Here is our ultimate guide to buying bathroom flooring for your home. We've provided 15 options, each with their pros and cons. Read on!
The main goal with bathroom flooring is choosing a type that won’t be ruined by moisture in two years. You need to choose a material that will last and endure plenty of moisture such as spills and steam. Fortunately, these days there are plenty of bathroom flooring options, many of which are also pleasing to the eye. Below, we’ve provided fifteen bathroom floor material ideas, followed by a style guide.
I. Bathroom Flooring Buying Guide
Table of Contents
Buying the perfect flooring for a bathroom is a very different endeavor from buying the perfect flooring for other parts of a house. Bathroom flooring faces unique challenges, chiefly water, humidity, and heavy foot traffic.
Start the search by narrowing it down by the different types of flooring materials. Beginning from the material flooring type, you can then think about other bathroom flooring design options, including elements like dimensions, color, and texture. The final step is deciding upon the best flooring installation method for the bathroom.
A. Bathroom Flooring Materials
There’s a seemingly endless variety of types of bathroom flooring available on the market today. We’ve narrowed down the options slightly by selecting the fifteen best types of bathroom flooring materials.
You don’t only want the materials of your bathroom flooring to be attractive and complement your bathroom’s overall style, you also need it to be waterproof, slip-resistant, and durable.
Here are the most popular bathroom flooring materials, as well as the pros and cons of each flooring type material.
1. Solid Hardwood Bathroom Flooring
There’s no denying solid hardwood flooring is beautiful – but is it the right choice for your bathroom?
This is not the case for most people. Despite solid hardwood’s natural warmth and its wear resistance, it doesn’t do well in areas with a lot of moisture. This is because hardwood does not create naturally waterproof flooring. Solid hardwood flooring is known to expand and contract with contact to high humidity. The material will also soak up any water spilled on it. The result is swelling and buckling of the wood floor.
The only time solid hardwood is a viable bathroom flooring option is in a rarely used guest bathroom, or perhaps a half bath, also known as a powder room. Homeowners should avoid installing solid hardwood flooring in any bathroom with a shower or bathtub that’s used on a regular basis.
It’s also critical to hire professionals to install the bathroom flooring if you insist on using solid hardwood in the space. A professional will be to install hardwood flooring in a way that ensures that there will be absolutely no gaps for moisture to seep through the boards into other parts of the house or foundation.
2. Engineered Hardwood Bathroom Flooring
If you’ve always dreamt of having natural hardwood in your bathroom and you ignore warnings that it’s not a good idea, then engineered hardwood can be a way to achieve the hardwood look without the possibility of water damage that hardwood maintains.
Engineered hardwood flooring is constructed from a durable plywood base. This base is designed to better hold up to moisture and humidity than hardwood does. A thin top layer of real wood or bamboo is applied atop the base to give it the beautiful look of real hardwood.
Despite being better suited for high humidity environments than real hardwood, using engineered hardwood in a bathroom still brings a set of potential problems. Using engineered hardwood is most likely fine in a well-ventilated primary bathroom used only by adults. But a heavily-used family bathroom, especially one that children use, likely suffers from too much humidity (and water on the floor) for this material to be a viable option, as it is not a fully waterproof flooring option.
3. Laminate Bathroom Flooring
Laminate flooring is a great choice for a bathroom flooring material, so long as it is installed correctly.
The base layer of laminate flooring is constructed from dense fiberboard. Installers must take precautions to ensure this layer is exposed to limited moisture.
The top layer of laminate flooring is a thin layer of clear-plastic protectant. Between the base layer and top layer sits a thin layer of resin-impregnated paper, which contains a photograph of a different flooring material. The photograph paper layer is often of a high-end natural hardwood (oak, cherry, or other hardwood) or natural stone (slate, marble, or other type of stone) flooring material.
You can use laminate flooring to achieve just about any look you desire – for a fraction of the price of what the real flooring material costs. In other words, laminate flooring looks great and can be purchased at a lower price.
The key when using laminate flooring in a bathroom is to first buy from a reputable company with a warranty on the top layer of protectant. Second, you must ensure tight seams between each piece of the laminate during installation, to prevent moisture from working its way down to the fiberboard layer and damaging the base of the laminate flooring.
4. Vinyl Bathroom Flooring
Vinyl is an excellent material for use in bathroom flooring because of its overall water resistance.
