What is the Best Flooring for Bathrooms?
Believe it or not, your bathroom is one of the most important rooms in your home. A basic necessity for everyday convenience, bathrooms are a key feature of any home whether you’re in it for the long-haul, or considering resale. So, it’s no surprise that when it comes to remodeling, even more so than when initially purchasing a home, bathrooms are typically near the top of the priorities checklist list.
These important spaces, however, come with some special considerations when it comes to finishes – in particular the flooring. And the main fulcrum for these considerations: water. That’s right, water in all of its various forms can wreak havoc on the home, and bathroom flooring often catches the majority of errant water.
Whether from overspray, spill, leak, drip, or just kids being kids, the simple fact is that water will inevitably end up on your bathroom floor, and the walls, and even the ceiling! It’s utterly unavoidable, and your bathroom must be able to stand up to that barrage of fluid.
For that reason alone, when considering a bathroom remodel, it’s a good idea to research your options to determine what really is the best bathroom flooring for your project. There may be more to it than you think!
Bathrooms Need Waterproof Flooring
In this post we will cover mostly waterproof flooring options. Not sure what is the difference between waterproof and water-resistant? Water-resistant flooring can, as the name implies, resist water, but water can, and eventually will, penetrate and damage the flooring.
When selecting flooring, water-resistant flooring is a great option for a number of rooms in the home where water is a consideration. For example, kitchens, basements or laundry and mudrooms. Water-resistant flooring is generally less expensive than waterproof flooring, due to the plywood or MDF core materials used in its construction being less expensive. But these porous inner-materials are also what contributes to swelling, warping and peeling when exposed to moisture. Picture a wood veneer top glued to a sponge that has been left to soak up water.
Waterproof flooring is completely impervious to water. Water can sit on it or even penetrate the surface of the flooring without damaging the material, or (arguably more important) the subflooring beneath. Waterproof flooring is considered impermeable to water or moisture. And the materials used to construct the flooring to make it waterproof also prevent mold and mildew development as there is no moisture permeation.
Keeping this in mind, when selecting your materials for bathroom flooring, the best options are really the waterproof options. Water-resistant flooring can often weaken from even the inherent moisture and humidity that occurs in a bathroom. And for many of them, once they’re damaged, these water-resistant boards cannot be repaired, leaving a full replacement as the only viable option.
We’re going to cover the best options for waterproof flooring, specifically bathroom flooring, after all, this piece should give you some great bathroom flooring ideas! But before we do, let’s talk about what NOT to do. Not to start on a negative foot, but let’s get this out of the way first.
Don’t Do This in Your Bathroom
Again, not to be Captain Negative, but there are just some flooring options you don’t want to select during your next bathroom remodel. And they may surprise you.
Carpet is great for softness underfoot. It comes in a variety of loops, weaves, patterns and colors. It’s inexpensive. It adds style and beauty to many rooms. It’s dated and horrible for the bathrooms.
If you grew up in the 1970’s or 1980’s, you may remember carpeted bathrooms. Carpeting soaks up moisture from the air, or water from dripping and overspray, holds it, and turns it into mold and mildew. Mold and mildew can lead to respiratory issues and damage to your subfloor. We won’t even go into the germ factor, but as most of us are aware, bathrooms are a yucky place. Do you really want a bathroom floor that you can’t wash thoroughly?
Hardwood & Laminates
Hardwood floors are a great choice in many spots in the home. Timeless looks. Durability. Can be refinished, offering decades of great flooring in nearly every room of the home. Nearly – not all. Don’t put them in the bathroom. In order for hardwoods to work in a bathroom, they would have to be perfectly installed and perfectly sealed from moisture. Otherwise, water will penetrate, and they will rot eventually. Plus, they will need to be re-sealed with a polyurethane type coating more frequently than if they were in another room without the moisture challenges presented by a bathroom.
Laminate flooring and engineered woods are also not the greatest choices for bathrooms. While engineered wood does have real wood layers at the top, you have to ensure it is fully sealed as well. Often the material underneath the wood layers is not waterproof or even water-resistant. Such is the case with laminate floors, which typically are not great with water, requiring spills to be cleaned immediately or risk swelling and warping.
Remember, your flooring professionals at The Good Guys can always help you navigate through options of water-resistant vs waterproof flooring and bad vs. good world of bathroom flooring. So don’t hesitate to reach out before you start your project. Get The Good Guys involved early and use our experience to help with planning and product selections.
Now, let’s get to the good bathroom ideas, shall we? The right floors for the most used room in the house!
