Episode 76: Bathroom Design Essentials: All about tiles

Choosing tiles is the main consideration in your bathrooms. It’s the main material that will be used and impacts functionality as well as aesthetics. Not all tiles are the same, so it’s important to know the buying criteria so you can choose the right tile for the right application. 

In this episode of the podcast, Frances is joined by Tiling expert, Richard Earp from Earp Bros.  Richard shares his amazing knowledge on tiles to discuss the different types of tiles and the differences between poor and good quality tiles.




Different Types of Tiles

  • Ceramic- the material has a moisture absorption of more than 3%, ideal for walls 
  • Gres Tiles- the material has a moisture absorption of between 3% and 0.5% 
  • Porcelain- are low absorption product (0.5% or less).  Can be used on the inside, outside, wall, and floor 
    • Technical Porcelain- has a 0.1% moisture absorption and are generally used in high-performance areas such as airports, shopping centers, and Melbourne Exhibition Centre. 
    • Other types of porcelain: 
      • Glaze Porcelain 
      • Full Body Porcelain 
      • Double Charge Porcelain 
      • Triple Charge Porcelain 
      • Polished Porcelain 
    • Things to consider when choosing porcelain material: 
      • Porcelain varies in quality mainly with accuracy and surface flatness which affect how it’s laid and the overall finish 
      • Design and the surface 
      • Colour separation rooms for glazes to create a depth of colour not seen in cheaper version tilesThe more colour separations used, the better the quality.
    • Cheaper Porcelain tiles generally cut corners in the manufacturing processReduced processing of raw materials, the use of more glass as a fluxing agent to incorporate with ball clays and porcelain claysOn the other hand, high-quality tiles have lesser fluxing agents, longer firing times using higher technology to press, and the raw materials are extracted.  
  • Terracotta-can be formed in different ways-extruded, molded and etc. It has a very high absorption material and generally requires sealing.  
  • Cement tiles- like terracotta, cement tiles also require sealing 

Placing a tile that has a higher (10%) moisture absorption on the floor is not ideal as they are not dense. If you drop something on the floor, it can easily crack, break, or chip. The moist absorption gives an indication of what type of materials the factories are manufacturing 



There are sealers that are designed to breathe in stone, terracottas and cement.  

  • Topical Sealer- sit on top of the material 
  • Penetrating Sealer- shields against moisture penetration and chemicals. Usually, they provide invisible protection without changing the surface appearance, and most products are breathable, allowing moisture vapor to escape.


Tile Sizes

How the size of tile impacts your selection 

  • Spatial Awareness – larger format tiles can look great in some spaces, but a small space with large format tiles in many instances won’t work. Instead of an 800x800mm tile, 600x60mm may be better. Cost – will cost more to use larger format tiles – product and laborPorcelain sheets (2.7, 3.2 meters sheets, 1.2 meters wide.)- needs a specialist to install which costs more than 20-30% of premium. 

Why it costs more? 

    • Delivery of the material  
    • Kitchen benchtop- must be fabricated off site and it gets done by machine in specialist factories 
    • Intricacies of installing them 

Tile Types

  • Rectified- the tile is perfectly straight 


When buying tiles manufacturers should be able to provide you with the following:

  • Installation Procedures 
  • Sealing guide 
  • Cleaning guide 


Earp Bros joined the green building council in 2004 and was the first company that went through product certification. They use two certification systems: 

  • Global Green Tags  
  • Product Declare 

Sustainable Criteria 

  • Green Tag Accreditation 
  • Life cycle assessment of materials  

Tips when deciding on your tiles and getting a good result at the end

  • Understand what you need- I.e High-maintenance vs low maintenance materials 
  • Visualise what you want before you start your journey- Create a pinterest board 
  • Be fully accurate on what your budget is 
  • Surround yourself with professionals. Find trustworthy companies and people 

Tile trends

  • Large format tiles 
  • Natural materials- Zellige tiles are popular now       
  • Patterns and sheets of design, like big florals 
What’s new?

Ready to design and create your own beautiful bathroom? Get all the interior designer insider knowledge in the Beautiful Bathroom Design Made Easy Online Course. With 21 self-paced modules, this online course allows you to create your dream bathroom. Find out more here.

Links Mentioned in the Podcast:

Join the ‘5 Costly Bathroom Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them’ Webinar

If you like this and want to learn more, I’ve got a webinar coming up on 24th November from 7PM-8PM AEDT. Click here to find out more and register.

Book a Chat 

If you’re thinking about renovating or creating your bathroomget in touch with Frances directly, by booking a 15 minute chat with her. 

Renovating and Building your Forever Home Facebook Group 

Want to be inspired to create a home you truly love, that is future proof and adaptable as your family’s needs change? Join our exclusive (but inclusive)  Renovating and Building Your Forever Home Facebook Group.

Earps Bros

Whether you are looking for decorative splash-back tiles for your rental property, high performing commercial quantity slip resistant tiles or handcrafted artisan mosaics from Morocco, their range will add value to your project now and into the future. Visit their website here: https://earp.com.au/

‘Your Forever Home’ Book – FREE Access

Get FREE access to the first three chapters of the ‘Your Forever Home’ book, a practical and helpful guide to gain insights on how to create a home that will suit your needs for the long term. Download your copy here!

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