain tile is much stronger and harder than real marble, so it’s less likely to crack. It’s also less porous and more stain resistant.

In any case, while buying the floor tile I saw a catalog photograph that showed the same tile applied to a bathroom wall, similar to wainscoting. I loved the look and immediately ordered enough tiles to cover the bottom 36” of my bath walls.

The wainscoting is made up of 10”x 10” tiles, a stone bead, 4”x 4” tiles and a stone chair rail. It wraps around the room, visually tying together the entire bath.

Besides the visual appeal of the wainscoting, I also like the fact I didn’t have to install any baseboard molding. The wall tile simply sits right on top of the floor tile.


  1. thinking of doing a ceramic stone wainscoting idea in my bathroom .my ceiling is 90 inches,how high should I go with my wainscoting.

  2. Hey Yve, Wainscoting can be anywhere from about 32 to 36 inches high, although it’s typically closer to 36 inches. In your case, with the lower ceiling, you’d be ok with 32 to 34 inches high. However, the final height will be dependent somewhat on the tile size you choose. There’s no sense in cutting a bunch of tiles just to meet some arbitrary height. I’d suggest picking a tile size and pattern that you like, and not worry too much about the overall height. Good luck, Yve, and thanks for writing!–JT

  3. Hi Susan, I’m not sure what you mean by “tall ceramic wainscoting.” The wainscoting shown in the photo is made up of individual tiles of various sizes. Any well-stocked tile showroom will be able to create the size, color and pattern of wainscoting you desire. It’s always a good idea to bring photos of the space you’re interested in tiling, along with all relevant dimensions; it’ll help the salesman/contractor create the proper design.

  4. Hey John, Yes, the floor was done in the same porcelain tile. I used 13×13-in. tiles on the floor. The wainscoting was done in smaller sizes of the same tile. In fact, that’s a good point. If you’re considering tiling a floor and wall, be sure to choose a tile that comes in a variety of sizes and shapes. Thanks for writing.–JT

  5. I am remodeling a powder bathroom and want to tile the floor and use the tile to also go up the wall as a wainscoting. Will a brick pattern with the tile look to busy in a smaller bathroom? Should I go with straight rows? Thanks

  6. Hi Beth, It’s hard to say without seeing the tile and your bathroom, but I’m a big fan of staggering the joints between tiles, creating what you referred to as a brick pattern. This is particularly true for floor tile and smaller wall tile.

    If using larger wall tile, say, tiles larger than 9 in. sq. or so, you can use straight or staggered joints. However, also take this into consideration:

    Straight tile patterns tend to look like runaways, with long, aligned rows. Again this is more of a concern on floors than on walls. Your eye simply follows these long, unbroken lines. Also, if the tiles aren’t all lined up perfectly straight, you’ll clearly notice each little misalignment, especially when using smaller tiles.

    If you choose to stagger the joints, I recommended breaking the pattern by one half tile. In other words, the grout joints in one direction (let’s say left to right) are all straight, but each grout joint running up and down ends in the middle of the adjacent tile. Hope that makes sense.

    If you’re still not sure which pattern to use, try this designer’s trick: Take two large sheets of white paper and use a thick marker to draw grout joints to represent the tile size you plan to install. On one sheet draw a straight pattern, on the other draw a staggered pattern. Each sheet should be at least 3 ft. tall x 4 ft. wide. Tape the sheets to the wall and then stand back and look at them. That’s the best and easiest way to determine which tile pattern looks best.

    Thanks for writing, Beth, and good luck!

  7. I am having difficulty finding a porcelain tile that looks enough like stone to use stone accents with. Please let me know the tile name and manufacturer you used in the above picture, also how difficult was it to match the stone chair rail and stone bead to the tile color? Thanks for your help.


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