HOUSE: Newburgh

FAQ: What’s it like having a black bathroom floor?

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I get a surprising amount of traffic here on the blog from people searching for pictures of black tiles with black grout (or black pennyrounds, or just black bathroom floors in general), and a lot of those people then email me to ask about whether I like having all of those things in my house and what the maintenance is like. It’s been about 4 years (!!!) since we put them in our downstairs bathroom, so I feel like I can speak with a bit of experience about them at this point.

We used matte black pennyrounds from Nemo tile (the style code is m890) in our bathroom with Polyblend sanded grout in Charcoal, which really does read as black to my eye. It took a bit of hunting to find it locally, but Tec makes sanded black caulk (Raven) that matched the grout pretty perfectly. (Grout is for between the tiles, and caulk is for joints — like where tiles meet at a corner or where your tile meets the tub.) Including the tile underlayment and all of the “ingredients,” the whole floor cost about $350.

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The caulk line looks a little grayish here, but that’s really just the photo. After four years, the color hasn’t faded at all — it still looks rich and black. Several people have asked me whether using products like talcum powder in the bathroom would be an issue with black grout. That’s not something I ever use, but I do wear loose face powder every day that I brush on with wild abandon…and I’ve never noticed it showing up in the grout. I have dropped bits of broken pressed powder onto the floor, though, and that does definitely require some clean-up, but nothing that a regular sponge and warm water can’t take care of. (Note: I did use a sealant after grouting. Not sure if that actually makes a difference, but it can’t hurt.)

The other thing that comes up a lot is the question of whether dust and water spots show on the tile. In short: No. Nothing shows on this tile. Even if I were a total pig and didn’t regularly clean my bathroom, I could go for a really, really long time before the floor looked dirty. Like…months. At least. I’m not going to try it to find out, but seriously, this is NOT a nightmare floor. I think that’s probably because the tiles are tiny/visually busy and because they’re matte. If I had 2×3′ polished black marble tiles, I might be singing a different tune!

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Next up, cleaning! I don’t do anything special to clean the pennyrounds. The first thing I do when I’m cleaning any bathroom is vacuum, because otherwise I’m just pushing hair around with a sponge and EW. Usually I just follow up with a wet Swiffer cloth, but every couple of months I do get down on my knees with a bucket and a sponge and go to town on all the nooks and crannies. Again, though, this is just something I’d do regardless of the type of tile, not because the floor looks grimy or anything.

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Alright, so you can’t actually see the tiles at all in these pictures, but I’m including them anyway because I love this bathroom so, so, so much. I’m still really proud of all the work Evan and I did in there (even though it did take us the better part of a year!). It was such a sad, ugly room when we bought the house, and now it’s one of my favorite places to be. Maybe that’s a weird thing to say about a tiny little bathroom? I really do love everything about it, and we learned so much in the process. That was my first time tiling!

BONUS PICTURES!! I recently saw this black-floored Brooklyn bathroom on Remodelista and fell in looooove. It looks to me like they used polished black marble hexagons with a slightly lighter grout than I did, but the effect is very similar. For your ogling pleasure…

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Photos by Sean Flattery for Remodelista. (There are more photos on designer Elizabeth Roberts’ website — click through the slideshow for more bathroom shoots!)

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45 Comments

  • Reply Michele March 27, 2013 at 3:16 am

    Hi, Anna. I am SO in love with this bathroom! I purchased a 1920’s brick rowhome in Philly last week and am already planning my bathroom reno. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and gorgeous photos! Already searching for the black penny rounds in Philly. Cannot wait to try my hand at tiling!

  • Reply Florian March 27, 2013 at 4:32 am

    Oooh, the tiles look lovely! And such a change to that room!

  • Reply Tom S. March 27, 2013 at 5:12 am

    Great article. It really seems that you’ve answered every question I can throw with regards to black tiles. Your bathroom looks really nice and clean to be honest. You say you don’t clean often, but I can guess you’re pretty thorough once you do.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 27, 2013 at 10:01 am

      I didn’t actually say that I don’t clean often, just that I could go a long time without cleaning and it wouldn’t be noticeable—big difference. I don’t want anyone to think I don’t clean my bathroom! ;)

  • Reply Gracie March 27, 2013 at 6:58 am

    The forth paragraph fills me with joy. 30 minutes after cleaning my bathroom floor looks like it’s time for another clean.

