Best Fix for Ugly Tile in Bathrooms

polka dots

Some of you will know that I am a huge fan of Jeffrey Bilhuber. So I decided to buy his first book the other day (I already have the other two), Jeffrey Bilhuber’s Design Basics.

It’s full of great tips but the best one that has never occurred to me is what he said about bad tile in bathrooms. Probably everyone has inherited horrible tile at some stage of home ownership and here is Jeffrey’s advice:

powder room

Love this idea from Pinterest!

“Often we’re faced with unattractive pre-existing materials in our houses that are costly to rip out and replace. Tiled floors in bathrooms are a common problem. An easy, luxurious and affordable solution is to install wall-to-wall carpet–right over the tile.

No one ever said we couldn’t carpet our bathrooms did they? What you need to know is that the carpet shouldn’t be installed with the traditional method of glue or tacks. Instead, have the carpet cut to fit and the edges bound, and lay it over the tile. You can easily remove the carpet if you need to have it cleaned”.


Is this a brilliant idea or what?

Obviously not for every bathroom necessarily, especially if you have kids and lots of traffic but how about a powder room? 

fresh bathroom

He goes on to say. . .

“Similarly, there’s nothing to prevent you from painting or papering marble, granite or stone walls. I’ve encountered bathrooms with inappropriate stone walls and I’ve wallpapered right over them. Paper adheres just as easily to stone as it does to drywall. It’s comforting to know that you don’t have to go back to square one to get what you want.”

Okay, my job is done here for today. I cannot take credit for these two ideas but I couldn’t wait to pass them on to you!

Colourful bathroom

So if you have a bathroom that is so bad, you can’t stand it? Why not get out the paper? I found some tips here on how to do it. Has anyone ever tried it? Post your experience below, it would be great to know how well it works.

Do you have a bathroom that needs an emergency makeover?  xoxo Maria

Related posts:

How to Coordinate New Tile with Old Tile

Do you Understand Neutrals? Take the Bathroom Test

How to Feel Luxurious in your Dated Bathroom

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  1. My. My.

    Carpet in the bathroom for sloppy men or kids may not be a good idea, but for a single woman living alone it worked great! I had cracked tile in an old home and to “do the job right” and replacing the tile would have meant also replacing it the cast iron bathtub. Not happening.

    I got a piece of indoor outdoor carpet, did a paper pattern and cut it to fit with a utility knife. The stray fibers that popped up now and then were easily snipped off and it looked nice and neat.

    And no, it was no gross or dirty or yuck. That is why God make bathmats and we buy them! When I had the bedroom carpets cleaned, I had the bathroom carpet cleaned as well.

    In a less than clean house, not so nice. In a clean house, no problem-o.

    • Perfect! It’s funny how everyone worries about what they are stepping on with carpet…the same stuff as on vinyl or tile! Just be sure it’s non-porous like indoor/outdoor carpet or even boat carpet. Easily rinsed. Quick to dry. And probably a lot cleaner as folks would make more effort to keep it clean!!

  2. Funny that your post should come out today, because today we are putting down 18″ peel and stick vinyl that looks like cararra marble over the other actual ugly tiles. We did consider carpet, because the WC is separate from the main part of the bath. What happened was this: last year we had the hideous “garden tub” so popular in the late 80s removed, and that left raw walls and half of the floor rawr. (I kept this covered with throw rugs and curtains for the last year.) For the last 7 years that we have lived here, I have kept the tiles painted. I will be posting the whole tale on my blog Scribbler Unfocused in the next few days if anyone is interested. The paint is OK if you keep a throw rug down, but it does get scuffed and needs to be redone every so often. I also keep the tiles in the WC painted — would not want carpet in there.

  3. I like the idea of re-glazing and painting the tile as an option to ripping out everything, or perhaps putting down a laminate floor over the tile. Wall to wall carpet in a bathroom does seem a bit unhygienic, I personally like having a rug in a powder room, the look of a sisal rug is quite nice…never been a fan of plush or shag rugs of any kind.

