Deciding on the right bathroom flooring can be an exciting yet challenging process. With so many options to choose from, it’s important to consider your lifestyle, budget, and design aesthetic when selecting materials. Here is an in-depth look at the factors to weigh when choosing bathroom floors.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Bathroom Floors
Bathroom flooring can range dramatically in price. Ceramic and porcelain tile are economical options starting around $1-5 per square foot installed. Stone tile like marble, travertine, or slate is more expensive at $5-15 per square foot. Meanwhile, luxury vinyl tiles can cost $2-7 per square foot and hardwood $6-15 per square foot installed. Determine how much you can spend upfront, as this will narrow down your options.
Functionality and Safety
Since bathrooms tend to get wet, the flooring needs to be water-resistant. Porcelain, ceramic tile, luxury vinyl, and sealed hardwood are good choices that won’t get damaged by moisture. Traction is also key for safety, so textured finishes that aren’t too slippery work best.
Factor in ease of cleaning too. Tile and vinyl are lower maintenance than unsealed grout or wood that requires frequent sealing and refinishing.
Durability and Longevity
You’ll want bathroom floors that are highly durable and able to withstand heavy use and traffic over time. Porcelain and ceramic tile are among the strongest materials that rarely chip, crack, or show wear and tear. Natural stone like granite is extremely durable too but requires more sealing. Vinyl and laminate stand up well to scratches, stains, and moisture.
Consider lifespans as well. Tile can last 50-100 years, quality vinyl 25+ years, marble 10-15 years, and hardwood 5-10 years with refinishing.
Style and Design
Bathroom floors should coordinate with your overall interior design scheme. Do you want a sleek, modern look with crisp white tile? Or maybe a natural, organic vibe with wood grain plank floors?
Keep the tile shape, pattern, texture, and color palette in mind. Mixing warm and cool tones can make the space visually interesting. Natural stone brings an elegant, expensive feel, while vinyl plank offers a convincing wood look for less.
Ease of Installation
Some homeowners choose to tackle bathroom flooring as a DIY project, while others prefer to hire a professional. Tile and vinyl flooring are relatively easy for beginners to install with basic tools. Natural stone is more challenging, requiring specialty saws and adhesive. Hardwood should be left to the experts since installation is labor-intensive.
Popular Types of Bathroom Floors
Ceramic and Porcelain Tile
Glazed ceramic and porcelain tile are affordable, water-resistant, and easy to clean, making them extremely popular choices. Available in tons of colors, shapes, textures, and pattern possibilities, tile offers high design flexibility. Mosaics create visual interest while large format tile gives a seamless look. The high hardness rating resists chips and scratches. Grout requires sealing to prevent stains.
Natural Stone Tile
For a luxurious, spa-like bathroom, natural stone tile like marble, travertine, slate, and granite exude elegance. Each piece has an artisanal, Old World look with veining, whorls, and colors that vary from tile to tile. Durability is excellent, but stone requires yearly sealing. Smooth, polished finishes can be quite slippery. Prices are higher, and professional installation is recommended.
Luxury Vinyl Tile
Today’s luxury vinyl not only mimics stone and wood but also realistically replicates texture and visual depth. Waterproof, scratch and stain-resistant, and easy to install and maintain, vinyl tile costs a fraction of natural materials. Advanced printing technology and protective wear layers make vinyl suitable for bathrooms. Just be aware that joints are not water tight.
Laminate provides the look of wood or tile floors for much less. The top plastic-resin layer resists moisture, scratches, and fading. However, laminate flooring swells and deteriorates when continually exposed to water. Use special waterproof core boards or avoid altogether in bathrooms. Installation is DIY-friendly using a floating floor method.
For a warm, inviting vibe in the bathroom, hardwood offers natural beauty. Domestic woods like oak, walnut, and maple bring richness. Exotic species like Brazilian cherry or bamboo cost more but give distinct visual appeal. Hardwood requires professional installation and vigilant maintenance with re-sealing every six months. Use engineered wood planks with plywood cores for improved moisture resistance compared to solid wood.
6 Key Questions to Ask Yourself
Here are some important questions to ask when deciding on bathroom flooring:
1. How Much Traffic Will the Floors Receive?
If your bathroom sees heavy, daily use from family members or guests, durability should be a top concern. Tile, vinyl, and stone hold up better under foot traffic than delicate wood floors.
2. Is Moisture Resistance a Priority?
Frequent splashing means your bathroom floors will often get wet. Porcelain tile, sheet vinyl, and linoleum excel at water resistance compared to unsealed grout lines or natural wood that can warp.
3. What Design Look Are You Going For?
Do you want a beachy, coastal vibe with whitewashed driftwood-look planks? Or maybe sleek, modern tile in bold colors and geometric shapes? Choose flooring that aligns with your overall decor.
4. Do You Want Underfloor Heating?
With underfloor radiant heating, natural stone and tile conduct and hold heat nicely. Most vinyl and laminates are fine too. Avoid engineered wood which can suffer moisture damage.
5. How Important is Low Maintenance?
For fewer hassles, porcelain and ceramic tile or waterproof sheet vinyl are virtually maintenance-free options. Wood requires the most upkeep with regular sealing and refinishing.
6. What’s Your Budget for Flooring?
Bathroom floors can range from $1 per square foot for basic vinyl and tile up to $15 per square foot for premium natural stone and exotic hardwoods. Set realistic expectations based on project costs.
Choosing new bathroom floors can feel overwhelming given the abundance of materials, styles, colors, and textures available today. Keep practical factors like your budget, ease of cleaning, water resistance, and durability in mind. Lowe maintenance, high functionality porcelain or ceramic tile is a smart, popular option. Natural stone tile provides elegance for a higher price. Or consider luxury vinyl for affordable wood or stone looks. Determine your design taste as well – modern, rustic, minimalist, ornate, etc. With some thoughtful consideration of your needs and style, you’re sure to find beautiful, enduring bathroom floors.