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How far up the wall should tile go in the shower in a main bathroom?

Jo- lee Rose
9 days ago
last modified: 8 days ago

I am remodeling my primary bathroom and the long wall that is opposite of the very long vanity contains the shower ( to be glassed in ) and the full size tub that backs up to the shower bench wall.

All around the top of every wall in the rectangular room there is a consistent 2 foot painted area - above the vanity, the tub with it's large window, and above the doors to the water closet, the master closet and the exit door at the end of the room. I think it is what keeps the room balanced, but my contractor and a few friends say the tile should go to the ceiling in that part of the room.


*** This picture does not show that fact that the vanity, long mirror and wall lights have been removed.**


I want to show the layout of the room. Unfortunately the glass block window has to stay- I live in a planned community and it's almost impossible to get that changed out. Also the existing tub is staying as it is. My husband is wanting to keep it as the size and structure of it are easy for him to use it after he goes golfing.

The vanity is being replaced with a white custom vanity with a honed Danby marble countertop. A make up area will be in the middle and there will be more drawers than doors. The walls will also be painted white.


All the fixtures will be done in a polished nickel finish and the new floor will be a Daltile Stepwise product in the Emerson Park pattern. The planks will be cut to a 12" x 2.8" size and laid in a herringbone pattern.


The shower floor area has been sculpted out to be a curbless shower with a Wedi backing and floor with a linear drain. The floor will flow into the shower. and the shower will be enlarged about 5" deeper to the edge of the wall.

The medicine chests have been removed and hopefully will be inserted in a recessed mode in their same place.

The tile I have purchased for the shower is a large format 24" x 48" marble look porcelain.


Anyone who has pro's and cons I would love to hear them - All suggestions accepted.

This is an expensive project and I'm really not confident about how to tile this layout.

I have poured over countless pictures on Houzz, but the layout isn't the same here.



https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/137340801/thumbs/jorie-s-ideas?share=clipboard


Comments (16)

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    9 days ago

    Post a picture. Post a layout. ...........the most important aspects of a bath are layout and fixture placement. Tile : which, how far, etc is cosmetic. Post the layout, the selections and a lot more information for any valuable advice

    Jo- lee Rose thanked JAN MOYER
  • PRO
    Patricia Colwell Consulting
    9 days ago
    last modified: 9 days ago

    Pics for sure and all the rest of the choices if you want real help from here BTW the contractor is not a designer and I never ask friends since everyone has an opinion anf if not to far to go back forget the toilet room they are just plain wasted space . NO ONE should be using the toilet while someone else is in the bathroom.

    Jo- lee Rose thanked Patricia Colwell Consulting
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  • kandrewspa
    9 days ago

    I have 9' ceilings and did not go to the ceiling with the tile in the shower. It stops close to the top of the door trim. When you go to get the shower glass you will find that there are standard sizes. You can get a different size, but there is a significant upcharge for it. So if you stick with the standard height glass and stop the tile where it makes sense (based on the size of the tile and height of the glass, that is enough. In our previous house we tiled one shower to the ceiling and it became obvious that the ceiling wasn't flat. This was an older house, but believe me, newer houses aren't known for having perfectly true walls and ceilings either. There is no need to tile beyond the shower stall unless you are doing it for a specific decorative reason.

    Jo- lee Rose thanked kandrewspa
  • PRO
    Sabrina Alfin Interiors
    9 days ago
    last modified: 9 days ago

    In general, the tile should go to the ceiling in a shower, IMO. I think it looks cleaner and more finished. You don't, however, have to go all the way up to the ceiling behind the tub.



    Powell Ohio Master Bath · More Info


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    Jo- lee Rose thanked Sabrina Alfin Interiors
  • Helen
    9 days ago

    As others have posted, pictures would help.


    That said I recently remodeled the bathroom and I have tile in the shower to the ceiling but the tile on the walls only goes up midway on the rest of the walls. Not that a designer is necessarily correct but I worked with a designer.