  4. Wow, I never would have imagined that having a carpeted bathroom was only one step above living on a hazardous waste dump site or something — according to most people commenting here. I’ve had carpeted bathrooms (house built in 1978) and done the indoor-outdoor carpet thing in an old house bathroom and have lived to tell about it. I like the hex tiles and wood floors in two bathrooms in my current house, but wouldn’t rule out carpet when we remodel my bathroom, as I think that it’s subfloor under the sheet vinyl, not T&G flooring.

    Maria, I agree with you that using carpeting is a viable option for muting ugly or clashing tile.

  5. Carpet and wallpaper are not very hygienic or mold-resistant. Mold spores consume paper and live quite happily in/under carpet as well. I also grew up in a house with wallpaper in a full bath and it peeled at the edges from the moisture in the air, so it just doesn’t hold up.

    As others have said, you can paint tile and that would be a good choice for ugly wall tile and tub.

    For a high-traffic floor, they make some great wood-look floating vinyl planks, as well as some less convincing tile-looking floating vinyl squares. I love the wood look in a bathroom – so vintage and romantic 🙂

  6. We inherited an original ’50s pink tiled bathroom that was updated via white carpet and white painted tiles on the walls and countertop. Like others’ said, the carpet was ok but I didn’t care for it. We eventually got some faux-tile sticky vinyl squares for the floor, which was an improvement. There are many interesting flooring products that can go over existing tile-including tile (depending on your situation). The painted tile wasn’t perfect but it looked good and lasted almost 10 years before we ripped out the bathroom in its entirety.

    While I understand the spirit of the idea, I tend to agree with others in that it’s best to do it right the first time. But if you can’t wait there are some ok options to tie you over until you can do a proper remodel.

  7. All I can say is yuck!!! carpet in the bathroom is gross…
    I rather cover the floor tile with lineloum
    That looks like wood.

  8. Choosing to put carpet in the bathroom? NEVER! I think Scribbler has the best idea – putting down vinyl peel-and-stick. I did that back in 1990 when I landed an interior apartment kitchen with dark grey, very industrial sheet vinyl flooring. A friend and I put down peel-and-stick red brick-look tile – easy to do and relatively cheap. Cheezy today, of course, but back then it made all the difference in the world in that apartment. With the improvement in vinyl tile and the increased choices, and with the continued easy-to-lay process and affordability, I’d do it in a heartbeat in a small bathroom and maybe even in the famous “only” bathroom with “vintage” tile on Househunters (of course, the pink wall tile is a harder quick fix but then I think I might go totally fun and funky with the floor – after all, it’s not forever and it’s not going to break the bank).

  9. Carpet in a bathroom? not for me nor would I ever suggest it. Painting or wallpapering tile on the other hand is a reasonable temporary fix, depending on how much use it gets

  10. All I can imagine is damp and stinky. Too many bodily fluids are in a bathroom…..gross. I’d do anything but carpet.

  11. When we were growing up, my mom would buy a thin rubber backed carpet that she “cut to fit” our tiled bathroom. So much nicer than stepping on a cold floor and all she had to do was pull it up and run it through the washing machine. Then there was no need for those rugs everyone puts around the toilet that never fit even though they are “shaped” like the toilet. With washing as an option, I think this would be a great idea.

    We have floor tile in 2 full baths and the powder bath in a home we purchased less than 2 years ago. All different. All ugly. My husband dreads taking it all out, so this may be an easier solution for us.

    I believe Tarkett has some really thick vinyl flooring that you don’t have to adhere that can lay over tile? Can’t remember where I heard that now…so this may be an option too…though I guess you’d need to caulk near the shower or tub to prevent water leaking under….

