Getting to grips with what kind of tiles can be used for flooring and which can't is difficult if you're not in the know. One question that often crops when it comes to a bathroom design in particular? Whether or not mosaic tiles can be used on the floor.
The quick answer is absolutely yes, but when it comes to choosing mosaic for a bathroom tile, especially for a shower floor, there are some factors to keep in mind, from the material you chose and how they're laid to their ongoing maintenance needs.
If you want to add pattern, depth and character to your home interiors, installing a mosaic tiled floor could provide a fast track to achieving this design goal. But first, let’s get to grip with the basics – what type of installation actually constitutes a mosaic tiled floor?
Typically, units ranging from 1/2 - 2" in length fall into the ‘mosaic’ category. 'Anything larger than this is essentially a small tile rather than a mosaic, but if the pieces are on a mesh backing, it could still be considered mosaic,' says Rob Whitaker, creative director at Claybrook.
Rebecca is an experienced homes and property journalist, who has worked for numerous self build and interiors magazines. Here, she spoke to bathroom experts and designers to get the full story on using mosaic tiles for floors.
Can I use mosaic tiles on a shower floor?
'Yes, mosaic tiles are an excellent choice for bathrooms,' says Becky Russell, CEO at Dublin-based Kingston Lafferty Design. 'There are many that are slip rated and the smaller size of the tile makes them perfect for tiling into the falls of the shower without break lines.'
Mosaic tiles also offer a blank slate to create patterns and shape across the floor surface. According to Rob from Claybrook, this style of flooring is especially effective in small bathrooms when it comes to adding a distinctive, eye-catching feature. 'They’re easier to use around obstacles like exposed pipework than trying to cut larger tiles. Plus, they can provide a little grip underfoot in potentially wet areas prone to getting slippery.'
There are plenty of options when it comes to tile surface texture, too. 'If people want to move away from the hard lines of a porcelain tile, the encaustic mosaic tile ages in a more subtle way, giving more depth to the design as the years go on,' says Genevieve McGill, creative director at Foreign Bear Studio, an architectural and design practice based in Hackney, East London.
Are mosaic tiles a slip risk?
On the whole, porcelain and marble tiles are safe to use on the floor, though glass isn’t the best material choice as you run the risk of sharp edges. Glass also presents a slip hazard when used in the bathroom.
'Most mosaics can be used as a bathroom floor tile providing the floor is supported and the mosaics are fully bedded,' says Lee Reed, head of design at Easy Bathrooms. 'As mosaics use more grout than other tiles, it does provide an extra layer of grip underfoot.' In fact, the surface texture of a mosaic tiled floors makes them ideal for use in shower areas. In this project by Yoko Kloeden Design, hexagonal tiles have been laid in the shower, contrasting from the basketweave pattern of mosaic flooring outside the shower enclosure.
For peace of mind, double check your tiles achieve the R11 Anti-Slip rating for domestic use – but slip-rating isn’t the only factor you’ll need to check against your manufacturer’s guidelines. 'Always make sure that the tiles you choose can withstand the weight of a person walking across them without cracking,' says Alex Epstein, lead interior designer at Annapolis-based Purple Cherry Architects.
What's the best way to install mosaic tiles?
To make sure your installation looks beautiful, there are several things you’ll need to get right when the tiles are first laid. 'Ensure the tiles are laid as flat as possible, without any trip hazards or annoying lips to stub toes on,' says Leo Wood, interior designer and company director at London-based Kinder Design. 'Check which type of mosaic flooring you’re using, too. Some are more suitable than others for use on the floor.' When it comes to ceramic vs porcelain tiles, for example, the former is more durable for floors.
If you’re using mosaic floor tiles in the bathroom, water drainage is also a key consideration. Units should be laid at the right angle to ensure water splashes and excess water can drain away effectively.
Does it matter where in the house they're being used?
While the bathroom is likely the first place you’d think about installing a mosaic-tiled floor, that doesn’t mean they can’t be used elsewhere in the house. According to Yoko Kloeden, creative director at London-based Yoko Kloeden Design, the hard-wearing, slip-resistant nature of this floor type makes it ideal for kitchens, laundry rooms and entryways. 'One of the main things is to ensure your tiler has the skill to lay the design you need to have laid,' she advises.
In this project by New York-based OAD Interiors, blush-coloured Foussana tiles from Stone Source have been laid in the entrance hall. Though simple, the uniform pattern of the tiles adds texture and character to the space.
If installed in sheets, it’s possible that the tile pattern may buckle and not lie correctly across the floor. 'It’s important to speak with your vendor and make sure that the mosaic selected can be installed in large areas,' says Alex from Purple Cherry Architects.
Is mosaic flooring a trend right now?
According to Delia Kenza, director at Delia Kenza Interiors based out of Brooklyn, the answer to this question is a resounding, ‘yes’. 'People are using more mosaics because they’re interested in creating homes with more texture and depth,' she says.
The opportunity to introduce color, pattern and personality is what gives mosaic-tiled floors the edge. They don’t have to span the entire width of the surface, either. For instance, in this bathroom renovation project by Charlottesville-based Alloy Workshop, bold primary colors stand out against a crisp, white background of uniform white tiles. Standout blocks of color, laid in irregular geometric shapes, have been used to establish pattern and highlight the location of fittings.
Is mosaic tile flooring easy to clean?
Thanks to the sheer amount of small tiles that make up a mosaic floor, plus the large amount of grout between them, a slightly uneven surface can be the result. In some scenarios, this has the potential to make the floor harder to clean. Depending on the color of your tiles, it’s more likely that dirt trapped in the grout lines will show up more. 'Grout protector needs to be applied yearly. Plus, cleaning with a tile/grout cleaner is required regularly to ensure water and grit don’t penetrate or damage the grout,' says Lee from Easy Bathrooms. This grout cleaner from Amazon is a great buy for the job.
According to Lee, mosaic floors are likely to require a bit more TLC than surfaces finished with larger tiles. 'All tiles require good maintenance however, I’d always recommend mosaics get more regular treatment than normal tiles as they use more grout, which can crack and lift,' he says.
Where can I buy tiles from online?
Everyone's favorite DIY store has a surprisingly broad tile choice to consider for your bathroom reno.
You might not expect to be able to find tiles on Wayfair, but there's plenty of innovative options if you don't mind not seeing samples before buying.
For your everyday porcelain and ceramic tiles, Lowes has a great selection to choose from in modern styles.
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After starting my journalism career at a luxury property magazine in Bangkok, I re-located to London where I started out as a sub-editor and features writer. I later became the features editor of a popular self-build and renovation magazine, where I delved into the world of structural systems, eco tech and smart homes. I went freelance in 2017 to pursue my dream of becoming a yoga teacher, but I still write for numerous titles in the homes and interiors sector, including Grand Designs, Ideal Home, Livingetc, Homebuilding & Renovating and Build It. I write a range of articles, from design-focused features to real life case studies.
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