Penny Tile Bathroom Backsplash Classic Round Tiles with Style

Penny tile is making a stylish comeback in bathrooms everywhere. This classic round tile adds an element of vintage charm and timeless elegance to any space. Installing a penny tile backsplash is an easy and budget-friendly way to refresh your bathroom with beautiful texture and visual interest. Read on to learn more about the history of penny tiles, their defining characteristics, popular color and material options, installation tips, and stunning design ideas to inspire your next renovation. With their eclectic appeal and versatile styling potential, penny tiles are the perfect way to add a touch of charming, classic style to your bathroom backsplash.

What are Penny Tiles?

Penny tiles, also sometimes called coin tiles or dotted tiles, are small, round ceramic tiles that resemble old coins. Typically, penny tiles range from 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Their name comes from their similarity in size and color to vintage pennies.

Penny tile has its origins in early 20th century America. The tiles were mass produced due to their small size and affordable cost. The round shape also made them easier to produce than square tiles using early tile manufacturing equipment. Penny tiles were a popular choice for floors and walls in bathrooms, kitchens, and other utilitarian spaces.

By the 1950s and 60s, larger square and rectangular tiles came into fashion. Penny tile fell out of popularity as a design trend. In recent years, penny tile has seen a resurgence in popularity. Both vintage original tiles and new reproductions are sought after for remodeling projects. The eclectic, retro look of penny tile makes it a perfect choice for achieving a classic vintage aesthetic.

Defining Characteristics of Penny Tiles

There are a few key characteristics that define penny tiles and set them apart from other types of ceramic tiles:

Small, Round Shape

The most obvious defining feature is the small, circular tile format. Penny rounds have a diameter of 1 to 2 inches. Some tile manufacturers produce larger versions from 2 to 4 inches, but the smaller scale is considered classic. The round shape gives floors and walls a playful polka-dot look when installed in a grid pattern.

Textured Surface

Authentic penny tiles have an uneven, textured surface rather than a smooth glassy finish. This gives them more visual depth and an antiqued appearance. The indentations in the tile also help enhance grip and prevent slips. Reproduction penny tiles replicate this bumpy texture for added character.

Vibrant Colors

Penny tiles pack a punch of color. They come in a rainbow of vibrant solid hues. Popular options include cobalt blue, emerald green, golden yellow, tomato red, and deep orange. Softer tones like soothing seafoam and pale blue are also available. The solid colors paired with the dots create visual pop.

Thin Grout Lines

Proper installation of penny tile includes thin grout lines between each tile, generally 1/8 inch or thinner. The grout helps each individual tile maintain its round shape. The grid-like pattern formed by the grout lines is part of the unique look of penny tile. Contrasting grout colors can make the tile pattern stand out even more.

Durable Ceramic or Porcelain

Penny tiles are made from durable ceramic or porcelain. These hard materials withstand foot traffic, humidity, and everyday wear and tear. Porcelain pennies are less prone to staining and water absorption. With proper sealing and maintenance, penny tile backsplashes and floors can last for decades.

Popular Colors and Materials

One of the most appealing aspects of penny tile is the range of colors and materials available. From warm neutrals to bold hues, there’s an option for every style. The most popular options include:

Classic White

A white penny tile backsplash serves as a fresh, neutral backdrop. The white surface reflects light and makes small spaces appear larger. White penny tile with thin slate gray grout lines has a minimalist, retro vibe. Crisp black grout stands out boldly against white tiles.

Earthy Terracotta

Terracotta penny tiles tie into the popular farmhouse style with their burnt orange hue. Terracotta looks stunning paired with white cabinetry and wood accents. Use warm brown grout to complement the tile color.

Cool Aqua

For a watery, spa-like feel, soft aqua blue penny tile is a perfect choice. Use white grout to make the blue pop even more. Aqua tiles add a relaxing ambiance to any bathroom design.

Vintage Black

Inky black penny tile has a sophisticated, luxe look. When paired with brass fixtures, black penny tile exudes vintage glam. The darker color makes small spaces feel cozy instead of cramped.

Weathered Penny

This aptly named tile replicates the patina of aged copper pennies. Weathered penny tiles have an oxidized greenish finish. The variegated look provides depth and visual interest. Use light grout to allow the multi-toned tiles to stand out.

Bold Colors

Vibrant yellow, plum, teal, and grass green penny tiles make for showstopping statement walls. Complement them with neutral tiles in other areas to avoid sensory overload. Graphic black grout outlines bright colors.


Porcelain is an excellent choice for kitchen backsplashes. The material resists stains, moisture, and heat better than ceramic tile. Porcelain penny tiles have the same charm but are more durable. Matte finishes hide less than glossy porcelain.

Installing Penny Tile Backsplashes

Part of penny tile’s appeal is the DIY-friendly installation. With some planning, patience, and attention to detail, you can tackle installing a penny tile backsplash as a weekend project. Here are some tips for a successful installation:

Select the Area

Penny tiles work great for backsplashes behind stoves or sinks. The small tile size allows you to easily cut pieces to fit around outlets and plumbing fixtures. Limit penny tiles to one accent wall instead of all kitchen or bathroom walls for best visual impact.

Prepare the Surface

The tiles need a completely smooth, flat surface for best adhesion. Remove any old backsplash material or wall covering down to the bare wall. Sand and fill any imperfections in the wall. Prime and paint the wall with semi-gloss latex paint if needed.

