The Top 6 Choices For Bathroom Flooring

Bathroom Flooring: The Top 6 Choices

By Tim Koehler

Today, there are more bathroom flooring options than ever. Years ago, ceramic tile floors were the standard. Now you can find floors made of stone, wood, ceramic, carpet, and man-made composites. Every imaginable shape, size, color and texture is available.

” The question is: Which type of floor suits your personal style and budget? What is the best floor for a bathroom?

You should consider the following features when choosing your bathroom flooring – comfort, safety, durability, design, and ease of cleaning.

Let’s look at the 6 top choices for bathroom flooring and see how they rate for the features I just mentioned.

Ceramic Tile Floors

Ceramic has become a generic word. A true ceramic tile is made from clay and a few other natural materials and is fired in an oven to make it hard. Most are glazed, which seals the tile, gives it a gloss, and makes it easy to clean. Stone tiles are a different product altogether (we’ll discuss those later). Non-glazed tiles are not recommended for bathroom flooring.

Comfort: Ceramic tile floors are hard and cold, therefore not very comfortable. Installation is typically over a cement base. Heated tile flooring is an option that has gained popularity. Wiring is placed below the tiles when they are installed. The electric current can be controlled to make the floor toasty warm.

ceramic tile floor

Ceramic Tile Flooring

Safety: Ceramic can be very slippery when wet. Use a rubber-backed floor mat that is round, oval or curved to avoid tripping. You can also apply a slip-resistant floor finish.

Durability: Ceramic is one of the most durable floors. With proper care it will last a lifetime. It can chip if something hard or sharp falls on it. The only repair for a chip is to replace the tile.

Design: Because it is available in so many shapes, sizes, colors and textures, design is limited only by your imagination. You can combine different tiles to come up with a truly personalized and unique design.

Caution: Some imported tile contains lead. Cutting and sawing tiles causes lead dust, which is poisonous. Lead poisoning can cause serious health problems.

Ease of Cleaning: The tile itself is easy to clean but the grout is porous and can stain easily. Grout should be sealed after it has cured. The sealing process should be repeated often. See the tile manufacturer’s recommendations.

Resilient Flooring

Resilient refers to flooring materials that have a firm surface yet will return to their original state (bounce back) when compressed by weight. The most common types of resilient bathroom flooring are sheet vinyl, luxury vinyl tiles, linoleum, cork and rubber. These products range in price from very inexpensive to expensive. Sheet vinyl is the lowest priced option and rubber the highest.

sheet vinyl floorComfort:

These types of floors are comfortable because the have a little “give” in them. Sheet vinyl will have more cushion than a luxury vinyl tile.

Safety: Resilient flooring can be slippery when wet therefore I would recommend a rubber-backed floor mat that is round, oval or curved to avoid tripping. You can also apply a slip-resistant floor finish.

Durability: Resilient flooring is designed to resist scuffing, staining, and is resistant to water. Many are designed for areas with much higher foot traffic than a bathroom and therefore will last a long time in a bathroom but not as long as ceramic. Inexpensive sheet vinyl will be the least durable.

Design: Many different colors and patterns are available. You can get creative with luxury vinyl tiles by mixing and matching to create vinyl flooring patterns. Some luxury vinyl tile looks and feels much like real ceramic tile or stone.

Ease of Cleaning: Resilient floors resist stains and are easy to clean. Some floors have a top layer of wax, which increases its stain resistance and makes cleaning easy.

Wood Flooring

Wood flooring gives a bathroom a warm, inviting and natural look. It’s hard to beat the beauty of real wood. Many wood species including oak, maple, cherry, bamboo and cork are available as flooring. Most wood for floors are solid wood strips, usually ¾ of an inch thick. Engineered flooring is made with plywood or a composite base and a top layer of real wood veneer or solid wood. The top layer can be fairly thin and most often cannot be sanded and refinished. Since water will damage wood, it is not the ideal floor for a bathroom. Wood works well in powder rooms where there is less change of water laying on the floor.

Comfort: Wood floors are harder, as you might expect, but not as hard as ceramic tile. Wood tends to be warm.

wood bathroom floorSafety: Wet wood can get slippery, especially if it has a high gloss finish. Again, I would recommend a rubber-backed floor mat that is round, oval or curved to avoid tripping. You can also apply a slip-resistant floor finish.

Durability: For bathroom flooring, I would suggest ¾” thick solid wood. Newer, state of the art finishes last much longer than the finishes of the past. With proper care, a solid wood floor will last the life of the home especially since it can be sanded and refinished. Engineered wood flooring is not well suited for any area where water may lay on the floor.

Design: You can get very creative with wood. You can mix and match different wood species, plank sizes, and stains to create boarders, patterns, and contrasts for a one of a kind look. It may be hard to find a craftsman that has the skill level required since this is a lost art. Obviously, this takes more time and adds to the cost.