Best Bathroom Flooring
When it comes to making a good selection for bathroom flooring, waterproof materials are critical, as we established. Typically, this means harder surfaces, rather than soft ones that will trap water. Remember absorption is the enemy – looking at you, carpet.
Ceramic or Porcelain Tile
The most popular choice for bathrooms is tile. Specifically, ceramic and porcelain tiles are great options for bathrooms. Tile flooring is resilient, waterproof, available in a variety of colors and designs, and generally less expensive than other hard surface options. Porcelain tiles specifically absorb less water than any other ceramic product. Ceramic and porcelain can handle even pools and puddles of standing water, which makes them great options for shower tile.
Tile does have some features that are often perceived as “cons” by some buyers. Tile is a hard surface, so it’s often called “hard” or “cold” or even “sterile”. While it’s true that standing for extended periods of time on tile can be uncomfortable, that is true for any hard surface, and temperature of the floor can be addressed as porcelain and ceramic both work well with radiant flooring systems. As for sterile, that’s great! Tile doesn’t absorb water and germs and cleans easily, which makes it a great option for sterile environments.
One potential drawback to tile is that it can be slippery when wet, and bathrooms are generally always wet. This is not specific to porcelain or ceramic tile, however. This is true of many hard surface options, however, as porcelain and ceramic tiles are often baked to a smooth finish, people often think of them as more slippery than other surfaces. For tile flooring, especially in a shower, find a tile with a textured surface for safety.
Natural Stone Tile
Another great bathroom flooring option is natural stone. There are a wide variety of natural stone options from granite to marble and even limestone. Natural stone tile offers many of the same positives of ceramic and porcelain tile. Resilience to wear, waterproof, variety of naturally-occurring colors and patterns, stone is offered in tiles, planks, even mosaics backed with mesh to hold the smaller tiles together.
There are a few things to consider when looking at stone as an option for bathroom flooring, however. Stone can be difficult to install for the do-it-yourselfer. Be aware of this if you attempt this project on your own. Stone can be slippery like tile, but grout patterns and finishes applied after to “rough” the surface can minimize this. It can also require more regular maintenance than other options, as some stone products require periodic applications of sealant to maintain the stone finish and prevent penetration of dirt and debris, or absorption of moisture.
The largest drawback to many customers looking at natural stone is cost. Natural stone offers a luxurious finish for any bathroom, but it can come at a cost. Stone is one of the most expensive flooring options available. It is a natural, and therefore limited, resource which accounts for the additional cost to extract and manufacture stone flooring.
Waterproof Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl, however, is on the less expensive side of bathroom flooring options. The “vinyl” category encompasses a variety of different product configurations, which are rapidly becoming some of the most popular flooring options on the market today. WPC and SPC Vinyl is a great waterproof option for bathrooms and other wet, high traffic areas. Vinyl can look like wood planks, stone, and even ceramic tile.
WPC and SPC Vinyl flooring are rigidcore products, combining the durability, scratch resistance and waterproof features of vinyl. More commonly offered in planks but can be found in square tile as well, the core of these products are made from wood or stone polymer compounds and protected by a wear layer, making both of these great waterproof options for bathroom floors.
Waterproof vinyl is more affordable than stone, and hardwood too, which is why many people are using it in other rooms of the house in place of hardwood floors. It resists scratches and offers a wider variety of color and pattern options than the natural products are designed to mimic.
Of course, if you’re in an area or building where you have a concrete foundation or subfloor, you can always stain and finish the concrete floors. Be aware, however, concrete is not waterproof unless it has been properly finished and sealed. This is not really a do-it-yourself type project as it generally involves acid etching the concrete in order to prepare it for staining and typically extensive filling, patching and grinding. But stained concrete is an inexpensive and beautiful option for flooring, offering a variety of color finishes, each unique to the concrete, so no one else will have the same floor as you. However, they can be slippery when wet like tile and require a non-slip additive, and many prospective homebuyers will find them cold or a bit too risky, so factor this in if you are remodeling to sell. Your partners at The Good Guys can help guide you to this choice too!
Have Fun with It!
One other thing to consider when looking at bathroom flooring is size. They say size isn’t everything, but if you have a small bathroom it’s a great opportunity to stretch your flooring wings and dollar. A small bathroom lets you experiment with pattern tile, which can really make the space look bigger, and you can get a more expensive tile, as you won’t require as much material as you would in a larger bathroom. Go bold, and don’t be afraid to try something different or unusual for your particular tastes.
Finding the right bathroom flooring doesn’t need to be a chore or feel limiting. As you can see, there are many more options now than you may have had in years. And remember, your flooring professional partners at The Good Guys can assist in your search for the perfect bathroom floor!