    I don't have issues with it aesthetically at all since it is very common to have tile only halfway up (e.g. wainscotting in effect) in many bathrooms. A totally tiled bathroom - at least to me - would be very institutional looking.


    Also in terms of practicality the tile in the shower is there for functional reasons and you would need to have it higher than tile in the rest of the room - at least in terms of where most tile in bathrooms end. The tile behind a tub only doesn't have to be as high of course because you aren't going to get water damage that high.


    FWIW I had a tub/shower type of all in one fugly thing before I remodeled and the plastic or fiberglass portion didn't go all the way to the ceiling. There was definitely some amount of water damage to the upper portion that was just "wall" which shows that a shower will potentially have water spraying quite high in normal use. The rest of the bathroom pre-remodel had no tile - just walls - so aesthics wasn't an issue but obviously just cost in terms of this being cheap builder grade fixtures.

    Jo- lee Rose thanked Helen
  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    8 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    First: Your floor selection is offered in these sizes:

    12 x 48, 8 x 48 and 6 x 48

    the "new floor will be a Daltile Stepwise product in the Emerson Park pattern. The planks will be cut to a 12" x 2.8" size and laid in a herringbone pattern..........."



    DO NOT! plan to cut to 12" x 2.8 anything from your large format! Your expense will be horrendous, porcelain should be used as the size in which it is available!

    I would not mix a real marble with a fake. Danby counter, faux marble on the shower walls. ......

    Your shower, even with an additional five inches, is really not deep enough to be curbless.

    The rest there's too much we don't know. Such as all the dimensions. Where is the toilet?

    I would consider just repeating large format shower wall tile on the bath floor. Find a nice porcelain or glass mosaic for the shower floor. A plain quartz, or something that blends with your faux marble for counter top.

    Show your vanity design. I'd consider a tower between sinks , remove both med cabs, and maybe re think the vanity area. and I'd HOPE that's not a drop down. .......if you must have it.: )

    I think you need a pro on your site for design, and that would not be your contractor.

    Post a scaled drawing with every possible dimension and all the fixtures door etc. A cad of the vanity . How high to tile is the least of the issue for the moment..... because ANY bath is expensive to re do. don't RUE is the point

    ( tile to ceiling in shower, to bottom of window and same at adjacent wall of tub. Hang great art on the tub wall. ) First? Get real pro help with the selections, and lets see the actual everything else.

  • 4anewhouse
    8 days ago

    Thank you Jan for all your comments and suggestions. I have read your valuable notes on so many other discussions on the Houzz site.
    Some answers: the toilet is in a separate WC which is behind the shower wall, the door is open in one of the pictures. This project partially to make this an aging in place home . My husband is 75, and I am closing in on 70. We’re both active, but no one knows when things will change.
    That is one reason I chose the StepWise tile for the floors. We’ve taken the 12” x 48” planks and have simply cut them in fourths, both lengths and widths. I will post a few pictures of similar design vanities as well as the wall treatment showing my choice for that area. Our prior home had a large vanity that had a sit down nook to do makeup and blowout and style my hair. I have missed it since we’ve been here.
    So that is why it’s in the plan.
    Adjoining the vanity is a large storage closet so I don’t need to block the long view of the vanity with a countertop tower. The height of the tile question is not cost driven, it a question of conflict with the rest of the room. I am unsure about how the block window will add to the look of the tile if it as carried out under it .which I post pictures of. I have a large piece of art for the tub wall where the towel rack as you suggested.

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    8 days ago
    last modified: 8 days ago

    Virtually all MATTE porcelain is very safe for slippy feet. Yes, all of it.

    We ( here ) don't want "similar" vanity, we want your vanity

    We don't want a similar bath we want the dimensions. layout INCHES of your bath.

    As to aging in place? Get rid of The POO CLOSET now. Try getting into that with a walker .......and some help with you . god forbid

    You;d be far better off with a FULL wall at the tub, shared plumbing wall ( solves your tile issue too ..... and be rid of that poo thing that is sucking valuable real estate from the shower.

