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4 of the most common pitfalls when buying tiles & how to avoid them.

Tiles bathroom

There are some items you will need to choose early on in the design process, ideally before the builder even starts on site. One of those items is tiles. Tiles form part of the foundation of the interior design of your home. They are also one of the things that are not easy to replace. Because of this, they represent one of the most significant interior design decisions you’re going to need to make, so you mustn’t make mistakes. I spoke with Jacqueline Walsh from Tile Style about some of the most common pitfalls made when buying tiles and how to avoid them.


Not ordering enough tiles is probably one of the most common pitfalls when purchasing tiles. Under-ordering can cause delays, mainly if tiles are not stock items and have to be ordered in. ‘One of the most common mistakes we come across is the under-ordering quantity of tiling and delays on site because of that,’ explains Jacqueline. Jacqueline advises getting your builder or tiling contractor to confirm the amount of tiles they need and to include the amount of waste they estimate is required. 

If you aren’t working with a contractor, you should calculate the floor and wall areas separately. It’s a good idea to measure the room a couple of times and ask someone to check your calculations. A good rule of thumb is to allow a minimum of 10% extra to allow for wastage. Still, it’s advisable to speak to your tile supplier to get guidance on how much wastage to allow for the particular type of tiles you are looking at. ‘The wastage needed will depend on the size and shape of the room and the size and type of tile you choose,’ explains Jacqueline.

Grout Joints

The devil is in the detail, and in a bathroom, the finish of the tiling is critical. Something that makes a big difference to the look of your bathroom is the grout joints; this is how far apart the tiles are spaced from one another.

Keeping grout joints as tight as possible is a must. Not only will this look much better but it will mean the floor is much easier to keep clean because grout discolours over time, especially on floors. 

‘When it comes to joints, it’s important to seek advice on the width for the particular choice of tile,’ recommends Jacqueline. ‘2mm is the minimum requirement, but if you have chosen an encaustic tile or something that is meant to look hand made then a 2mm joint might not work,’ she explains.

Grout joints

Grout & Silicone

Another common mistake is not coordinating the grout colour with your tile choice. Your choice of grout should always compliment your tiles, and what you choose can make or break your bathroom scheme.’ When it comes to grout you should choose it when you are choosing your tiles,’ advises Jacqueline. Never leave the choice up to the tiler or contractor,’ she warns and ‘don’t assume that a generic grey or white grout will work with the tile that you have picked,’ she says.

When choosing your grout, it is best to match the tile colour as closely as possible. Some tiling companies have their own grouts that complement their range of tiles, so it’s important to ask the sales assistant for advice on choosing grout.

Never go for a dark grey unless you are using a dark grey tile. This colour is often sold for floors but can look very stark, especially where a light colour tile has been used. If you are concerned with staining, choose a silver-grey instead.

Grout can also be a feature in your bathroom and a great way to create impact without spending a fortune. ‘There are lots of options for coloured grouts, from pinks, blue-greens, orange and other bright colours,’ says Jacqueline. ‘Pairing a cost-effective plain tile with a contrasting coloured grout is a lovely and inexpensive way to make a statement in a bathroom,’ she says. 

And don’t forget about your choice of silicone. ‘The silicone is as important as the grout,’ says Jacqueline. ‘You will have a silicone joint along your shower tray or your bath and on internal joints in the bathroom,’ says Jacqueline. By matching the silicone with your grout you will achieve a better overall look,’ she recommends.


Your choice of tile trim will add the finishing touches to your bathroom. For corners and edges use a tile trim – the square-edged trims look best. There are lots of options available now, from specialist metal finishes like brass and bronze to a range of coloured options in powder-coated metal. ‘Your choice of finish should be dictated by the brassware that’s being used,’ recommends Jacqueline. 

Finishes like brushed brass and matt black are very popular at the moment. Chrome is also a popular and timeless choice. Traditionally, white trims would have been made out of PVC but white powder-coated metal trims are a much sleeker version and are growing in popularity says Jacqueline.

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Denise O'Connor

Author Denise O'Connor

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