Plan Layout

Map out your tile layout ahead of time. Account for the edges of the wall and any openings needed for fixtures. You may need to cut border tiles to fit. Mix tile pieces from multiple sheets to vary shading.

Apply Adhesive

Use a notched trowel to spread thinset mortar adhesive on the wall area. Apply only 1-2 square feet at a time to prevent drying before you set the tile. Check that tiles stick well before moving on.

Set Tiles

Arrange and gently press tiles into the adhesive. Use tile spacers between each penny round to maintain even grout line spacing. Start at the center and work outwards in each direction. Remove spacers once the adhesive has cured.

Grout and Seal

Push grout into the seams using a rubber grout float. Wipe away excess. Seal tiles with grout sealer once fully cured to prevent stains and discoloration. Caulk the perimeter joints with silicone for water protection.

With some simple tools, quality materials, and careful prep, you can install an eye-catching penny tile backsplash in your kitchen or bathroom.

Style Ideas and Design Inspiration

Once you’ve decided to use classic penny tiles for your next backsplash project, the fun of choosing colors and arrangements begins. From graphic patterns to subtle neutrals, there are endless possibilities. Consider these stylish ideas for ways to implement penny tile:

Go Graphic

Multiple colors of penny tiles arranged in graphic patterns add a playful pop-art feel. Try largescale zig-zags, bold stripes, or concentric squares. Geometric penny tile layouts work best on larger wall expanses.


Group chunks of different colored tiles together for a mosaic look. Stay within analogous hues like various shades of blue-green. Or go bold with contrasting colors like orange and purple. Finish each colorblock with a metal trim.

Simple Neutrals

Let the texture and shape of white, beige, or gray penny tiles take center stage. The neutral colors act as a rich backdrop for polished metal fixtures and accessories. A hint of contrast grout prevents a washed-out look.

Vintage Accent

Use genuine vintage penny tile behind a stove or sink area. The random variation in aged tile provides rustic charm. Surround with newer white tile for balance. Save vintage penny tiles for special touch.

Modern Edge

Penny tiles aren’t just for retro décor. Install a penny round sheet in cool gray porcelain or antiqued metal finish. Pair with sleek modern faucets and pendant lighting for contemporary flair.

Terrazzo Inspiration

Large-scale porcelain penny tiles recreate the stylish look of terrazzo floors. Combine neutrals, grays, and whites in different proportions for organic flow. Pitched at a diamond angle or grid, faux terrazzo penny tiles add movement.


Here are some commonly asked questions about penny tile backsplashes:

Q: Are penny tiles only for floors?

A: While penny tile floors are popular, the small tiles are also ideal for kitchen and bathroom backsplash walls. The durable material withstands splashes and humidity. Penny rounds come mounted on mesh sheets for easy wall application.

Q: How long does it take to install a penny tile backsplash?

A: Expect to spend 2-3 days installing a penny tile backsplash. One day is needed for preparing the wall surface. Another 1-2 days are required for carefully applying tiles and grout. Simple layouts are faster than complex patterns. Help from an extra pair of hands expedites the process.

Q: What’s the best grout color for penny tiles?

A: White and gray grout are classic choices. For more contrast, bold black or navy grout makes the tile pattern stand out. Complementary grout colors like burnt orange with terracotta tiles tones down the look. Grout provides design flexibility.

Q: Are penny tiles suitable for kitchen backsplashes?

A: Absolutely. The circular shape and tiny grout lines help prevent splatters, moisture, and grime from penetrating. Porcelain penny tiles stand up well to heat and stains. For moisture resistance behind sinks or stoves, seal tiles and use caulk perimeter.

Q: How do I cut penny tiles?

A: Use a wet saw fitted with a porcelain blade to cleanly cut individual penny tiles or full sheets. For small notches, a tile nipper pliers works. A sharp utility knife can also score and snap tiles. Always wear protective goggles when cutting tile.

Q: What maintenance do penny tiles require?

A: Sweep or vacuum penny tile surfaces regularly to prevent dirt buildup in crevices and grout. Use pH-neutral cleaner for Ceramic or porcelain tiles; avoid abrasive scrubbers. Re-apply grout sealer annually. Address any cracked or damaged tiles promptly to prevent moisture issues.

Achieve Vintage Style with Classic Penny Tiles

Penny tile offers timeless appeal and endless versatility for bathroom backsplashes. With their petite round shape, vintage vibe, and bold colors, penny tiles infuse spaces with distinctive character and charm. A penny round backsplash invites you to get creative with eye-catching designs. With a myriad of colors and materials to choose from, it’s simple to achieve the exact aesthetic you envision, whether playfully retro or crisply modern. Trendy in the early 1900s, and again today, penny tile’s classic beauty never goes out of style.


Penny tile bathroom backsplashes featuring classic round tiles offer endless options for creating charming vintage style with a modern twist. From the historic origins of penny tile to installation tips and popular color combinations, this article covered everything you need to know to plan your own penny tile backsplash. With their eclectic charm and timeless good looks, penny tiles are the perfect way to refresh your bathroom with a dash of retro flair. Whether installed in a graphic pattern, calming neutral palette, or bold pop of color, classic round penny tiles will bring unique texture and visual interest to your space for years to come.