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What’s the Best Flooring for a Bathroom – Buyers Guide

As hard as it might be for you to believe, your bathroom is easily one of the most important parts of your house.

It’s not just a basic necessity in every home but also a key feature of the house.

When building your house from scratch or remodeling, bathrooms tend to be on the top of the checklist, and for good reason.

However, every important space within the house is worthy of in-depth consideration, especially when it boils down to the finish and the flooring. The main consideration is water.

Water can cause disaster within a home and the floor in your bathroom faces the brunt of errant water, be it from a spill, leak, overspray, or kids being kids and having some fun.

The bottom line is that your bathroom floor will undoubtedly end up wet, and with kids involved, the ceiling, floor and every nook and cranny is likely to be drenched time and again.

Needless to say, your bathroom needs to be modeled in a way that makes it easier to handle this mess.

When remodeling or building your bathroom, it is important to research available options and decide the best bathroom flooring for you and your family.

Waterproof Vs. Water-Resistant

While selecting flooring, you will come across two options; waterproof and water-resistant.

You might wonder what the difference is between the two.

As the name implies, water-resistant flooring can resist water but eventually, water will seep through and cause damage.

Water-resistant flooring is great for a number of rooms where low levels of water are expected, such as the kitchen, laundry room, or basement.

The plywood or MDF core materials used in manufacturing water-resistant clothing is cheaper so the flooring is also less expensive than waterproof flooring.

That said, these core materials are also responsible for the warping, peeling or swelling of the flooring when too much moisture is absorbed by it.

It would be the same as a sponge soaking up water while attached to a wood veneer top.

While waterproof flooring is 100% impermeable, there could be water lying on the floor that seeps into the surface without causing damage to the material or any subflooring.

Because of the lack of water permeation, waterproof flooring is also considered resistant to the growth of mildew and mold.

The moisture and humidity that is commonplace in the bathroom would weaken the water-resistant flooring and the only way to fix the damaged boards is to replace them completely, as repair isn’t a possibility.

So, considering this differentiation, when selecting the best bathroom flooring, there really is just one option that you should rely upon–waterproof flooring.

This article discusses the best options for waterproof flooring and the pros and cons of each type.

Before getting started on that, there are some things you should never do when selecting bathroom flooring, which we will now discuss.

A Definitive NO for Your Bathroom

There are some flooring options you shouldn’t install in your bathroom, no matter how much you love them.

Carpet

That soft, fuzzy feeling under your feet feels great—we get you!

Not just that, it is inexpensive and available in so many variants of patterns, colors, designs, loops and weaves that add style to any room.

But the bathroom isn’t one of those rooms.

In the 1970s and 1980s, carpeted bathrooms were all the rage, but carpeted bathrooms absorb moisture from everywhere; the air and pretty much every water droplet that falls.

This could only lead to mold and mildew within your bathroom.

This mold and mildew lead to health and respiratory issues in addition to causing damage to the subfloor.

Another important factor are the germs! A bathroom has a lot of germs as we all know, so, do you really want a bathroom you can’t even clean thoroughly?

Laminates and Hardwood

For different spots in the house, hardwood flooring is a great decision.

It is durable, timeless, can be easily finished, and gives you great flooring for decades.

It’s perfect for almost all your rooms, except for the bathroom.

That’s one room it won’t bode well in.

For hardwood floors and bathrooms to work in harmony, the flooring needs to be installed perfectly and be completed sealed to avoid moisture, or else water will penetrate and eventually cause it to rot.

Hardwood in the bathroom also needs to be regularly resealed with polyurethane much more frequently than in the other rooms with no moisture.

Laminate is an engineered wood, and again, not a great choice for a bathroom.

Engineered wood comes with layers of actual wood on top but it is important to seal it fully.

The material underneath the wood is not usually waterproof or even water-resistant, so with laminate floors, spills need to be wiped immediately or the floor will swell and warp.

Best Bathroom Flooring

As we have come to the conclusion by now, waterproof material is the only way to go when choosing the best bathroom flooring.

You need a harder, non-porous surface that would trap water and not let it seep through, unlike soft surfaces.

Absorption is your worst enemy when it comes to flooring.

Porcelain or Ceramic

Porcelain and ceramic tiles are both popular choices when it comes to bathroom flooring.

Tiles are waterproof, resilient, and available in a number of designs and colors while also being inexpensive when compared to other options with a hard surface.

Ceramic absorbs more water as compared to porcelain tiles.

Both ceramic and porcelain would go unaffected with pools and puddles of water so they are also a great option for showers.

There are some features of tiles that most people consider a disadvantage. The fact that it is hard or cold is a concern.

Standing on it for prolonged periods might be uncomfortable but do we really stand in the bathroom for hours on end?