    As to no curb? Un LESS the shower shall have no door? ( yours is not deep enough for that either, btw ) every opening of that door post showering will sweep water onto the bath floor.

    You need the rest of the info here......YOURS, That's how you get the appropriate guidance. You don't know what you don't know, until it is too late and the money spent.

    Jo- lee Rose thanked JAN MOYER
  • Mrs Pete
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    All around the top of every wall in the rectangular room there is a consistent 2 foot painted area - above the vanity, the tub with it's large window, and above the doors to the water closet, the master closet and the exit door at the end of the room. I think it is what keeps the room balanced, but my contractor and a few friends say the tile should go to the ceiling in that part of the room.

    Speaking of the shower area alone, you have two options:

    - Take the tile to the ceiling. This really serves no functional purpose, as your ceilings are high enough that steam can escape /will not cause problems (unlike my old house, which had 7' lowered ceilings over the shower /trapped steam and allowed condensation /mold on the ceiling).

    - Stop the new tile where it is now: at the same level as the glass. This is practical because it saves you some expensive tile, and the shower cannot wet the painted area above the glass. This leaves the 2' painted band around the whole room /gives you a cohesive look.

    - These are the only two options, and I'm not voting because I really don't have a preference. Either will function equally well.

    This picture does not show that fact that the vanity, long mirror and wall lights have been removed.

    No, don't remove the long vanity mirror. It's so much more practical than today's trendy small mirrors. It makes the room feel larger and brighter, and it allows you to see your outfit more readily.

    The vanity is being replaced with a white custom vanity with a honed Danby marble countertop. A make up area will be in the middle and there will be more drawers than doors. The walls will also be painted white.

    You're bringing in an awful lot of white. Be sure to include some contrast and texture. That's another reason to keep the large mirror ... white vanity, white countertop, white wall behind it. The mirror provides some contrast.

    The shower floor area has been sculpted out to be a curbless shower with a Wedi backing and floor with a linear drain.

    What are your shower dimensions? I'm not convinced you have the necessary space for a curbless shower. They're particularly hard to do in a remodel, and you need a fairly significant slope to go curbless.

    Consider a minimal curb as an option: you're only required to have a 2" curb.

    I would not mix a real marble with a fake. Danby counter, faux marble on the shower walls.

    Agree, and so many options exist that are nicer than marble (real or fake).

    This project partially to make this an aging in place home . My husband is 75, and I am closing in on 70. We’re both active, but no one knows when things will change.

    Thoughts on this topic:

    - As my grandmother closed in on the century-mark, the #1 thing that gave her problems was changes in flooring (no one ever talks about flooring changes on this board). What I mean is, walking from the kitchen linoleum to the family room carpet would throw her to the floor -- even though she feared these areas /knew they were dangerous for her /went slowly and carefully.

    With this in mind, what flooring do you have in the adjacent bedroom? If it's wood and you could continue it into the bathroom, that would remove a tripping hazard. Whether that works or not, consider something softer than tile on the bathroom floor ... linoleum or wood are softer, and -- if you fall in this room -- kinder.

    Last floor thought: my grandmother had to give up throw rugs in front of vanity and shower ... oh, did she hate that. Heated flooring would have been a nice thing for her.

    - I don't know StepWise tile, but the point is to choose something that's not slippery /has a bit of "grip", especially in the shower. Choose a small-scale tile for your shower floor.

    - Getting in and out of a toilet-in-a-closet will become difficult/impossible if you need a walker. An ideal toilet is tucked behind a pony wall, which provides storage space for toilet paper. This is more accessible than a toilet-in-a-closet, yet it's also not front-and-center in the room.

    - Consider adding a bidet/washlet to the toilet now while you're remodeling. This will require an outlet behind the toilet, but it will, um, make reaching /wiping easier.

    - Consider some storage by the toilet. Both of my grandparents, as they aged, developed some unique needs ... oh, we've already come this far: my grandfather, who had colon cancer, had a colostomy bag in his later years. He needed a mirror near the toilet so he could see where to attach his ostomy bag (he would not have help -- would not), and he needed hooks on the wall so he could hang clean-but-drying bags. He also needed a sink adjacent to the toilet to facilitate washing out the bags -- if he had had a toilet-in-a-closet, he would have dribbled dirty water (yeah, let's go with water) over the floor as he carried the emptied-but-not-cleaned bag to the sink.