    Painting over sounds feasible after reading all the comments, but does it make it any warmer? The coldness is what I dislike the most…

  12. I big NO to carpet in a bathroom. My mother did this in the late 60’s when faced with ugly floor tile in a newly purchased house. It was gorgeous plush, expertly fitted around the fixtures….which made removal a bear and cleaning (other than vacuuming) infrequent. In a very short amount of time, warm, dark and moist bath conditions turned the bottom of that carpet into a petri dish! If you must do this, use a cotton rug that can be thrown into the washing machine once a week!

  13. Our first home had a bathroom with a 1970’s olive-green commode, which we kept because it worked fine and we had to pick and choose what we would spend money on in the house. The sink was also olive color with stainless faucet and a stainless steel rim around the sink bowl – basically a metal seal/seam where the bowl met the laminate countertop (common for that era), which was yet another shade of green. The floor tile, which was in great condition and not so ugly, was a mix of whites and lighter greens.

    Here’s what I did: Painted the sink countertop (around the silver-toned rim) with a silver paint that has a hammered finish. Let dry and applied second coat. This disguised that there was a rim and held up well for 8 years! I also put a white lid and tank cover on the commode, which hid a lot of that olive green and went fine with the floor. Painted white the sink vanity (which was a dark 70s brown), and painted the frame of the mirror white also.

    The corner shower is white with stainless steel fixtures. Walls are cedar (entire house is a chalet with cedar interior).

    Is this what we would design from scratch or a high grade reno? No, but on a low budget for a basement level bathroom it was a big improvement.

    My main point is that painting the laminate countertop worked! A key factor, I think, is that I used an oil-based paint. I don’t know whether it would have held up as well in a bathroom used by kids, but our kids did use this bathroom occasionally and my husband and I used it daily.

  14. Vinyl plank flooring will float over the top of the old tile and comes in a variety of wood grains and a few solids. Eventually the tile pattern might show through, but it is very durable and easy to clean. The edges can be caulked. So much easier to change out later than peel and stick!

    Many high quality unglazed porcelain hex tile and 50s mosaic tile have been ripped out, and 1-2 inches of mortar with it. Messy and unneeded, and modern thin-set isn’t as durable.

    Styles change and what is ugly and dated today can become fun and retro tomorrow, and eventually becomes vintage and antique. Take a look at for another take on old and funky, and see a beautiful PINK brand new bath that was designed to look old.

  15. Hmm, I don’t think if so the carpeting, but the wallalpapwrnover tile? Is this over smooth tile only? How does this work? How do you not eventually get ridges where the grout rlines are!

  16. It was interesting to see in the last photo the lighting and mirror used. Ironically, I had just ordered a similar mirror and lighting for a boys bathroom that I am designing and the coloring in that same photo is what I am using in the girl’s bedroom. Nice to have a preview of how this will look.

  17. Sorry Maria, I’m definitely on the “no carpet in the bathroom” team. Memories of shag carpeting in the bathroom of my student digs comes to mind.

  18. Come on, people! There are times when carpet over tile would work. Maria’s job here is to give us ideas, options, inspiration. Every suggestion is not for everyone! No one wants carpet that boys and men have not been careful around, but there are times when this would work. Maybe you just want to cover up a tile that you hate but that you don’t want to rip out…the next homeowner might indeed like it. Or maybe you’ve got a big piece of carpet you could use and you simply can’t afford to rip out the tile and have it redone. It’s all about options here, and ideas, food for thought.

  19. I inherited burnt orange outdoor carpeting in a bath and a powder room. Worst idea ever! It’s too damp in a bathroom, it is too big to launder if you could pick it up, it gets spills, etc. No! No to carpeting in the bathroom. I don’t care how famous Bilhuber is. He’s wrong on this one.

  20. I just ordered that book, can’t wait to get it! I have the other two as well. Love his stuff. – Years ago, I used to order large sizes of plush nylon bathroom carpet, and then cut it to fit wall to wall. It came in tons of colors. It was washable if need be, so it wasn’t so gross. I think I got it from the Sears or Penney’s catalog. Not sure if it’s still available, but I thought it was a great idea.

