Design Bathroom Without Tiles: The Alternatives at a Glance

A bathroom must be tiled. So the general view but this is not true. There are alternatives to tiling the walls. We present options for a bathroom without tiles.

Ein Badezimmer ganz ohne Fließen? Die meisten schrecken bei diesem Gedanken wohl erst einmal zurück. Was es damit auf sich hat, erfahren
Ein Badezimmer ganz ohne Fließen? Die meisten schrecken bei diesem Gedanken wohl erst einmal zurück. Was es damit auf sich hat, erfahren Sie hier.
Foto: iStock / Getty Images Plus / archideaphoto

The most important facts in brief

  • If you would like to do without tiles in the bathroom, you have many options for walls and floors.
  • Combine materials such as wood and stone carpets to make all areas waterproof.
  • Remember: no tiles in the bathroom do not automatically mean no grout.

What Is a Bathroom Without Tiles?

Unlike a seamless bathroom, a bathroom without tiles uses other materials. Instead, building materials are used that can be processed over a large area and thus form a uniform surface. In this regard, a bathroom without tiles refers to the walls and the floor.

As an alternative to tiles, plasters, wood panels, decorative panels, or wallpaper can be used as wall coverings in the bathroom. Instead of tiles, install wooden flooring, vinyl, cork, or a stone carpet on the floor.

Why a Bathroom Without Tiles?

There are many reasons to do without tiles in the bathroom. First, the smooth surfaces without grout look particularly modern and luxurious, and second, the bathroom appears larger – this is ensured by the lack of a grid pattern created when grouting tiles. Therefore, a tile-free bathroom is especially suitable for smaller bathrooms or the design of guest toilets. In addition, you do not need to clean grout, and the bathroom will look fresh for longer. Therefore, the room becomes easier to maintain—another plus point: mold cannot grow there since no joints exist.

But the absence of joints also has its drawbacks. For example, a large, smooth surface is more expensive than laying and grouting tiles. The reason is the labor cost for specialized contractors necessary for a bathroom without tiles. During the work, all materials must be perfectly matched to each other, and everything must be carefully sealed so that there is no mold in the room later – this is because joints are an ideal breeding ground for mold spores – caused by high humidity and lack of ventilation. This is because condensation can form during showering, drip down the walls, and accumulate in the joints. Health problems such as respiratory tract irritation and mucous membranes, asthma, and headaches can result.

Bathroom Without Tiles: Alternative Wall Coverings

It is hard to imagine a bathroom without tiles on the walls, but you can give the room a fresh look with alternative wall coverings. The important thing for a bathroom wall covering is that occasional splashing water is not a problem, is not susceptible to mold, and will not be damaged by higher humidity in the room. We present four options for wall coverings in the bathroom as an alternative to tiles.

Plastered walls in the bathroom

In the living room or bedroom, plastered walls are quite normal. So why not use plaster in the bathroom? The material is especially suitable if you want to achieve an industrial look. You can choose from numerous types of plaster for bathroom design. Both synthetic plaster, such as synthetic resin plaster, and mineral plaster, such as lime plaster, are suitable for the bathroom, as both are breathable. You can even put clay plaster on the wall in the bathroom, as there are now suitable clay plaster mixtures for bathrooms.

The good thing about plaster is that you can paint the walls in the bathroom afterward in any color you can imagine. In addition, the material allows different surface textures – from smooth to roughened to completely rough. In addition, plaster adheres to most substrates. If the wall design is to be very robust and easy to maintain, it is better to choose plaster with synthetic resin. You can improve the protection against moisture by impregnating or waxing.

But remember that you can not use plaster for the shower area and the wall around the sink because it will crumble if constantly wet.

Wood panels

Wood is a classic for furniture and floors but works very well as a wall covering. You should use wood species such as birch or teak for a tile-less bathroom. To ensure that the wood retains its longevity and is not attacked by the moisture in the room, you need to air it regularly and prepare the substrate well.

As with plaster, wood panels are unsuitable for the shower area or the area around the sink, as the water splashing around will negatively affect the material’s longevity. If you decide to use wood in the bathroom, plan the work with a professional company so that water cannot penetrate between the wooden planks and cause the wood to swell. Against this, it protects a sealant on the surface.

Decorative panels

Decorative panels of waterproof materials such as acrylic, aluminum, glass, Formica, or stone are also suitable for bathroom wall design. The advantage over wood and plaster: the panels are also suitable for the area around the shower and sink. In addition, you do not even have to remove the old tiles for this because you can stick the panels directly on the old tile backsplash. The decorative panels come in different colors and patterns; they are easy to clean and are protected against mold.

The panels are also suitable for partial renovations, for example, if you want to install a new shower. Use the decorative panel as a shower back wall. The panels are quick and easy to install, even by amateur artisans, as they can be applied to almost any surface. In this way, you also reduce the cost of bathroom renovation. With the decorative panels, you can also easily cover your bathtub.

Wallpaper

Swift and inexpensive for renovation in the bathroom wallpapers. However, it would help if you designed the walls with a unique damp room wallpaper. Otherwise, moisture can lead to mold. For this purpose, the special wallpapers are water-repellent. So that you can quickly remove dirt, damp room wallpaper is washable. However, refrain from wallpapering the area around the bathtub, shower, and sink.