    My grandmother had problems using public toilets (she was embarassed by her slowness /would not hear that I didn't mind waiting), so she took to using adult diapers when we went out. She stored them near the toilet in her own home.

    It's hard to predict what you personally might need "near the toilet" as you age, but it's smart to leave some space for later additions.

    - Last toilet thought: consider lighting. If you develop special needs like my grandfather had, you'll definitely want a good, bright light over the toilet. Installing one now (and putting it on a dimmer switch) can only be a positive.

    Sorry I talked so much about the toilet, but you're going to use it multiple times a day -- it's essential that you "get it right".

    - Go ahead and install grab bars throughout the room now while you're remodeling. This is especially important in the shower, where you won't want to penetrate the waterproof membrane later. You can find all sorts of attractive grab bars that will fit around the tub, next to the toilet, etc. Study pictures online to see where people place them.

    - You're probably already considering a hand-held shower -- this would allow you to shower from a sitting position, and it's convenient now for washing the shower walls. Is your shower large enough to bring in a hospital shower chair, if needed? Consider where a stool or chair could be placed, and consider that a larger door will be helpful if you need a "helper" to get you in/out of the shower.

    - My now-RN daughter worked home-health during her college years, and the #1 thing she did was help people with bathing. She said some homes were well situated for this task, and it was easy for her and the client; however, some bathrooms were not suited for the task -- in one home she hated to visit, she had to lay out a plastic shower curtain on the bedroom floor and give the woman a sponge bath. How miserable for that poor woman never to get a true shower.

    Jo- lee Rose thanked Mrs Pete
  • Jo- lee Rose
    Original Author
    6 days ago

    Thank you for the valuable ideas and suggestions. I will be rethinking several things.

    We did save the long vanity mirror and intend to place it back in the room over the new vanity , but it will raised up a few inches and will become three mirrors when it is framed out by the same white wood color as the vanity. I want to put some sconces in the vertical wood strips as additional lighting. We also have a full length mirror on the inside door of the closet adjacent to the vanity for outfit viewing.


    The floor tile- StepWise is a special tile by DalTile that has a higher non-slip co-efficient than most so it won't be slippery. The wood grained tile will be cut in 2.8" x 12" strips put in at a herringbone pattern to also give plenty of grout lines to stop slips and tie in the brown veins in the countertop. I have a large picture of a cliffside waterfall and beach in Big Sur California that will be on the biggest wall opposite the shower at the end of the tub.

    About the shower slope gradient- your comments have me very concerned and are definitely going to make me require another meeting with the flooring contractor and revisit what he has said about the slope. We went forward with it because the contractor who is an authorized Wedi floor specialist and showed me a drawing and formula that says the drop will be long enough to drain the shower with the additional inches we got by widening the stall out to the wall. Hmmm!

    I had wanted to put in under floor heating, but it would have required blowing out the flooring in the entire room, and the 8" depth of concrete they took out of the shower area alone was overwhelming. That and the fact that the only way to repair the system if it stopped working was to dig it out again- My husband felt the benefit wasn't warranted. We live in South Carolina, and it doesn't get that cold in the winter as it does for folks in other areas.


    We have had him put in lumber 2'x4' wall backer strips in several areas so we can have grab bars and have had him put another outlet in the WC for a bidet set up on the toilet.


    A few of you had made the great suggestion of creating a space wide enough for a walker to get to the toilet, and that is what some of the other retirees have done in our neighborhood ( there's over 3200 homes here) and I've seen where they've redone a second bathroom where the toilet is at the right angle to be widened without moving plumbing, and the smaller vanity in that second bathroom can be easily be removed later and be replaced by a ADA roll up sink. We thought we would make those changes when and if that came to be a need.


