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Shower Floor Tile Design Questions, Answered

By Ted Ryan

Shower Floor Tile Design Questions, Answered

We get asked a lot of questions about shower floors. What size tile can I use? Do I need non-slip? What shapes work best with my drain design? Nailing the shower floor is one of the most important parts of a bathroom remodel, as it needs to look great as well as be safe and functional.

Fireclay Tile encourages using a professional tile installer to ensure the look and longevity of your tile installation and your shower floor is no exception. If you're embarking on a custom shower in your home, follow these tips to start designing a shower floor that commands attention and stands the test of time.

Remodeling your entire bathroom? Start here with our complete guide to bathroom tile.

What Kind of Tile can I use for a Shower Floor?

Shower floors are wet environments that require impervious or low-absorption materials. Glass, glazed ceramic, glazed porcelain, and natural stones are all suitable for shower floors. Glass is impervious to water and ceramic tile has a low absorption rate making both good to go for shower floors, including in steam showers.

Glass is great on shower floors (we recommend sizes smaller than 3" and in a matte finish) but try mixing colors as well as material for a dynamic look.

Glass shower with ceramic shower floor tile

Tile Shown: 3x12 in Pheasant Gloss, 3x12 in Rosy Finch Matte, 3x9 in Limestone // Design: Handsome Salt // Image: Jenny Siegwart

Our Glazed Thin Brick is an excellent choice for shower walls and bathroom floors but is not recommended for tiling a shower floor.

Brick may not be suitable for shower floors but finding a ceramic tile to complement a brick shower wall is easy.

Brick tile shower walls with ceramic hexagon shower floor tile

Tile Shown: Glazed Thin Brick in Elk, 2" Hexagon in Daisy // Design: Taylor and Taylor // Image: Tiffany G Studio

We recommend using tiles no larger than 3 inches in diameter making our sheeted mosaic tiles the best option underfoot in the shower. The smaller tile will require more grout lines and more grout means more traction.

Sheeted Straight Set 1x4 Mosaic Tile offers plenty of grout lines for plenty of traction in this custom shower.

1x4 sheeted mosaic shower tile floor in rosemary

Tile Shown: 3x9 tile and 1x4 sheeted in Rosemary // Design: Lauren Ramirez Interior Design and Nana Kim of 9 Square Studio // Image: Molly Culver Photography

If you’re designing a shower with a center drain, all four sides of the floor must slope to the middle. Mosaic tiles will require fewer cuts compared to larger tiles and provide a better fit with less room for error.

Aesthetically, mosaics are great for adding dynamic design without overpowering the overall look of your shower.

1x1 Sheeted Glass Mosaic Tile makes installing around a center drain straightforward with a clean appearance.

1x1 sheeted mosaic shower floor tile with center drain

Glass Tile Shown: 2x12 in Blue Jay Matte with 1x1 Glass Mosaics on the shower pan floor // Design: Ginny Macdonald // Image: Jessica Bordner

With a line drain on one end of the shower, using larger tiles (3” inches or less) becomes easier because all tiles slope in one direction on a single plane.

A linear drain on this shower floor allows these 3x3 Sheeted Square Tiles to slope toward the drain on a single plane.

3x3 ceramic mosaic shower floor tile with line drain

Tile Shown: 3x3 Sheeted in Cardamom and Mist // Design + Image: Claire Thomas

Do I Need Non-Slip Tile for a Shower Floor?

No, non-slip tile is not required for shower floors. Mosaic tiles or tiles under 3” with proper grout lines will provide adequate traction for showering safely in such a wet environment.

For added peace of mind though, all of our matte glazes and 2 satin glazes feature a commercially rated slip-resistant finish and you can increase the slip resistance of any of our Glass tiles by ordering with a corundum finish.

Make the floor the focal point of your design with one-of-a-kind handpainted tiles. Handpainted requires larger tiles and tighter grout lines. Consider ordering them with a matte finish if you intend to use them on a shower floor and design your shower floor with a linear drain.

handpainted shower floor tile

Tile Shown: Mazagan in Neutral Motif and 3x6 in White Wash // Design: Kate Lester Interiors // Image: Gray Malin

Can I Use a Gloss Finish on my Shower Floor?

Gloss tile is perfectly acceptable to use on a shower floor. If your design vision includes a sleek reflective tile, have no fear, tile size and grout size are still the determining factors over the traction of your shower floor, even when using a glossy tile.

This shower floor's Glossy 3” Triangle Tile offers an elegant design detail and assurance of proper traction underfoot.


Tile Shown: 3" Sheeted Triangle and 2x6 Tile in Magnolia // Design: Fare Isle // Image: Kaity Farrell

What are the Best Colors for Shower Floors?