Most people forget that tiles are also sterile, which is actually a good thing as that makes them easy to clean and keep free from germs.

The fact that tiles are cold isn’t an issue, as both porcelain and ceramic work great with radiant flooring systems and temperature can be regulated.

One drawback to tile flooring is that it can be slippery when wet, and the bathroom is one place that is usually wet.

However, this slipperiness isn’t limited to porcelain or ceramic tiles but all hard surfaces. Because of the smooth finish of both porcelain and ceramic tiles, they are considered to be more slippery.

For bathroom flooring, and especially within the shower area, a textured surface is better to stay safe and not break a bone.

Natural Stone Tile

Another great option for bathroom flooring is natural stone.

You have a wide variety of options available; marble, granite, and even limestone.

Natural stone has similar benefits to ceramic and porcelain tiles.

They are waterproof, resilient to wear and tear, a wide variety of patterns, colors designs are available.

You could get the stone in the form of planks, tiles, or even mosaic that is held together with mesh.

When considering stone for your bathroom floor, there are a few factors to take into consideration.

Installing stone isn’t easy and is not recommended if you are pulling off a DIY project.

Just like tile, stone can also be slippery, so finishes and grout patterns are added on top to rough it up, and minimize the slippery surface.

Stone products need sealant applied regularly to maintain the finish and prevent dirt, debris, or moisture penetrating, so they are also higher maintenance.

The largest drawback, if you are on a budget, is the cost of the natural stone.

It adds a luxurious touch to any bathroom it is used in, but this luxury comes at a higher cost with stone being one of the most expensive flooring options.

Being a natural resource, it is limited and costs much more to extract from the earth than regular tiles being manufactured in a factory.

Furthermore, the flooring needs to be resealed on an annual basis to give it a long life and the installation needs to be executed by a professional only.

Waterproof Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl is one of the less expensive options for flooring and the many variants available are becoming one of the more popular flooring options amongst the public.

SPC and WPC vinyl are two popular options for bathrooms that are usually wet and attract a lot of traffic like public restrooms.

The versatility of vinyl allows it to look like stone, ceramic tile, or even wood planks.

Both SPC and WPC do not require adhesives as they are rigid core products and are scratch-resistant, waterproof as well as durable.

They are usually available in planks but can be found in square tiles too.

The protective wear layer on top and the underlying stone or wood polymer compounds make them perfect options for a waterproof bathroom floor.

It is preferred by people for rooms other than the bathroom too because it is more affordable than both hardwood and stone.

The resistance to scratches is great if you have kids in the house, and the ability to mimic natural products and versatility with color and patterns is an added benefit.

Stained Concrete

A building with a concrete subfloor or foundation can be stained and finished but keep in mind unless the concrete is properly finished and sealed, it is not waterproof.

This is another project that is not recommended to DIY as acid is required to etch the concrete and prepare it to fill, stain, patch, and grind.

A major advantage of concrete flooring is that it is both, beautiful and inexpensive.

Concrete flooring is unique with its wide variety of colors and finishes so no two floors are exactly alike, thus setting your floor apart from all others.

However, just like tile and other hard floors, it can be slippery when wet.

So, you need to add something to fight the slip. Most homeowners find it to be too risky or cold so tend to avoid it.

Rubber

Laminate and rubber fl

ooring are similar in many ways except rubber is much more durable.

The resilient and tough material goes well with the environment in a bathroom.

Rubber is also easy to maintain and provides a soft cushion under your feet.

The disadvantage of installing rubber in your bathroom is that the cost is usually higher than other available options and if you’re on a tight budget, it is not the best choice for you.

Rubber can also be slippery when exposed to a lot of water and can be stained by products like strong detergent which is unsightly.

The odor when it is initially installed does go away over time so that isn’t much of a concern.

Bamboo

Bamboo flooring isn’t the first that comes into mind when you think of bathroom flooring but it comes with a lot of benefits.

It adds a clean finish to the room, looks very similar to wood, and is equally tough.

Cleaning it is a piece of cake as a simple mop is all it takes while installation is hassle-free too.

Laminated bamboo only needs to be glued to the floor and even an entry-level DIYer can pull it off.

Bamboo flooring doesn’t come cheap, at least the good quality one that doesn’t wear out quickly.

Sealing and finishing it properly is important or moisture and water can cause damage eventually.

The naturally acquired product that it is, there isn’t a large variety of colors available, so decorating choices are limited.

Best Flooring for Showers

Walk-in showers are more common, now that homeowners have both the budget and space to accommodate them.

They add a luxurious touch to a house but just like installing any other bathroom flooring, the material used in the walk-in shower is of utmost importance.

The available flooring options in showers are similar to the ones used in a bathroom in general.