    ***** The biggest problem I see now is the shower tile itself! What to pick that would mix better with the Danby marble countertop. I would love your suggestions and further feedback. *****

    I truly appreciate many well thought out points you have brought up!

  • Mrs Pete
    6 days ago

    I want to put some sconces in the vertical wood strips as additional lighting.

    Throwing out an idea: pendant lights might be easier to install than sconces on the wooden strips. Do consider that pendant lights (or sconces against a large mirror) will literally double your lighting ... making dimmers important. With aging-in-place a concern, I think you'll appreciate the option to genuinely light up the night OR to keep things nice and dim.

    The floor tile- StepWise is a special tile by DalTile that has a higher non-slip co-efficient than most so it won't be slippery.

    A valuable choice.

    I had wanted to put in under floor heating, but it would have required blowing out the flooring in the entire room, and the 8" depth of concrete they took out of the shower area alone was overwhelming. That and the fact that the only way to repair the system if it stopped working was to dig it out again

    Sometimes a good idea is "just too much".

    We thought we would make those changes when and if that came to be a need.

    I'd argue that you should go ahead and make these changes NOW while you're already knee-deep in reno.

    We'd all like to think nothing bad will ever happen to us, but my 51-year old friend just fell and broke her hip a few weeks ago -- she doesn't have time to fix things; she has to live with what she has now. I don't see any down side to prepping for the future now.

    What to pick that would mix better with the Danby marble countertop. I would love your suggestions and further feedback. *****

    I hate marble. So old and cold looking -- personal opinion, but I'd go with something else.

    I truly appreciate many well thought out points you have brought up!

    Glad to be helpful! I hope your space turns out super-nice!

    Jo- lee Rose thanked Mrs Pete
  • Mama Cita
    6 days ago

    Mrs Pete — such candid and wise advice! You sound like a wonderful daughter.


    Jo-Lee, things I didn’t see mentioned —

    • Get an extra-long handheld hose that easily reaches the bench (Kohler makes one 72”). Put a hook for it a few inches forward of the bench that a seated bather can use to keep it handy while shampooing etc.
    • Put the shower controls near the door so you can warm the shower before stepping in. Hinging the door on the right would make that easier and also allow a grab bar on the wall to assist as you enter and exit.
    • Your showerhead should be in a tiled area. I would lower the showerhead so that it’s within the glass enclosure, or make your glass taller (or a little of both). That way you can end the tile at the glass height. If your showerhead stays above your glass panels, as it is now, then tile to the ceiling.
    • Mixing real marble with marble-look tile is just fine if they look good together! It works best when they have different patterns or tones. It’s only a problem if the real stone makes the mimic look too fake.

    good luck to you!




    Jo- lee Rose thanked Mama Cita
  • Helen
    6 days ago

    I have two hand held shower heads as one is placed by the bench. It really is nice to have the ability to use the handheld while sitting without it awkwardly snaking through the shower. It is relatively inexpensive to have the additional head installed when you are building the shower.


    In terms of aging in place I wouldn't put off having the toilet and the rest of the bathroom accessible if you are using a wheelchair. In my experience with parents and other seniors, most seniors don't require a wheelchair to get around their house but they will often need a walker - if not permanently then because they need it while recovering from a "procedure". There is no point in delaying until you need it because the need can come quite suddenly and then you would have to figure out a stop gap solution.


    Jo- lee Rose thanked Helen
  • 4anewhouse
    6 days ago

    Thank you, those are realistic and well thought ideas. The lightbulb just went on when you mentioned the walker and it reminded me of my 94 year old mother in law who refused a wheelchair for her walker in her home.
    Also- I have just ordered a longer Kohler shower hose and return the small size.

    Jo- lee Rose thanked 4anewhouse
  • Mama Cita
    6 days ago

    Great Jo-Lee, we love our long handheld hose — easier to rinse shower walls when cleaning, too. I didn’t explain the pic I posted earlier — it’s a special hook Kohler makes to hold the handheld when it’s off the main base. The head swivels so you can point the handheld as you like.



    Jo- lee Rose thanked Mama Cita