It’s been said that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes. As a builder or investor, it is important to pay attention to these rooms and use quality finishes that are practical, durable, neutral, stylish, and timeless without being too trendy. It is also worth noting that some less expensive materials may actually perform better over time than higher end ones, so using these materials benefits you, the builder, financially, while appealing to the maintenance concerns of potential buyers as well. Below is a breakdown of common bathroom materials with more details.
Ceramic tile is the most common and least expensive type of tile for both wall and floor bathroom applications. It is a clay-based tile similar to porcelain, but there are a couple of differences. Ceramic tiles are more porous than porcelain tiles, meaning that they will absorb moisture more easily - something that there is a lot of in a bathroom. However, they are versatile, easy to cut and create intricate designs with, and come in a variety of colors and patterns. And because of their widespread use, low price point, and availability, ceramic tiles are an excellent choice for multi-unit construction. If you're having to consider 8 bathrooms instead of 2 in your build, and aesthetic uniformity and low cost are important considerations, then ceramic may be the way to go.
Porcelain is similar to ceramic but is of a slightly higher quality, and therefore a bit more expensive. It is also made from clay but in its manufacturing process is fired at higher temperatures, creating a denser, much less porous tile. Because of this it is an excellent choice to use in bathrooms.
Porcelain tile also tends to be more durable than ceramic. In fact, according to Express Flooring, “porcelain tile is highly resistant to wear and tends to last better over the years than standard ceramic tile does. That’s because porcelain tile has fewer air pockets, it’s a denser material, it’s more uniform in construction and tends to be harder and thicker overall than most other tile varieties. Porcelain tile floors are known to last for years, and they are a top choice for business use or in rental properties because of just how durable they are over time.”
Quartz, which is extremely popular for kitchen countertops, is also an excellent choice for bathroom counters. It has a very smooth, “clean” look, so it’s perfect aesthetically for bathrooms as well, and can easily compliment any style. Quartz is an engineered stone made of 95% crushed quartz and various additives and adhesives. This makes it extremely durable and completely non-porous to moisture, and impervious to most other staining as well.
Because it is engineered, quartz is also available in a virtually limitless array of colors. Its durability and mold and water resistant properties, combined with its popularity, make this an excellent bathroom choice for slightly higher-end builds. Many savvy consumers are already familiar with the benefits of quartz, so featuring this in your builds could help you get a good return on your investment.
Glass tiles have become very popular for use in bathrooms due to their light, clean look. While these tiles are more expensive than some other bathroom surface options, they are impervious to moisture and quite strong. However, they work best as wall coverings only and not for floors as prolonged surface pressure or the impact of something being dropped could crack them.
Natural stone is a beautiful and durable option but is more expensive than some of the other materials listed. It also tends to be more porous than engineered stone, porcelain, or glass, and therefore may not be the best choice for walk-in showers or as a tub surround.
According to The Spruce, “types of stone that have a high iron content (marble is one) may discolor and rust when used in a moist environment. This porousness also means that stone is rather easily stained ... The only preventive strategy is to seal the stone at least once a year.” However, it is suitable for flooring and accent areas.
Overall, incorporating natural stone in your builds may not be the best choice in terms of getting a good return on investment, unless you're dealing with a high end project and the demand is there. This material may require more delicacy and expertise during the installation process, costing you more time and money, and does not provide the longevity and ease of maintenance of other materials - factors which appeal to buyers.
Remember - bathrooms are one of the key selling points in any home. Using the proper materials for sustainability, durability, and aesthetics plays a vital role in the appeal and functionality of these rooms.