Choosing the right bathroom flooring is one of the most important decisions when remodeling a bathroom or building a new home. The flooring sets the tone for the whole space, and getting it right makes a huge difference in your enjoyment of the room. This comprehensive bathroom floor buying guide provides key factors to consider and reviews popular bathroom flooring options to help you select the best flooring for your needs and style.

Key Factors When Choosing Bathroom Floors

Several critical factors go into choosing bathroom floors to ensure they stand up well over time and match your lifestyle. Keep these key considerations in mind as you weigh your options:


Durability is by far the most important factor for bathroom floors. They need to withstand constant water exposure from showers and splashes without warping or deteriorating. Consider how often the floors get wet, the volume of water, and whether water puddles or drains well when selecting a bathroom flooring material.

Slip Resistance

Bathroom floors need to prevent slips and falls, especially when wet. Look for texture or grip patterns in flooring materials rated for high slip resistance. Materials with some permeability, like tile and natural stone, often have better grip than totally nonporous surfaces.

Ease of Cleaning

Regular cleaning is a must in bathrooms. The best bathroom flooring stands up to daily maintenance and periodic deep cleaning without degrading over time. Check that your preferred material can be easily cleaned with your desired cleaning products.

Comfort Level

Consider whether you want a soft, cushioned feel or firm, supportive floors for standing and walking around. Hard surfaces can be tiring over time. Warmer flooring options like vinyl and cork provide more comfort.

Moisture Resistance

Everything in bathrooms gets splashed and soaked. Ensure flooring is waterproof and won’t warp, peel, or deteriorate when exposed to leaks, flooding, and high humidity. Mold and mildew resistance is also key in wet environments.


Bathroom flooring makes a strong style statement. Choose materials and colors that match your preferred design aesthetic – classic, rustic, modern, minimalist, etc.


Bathroom flooring ranges widely in cost. Measure the space and get quotes to ensure your flooring choice fits comfortably within your budget. Factor in any subfloor prep or installation costs as well.

Use and Traffic Patterns

Consider the typical bathroom traffic patterns. For example, vinyl works better for kids’ or guest baths that see a lot of use versus more occasional master baths. Also look at where sinks, tubs, and fixtures are placed.

Popular Bathroom Flooring Options

Below are the most common and best flooring options for bathrooms along with the pros, cons, costs, and characteristics of each to consider:


Tile is a classic, durable, water-resistant bathroom flooring choice that comes in endless styles.

Pros: Durable, stylish, easy to clean, wide variety of looks, long-lasting

Cons: Can be cold and hard underfoot, grout needs sealing, drops can crack tiles

Cost: $$-$$$

Best For: Classic elegance, traditional to modern style

Popular options:

  • Ceramic: Affordable, easy to clean, durable. Prone to chipping.
  • Porcelain: More stain and water resistant. Low porosity.
  • Mosaic: Small tiles create patterns. Grout needs diligent sealing.
  • Stone: Marble, travertine, slate. Natural beauty, absorbs water well. Etches over time.
  • Glass: Stunning colors, waterproof, slippery when wet.

Natural Stone

Gorgeous materials like marble, travertine, and slate bring natural beauty with high-end luxury appeal.

Pros: Elegant look, naturally slip resistant, durable

Cons: Expensive, absorbs water and stains, etches over time

Cost: $$$-$$$$

Best For: Luxury bathrooms seeking a spa-like environment

Popular options:

  • Marble: Classic and elegant with veins, susceptible to etching. Needs sealing.
  • Travertine: Earthy, rustic look. Fill holes during installation. Can be slippery.
  • Slate: Rich colors with cleft texture. Can chip or crack. Needs sealing.
  • Limestone: Softer, textured surface. Stains easily. Avoid in wet areas.
  • Onyx: Dramatic, shiny surface in translucent colors. Scratches easily.

Ceramic and Porcelain Tile

These classic and affordable tile options come in endless colors, prints, shapes, and textures. Easy to clean and water resistant.

Pros: Durable, prefired for stability. Glazed porcelain is very water resistant.

Cons: Rigid surface not flexible. Grout needs sealing.

Cost: $ – $$ per square foot

Best for: Contemporary to rustic styles. High and low traffic spaces.

Popular options:

  • Subway tile
  • Mosaic
  • Patterned and decorative tiles
  • Faux stone and wood looks
  • Large format tiles
  • Hexagonal tiles


Vinyl is affordable, easy to install, and comes in many realistic wood and stone looks. Luxury vinyl has greater durability and design options.