What color you choose for your shower floor will ultimately depend on your taste. Like all shower tile, choosing a lighter tile color--and a glossy finish--will conceal hard water spots much better than a darker color or matte finish.

Neutrals that conceal hard water don’t have to be boring. This elegant Paseo shape turns a white shower floor into an eye-catching attraction.

paseo neutral shower floor tile in calcite

Tile Shown: 2x6 in Caribbean and Paseo in Calcite // Design: Alisa Block Architect // Image: Steven Brooke

You may want to match your shower pan to the shower walls or your bathroom floor. You may want to echo a design detail in your shower niche or bathroom backsplash.

High-contrast hexagon Tiles create an artistic pattern on this shower floor to match the bathroom floor.

high contrast hexagon shower floor tile with matching bathroom floor

Tile Shown: 3x6 in Adriatic Sea // Design + Image: Bright Bazaar

You may want it to stand out on its own with a dramatic pop of color or use a subtle neutral if your shower walls are already attention-grabbing.

This shower features a neutral Ceramic Tile floor in Daisy to echo an element of the shower walls without distracting from the primary focus.

oh joy glass shower floor tile

Tile Shown: 4x4 Glass Tile in Egret Gloss, Dove Gloss, Snowy Owl Gloss, Rosy Finch Gloss, Lark Gloss, Sparrow Gloss and 4x4 Tile in Daisy // Design: Oh Joy, Project M Plus // Image: Bethany Nauert

Equally as important as the tile color is the grout color you’ll use on your shower floor. Darker colors will require less maintenance to look new while a lighter color might fit your aesthetic better whether you wish to accentuate the shape of a dark tile or blend the grout with a clean neutral.

How do I Transition Tile to and From the Shower Floor?

Whether you’re transitioning from the shower wall, the bathroom floor, or a shower curb, there are a few options.

Use a single Mosaic shape and color with matching grout throughout your shower for a sophisticated and minimalist style.

2x2 sheeted mosaic shower floor tile in pumice

Tile Shown: Pumice in 2x2 Sheeted Mosaic Tile // Design + Image: Working Holiday Studio

Shower floors and shower wall tiles can match without being the same. Experiment with different shapes in the same color to create a unique but uniform look.

dust storm hexagon shower floor tile

Tile Shown: Dust Storm in 3x12 and 3" Hexagon Tile // Design: Swift Studios and Studio Den Den // Image: Swift Studios

If you’re transitioning from a larger tile on a bathroom floor to a smaller tile on a shower floor, run a rectangular tile in between. A smaller tile at the transition point creates a subtle transition while a larger size more clearly defines where the floor ends and the shower begins.

María del Río: Sand Dune and Koi Spa Bathroom

Tile Shown: 4x4 in Sand Dune, 2x2 and 4x4 in Koi with a 6x12 in Koi to create the shower curb // Design: Anthony Roxas Architecture // Image: María del Río

This bathroom transitions from a Large Star and Cross Tile floor to a 2x2 Sheeted Square Tile shower pan of the same color with a matching shower curb of 3x9 Tile.

cardamom 2x9 shower floor tile transition

Tile Shown: Cardamom in Mini Star and Cross, Large Star and Cross, 2x2 sheeted, and 3x9 tile // Design + Image: Anita Yokota

You may want no transition at all, like this shower floor that connects seamlessly with the rest of the bathroom floor.

sand dune hexagon shower floor tile

Tile Shown: 3x9 in Rosemary + 6" Hexagon in Sand Dune // Design: Elana Jadallah // Image: Elana Jadallah

If you must DIY your shower floor, it’s important to remember that the most important transition on any change of plane is expansion joints. Budgeting for a qualified installer can save you money in the long run by preventing the need for costly fixes in the future.

What Size Grout Line Should I Use?

The wider the grout line the more traction you’ll have on the shower floor. For our ceramic tile, we recommend using a 3/16” grout line. This will not only provide adequate traction but also allow space for the natural variation of handmade tile.

Small mosaic tiles like these 2" hexagons feature 3/16" grout lines that can vary from 1/8" to 1/4" due to the nature of the handmade tile.

the Hunter Houses: Hexagon Tile Bathroom

Tile Shown: 6" Hexagon and 2" sheeted Hexagon in Rosemary // Design + Images: Danielle & Ely Franko

Glass Tile can be laid with a grout line as narrow as 1/16” inch because of glass’s precisely cut lines, but you will likely want to go wider to improve the traction in this especially slip-prone area.

Dive deeper into how to choose the right grout size for your tile.

Looks like you're ready to start designing your shower from the bottom up. Need more help? Get in touch with a personal Design Assistant for design help, sampling, estimating, renderings, and effortless ordering.

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