Choosing shower floor tile shouldn't be this hard.
April 14, 2011 12:37 PM   Subscribe

Now I need help choosing tile for the shower floor. Is the one I picked going to hurt me? I know you are not my tile setter but I've got to order tile soon. Testing the tile before ordering is not an option.

Demolition begins Monday, 4/18 and I have picked this tile from Home Depot, but it's not available in stores and nobody at their 800 number can tell me if it's safe for the shower floor.

Based on the website description, would you, personally, put this mix of high and matte finish tile in your shower? (the black is the glossy, the white is matte) If you would not, what would you suggest as an alternative, bearing in mind that I really like the shabby chic look as mentioned in my last bathroom question.

My designer has been less than helpful after I told her I didn't really care for the one tile she showed me last week, so I chose this tile. also! she tried to convince me yesterday that soapstone and Silestone were the same thing. UH, NO! She did call back just now and say that her contact "at the tile store" says the tile I picked is fine "because there is so much grout and the tiles are so small." Is that true?

The contractor is very clear that whatever I give him for the floor has to be suitable for shower floors. It's not so much that I want to keep him happy, as that I'd really like to not shower myself into the hospital.
posted by bilabial to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
Relax. The tile you chose will be just fine.
posted by jon1270 at 12:43 PM on April 14, 2011

Most tile has a coefficient of friction (COF) rating. Dal-Tile recommends a minimum of .80 COF on these surfaces.
posted by Daddy-O at 12:47 PM on April 14, 2011

OOPS, the .80 COF is for ramps. The link says no less than .60 COF for wet surfaces according to the link.
posted by Daddy-O at 12:53 PM on April 14, 2011

This will work for your shower floor. The small tiles end up being pretty slip-resistant by default just because of the number of grout joints under your foot. I wouldn't worry about its slickness.

One thing you may want to consider is the water quality you have with respect to those high-gloss black tiles. The little black tiles will tend to hold the water the longest, and the hard water in some areas ends up creating a slight white-ish gloss as it dries. This will be most noticeable on a black glossy surface. Since that pattern relies heavily on the high contrast between the white and black, this may end up being a consideration for you.

A possibility if you think that may be a problem...
Buy a small white tile (maybe 1" ones like you have shown) that comes with the 12"x12" mesh backer (which allows you to lay them in 12"x12" sheets instead of individual tiles). Get the white tiles in whatever finish you like best. Then also get a couple sheets of black (or whatever accent color you like). You can cut individual little squares from the accent sheet and cut out little individual white tiles , and replace them with the individual accent tiles to create whatever accent pattern you want. The labor to do this isn't huge since you are still basically laying 12"x12" sheets, but you can get something completely original and have control over your colors this way. Even if you use black and white, you can get a black in a matte finish that might not be as reflective and show the water spotting should your water supply produce that problem.

I've done custom patterns like this for mid-century modern showers, and created custom designs and vintage borders for older homes using this technique.

Also, if you are laying the floor tile on a site-built, handmade shower pan, you are spending enough on the creation of the pan to warrant buying a tile you love for the small sf area of your shower floor. The tile you linked to is pretty cheap. Even something 2x-3x as much would only amount to a little over a couple hundred dollars difference. The cost is in the labor, not the materials. Good luck!
posted by nickjadlowe at 1:03 PM on April 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Called Home Depot again, they tell me the Wet COF for this tile is 0.59.

The shower is a walk in, and it's a decent size, but stuck into a room that's 95'x9' (actually, 2 rooms totaling 9.5x9), so we're doing the whole floor in the same tile, with white subway tile on the walls. I want to have just one floor tile so that we can preserve an illusion of space in this room, and not have the nightmare of 6,000 materials to coordinate.

I do love the idea of making a unique border pattern, but that's just not going to happen with my time budget.
posted by bilabial at 1:15 PM on April 14, 2011

As an anecdote, we used larger and shiner tile on our bathroom floor than what you're considering, and the grout really does make it feel grippy. I would go forward with the tile you've selected. (Actually, at this late date, please just order something. If you decide you don't like how it feels, you don't have to use it.)

In solidarity: Your designer is less than useless. What a bummer.
posted by purpleclover at 1:20 PM on April 14, 2011

Response by poster: For posterity, the rooms total 9.5' by 9'.
posted by bilabial at 1:25 PM on April 14, 2011

That tile will be fine. Just be sure to never take advice from your designer again. The grout to tile ratio quote is a hoot.
My only suggestion would be to avoid white grout at all costs. I recently did a mosaic tile floor in my bathroom using a 3/4" octagonal tile and a light gray grout. It really pops the tile and is much lower maintenance.
posted by Gungho at 1:58 PM on April 14, 2011

I would not be comfortable with that tile in a shower. What's the SOAPY coefficient of friction? Even with the small tiles, that is going to be a noggin cracker.

If I was a betting man, and I'm not, I would bet that there is an identical tile with a more matte finish that you can use in the shower area.
posted by gjc at 8:43 PM on April 14, 2011

The COF is usually listed on the box the tile comes in, BTW.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:31 AM on April 15, 2011

Response by poster: I would bet that there is an identical tile with a more matte finish

There is, but it's unglazed and off white.

Since we've established that I don't trust my designer, I'm really on a limb as to whether that unglazed white tile will look at all appealing against my white subway tile.
posted by bilabial at 9:13 AM on April 15, 2011

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