Bathroom Flooring: The Best (and Worst!) Materials
In some cases, making a finish or material selection for a space solely based on appearance is perfectly fine. However, when it comes to bathroom flooring, performance should be the top priority, especially since the daily activities typically involve water- and sometimes a lot of it. Even the smallest amount of moisture can quickly ruin the wrong type of flooring, but that's not the only factor you need to keep in mind when making your choice. Maintenance, ease of installation, and of course, cost all need to be considered as well.
To help you narrow down your selection, here's a closer look at the most popular bathroom flooring material options along with a few pros and cons of each:
Porcelain and Ceramic Tile
Porcelain tile is hands down one of the best all-around options for bathroom flooring. It's waterproof, beautiful, and affordable. Like natural stone, porcelain tile has a rich, solid, and textured quality. So, what is the difference between porcelain and ceramic tile, and which should you choose? Porcelain is part of the ceramic family with one minor difference: rate of water absorption.
To keep it simple, if you're looking to tile a powder room or half-bath where there will be less moisture than a primary bathroom, you will be just fine to go with ceramic tile. You also won't be missing out on plenty of styling options, as there are so many different types of ceramic tiles- there are even styles that look just like wood.
Tile cleans up beautifully and is durable enough to resist standing pools of water. There is a drawback to tile, but fortunately, there is also a solution: just like stone, tile feels cold to the touch. However, radiant heat can be installed underneath, giving you an amazingly warm and cozy floor that feels great with every step.
Many style options
High resale value
Radiant heating compatible
Easy to clean
Cold underfoot (without radiant heat)
Hard underfoot, uncomfortable to stand for long periods
Can be slippery
Attractive, incredibly practical, and easy to DIY install, luxury vinyl is a very popular bathroom flooring choice. It's available in several different types: plank, tile, and sheet. If there is potential for extreme amounts of water, like in a children's bathroom, then sheet vinyl flooring just might be your new best friend. Because it comes in larger sizes, it can be installed with very few (if any) seams. Luxury vinyl plank and tile flooring are also fantastic choices, and there are literally thousands of styles to choose from!
Easy to DIY install
Easy to replace
Less than ideal resale value
Uneven underlayment or subfloor can result in bumps and gaps
Gorgeous and durable, natural stone is a good (and pricey!) choice for a bathroom. Although stone flooring has an excellent resale value, moisture can be an issue, so proper maintenance and sealing are required to increase longevity.
Stone flooring can also be cold and slippery; however, like porcelain and ceramic tile, radiant heat installation is more of a "must" than a luxury.
The slip factor can be overcome by texturing the stone through sandblasting or selecting a naturally textured stone, like slate.
Highest resale value
Priciest flooring option
Complicated DIY installation (not recommended!)
Engineered wood is far more stable under high moisture conditions than solid wood; plus, it looks authentic due to the top layer being a real hardwood veneer. If you love the look of natural wood in a bathroom, then engineered wood is the way to go. However, keep in mind that any type of wood material- no matter how well it's protected, will be prone to moisture damage in bathrooms.
Best choice if you want a wood look
Refinishing can wear through the veneer layer
It may not be the number one best option out there, but laminate flooring still has its place. Inexpensive and easy to DIY install, it comes in various styles that mimic the appearance of natural wood or stone. Although laminate flooring is a better choice when compared to solid hardwood, it still has a wood chip base that is vulnerable to moisture damage. It can still work in bathrooms, however, as long as you take precautions to protect it. For example, tight seams between the planks make it difficult for moisture to work its way through and downward. You're still taking a risk, though- it will expand and warp if it comes into contact with water, and the only solution you'll be left with is to tear it out.
Easy to DIY install
Water-damage cannot be repaired
Flooring to Avoid in the Bathroom:
Some of you may be thinking, "Carpet in the bathroom? Seriously?!" Yes, seriously, it happens. But in my professional opinion, it really shouldn't!
Carpet is a poor flooring choice for bathrooms as it retains moisture for long periods, and the small space of most bathrooms doesn't provide adequate airflow for it to dry out. However, if for some reason you have your heart set on carpet, make sure it's low pile and the material is either olefin or nylon.
Solid hardwood has little to no protection against moisture in general- and certainly won't hold up to the significant amount that occurs in most bathrooms.
Even the tiniest amount of water that gets into the wood will eventually cause it to rot. If you're dead-set on solid hardwood for your bathroom, then it must be perfectly and professionally installed and site-finished, with absolutely no gaps for moisture.
Between aesthetics, durability, maintenance, and cost, there are always compromises when making bathroom flooring material selections. The critical thing to focus on is finding the right balance that works for you, your lifestyle, and the vision you have for your space. If you could use a little (or a lot!) of extra help in making your flooring selection, Spaces by Juliana is ready when you are! Whether it's on-trend bathroom styling ideas or specifying the perfect flooring material for your space, we've got you covered. Let's get connected!
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