  • Reply Francine March 27, 2013 at 9:40 am

    My boyfriend would LOVE this. He loves black and white color schemes. We just bought a house and are moving in next month so we’ve been discussing interior design. I’m not that into design (he’s the artist between us) so I’ve handed off most of the decisions to him. His apartment looks better than mine does anyway…

  • Reply EmmaD March 27, 2013 at 9:51 am

    I sooo wish i’d discovered your blog before renovating my apartment. My one regret is my matte grey tiles which are AWFUL. Definitely going to rip them up and redo like yours should i live in that apartment ever again.

  • Reply tamera March 27, 2013 at 10:08 am

    I love these tiles, so going to use them when we redo the downstairs bathroom!

    I can’t believe how bad your before photo is.

  • Reply Alex March 27, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Love your bathroom ! Where did you get your small pharmacy wall ? Is so cute !

  • Reply sara March 27, 2013 at 10:56 am

    thanks for this post, ive been thinking about floors for the bathroom and havent come up with a plan i love (would love to have poured terrazzo but its not structurally sound enough). Ive been considering white hexagons but not loving the alll white with subway on the wall, nor the idea of either dark grout or dirty floors.

    (and your comment about cleaning the bathroom reminds me of my grad school shared house. we could have used a floor that didnt show when you didnt clean…)

  • Reply lewis March 27, 2013 at 10:56 am

    I currently have a wannabe-slate linoleum floor in my bathroom, but I just pretend that I have this floor. Thanks for helping me perpetuate this delusion.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 27, 2013 at 11:02 am

      Haha. No problem! I must say, though, I’ve seen that wannabe-slate vinyl stuff look pretty good. Certainly better than some of the awful bathroom floors I’ve had in the past!

  • Reply sara March 27, 2013 at 11:48 am

    and a question, why did you go for the penny round vs the hexagon you also shared?

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 27, 2013 at 11:52 am

      I’m not sure there’s a “why,” really…we just liked them! We never considered doing marble hex in this bathroom (not that we could have afforded the kind that’s in the Remodelista photo!), but did use them in our other bathroom:
      http://www.doorsixteen.com/2008/12/01/at-last-the-upstairs-bathroom/

    • Reply sara March 27, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      yeah, i guess why is the wrong question :) im really just trying to decide between the two myself ;)

  • Reply jbhat March 27, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Your excellent sense of style even shows with the positioning of the toilet paper roll. Verticle! I LOVE IT. I have never seen that done before, but it’s brilliant. You guys have such a good eye.

    jbhat

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 27, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      The funny thing is that we had put the same TP holder (it’s the $6 Grundtal from IKEA) in our upstairs bathroom a year earlier, and we mounted that one vertically out of necessity—behind the toilet, no less!—due to lack of space, and we got so used to it being that way that it felt weird to install it horizontally in the downstairs bathroom. It just looks better and makes more functional sense to me this way. :)

  • Reply Rebecca @ beautifulsquarefeet March 27, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I do so love your bathroom Anna – I love the mirror against the black and the white. Probably for the same reason, I really like the wooden cupboards in the bottom picture too. Pictures of your house always make me want to re-do mine!

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 27, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      I know, those wooden cabinets are amazing!! I wonder if they were salvaged from an old pharmacy or something.

  • Reply Allyson March 27, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    I installed matte black penny rounds in our master bath with black grout & caulk a little over a year ago after being inspired by Anna’s. (Thanks, Anna!) I absolutely love it. It makes me happy every morning and night and I love that it shows nothing and is super easy to clean. :)

  • Reply Amanda March 27, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    I love this!! Our bathroom is such a dingy yellowish grossness, no matter how much I scrub. This looks practical as well as being super cool.

  • Reply Amber March 27, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Hi- just stopping to let you know I’ve really been enjoying your blog. Thanks for sharing.

    The bathroom is great- some dropit hooks would rock in there, too…

    Amber

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 27, 2013 at 7:02 pm

      Thanks, Amber! Glad you’re enjoying it here. :)

  • Reply Alisa March 27, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    People wonder about the maintenance of a black floor? Shoot… with my house of testosterone, I’d give anything for a black tiled/grouted floor. As it is, we have white with very light gray grout (er, USED to be light gray; came with the house) and it’s not a pretty situation anymore. Talk about difficult to keep clean… and I clean the bejesus out of it. BOO. Your tiny bathroom is definitely an inspiration!

  • Reply aliza March 28, 2013 at 8:20 am

    that sink is GORGEOUS (like everything else in your bathroom). Where is it from?

  • Reply Paul April 29, 2013 at 9:37 am

    Thanks for the tip, Anna. My bathroom remodel is looking great with this tile.

    The matte black pennyround tile is available through “The Tile Shop”, at around 2 bucks less per square foot. I didn’t have much luck with the service at Nemo.

