Half Tiled vs Fully Tiled Bathroom | Pros, Cons & Things To Consider

Are you planning your bathroom renovation or building a new home? Do you imagine sleek metro tiles behind the sink with a lovely painted wall above or a sea of beautiful marble tiles covering the entire wall? Which is the better choice for your tiled bathroom?

In this post, I’ll explain half tiled vs fully tiled, their pros and cons as well as answer some common questions about the topic. So after reading you’ll know which is the best choice for you and your bathroom needs.

Let’s get stuck in!

You May Also Like:
Shower Panels Or Tiles | Pros, Cons And Everything You Need To Know

Half Tiled Bathroom

Half-tiled bathrooms have been hugely popular for centuries. The floor and the lower half of the walls are covered in tile. The purpose is to protect the walls from water damage, but it also saves money on installation by focusing the tile on the areas that are most likely going to fall in the splash zone.

Over the past century, we have seen trends come and go in mosaic patterns, metro tiles, and large stone tiles that carry the flooring up the wall. Your grandmother likely had a bathroom finished out in rose, blue, or green tiles with a row of metro tiles capping the half-wall mosaic design.

Bathrooms crafted in the early 20th century often highlighted black and white patterns. Victorian tiles utilised a wide range of bright colours in bold repeating patterns. The half-tile option is familiar and comforting even in a modern home.

One of the benefits of opting for a half-tile bathroom is that you can more easily add shelving and artwork to the upper walls. It is easier to drive a nail or screw into plasterboard compared to drilling through a tile.

Likewise, repairing plaster can be done with a bit of spackle and paint. Repairing a tile requires a different set of skills and equipment that not every homeowner keeps in the garden shed.

You will want to think about just how high you want to carry the tile up the wall. It should provide protection behind the basin and toilet. The final height will be determined by the size of the tile that you select.

Half tiled bathroom

 Pros of a Half-Tiled Bathroom

  • More economical option when finishing out a bathroom
  • Does a good job of protecting the walls from water damage
  • You can decorate the upper half of the walls with ease
  • Timeless decor option
  • Easy to add shelves and rails to the upper walls

Cons of a Half-Tile Bathroom

  • Water can splash beyond the tile and leave stains on the walls
  • Can have a dated appearance when you select a trending mosaic or colour
  • You will need to freshen up the paint long before you are replacing the tile

You May Also Like:
What Can I Use Instead Of Tiles On My Bathroom Walls? Options Explored

Fully Tiled Bathroom

Did you fall in love with a stunning tiled bathroom that featured floor-to-ceiling quartz wall tiles? It is a contemporary trend that is appearing in more luxury homes.

A fully tiled bathroom makes a dramatic statement by simplifying the look of tiles that are a must-have in most bathrooms. You need to keep water out of the plasterboard, but a half-tiled room can have a somewhat busy appearance. A full-tile job results in a cleaner and less fussy design.

You can choose a wall tile that is an exact match or contrast to your shower enclosure walls to create a unique spa experience. Using just a single colour and shape for the tiles helps the room feel bigger. Ideal for a small washroom or tiny bathroom.

Mix things up by placing a contrasting tile randomly throughout the room. Select a stunning geometric design to create a sleek feature wall behind your soaker tub.

It will cost extra to finish out a bathroom with all tiles as they require a decent amount of labour to install. At the same time, you won’t be paying for a painter. Tiles can be extremely affordable or extravagant- the price range for tiles is much wider compared to the cost of the paint.

The average cost runs between £20 and £50 per square metre. If you find a batch of discounted tiles, you may be able to hire a contractor by the day and lower your bill.

Take your time to plan the placement of towel rails, handrails, and shelving. The installation of these extras is best done by a professional since it is easy to crack a tile when drilling to mount a hanger.

Do you often wash the dog in your family bath? How often have you been wiping down the walls after they have a good shake? Going with a fully-tiled room means that your pup can shake all he wants and will never cause any damage.

The kids can have a good water fight without any lingering consequences. Cleaning tile is easier, too, as any spots or stains will wipe off.

Fully tiled bathroom

Pros of a Fully-Tiled Bathroom

  • Clean and contemporary appearance
  • Easy to wipe up water spots and stains
  • No need to worry about splashing in the tub or shower
  • Can make a small space look roomier

Cons of a Fully-Tiled Bathroom

  • More expensive option for materials and labour
  • More difficult to add or remove shelves, towel racks, and artwork
  • Need to hire a pro to repair cracked wall tiles

What Height Should You Tile A Half-Tiled Bathroom?

There is no standard height requirement for a half-tile bathroom. However, many bathrooms are tiled up to a height of approximately 1.2 metres from the floor.

If you have no splashback behind the basin, then a minimum of 150mm over the top of the vanity is recommended. You may wish to go a little higher or lower based on the size of your wall tiles and how the tile relates to the tub, toilet and vanity. 

You May Also Like:
Do You Need A Splashback Behind A Bathroom Sink?

Is It Best To Fully Tile A Small Bathroom?

It is usually the least expensive option to just tile the whole room when you have a tiny bathroom. If you attempt to do a half-tile job, you may be making more tile cuts and the painter may charge a premium for working in such a confined space.

Also, take into consideration the splash zone in a small bathroom. If you have a shower, almost the entire room becomes part of that splash zone. It is often the wisest choice for a small project.

You May Also Like:
Can You Paint Shower Tiles? | Everything You Need To Know

Is A Fully Tiled Bathroom Cold?

We often associate a fully-tiled space as cold and stark due to the heavy use of tile in hospital and institutional settings. However, tile does a wonderful job of absorbing and retaining heat.

So a fully-tiled bathroom with underfloor heating or a large wall radiator will stay nice and cosy much longer. At the same time, in the summer the smooth tiles will feel cool underfoot.

You May Also Like:
Bathroom Flooring Options | Info, Advice & Everything You Need To Know

Final Thoughts…

There you have it. Everything you need to know if you’re comparing a half tiled or a fully tiled bathroom.

There’s no right or wrong answer. It really comes down to your style preference and how you use the bathroom. A half tiled bathroom is great if you want to introduce some colour to the walls. Whereas a fully tiled bathroom is perfect for a busy, splashy family bathroom.

So, will you go half tiled or fully tiled for your new bathroom?


Michael R

Michael is a KBB designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom installations for over eight years now, and before that, he was an electrician and part of a KBB fitting team. He created The Bathroom Blueprint in early 2020.