Pros: Cost effective, extensive style options, cushioned comfort, easy to clean

Cons: Not as durable as tile and stone, seams can peel over time

Cost: $ – $$

Best For: Contemporary, eclectic, or retro styles on a budget.

Popular options:

  • Sheet vinyl: Seamless, flexible, inexpensive
  • Luxury vinyl tile (LVT): Durable, realistic patterns
  • Vinyl plank: Floating click-lock installation, realistic wood looks


Laminate mimics wood looks at a budget price but does not perform well over time in wet bathrooms.

Pros: Affordable, wide variety of wood looks, easy floating installation

Cons: Poor moisture resistance leads to warping and damage

Cost: $

Best For: Dry powder rooms/half-baths only. Not suitable for main bathrooms.

Engineered Wood

More moisture resistant than solid wood, but still not ideal for bathrooms with constant water exposure.

Pros: Warm, elegant wood look. More stability than solid wood.

Cons: Still prone to water damage and warping over time.

Cost: $$-$$$

Best For: Powder rooms or bathrooms with limited moisture.


Eco-friendly renewable bamboo brings a light, airy look that contrasts nicely with bathroom finishes.

Pros: Sustainable material, attractive visual, moisture-resistant

Cons: Dents easily, open-grain varieties susceptible to water damage

Cost: $$

Best For: Modern, Zen, or tropical-inspired bathrooms


Naturally waterproof, antimicrobial cork offers a soft, quiet feel underfoot. Limit exposure to standing water.

Pros: Warm, cushioned feel, naturally moisture resistant

Cons: Shows wear over time, not as durable

Cost: $$

Best For: Spa-like bathrooms where you’ll stand for long periods


Artisan concrete finishes bring cool, contemporary appeal. Must be professionally installed and adequately sealed.

Pros: Stylish, modern look. Durable. Nonporous when sealed.

Cons: Needs extensive sealing to avoid moisture damage. Hard, no cushion.

Cost: $$$

Best For: Modern, industrial bathrooms with trained installers

Glass Tile

Glistening glass tile makes a glamorous design statement. Most prone to slipping when wet.

Pros: Impervious to water, stain resistant, easy to clean. Shiny, jewelry-like appearance.

Cons: Slippery when wet, rigid surface, grout stains easily.

Cost: $$$

Best For: Bold modern or art deco bathrooms

Key Considerations By Bathroom Type

Flooring needs differ depending on the specific bathroom type. Keep these tips in mind:

Primary Bathrooms

As your most used bathroom, opt for durable and low maintenance flooring that can withstand daily showering and won’t show grime easily. Tile and vinyl plank floors are best for high traffic. Add grip strips in the shower and bath mats to reduce slips.

Kids & Families

Choose affordable, resilient, easy to clean floors like sheet vinyl or LVT that can stand up to messes, splashing, and play. Warm textured options like tile prevent slips and falls. Floating floors allow easy replacement sections if damage occurs in high traffic areas near sinks or toilets.

Small Bathrooms

Use large format tiles with minimal grout lines to create the illusion of more space. Light glass, mirrored or reflective materials also open up tiny bathrooms. Avoid dark colors or busy patterns that close in walls visually.

Basement & Secondary Baths

Here you can save with more affordable options like vinyl tiles, laminates or painted concrete without worrying about longevity as much. Ensure proper moisture barriers are installed first. Radiant floor heating adds comfort over the slab.

Guest Bathrooms

Make a good first impression with easy to maintain floors that are resilient and forgiving like vinyl planks. Save splurges for main baths. Add warmth with neutral colors and wood-look porcelain. Follow universal design principles for safety and accessibility.

Wet Rooms

When the entire space gets soaked regularly, use nonporous surfaces like ceramic, porcelain or glass tiles. Slope floors to drains and include grip surfaces in showers. Opt for linear drains instead of grates that can clog with hair and gunk.

