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The best (and worst) bathroom flooring ideas

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Drummond's Case Study: London Townhouse, Notting Hill: rustic  by Drummonds Bathrooms, Rustic
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Beautiful faucets; a spacious shower; sufficient storage areas; adequate lighting and ventilation… these are all important elements to consider for the perfect bathroom. However, when it comes to picking out flooring options, we have more to keep in mind than personal style.

Think about what your bathroom goes through every day with its spills, splatters, humidity and moisture. Then consider what these factors can do to a flooring surface. Is the floor, for example, resistant against water? Will it stain easily when you spill makeup or cleaning product? Is it a safe surface to walk across when wet?

With these and other factors to consider, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to do a little digging. The result is the five best bathroom flooring ideas for a practical and stylish space – and two of the worst.

1. The best bathroom flooring ideas: Porcelain or ceramic tile

Drummond's Case Study: London Townhouse, Notting Hill: rustic  by Drummonds Bathrooms, Rustic
Drummonds Bathrooms

Drummond's Case Study: London Townhouse, Notting Hill

Drummonds Bathrooms

Hands down, porcelain tile wins the contest when it’s a race between bathroom flooring options. Why? Because porcelain is waterproof, stylish, and cost-effective – everything you need for an effective bathroom.

Porcelain tile ensures a rich, textured and solid look – just looking at a floor covered with porcelain tiles immediately conjures up a sense of elegance and sturdiness. 

But how about ceramic tiles? Porcelain forms part of the ceramic tile family with one difference: the rate of water absorption. Interestingly, tile types are identified as “porcelain” if their water absorption rate is 0.5% or less. Thus, the question becomes: what will you use your bathroom for? If it’s only a water closet or a powder room with minimum chance of spillage, there is less of a need to go with porcelain tiles. 

The pros: Thanks to a wide variety of ceramic tiles, you can create the exact type of floor for a personalised look – even ones that resemble wood or stone! In addition, individual tiles come in a myriad of sizes and shapes (such as round, square, honeycomb, fish scale, etc.). For the smaller mosaic tiles, the designs are pre-mounted on plastic mesh sheets, meaning you don’t have to set each tile individually. With tinted grout, your chances of being creative expand. And perhaps best of all is the fact that tile cleans up so quickly and easily resists spills and even standing pools of water. 

The cons: Tile is cold, which is not great when it comes to those chilly winter mornings. However, with radiant or heated tile options, this problem quickly goes away. Plus, wet tile is super slippery, yet there is also a solution for this issue in the form of texturing. And remember that smaller tiles are less slippery thanks to more grout (which is a great non-skid surface) being used.

2. The best bathroom flooring ideas: Vinyl

Waves Modern bathroom by Pixers Modern



Very practical; reasonably good looks – no wonder vinyl has remained a popular bathroom flooring choice for decades. 

If your bathroom is prone to huge amounts of water spills (such as for children’s bathrooms or laundry rooms), sheet vinyl flooring is best. And as it comes in large sizes, sheet vinyl may present little to no seams in a small bathroom. A trendier option these days is luxury vinyl plank flooring, available in narrow widths (about 12cm) and long lengths (up to nearly 122 cm). 

The pros: As most vinyl flooring is a very easy DIY task, this option definitely cuts costs in terms of installation. And thanks to its popularity, there are countless styles available for any bathroom design under the sun. 

The cons: Gapped and poorly laid seams can really mess up a floor. Plus sheet vinyl can be rather tricky for the inexperienced DIYer.

3. The best bathroom flooring ideas: Natural stone

Tier on Tier Shutters in the Bathroom Modern bathroom by Plantation Shutters Ltd Modern Wood Wood effect
Plantation Shutters Ltd

Tier on Tier Shutters in the Bathroom

Plantation Shutters Ltd

If you have a large budget, natural stone is definitely a great option. Just keep in mind certain types (like marble, granite, and limestone) can pose a few moisture problems. 

The pros: Natural stone is durable, hard, and presents an aesthetically pleasing look. It can definitely influence your home’s resale value in a positive way. 

The cons: Like tile, stone flooring can be cold and slippery. The cold factor, however, can be solved by installing radiant heating. For the slip factor, get the stone textured via sandblasting or by opting for naturally textured stone like slate. Finally, cost is another factor which cancels out stone for most bathroom designs/renovations, as real stone is definitely the most expensive flooring option.

4. The best bathroom flooring ideas: Engineered wood

Milano Traditional Freestanding Bath Suite Classic style bathroom by BigBathroomShop Classic

Milano Traditional Freestanding Bath Suite


Keeping the high-moisture factor in mind, engineered wood is definitely the better option compared to solid wood, thanks to its dimensional stability. 

The pros: With its plywood base, engineered wood holds up very well against moisture. Plus it’s ideal for when you want a surface that looks like real wood, seeing as the top layer is actually real wood. Thus, if you want natural wood in your bathroom, engineered wood is the way to go. 

The cons: No matter how well protected, any type of wood product is prone to damage in a wet space like the bathroom. Thus, be committed to regular maintenance and upkeep.

5. The best bathroom flooring ideas: Laminate

Laminate flooring is the better choice for a bathroom compared to solid hardwood. Laminate flooring is actually nothing more than resin-impregnated paper placed over a wood chip base. The surface of laminate plank is really a photograph of cherry, slate, marble or another type of wood or stone surface. Atop that is a clear coat called the wear layer, which is very strong (some companies even warrant the wear layer of their laminate flooring for 30 years).

The pros: If you’re careful about protecting the wood base from moisture, there is no reason why laminate flooring can’t work in your bathroom. Thanks to the tight seams in-between the planks, it is quite hard for moisture to works itself downward. Laminate is quite easy to clean, too.

The cons: If the wood chip base is exposed to moisture, it will expand and bubble. The only way to fix this problem is to tear the floor out. Even though various manufacturers have tried, 100% waterproof laminate flooring still doesn’t exist.

6. The worst bathroom flooring ideas (and what to do about them)

Country Style Bathroom Country style bathroom by DeVal Bathrooms Country
DeVal Bathrooms

Country Style Bathroom

DeVal Bathrooms

Carpet: Carpeting expertly retains moisture for long periods of time, which means it will dry out super slowly within a confined space like the bathroom. Yet, if you dream of a bathroom that flaunts a carpeted floor, ensure the pile is low and the materials are 100% inorganic (like olefin or nylon).

Solid hardwood: Apart from the top coat, solid hardwood has no protection against moisture. Even the tiniest amount of moisture seeping into the wood will cause it to eventually rot. However, solid hardwood is known for its visually appealing factor and warm underfoot sensation; thus, if it’s a must-have for your bathroom, ensure it is perfectly installed with no gaps whatsoever. So, hire professional installers and site-finish your hardwood flooring. This will effectively coat up the seams between the boards and help to block moisture from entering. 

Since we’re balancing bathroom beauty with practicality, let’s consider The pros and cons of a sunken bath.

So, which flooring ideas will you consider for your bathroom?
Whitton Drive by GK Architects Ltd Modern

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