The ones used most often are:

Tiles

Tiles are an economical choice with a wide variety of designs, patterns, colors, and sizes available while being waterproof and perfect for a shower area.

Vinyl

Luxury vinyl comes with an anti-slip covering and is a perfect fit for shower areas and wet rooms.

To install it, you would need a professional to finish and seal it, so the floor is waterproof and doesn’t allow moisture to seep through.

Microcement

Microcement is relatively new in the market and not many people are aware of it yet.

It is a composite that is based on cement along with other products to give a decorative finish to the final look.

It has a wall-to-wall layering so it doesn’t require seals.

It is non-slip as well which is another major advantage.

Flooring for Ensuite Bathrooms and Cloakrooms

An ensuite is an exceptional addition to a bedroom, but generally, it is in need of similar flooring like a bathroom.

If it features a shower, bath, or both, it needs to be built in a way to allow walking across the floor safely while being easy to maintain in the long haul.

That would mean taking into consideration the different factors we have discussed throughout this article about the frequency of usage, cost, waterproof material, and non-slip.

With an ensuite, the adjoining room needs to be considered too as moisture could potentially enter there too.

Cloakrooms that are also called the downstairs toilet could face splashes of water from the basin.

The exposure to moisture would be much less than a bathroom but wouldn’t be nonexistent.

A water-resistant material might do the job but you need to choose a material that is easy to clean and maintain.

Choosing the Right Material for Your Bathroom

When it comes to flooring material for your bathroom, there is an abundance of available options.

But having so many options to choose from is a difficult decision in itself.

Each type of flooring comes with its own set of pros and cons, so when choosing the right for your house, here are a few factors you need to consider:

Budget

Your total budget and the cost of each product play a huge role when remodeling your house.

The most cost-effective options are tiles and laminates without a doubt.

They also have a wide variety of styles available.

If you aren’t on a tight budget, wood and natural stone add a luxurious finish to the bathroom but are much more expensive.

Appearance

The bathroom isn’t usually a place you spend hours but it still needs to look attractive and clean while give a calm and relaxing vibe.

Renovating a bathroom is also one of the most cost-effective ways to increase your property’s value if you plan on selling and potential buyers are most impressed by a good bathroom.

While natural stone and wood do stand out within a bathroom, tiles and vinyl offer versatility and design at an affordable price.

Maintenance

If you have to handle all the cleaning yourself, while also running after the kids, cleaning is a chore you most definitely don’t enjoy.

To make your life easy, choose durable and cost-effective flooring that is easy to clean and maintain post water splashes after bath time.

Vinyl, rubber, and tiles are easy to wipe down.

If you are a small family with no kids, you have many more options to choose from for flooring and which wouldn’t be too much of a hassle for you to maintain.

Installation

If you want to install the flooring yourself, don’t overestimate your DIY skills and be honest with yourself.

Yes, DIY can save you a lot of money but it could also end up costing much more to fix if you don’t have the needed experience and mess up the job.

Vinyl flooring is engineer wood and is easy to simply lay in place and is appropriate for a DIYer.

If you choose to go for tiles, they are hard work and require grouting and sealing that isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Calling a professional to do the job and do it well the first time is a much better option.

Safety

When choosing bathroom floors, you need to consider the age group of your family members as kids and the elderly are most prone to slips and falls.

Not that the safety of everyone else should be neglected.

If you have rubber, tiles, or vinyl installed, bath mats are recommended as the flooring can be slippery when wet.

If you prefer the feel of a natural floor unhindered by mats, timber or stone is a better choice.

But any material can be unsafe when exposed to moisture and excess water so always be careful when stepping out of the shower.

Underfloor Heating in the Bathroom

Even the best bathroom flooring can feel cold to the feet especially in the colder months.

A practical and cost-effective way to make your bathroom feel warm and welcoming all year round is underfloor heating.

Based on your budget and the existing heating system, you could either install a dry aka electric system or a water-based aka hydronic system.

They are versatile and work well with any kind of flooring, included but not limited to tiles, carpet, wood, and laminate.

However, every material has a different temperature limit that is recommended by the manufacturer to give the flooring longevity.

There are a few benefits that come with underfloor heating; lower energy bills due to energy efficiency, no maintenance required and you have more available space because the wall radiators have been removed.

A few factors to consider before the installation is:

  1. That the space has decent insulation so that heat is retained and you can truly enjoy the underfloor heating to the fullest.
  2. To avoid problems with the heating system, your bathroom should have appropriate drainage.
  3. When choosing your flooring, ask the expert to recommend the best option to retain the most heat.

Final Thoughts

Based on the in-depth discussion about the pros and cons of different types of flooring, you can now make a well-informed decision while remodeling your bathroom, and choose the best bathroom flooring for your home and family.