How To Add A Traditional Style Bathroom Without Tile

Recently my husband and I decided we needed to add a second bathroom. We also knew we needed to do it as cheaply as possible. Bathroom tile can be extremely expensive. Typically the bulk of a bathroom renovation is spent on tile and all the surface prep. After much debate and research we decided to eliminate the expense of tile all together. We were able afford to tackle the project sooner and pay for it in cash! This is how we added a traditional style bathroom without tile, on a very tight budget!

how to add a traditional style bathroom without tile

How Much Does Tile Typically Cost in a Bathroom?

Where you live and how elaborate tile design is are things that will effect cost. The table below shows the estimate of tile for our project.

MaterialCost Per Square Foot tile onlyLabor/Installation Materials
(includes thin set, backer board ect.)
Ceramic Tile or Natural Stone$2-$40 $20-$40
Our Bathroom Sq/ft (135)$270-$5400$2700-$5400
Our Estimate Minimum (tile only)$270 (installation materials extra)
Our Estimate Maximum (tile only)$5400
Our Estimate Minimum (tile and installation)$2970
Our Estimate Maximum (tile and installation)$10,800

For a more specific calculation of tile costs and potential savings check out this Enter your exact dimensions and tile specifications and the calculator will generate your total tile price. This will give you the cost estimate and your potential savings!

So with the most inexpensive and underwhelming tile option it would cost us $270 just in tile. If we installed it ourselves we would save but still have to purchase all of the materials to install it which would have been a few hundred dollars. Most bathrooms I had seen without tile were very modern looking. We live in a 1930’s Craftsman so super modern would not work for us. How could we add a traditional style bathroom without tile? We began to search for alternative materials to tile.

how to add a traditional style bathroom without tile

Traditional Style Bathroom Options Besides Tile


The most commonly used alternative to ceramic tile is linoleum. It is inexpensive and easy to install. However linoleum does not have a high end look. Linoleum is often used in rental properties because it is cheap and easily replaced. We wanted to save money and also have a more polished upscale looking bathroom so linoleum was out.


Although carpet has been used in bathrooms it was an automatic NO for us. Because we have done so many renovations and DIY projects we have seen what is underneath carpet. Carpet holds moisture, mold and dirt therefore to us was also quickly eliminated as an option.


Concrete has become a great design alternative in both flooring and countertops in recent years. Even though concrete has a lower cost than tile and durability it lacks the traditional style we are after in our bathroom addition.


Many old homes have original hardwood floors installed. Hardwood is a viable alternative to tile flooring in a bathroom if properly sealed and protected. Items like bathmats should be used to prevent water from pooling. Additionally more traditional style bathrooms like those with clawfoot tubs tend to work well with hardwood floors both aesthetically and practically.

how to add a traditional style bathroom without tile

How To Add A Traditional Style Bathroom Without Tiles? USE WOOD!

Our home is a 1930’s Craftsman style cottage. The original flooring throughout the home is white oak. This bathroom addition was going in what we can only assume was meant to be a breakfast nook or sitting room. For weeks we planned putting down tile however the more realized the expense of decent tile would put the entire project out of reach! We started researching keeping our existing hardwood flooring. This bathroom is installed as a master en suite we knew it would primarily be used by adults. As adults we are careful to protect the wood from excess water, something small children may not think to do. I would not recommend using hardwood floors in a bathroom primarily used by small children. However, because this is an adult space with a clawfoot tub we felt we could provide adequate protection.

How To Use Wood Instead Of Tile In A Shower

We ran into the same problem with our shower walls as we did with the flooring. Tile was too expensive and no other typical shower product was within budget or the style we were going for. So after many of the same considerations as the flooring we decided to also go with wood! We found an amazing deal on a double ended clawfoot tub on craigslist and decided to do away with the free standing shower idea. We did want to maintain the shower feature but keep the walls protected. Therefore we opted for shiplap style wood on the shower wall painted with exterior grade paint! We used Behr paint in the color “Polar Bear”. If it is durable enough to withstand the outdoors we felt it could withstand some overspray of a shower. Overall we could not be more happy with how the shower turned out without tile.

exposed shower system on white wood wall

Our Traditional Style Bathroom Designed With Wood Instead Of Tile

If treated with the proper products wood can be a perfectly suitable choice over tile in a bathroom. We love the traditional style that we were able to maintain even without tile. If you are on a tight budget or just looking for an alternative to tile consider using wood! We are thrilled with the results of our new master bathroom. Choosing wood over tile saved us so much money! We are also happy that going with the original flooring makes it look like it was part of the original home design!

Don’t Be Afraid To Use Other Materials Besides Tile

I love the challenge of adapting a design plan to fit a budget. I see them as creative opportunities instead of obstacles. Don’t be afraid to get creative and try things that are a little different to get your projects done on budget and still maintain style!

how to design a bathroom without tile

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