For the rest of the walls, wallpapers offer a wide choice for bathroom design, as the wall covering is available in many colors, patterns, and designs. Another advantage is that wallpaper comes with different textures. As with plaster, you can create smooth or rough walls with it.

Wallpaper or natural stone is suitable as an alternative wall covering in the bathroom without tiles
Wallpaper or natural stone is suitable as an alternative wall covering in the bathroom without tiles.
Photo: iStock / Getty Images Plus / ismagilov

Natural Stone

Instead of tiles, you can also use natural stone-facing bricks for bathroom wall cladding. They look elegant and luxurious and are well-suited if you aim for a Mediterranean-style look.

Bathroom Without Tiles: Alternative Flooring

A bathroom without tile includes not only the walls but also the floors. Like wall coverings, you have various tile-free options for your bathroom flooring. The important thing is that the flooring is waterproof, easy to maintain, and, most importantly, abrasion and slip resistant.

Wood Floors

What looks good on the wall is also suitable for the bathroom floor: wood. Use teak again for the floor, as it is best suited for the requirements in the bathroom. Avoid too many joints when finishing, as they are gateways for moisture and, thus, mold. In addition, the parquet needs regular sealing with oil to maintain protection from splashing water. Also, ventilate the bathroom carefully.

Vinyl

Another alternative to tiles in the bathroom is a covering of solid vinyl. Vinyl is already widely used in kitchens, but it is also well suited for damp areas if installed carefully. It is important to apply a primer and lay the floor without joints during processing. For this reason, you should not install click vinyl in the bathroom. The advantage of solid vinyl is that you can freely choose the look of the bathroom design. The flooring comes in all sorts of colors, patterns, and textures.

Cork

With its warm and soft surface, cork is a beautiful flooring for your bathroom. However, you need to use a different material for the area around the shower and bathtub, as too much water can damage the cork floor. However, splashing water doesn’t bother it much. As with vinyl, you should bond cork over a large area. Additionally, sealing the flooring is advisable.

Stone Carpet

You can design the shower area with a stone carpet and combine it with a floor made of cork or wood in the rest of the room. A stone carpet is a covering that consists of small pebbles and synthetic resin and is waterproof and easy to maintain. At the same time, you have the option of coloring the stones with different colors to customize the look of your bathroom.

For a stone carpet to meet the requirements for bathroom flooring, you should seal the material after installation – this will also prevent dirt from getting into the pores of the carpet. The processing of the floor is easy to perform, as you can apply it to almost any surface. For example, you must not remove the old floor tiles first.

Natural Stone

Slabs of natural stone are suitable not only as a wall covering but also as a floor covering in the bathroom. Here you must make sure that the natural stone slabs are non-slip. Otherwise, no limits are set for you.

Bathroom Without Tiles: This Is What You Need to Pay Attention

Before you do without tiles in the bathroom, you should consider the alternatives and seek advice from a specialist company. Consider, among other things, how much maintenance will cause the new surfaces. Also, compare the cost of a tiled wall or floor to the large-scale alternatives. While wood, vinyl, or wallpaper may seem cheaper at first glance, installation, and sealing costs are usually higher than classic tile, which is grouted with silicone to protect against water penetration.

In a bathroom without tiles, combining different materials may also be necessary, as not all of them are suitable for the shower area. However, this can also create an exceptional look when designing a new bathroom or renovating your existing bathroom. However, always ask yourself whether a seamless wall or floor is worth the extra effort and higher costs.

Alternative to Tiles: Which Wall and Floor Coverings Are Sustainable?

Mineral plasters are particularly environmentally friendly building materials. Lime, for example, consists of the natural raw materials limestone, marble, quartz, and sand. Dangerous additives are usually not, which has a positive effect on both the environment and health. The material is mainly convincing because it is free of pollutants, so no critical CO2 emissions are released. Clay plaster also scores in climate protection: It can be recycled entirely.

Wood is also an ecological raw material insofar as it comes from sustainable forestry. It conserves resources and does not produce any harmful greenhouse gases. However, teak comes from Southeast Asia and not from domestic forests. High emissions are therefore produced during transport. Birchwood, on the other hand, is also available from the German timber industry. It is one of the woods that can tolerate moisture well. Other domestic wood species suitable for wet rooms are spruce, beech, and pine.

Cork is also basically a sustainable floor covering. However, it is often installed with binders containing polyurethane or acrylate resins. However, you should choose cork flooring with natural resins as binders to avoid chemical additives.

Natural stone (including marble and granite) is also a good alternative to tiles. Hardly any energy is required for its production, as the stones are available in sufficient quantities in nature, especially in the region or the neighboring countries of Austria and Switzerland. All too-long transport routes are therefore eliminated, and packaging waste is minimal.

In contrast to the past, vinyl floors are now considered sustainable. They are made from natural raw materials and can be laid loosely instead of glued down – this was problematic because the adhesive residue contained chemicals that were difficult to dispose of and had to be incinerated. However, an increasing proportion of vinyl flooring can now be fully recycled.

Linoleum is also an alternative to tiles as a floor covering, as its components are mainly derived from renewable raw materials. These include wood flour, cork flour, or natural resins. Therefore, the flooring is also free of plasticizers and solvents – toxic gases can not escape and pollute the environment. However, linoleum is not suitable for wet rooms because it is moisture-sensitive.

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