Choosing the Right Wall Tile for Your Project and Space

Tile being attached to a wall.

Whether remodeling or starting from scratch, installing wall tile can add beauty and durability to any kitchen or bathroom. With so many options to choose from—natural stone and porcelain to ceramic and glass—picking the right tile for your project can be difficult. Thankfully, keeping these tips in mind will help you select the right wall tile for your project.


The location of the tile will significantly narrow down the choices. Stone, ceramic, and porcelain are common types for floor tiles, while glass is a popular choice for bathroom walls and kitchen backsplashes. Ceramic tile can also be used in bathroom and kitchen walls because of its waterproof nature. Stone can be adapted for high-moisture environments by sealing its porous structure.


A close-up of a white stone tile.

Natural stone is easily the most elegant, but expensive, choice for a wall tile. However, maintenance requirements should be considered when selecting stone. For easier to clean and maintain options, consider using glass or ceramic tiles. These tiles come in a variety of colors and sizes to fit any existing decor.


Once you've narrowed down the type of wall tile, the next thing to consider is size. Large tiles are easier to install and they create a distinctive appearance. They can also make the space look larger. Smaller sized tiles can help accent other features in the room and are great if the wall contains curves. However, smaller tiles are often harder to install than their larger counterparts and require careful handling.


A close-up of small multi-colored tiles.

Choosing the right color scheme will depend on existing decor and taste. However, if you want the space to look larger than it is, choose lighter colored tiles. Darker tiles can add warmth to a space and are great at hiding dirt. Whichever color you select, it's good practice to examine a few pieces first and see how they vibe with the rest of the room. Keep in mind that natural stone can vary in tone from tile to tile.


Tiles will generally come either glazed or non-glazed. Either option will work on a wall, depending on the type of tile selected. Of course, glazed tiles can be a great option for wall tiles because the coating lasts longer on walls. The glaze will also keep the wall free of stains, which will help lessen the frequency of cleaning. Tiles also come in textured and matte finishes. These types of finishes are great for floors, but do not necessarily have any added benefits for wall tiles beyond aesthetics.


A repairman grouting a wall of tile.

The color of the grout is just as important as the color of the tiles. If you do not want the grout to stand out, then pick a grout that is the same color as the tile. A grout color different than the tile will help the tile stand out more, adding a more dramatic look to the room. If you're planning on installing a tile wall in an area that gets dirty easily, then consider picking a stain-proof grout for easier cleaning.


Whichever tile you end up choosing, keep in mind the difficulty of installation before making a final decision. Glass is generally harder to install than other tile types, and small glass tiles are easier to install than larger panes. If installing stone, remember that the porous surface will not do well in high moisture environments such as a bathroom or laundry room, and will need to be sealed during installation.


A yellow sponge cleaning a white tile wall.

Cleaning and repair are two things to keep in mind when selecting a wall tile. If the wall is located in a place where dirt accumulates easily, then it's best to pick a tile that wards off dirt and grime. Durability is also something that should be considered, especially if the wall is located in a high-use area of the home, like a shower.


If you plan on installing more than one tile wall, it is good practice to choose two different colors and styles. This will help distinguish the walls from each other and add a featured look to the room. Also, before you purchase tile, ensure the quality of the tile is good. Simply take out 3 or 4 pieces and make sure they are not warped and that the color is consistent.

If undertaking a large project, or if you just want to test your skills before you jump in, try tiling a non-permanent surface. The Home Depot also offers free hands-on workshops and seminars on topics like tiling, so you can learn from a professional.