Bathroom floor tile with treads … Be cognizant about choosing flooring with an eye toward preventing slips and falls

tile with treadsHere’s a great idea: Bathroom tile with treads. If I were designing a shower as part of a bathroom remodel… and I wanted to use tile for the floor instead of the porcelain enamel cast iron shower pan (my favorite bathroom shower base idea) from Kohler… then I would very seriously consider this porcelain bathroom tile from American Olean.

The idea for the tread is — I am pretty sure — to help prevent slips and falls in the shower. Yes: Be concerned about designing for this issue — even if you are “too young” to think about it.

I read recently that every day in America, another 10,000 Baby Boomers are turning 65. I have a decade+ to go until I reach that auspicious age, but I am already regretting that when I remodeled my bathrooms about eight years ago, I did not put grab bars in all the tub and shower surrounds. You’re going to need grab bars — and be more concerned about slipping in the tub or shower — sooner or later. Including real soon maybe even, if you hurt your back, which can happen to anyone at any age. I opine about this a bit more, in this silly video:

Pam’s Blue Bathroom: Things I Would Have Done Differently from RetroRenovation.com on Vimeo.
mosaic tile with treadThe tread tiles are from American Olean. I spotted them at my local tile and flooring store, Scotts, in Pittsfield, a few weeks ago. I stopped in just to poke around to what new. This is always better to do in person, rather than online. Indeed, you can’t find these tread tile online — but they were on the AO sample board in the store

These tread tiles are also unglazed, which makes sense: The shinier the top-coat, the more slippery the surface is and will get when water hits it. The surface coating of a floor tile is one of the critical considerations when specifying the material that you will use on a bathroom floor. Any floor, really. There are other considerations, as well.

Bottom line: Consult with a professional to understand the pros and cons of flooring alternatives to assess how they can minimize slips and falls depending on your expected use. There are standards and such. Even so, as American Olean says in its online guide Factors to Consider:

Where to find this mosaic tile:

  • This tile is part of American Olean’s ColorBody Porcelain Mosaic Series. This is a great series — lots of colors, lots of styles — all pretty relevant to if you have a mid century home. AO and Daltile also have matte-finish tiles in the same sizes, also in a wide variety of colors.
  • Daltile is the sister company to American Olean. Also check Daltile’s selection, they may have different colors. I cannot find this on the Daltile website, though. The AO and Daltile websites are not fun. Third time: Go to the biggest tile store you can get to, to scope the possibilities. Eat some protein before hand, and take a camera, it’s gonna take a while.

  1. Heidi E. says:

    Although it doesn’t come in nice colors ( basically terra cotta shades and some grays) or 2-inch sizes, I see Daltile now has tile with this kind of unglazed tread pattern. It’s weird there isn’t more market for this stuff, personally I would love a quality alternative to those little stick-on flowers and swans. I’m not even that old, but I am a big klutz!

  2. Ellie says:

    This thread seems pretty dead, but I came across this page while researching options for flooring/shower tile for a 1930s-style bathroom. This tread tile doesn’t seem to be available from American Olean anymore. Any alternatives out there?

    1. pam kueber says:

      Ellie, I do not know…. I think you will just need to research… See our overall research on tile makers at the top of Bathroom Help / Tile Category. Good luck.

  3. Rick S says:

    Most of us don’t want to think too far ahead about when mobility is an issue. Somethings can be added later if 2x lumber is added when walls are open. Even blocking for an towel bar or toilet paper, tootbrush holder etc. can be added so they stay firmly attached to the wall. Stair rails on both sides of the stairs can assist many people, even small children just learning stairs. An outlet at top and bottom of stairs and in hallways allows nitelights to light up hard to see areas and decrease falls. When My parents built their house we even widened the hallway to bedroom by 6″ and made master bedroom door 34″ wide for possible wheelchair or if they needed assist walking.
    Sorry once I get going……love your site.

  4. Paula says:

    We have redone 6 bathrooms in the last year. All have tile floors, 3 have fully tiled showers. I am fairly certain that you can’t use glazed tile on a floor because of code issues. You definitely can’t use it on a shower floor, and your max tile size on a shower floor is 2″ . The combination of the size and unglazed tile makes the floors very safe. We haven’t had any safety concerns. Our contractor tiled in benches in all 3 showers and we love them.

  5. lynda says:

    We are a bit older and when we remodeled the baths, we did put in grab bars. However, I just installed them horizontally like a towel bar instead of on the angle. They look nice to me and you can hang the tub mat or a towel on the bar. I like the Ginger brand for grab bars. Also, if you already have a shower and would like to add a bar, there is a way. If you are lucky and your shower backs up to a closet or another room, you can remove the dry wall in the other room and add the proper wood framing so that the new grab bar will be anchored into the wood. A good drill bit will drill through the tile and into the wood so the bar can be installed.

  6. Andi says:

    Thanks, Pam, for this find! My turquoise bathroom’s tub-to-shower conversion is still awaiting our contractor’s schedule, and I’m still (S-L-O-W-L-Y) making decisions like this.

    We are getting a tiled shower base (custom built to maximize size), and if these come in black or dark charcoal (the existing floor color, which is staying), you may have just sold a shower floor’s worth of these little tiles!

    And I’m not quite yet in the shower-grab-bar generation either but previous owners installed them in our tub/shower and we are having new ones installed when we re-do the area.

    Those previous owners, who built our house in 1952 and lived here well into their ’90s, also installed beautifully finished, sturdy wooden handrails with brass brackets in the center hallways leading to the back (master) bedroom and the hallway bathroom. (No master bath in this house.)

    These are just above the chair rail, and friends suggested removing them when we bought the house, but I don’t even “see” them now and have found them useful as “guides” in the dark once the lights are turned off for bedtime.

    They also installed a strong brass handle in the doorway to our sunroom, which has a little “half-step” of 4 or so inches. That handle is often used by an elderly friend to get through the doorway when he visits. Again, we don’t even “see” it now but it’s there if anyone needs it.

    Oh my, I digress—sorry! Thanks for the lead on these cool little tiles!

  7. MCM is Grand says:

    Great Idea!

    Growing up, our bathroom floor had Spartany Roman tiles …those little white “flecks” also serve as a non-slip surface.

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