  • Reply Jenny April 30, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    What is the size of your floor area? You said total cost was $350. My floor would be about 5 x 7.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 April 30, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      I don’t remember the exact dimensions, sorry, but it’s probably about the same as yours…maybe a little smaller.

  • Reply Xani November 6, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    The floor looks amazing! I am currently having my master bath remodeled and I’m putting in polished white pennies with black grout on most of the floor, then polished BLACK pennies (same grout) in the commode room and the walk-in shower. So excited! I plan to have a border of the white pennies around the black spaces, and right now I’m struggling with whether the transition from white to black should be a straight across line, or a “meshed”/staggered look. Gotta obsess over the details!

  • Reply Angela November 28, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    The tiles look amazing. I would do the same thing to my bathroom but I feel like it is hard to maintain / keep it clean. You did a great job with it though!

    • Reply Anna @ D16 November 28, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      Nope, not hard at all! Super low maintenance.

  • Reply Lynn Gallagher December 30, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    Hi! Great bathroom! We are going to use tumbled 4×4 black marble in our powder room. I like the white baseboard you used. What is it? Just white tile?

    • Reply Anna @ D16 December 30, 2013 at 10:41 pm

      Hi Lynn, the baseboard molding is just a 1×4 board. Nothing fancy! The walls are pine paneling.

  • Reply Julie Rimer September 10, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    This bathroom is awesome – so clean-lined and lovely. I think there is perfection in every detail. All of the time and energy you and Evan put into this room is absolutely evident.

  • Reply Noah January 12, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    We originally purchased Matte Black Pennyrounds by Merola from Home Depot. However, upon arrival they were all chipped from what looked to be manufacturing not shipping so we returned them. We are currently in the process of trying to order Matte Black Pennyrounds from Nemo Tile but quickly got cold feet from their abysmal yelp reviews. Would you say the quality is good enough to bare the difficult customer service experience? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • Reply Anna @ D16 January 12, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      The quality is EXCELLENT, Noah! The tile has held up beautifully. I bought them through a local distributor, though, so I can’t speak to Nemo’s customer service when buying directly.

  • Reply Jane January 12, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    I loved the look of your bathroom floors enough that I chose to copy them in our recent bathroom remodel. Our contractor installed black penny tiles with charcoal Polyblend sanded grout. I have a few disappointments to share :(
    First, I feel like the color of the grout was not as dark as I hoped. It is definitely more grey than black. We had the tilers come back to put a grout refresher and sealant, which helped a bit.
    Second, it is a nightmare to keep clean. Specifically, the grout. We have been using the new floors for less than a month and there are cloudy patches that seem to have dust or debris ground into and I can’t get them clean. I had a house keeping service today, hoped they could scrub it out – no luck. I scrubbed it again after they left, and it still looks dirty.
    Others may be interested to note that we also put it in our shower floor. I do not recommend it. The first time we used the shower, the soap residue settled into the grout lines and are painful to clean.
    I’m sorry to say that right now, I wish I could tear out this tile and choose something else. Simply because of the cleaning factor.
    I still love the look of your floors. Are we doing something wrong?

    • Reply Anna @ D16 January 12, 2015 at 11:51 pm

      Hi Jane, this hasn’t been my experience at all (the grout still looks as black today as it did six years ago), and I don’t do ANYTHING special to keep the floor clean. I’ve never even re-sealed the grout. I don’t have them in my shower so I can’t comment on the soap issue you’re having, but I did a Google search for you and came up with a couple of pages that might be of interest to you:
      http://www.diychatroom.com/f5/help-glaze-my-grout-why-7350/
      https://www.tcnatile.com/faqs/32-white-residue-on-grout.html

      So…maybe installer error (since you say it never looked really dark) combined with mineral deposits? I don’t know, I’m sorry. :( I only have my experience with my own bathroom to go by.

  • Reply Noah January 31, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    Thanks for the quick reply Anna! One last question, do you know the make and model of the toilet you guys ended up going with?

  • Reply James March 25, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    In the middle of our 1950’s bathroom remodel. Out goes the pink tile (along with floor to ceiling link tiled alcove/stall shower); out goes the pink, toilet and sink and in goes black matte penny round on the floor, black matte counter w/white under-mount sink, white dual-flush toilet and white subway tile all round w/stainless fixtures. The wife was not convinced until I showed her pics of your bathroom. Hope to be done in a month or so. Thanks for posting!

    • Reply Anna @ D16 March 25, 2015 at 11:32 pm

      I take no responsibility for the destruction of a ’50s pink bathroom!

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