Ease of Cleaning: Wood floors are easy to care for. Use a cleaner recommended for wood floors. If you damp mop, use as little water as possible. The water left after damp mopping should evaporate in a few minutes. Never leave standing water on a wood floor.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is made from a fiber core with a high or low pressure laminate or melamine wear layer on top. Laminate is printed to look like different types of wood, tile, or stone. Installation is fairly simple for anybody with basic carpentry skills. A bathroom floor could be installed in an afternoon. Prices range from very inexpensive to expensive, depending on the quality you chose. There is a big difference in quality, so talk with an experienced bathroom flooring professional before making your choice.

laminate bathroom foor Comfort: Laminate flooring is considered a floating floor system which is installed over a thin mat. The mat provides a cushion effect and allows the flooring a little give which makes it comfortable under foot.

Safety: Most laminate flooring has a matte finish on it which gives a little more traction than flooring such as tile. Again, I would recommend a rubber-backed floor mat that is round, oval or curved to avoid tripping. I have not found where a slip-resistant finish can be applied to laminate floors. You could test it on a scrap piece of flooring before applying it to the floor.

Safety: Most laminate flooring has a matte finish on it which gives a little more traction than flooring such as tile. Again, I would recommend a rubber-backed floor mat that is round, oval or curved to avoid tripping. I have not found where a slip-resistant finish can be applied to laminate floors. You could test it on a scrap piece of flooring before applying it to the floor.

Durability: This type floor can be durable but in my opinion it is not the best choice for bathroom flooring. If water lies on the floor and gets into the fiber core, it will absorb the water and begin to swell. When that happens, the only fix is to replace the floor. The wear layer should hold up depending on the quality you purchase.

Design: Laminate flooring comes in just about any look you could imagine. You can find it in patterns of wood, stone, and tile in many different colors. It is not feasible to mix and match different sizes and patterns.

Ease of Cleaning: This is one of the easiest floors to clean. Damp moping with a mild cleaner is all you really need. If you damp mop, use as little water as possible. The water left after damp mopping should evaporate in a few minutes. Never leave standing water on the floor.

Stone Flooring

There is nothing more beautiful than stone bathroom flooring. Stone includes granite, marble, slate, sandstone and limestone. Some of these are soft and some are very hard. They all have their pluses and minuses but in general they have a warm, earthy look, giving you a high-end, luxurious appearance and feel. Stone is no harder to install than ordinary tile except for softer stones, which can break during the cutting process. Stone can range from affordable to very expensive. Most home improvement stores carry some basic stone tiles. You can also find a wide range of stone tile at a store that specializes in tile flooring.

stone bathroom floor Comfort: You guessed it. Stone is a cold, hard floor making it one of the least comfortable floors to be on. A heating element can be installed under the stone in the installation process to warm the floor. Typically, heated floors are set on a timer so the floor has time to heat up before you enter the room. Slippers and rugs will help with the hardness factor.

Safety: Stone can be purchased with a polished or honed finish. A honed finish will give more slip resistance where as a polished finish will be very slippery when wet. You can apply a slip resistant floor finish to stone.

Durability: Stone is very durable and will last for the life of the house. The softer stones can scratch but this gives the floor some aged character.

Design: You can mix and match different sizes of stone to make interesting patterns. The colors of natural stone are subdued earth tones for the most part, so they are a good fit for bathrooms with that look.

Ease of Cleaning: Stone is the highest maintenance bathroom flooring and should be sealed often because it is, by nature, a porous material. That means it can absorb a certain amount of liquid which could stain the stone. The sealer will block the liquid from being absorbed and make it easier to clean. You should purchase cleaning and sealing products that are recommended for the specific type of stone you have.

Carpeting

Carpeting is the least desirable type of bathroom flooring. It is difficult to clean and will trap moisture, which can cause mold and mildew. While it is inexpensive to purchase and install, it is viewed to be unsanitary. If you must use carpet, use one with a protectant finish like Scotch Guard and install it loosely, without tack strips or padding, so it can be removed for cleaning. A better option would be any other type of flooring with multiple rugs.

Comfort: Carpeting is the most comfortable type of bathroom flooring. It is warm and has a cushiony feel that makes it comfortable to stand on.

Safety: Carpeting is the most slip resistant floor of all of the above providing it is installed permanently or with some type of backing that will keep it in place.

Durability: Carpet is not a very durable bathroom floor because water will mold and mildew the carpet, which will cause it to rot. It is hard to clean, which decreases the life span.

Design: Carpeting has very few design elements aside from color and texture.

Ease of Cleaning: Aside from being unsanitary, it is the most difficult to clean and keep clean. It is almost impossible to clean it in place. If it is installed loosely so it can be removed, you could have it professionally cleaned or rent a steam cleaner and do it yourself.

I hope this information helps you make a good decision for your bathroom flooring. You don’t want to do it over again, so choose wisely and make sure the floor is installed properly.

David D. in Wilmington, NC

The Re-Bath experience from the initial visit by Reed Heitman, until the completed project was everything I expected. The bathroom design was very well explained... read more
5.0
2018-04-12T11:37:51+00:00

Henry W. in Greensboro, NC

The contractor and his helpers who came into the house were outstanding. We would have them do anything for us at all. The people on... read more
5.0
2018-04-12T11:49:34+00:00

Renee F. in Raleigh, NC

Be careful what you say yes to.
read more
4.0
2018-04-12T11:50:53+00:00