Accent tiles can create a striking border for the walls in your tub area.

How to Apply Accent Tile in a Tub Area

by Jennifer Blair

When it comes to choosing a material for bathroom walls, tile is a classic option. It holds up well in the moist conditions of a bathroom, while allowing you to add a decorative look to the space as well. Accent tiles are an ideal way to add visual interest to your bath area without overwhelming your bathroom with a bold color or breaking the bank. You also have plenty of options when it comes to applying accent tiles, so you can find a look that fits the rest of your bathroom decor to a T.


One of the most traditional ways to apply accent tile in your bath area is in a stripe. Horizontal stripes are usually the most common design choice because they can form a border on the wall above the top edge of the tub or at the top of the wall to bring the area into focus. You can also create a stripe of accent tile in the middle of the wall above the bath to create a faux chair rail effect. In some cases, you may want to create multiple stripes or borders, such as at the top of the wall and along the seam where the tub meets the wall. However, if you really want your bath area to stand out, consider applying accent tile in vertical stripes instead of horizontal. You can create thin vertical stripes in a single color in strategic locations around the bath or use multiple colors to create thicker stripes to really highlight your bath area.


If you want a more dramatic look for your bath area, applying accent tile in a large block can definitely do the trick. You can create a medium-size square or rectangle in the center of the wall behind your bath or go even bolder with a large block that nearly covers the wall from floor to ceiling. The key, though, is making sure there is enough of your main tile around the sides of the accent tile block to create a framed effect, so the accent tile resembles a piece of artwork. It’s also important to choose your accent tile color with care -- there should be a strong contrast between it and the color of the main tile to create a truly striking look. If your main tile is white, opt for dark accent tile like a rich cobalt blue or emerald green. With a darker tile like charcoal or brown, go lighter with a stark white or creamy yellow.


You can give your bath area a more artistic look by using accent tile to create a more abstract shape on the wall. While stripes and blocks are easy to create with square tile, round accent tiles allow you to create free-form shapes that add an air of whimsy to your bathroom. Create a horizontal wave design in the center of the wall above the bath for a unique twist on the chair rail look, or apply the accent tile in a horizontal pattern that arcs back and forth like curvy road.


If you’re using your accent tile to add a splash of color to an otherwise neutral bathroom, scattering them among the main tiles in your bath area can make a simple but striking statement. Try placing single accent tiles at random intervals among the main tiles or creating clusters of accent tiles and placing them in arbitrary spots on the bath area walls. Randomly placing accent tile can work well even if you don’t necessarily want to add color to your bathroom. If you plan to use accent tile from the same color family as your main tile, scattering them randomly across the wall adds texture and dimension that help your bath area stand out.

About the Author

Based in New York City, Jennifer Blair has been covering all things home and garden since 2001. Her writing has appeared on, World Lifestyle, and House Logic. Blair holds a Bachelor of Arts in Writing Seminars from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Photo Credits

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