  21. Another thought, what about those cool carpet tiles? They can be cut and shaped, and are held down by tape. They can be selectively replaced if they get yucky. Can’t remember the name of that catalog that has them. Used them in my son’s room when he was little and we loved them. Easy DIY installation.

  22. I’m on a roll here: seven years ago we bought a house that had regular wall to wall carpet in all the bathrooms! I thought it was gross, but for various reasons, didn’t want to spend the $$$ to tear it out, and put bathroom rugs over it. We just sold our house, and even after seven years, I haven’t noticed mold or smelly stuff. My house is large, and already the biggest in the neighborhood. I didn’t want to over-do the updates since I knew I wouldn’t get my money back, and that it wasn’t my forever house. My new house has tile or hard wood floors in the bathrooms.

  23. Years ago I purchased a home that had not been remodeled since the 70s. I had harvest gold tile, foil wallpaper through out…and yes…carpeted bathrooms! The carpet was disgusting. It holds all the “smells” and moisture in the bathroom, causing mold and mildew. Since most bathrooms don’t have adequate airflow, it was just a nightmare. Within the first week of home ownership, the toilet overflowed giving me a perfect excuse to rip that germ fest right out! NEVER AGAIN! I also can’t help but wonder how the wallpaper would look where the grout is. It wouldn’t be a smooth flow. If anything, I’d paint. My BIL did that and it was great. He also did it over paneling, which worked well too. I hired a company to come in and reglaze my tiles and tub. Took it from gold to white, changed the fixtures and vanity and it looked AMAZING, was done in 2 days and other than the smell, mess free! …and affordable!
    (Just my 2 cents)

  24. Not for me. Grew up with that.

    One word: Aerosolized.

    You’re going to have that no matter how careful a guy is, and the radius of the affected zone increases with height. And the tiny amounts add up over time.

    Sorry to be so graphic!

    I once asked my mother in law what she would have done differently in raising her six kids. She answered quite seriously that she would have taught her boys–there were four of them–always to sit on the toilet!

    No matter how careful a man is

  25. If I lived in the central part of NC, I’d drive over and see you in a heartbeat!….But I’m like 6 hours from High Point. Have a ball!
    As far as bad bathrooms are concerned, I just saw some AMAZING redo’s at a Home Show in Greenville, SC. by a company called “Bath Fitter”…..I know, I was a tile snob too, ’til I saw their work—I am now actually considering it for a future build in a new home! No grout, no mildew, no scrubbing…sounds good to me!

  26. I ‘m on the side of the fence with the no carpet people.
    I actually died laughing when I got to Mary-Illinois comment “Have you lost your mind?” comment and then again IMHO Christine’s photo may need updating also.
    As someone who has been in the flooring biz for 16 years I couldn’t wait to read these comments I knew the Ewww! was coming.
    Maria this is the funniest post ever!!!

  27. I have my very own bathroom (talk about luxury) and would love to put carpet in there. As Maria says, in the right setting, it can be awesome.

    Thanks for thinking outside the box, and pushing us to do so, as well.

    I did think a skim coat of grout/mortar could be fun, if it were tinted, as a solution for some tiled floors.

    But, back to carpet. My bathroom is in need of new floor, and I am absolutely considering this terrific idea.

    Keep making us think!! Thank you!

  28. Hey Maria, I lived in the UK for 6 years -over 10 years ago now- but nonetheless, we had carpet in the bathroom in our flat. I was a young twenty-something and this was before kiddies and way before my design career. The carpet was great because we often had parties and no one minded passing out in the bathroom because it was so comfy and warm with the carpet on the floor!

    Many people carpeted their bathroom in England, but I was never sure why. Maybe they were hiding really ugly tiles!! lol

  29. Eww carpet in bathrooms. We bought our house 1.5 years ago and had to rip nasty old carpet out of all three bathrooms! The photo was cute, but eww. I could never have carpet in a bathroom!