Material Comparison Chart

| Material | Durability | Water Resistance | Slip Resistance | Comfort Level | Price Range | DIY Install |
| Ceramic Tile | High | High | Moderate | Low | $ – $$ | Advanced |
| Porcelain Tile | Very high | Very high | Low to Moderate | Low | $$ – $$$ | Advanced |
| Natural Stone | High | Low to moderate | High | Low | $$$ – $$$$ | Advanced |
| Vinyl | Moderate | High | Low to Moderate | High | $ – $$ | Beginner |
| Laminate | Low | Low | Low | Moderate | $ | Intermediate |
| Engineered Wood | Moderate | Low | Low | High | $$ – $$$ | Intermediate |
| Bamboo | High | Moderate | Moderate | Moderate | $$ | Intermediate |
| Cork | Low | High | Moderate | High | $$ | Intermediate |
| Concrete | Very high | Low | Low | Very low | $$$ | Professional installation |
| Glass Tile | High | Very high | Low | Low | $$$ | Advanced |

Installation Tips

Proper installation is critical for durable, long lasting bathroom floors. Follow these top tips:

  • Always inspect and prep the subfloor first. Ensure it is clean and level.
  • Use cement board, backerboard or a waterproof membrane over plywood or OSB subfloors.
  • Follow all manufacturer instructions carefully, including proper trowel sizes, subfloor prep, underlayments, transition strips and sealing.
  • Hire professionals for natural stone, concrete or complicated tile layouts.
  • Check that underfloor heating and temperature limits are compatible with the flooring choice.
  • Include movement joints for tiles and natural stone as per installation guides.
  • Seal grout and stone surfaces regularly to prevent stains, damage and mold growth.

Maintaining Bathroom Floors

All bathroom floors require proper care and cleaning to maximize longevity and appearance. Follow these maintenance best practices:

  • Sweep or vacuum regularly to prevent gritty dirt and debris from scratching floors.
  • Wet mop floors frequently with a mild cleaner designed for the flooring type.
  • Use bath mats, area rugs and runners to protect floors and improve traction when wet.
  • Immediately wipe up spills and splashes to prevent moisture damage and stains.
  • Reapply sealers and finish coats per the manufacturer’s schedule to protect surfaces.
  • Avoid using harsh cleaners, acids or abrasives that can etch, dull or damage finishes.
  • Hire professionals periodically to deep clean, re-seal and restore flooring. Replace caulk and grout as needed.
  • Inspect for any damage, loose tiles, warping, cracks or deterioration annually and repair immediately.

Choosing new bathroom floors is an exciting process with many options to consider from traditional ceramic and stone tiles to vinyl, wood looks, and glass. Assess your lifestyle, needs and style to pick the right material that will perform well, match your decor, and provide lasting enjoyment for years to come. Consult this comprehensive bathroom floor buying guide to make the best choice for your next remodel.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some common questions about selecting bathroom flooring:

What is the most waterproof bathroom flooring?

Porcelain tile and glass tile are highly impervious to water. Vinyl plank is also waterproof, with luxury vinyl offering the most durable moisture resistance among vinyl options.

What’s better for bathroom floors – vinyl or ceramic tile?

Tile is more durable but vinyl is warmer and more comfortable underfoot. Both offer water resistance. Vinyl is typically more affordable and easier to install. Porcelain tile provides the most resilient option.

Can you use real wood floors in bathrooms?

Solid wood should be avoided in bathrooms due to moisture damage risk. Engineered wood planks can potentially work but still may warp or deteriorate over time. For wood looks, luxury vinyl or porcelain tile replicates grain patterns well at lower cost.

Is stone tile slippery in bathrooms?

Honed finishes on marble, travertine and other stones have more grip and slip resistance than very polished options. Check the material’s COF (coefficient of friction) rating – 0.60 or above indicates good wet traction. Adding textured surfaces on shower floors enhances traction.

Should bathroom floor tile go all the way to the walls?

Tiling from wall to wall makes for simpler cleaning with no gaps for water or grime buildup. Alternatively, leave a 1/8″ expansion gap between floor and wall, using silicone caulk to seal.

How can I warm up cold bathroom floors?

Radiant underfloor heating systems work well. For DIY options, install vinyl plank which is warmer underfoot, or add cushy rug pads under bath mats. Cork flooring also provides natural insulation.


Selecting new bathroom flooring requires careful thought about long-term durability, moisture resistance, comfort, and style. This comprehensive bathroom floor buying guide provides all the key considerations, popular materials, and expert tips needed to choose flooring wisely. Analyze your family’s needs, bathroom usage, and budget to pick flooring that will perform well for years of safe, comfortable enjoyment. With proper installation and care, your new bathroom floors will not just look beautiful but also withstand heavy use and constant water exposure. Use this guide to make the best flooring decision for your upcoming bathroom project.