5 Bathtub Backsplash Ideas for Your Budget & Style

Need inspiration for how to update your bathroom? A beautifully-tiled bathtub surround may be just the thing you’re missing.

By Kate De Palma

 

When it comes to a bathroom remodel or upgrade, there are a lot of elements to think about. What layout will be most functional? What style are you going for? What pieces will make all that happen? To help break an entire remodel down into manageable chunks, let’s start by just considering the wet area of the bathroom (where the tub or shower is). Even more specifically, let’s talk about your bathtub backsplash and how to remodel your bathtub surround with some beautiful tile design ideas.

 

Like a kitchen backsplash, bathtub surrounds are there in large part to protect the walls from water damage that could arise from tub usage. This is one reason why tile is such a popular choice for around the tub. It’s durable, water-resistant, and can look darn good when done right. Here are five tub surround ideas and pictures to make bath-time your new favorite part of the day.

 

1. Wainscoting

Often seen in a dining room, wainscoting is a decorative covering going partway up the wall. It’s also a great bathroom tub surround tile idea because it gives you the tile backsplash you need for a tub without overwhelming the eye (and budget!) with too much tile. The general rule of thumb with wainscoting and proportions is to have it go a third of the way up your wall. So, for somewhat standard 9 foot ceilings, go ahead and tile 3 feet up around your tub and then finish up to the ceiling with a semi-gloss paint, which tends to be pretty moisture-resistant.

 

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2. Subway Tiles

Subway tiles are a great bathtub backsplash option because they make for a classic, clean look that can be dressed either up or down. Traditionally installed in white, subway tiles are now coming in pretty much any color your heart desires. Go bold with a colorful tile (blues and greens are popular bathroom colors), or opt for a neutral tile with the added interest of a colored wall for contrast. You can also play around with size, texture (designer subway tiles with raised pieces are particularly trendy), and even grout color (forego the traditional white for a startling – and easy-to-clean—dark gray).

 

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3. Border Tiles

Another way to add interest to plain subway (or other) tiles is with a decorative tile border. Wrap it around just your tub or loop it around your entire bathroom for an eye-catching accent. For a bathtub shower combo design idea, let a border pattern act as an effective way for your wall to transition from outside of the bathroom’s wet area, all the way around it. Simply continue the border into the shower at the same height as in the rest of the bathroom, and add tile up the wall within the wet area to protect the shower wall from water damage.

 

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4. All-Over Tile

If your budget allows for it, tile all over is a beautiful option for a bathtub surround, and even for an entire bathroom. Opt for a variety of shapes, colors, and textures for your bathroom wall tiles — and floor tiles as well — for added interest.

 

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Since tile will reflect whatever light you’re working with, all-over tile can make a small bathroom seem bigger and brighter. Plus, you’ll love the clean lines and durability brought to you by this floor-to-ceiling approach.

 

5. Ready-Made Surrounds

OK. Let’s say you’re just not that into tile. “It’s too hard to install, too difficult to clean.” If you want something simple, you could also go the route of a one-piece (or three-piece) tub surround. These ready-made tub surrounds may not have the glamour you’re looking for, but they’re relatively inexpensive, fairly quick and easy to install, and a lot easier to keep clean than tile (we’re talking wipe clean and no scrubbing grout with a toothbrush). They generally need to be mounted into wall studs but can sometimes be glued directly onto a smooth surface, depending on what you’re working with.

 

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Tub surrounds like these are most commonly made from acrylic and fiberglass, but you can also opt for a more premium composite surround that’ll give you a more realistic looking tile or texture. Plenty of models also offer upgrades for tub wall panels with built-in soap dishes and shelving.

 

If you’re looking for a seamless tub surround (a one-piece surround that doesn’t require fitting together the more typical three panels), just watch out for whether or not you’re actually able to bring the one piece into your bathroom. Narrow hallways and built-in fixtures can make it almost impossible to get a one-piece tub surround where you need it, which kind of defeats the purpose of this otherwise easy-to-install, seamless piece.

 

Are you ready to tackle your tub? Whether you opt for tile, tile, and more tile or a simpler surround approach, we’d love for you to share your remodel experience and ideas with us!

 

Images used with permission, courtesy of Kate De Palma

Next: 5 Bathroom Hazards for Seniors & How to Fix Them