A Night On The Tiles

Tiling is often the most expensive part of any bathroom renovation and yet it sometimes seems like a dark artform. We lift the lid on all things ceramic to help you plan your dream renovation.
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Tiling is often the most expensive part of any bathroom renovation and yet it sometimes seems like a dark artform.  We lift the lid on all things ceramic to help you plan your dream renovation.

Tiles are the most common wall and floor covering used in any bathroom renovation and they come in different types of materials, shapes and sizes and of course, prices.  Not only that, but you also then need to decide where to install them and the pattern or layout that you’d like.  So let’s start the break things down for you:


Tiles are made of EITHER ceramic or porcelain and you’ll often see these words used interchangeably, but now you’ll be the smarty pants that can explain the difference.  The key difference is in how the tiles are made.  Porcelain tiles are fired and the mixture ‘vitrifies’ into a glass-like material and the result is that porcelain tiles are extremely hard and dense and are almost fully waterproof.  Non-porcelain tiles absorb more moisture.  As a result, you’ll find that porcelain tiles are more expensive than their ceramic cousins.

However, both ceramic and porcelain tiles are suitable for your renovation project you just might want to lean more towards porcelain if you’re going for a wet room style bathroom due to the higher levels of moisture involved.  But, if you’re on a tight budget, you’ll find you get more for your money if you stick with ceramic.

Shapes and patterns

Good things come in all shapes and sizes and the same can be said for tiles - we’ve spent hours scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram to hunt out the best tiling combinations and we know just how overwhelming it can be.  At Toolbox, our mission is to make the renovation process easier for homeowners by shedding light on how projects are priced as it’s often an areas shrouded in secrecy.  So the simple way to think about this is that our tradespeople can achieve whatever look and use whatever tile you like but there will be a cost implication to every decision and the same is true for your tile choice.

Our standard pricing assumes you’re using a tile of around 15x7cm (this is around the size of a metro tile) all the way up to a tile which is in the region of 60x30cm so you’ve got a lot of scope to play with.  However, if you decide to go for a really small tile, like a mosaic or a really large format tile (some tiles can go up to 100cm squared now) then the amount of tile it takes to install these increases significantly.  On the smaller side, there are simply more tiles to install and on the larger side, there will be more intricate cutting needed because it’s likely that one tile will need to fit around a lot of shapes.  Using tiles out with our ‘normal’ sizes will incur a 25% surcharge on tiling labour.

The same is true of picking specific patterns in which to apply the tiles in the room.  Picking to apply tiles in fancy patterns is a really effective way to create a real statement wall or feature area in a bathroom but if you’re on a tight budget you should try to keep the size of this area down to a minimum as patterns like herringbone, basket weaves and mosaic will again add a 20% uplift to our labour cost.


A simple but important factor that we will ask you about as part of our quotation process is which areas of the bathroom you want tiling.  We normally break this down into three options -

  • The whole bathroom:  this is as the name suggests - it would involve tiling on each wall of the bathroom, all the way up to the ceiling.  This is the most expensive option, especially in larger bathrooms.
  • Wet areas: wet areas is a way to refer to the walls around the bath or the walls surrounding the shower.  This is the minimum we would recommend on a bathroom renovation project to ensure the longevity of your new bathroom.
  • Wet areas and half height around the rest of the room: This is the half way house option, we would tile the areas around the bath and or shower all the way to the ceiling and then the rest of the room would be done to half-height (normally around 1.2m from the floor).

It’s also worth remembering that the cost will depend upon what the current state of the bathroom is.  For example, if your bathroom is fully tiled at the moment and you plan on doing option three above, then don’t forget that we will need to repair the rest of the wall after removing the existing tiles.  This often involves replacing damaged plasterboard and re-plastering the wall in preparation for it being painted.

Other considerations

  • Underfloor heating: If you’re looking to install underfloor hearting as part of your renovation project, then you should bear this in mind when choosing your floor tiles.  Make sure you pick a tiles which the manufacturer states are suitable for use with underfloor heating systems.
  • Overage and spares: When ordering tiles, you would be forgiven for thinking you should just work out the sqm area of the floor or walls and order the equivalent amount of tiles.  It’s important to remember that tiling isn’t the most efficient technique as tiling patterns and room shapes mean that there’s quite a lot of wastage.  So when ordering tiles, you should always factor in around 20% overage than the measured areas.
  • The finishing touches: an often overlooked part of tiling are the finishing touches.  On the edges of tiles, it’s normal to add tile trim which is a coloured edging to provide a slick looking finish.  It’s worth thinking about what colour you would like this to be.  Some people, just don’t like tile trim - we get that.  It’s possible to mitre the edges of tiles to create a trim-less finish but this would require more time and budget.