Vinyl bathroom flooring comes in several varieties. These are sheet vinyl, plank vinyl, and tile vinyl. The different vinyl varieties relate to how the flooring is laid in place.
Sheet vinyl flooring is laid in a solid piece. This flooring material is best for bathrooms where much water falls and sits on the floor, such as bathrooms used by children, thanks to the lack of seams on a vinyl sheet.
Plank vinyl flooring comes in several long strips, or planks. Though plank vinyl flooring far easier to install than the sheet vinyl variety, it’s also slightly less resistant to water damage, as it has more seams than a vinyl sheet does.
Tile vinyl flooring, as its name implies, comes as tile-shaped pieces of vinyl. This material not usually a great option for bathrooms, as it has so many seams.
Another benefit of using vinyl flooring in your bathroom is the numerous varieties available. Vinyl flooring is available in just about any color, pattern, and design that you can dream up. It’s more common, however, to have brands attempt to mimic the look of stone, tile, and hardwood flooring.
5. Linoleum Bathroom Flooring
Linoleum is a similar material to vinyl, and is often confused for vinyl. Despite their outer appearances, the two bathroom flooring options don’t have much in common. Unlike vinyl, linoleum flooring is made from natural materials. These usually include linseed oil and numerous wood products.
Linseed oil is a particularly interesting component to linoleum flooring. This compound is naturally resilient to water damage and is also fundamentally antimicrobial. The antimicrobial properties of linoleum flooring make it a great choice for bathrooms, which are rooms where mold and mildew are commonly found.
Linoleum flooring is both water and fire resistant. It doesn’t scratch easily, and generally holds up well for multiple decades.
Like vinyl flooring, linoleum is available in sheets, planks, or tiles. Though linoleum planks are the easiest to install, sheets are the best option for bathrooms because they have far fewer seams and joints for water to work its way through to the base.
The only real con of linoleum is the possible inconsistency from brand to brand and product to product. It’s best to pay more up front for a top-quality linoleum brand than to get stuck with low-quality flooring at a budget price, which will most likely cost you more in the long run.
6. Ceramic Tile Bathroom Flooring
Consider ceramic tile as the bathroom flooring material for the most classic bathroom style.
Not only does a ceramic tile bathroom floor look beautiful, the material is also rugged and durable. Ceramic tile is water resistant, so you don’t have to constantly worry about water damage. Ceramic tile flooring is also imperious to most scratches, dents, and stains. Normal wear and tear won’t have much of a visual effect on ceramic tile bathroom flooring. The only wear you’ll notice will be in the grout between the ceramic tiles. Grout, especially grout between bathroom floor tile, stains easily, and needs to be cleaned on a regular basis.
Another highlight of ceramic tile bathroom flooring is its long-term value. Though ceramic tile costs a pretty penny up front, you’ll make up for the high cost with an improved home resell value. You’ll also likely have less upkeep to do and pay for with ceramic bathroom floor tile.
Ceramic tile flooring is also notable for the range of options available in this bathroom flooring material. In addition to natural colors, textures, and styles, ceramic tile that mimics wood is also available on the market to purchase and install.
7. Porcelain Tile Bathroom Flooring
When it comes to bathroom flooring, few materials are better than porcelain tile.
A part of the ceramic tile family, porcelain takes waterproof flooring up a notch. While ceramic floor tile absorbs a small amount of water, porcelain absorbs even less than that. In fact, the Porcelain Tile Certification Agency requires all porcelain tiles to absorb less than 0.5% water, making porcelain an essentially waterproof flooring material.
Interestingly, porcelain tile bathroom flooring is almost too waterproof. Though porcelain tile floors work wonders in bathrooms with showers and bathtubs, there’s little to no reason to use it in a half bathroom, as there is much less possibility of large amounts of water falling onto and sitting on the floor.
So, what makes porcelain tile amazing aside from the fact that it is practically waterproof? The answer to that question is its outstanding looks. Porcelain tile is an excellent bathroom flooring option for modern or contemporary style bathrooms. In addition to its water resistance and good looks, a bathroom with a floor made using this flooring type is surprisingly cheap! Porcelain tile bathroom flooring comes in at around the same price as vinyl flooring does.
One small negative to keep in mind when considering porcelain tile as a bathroom flooring option is that porcelain tile becomes very slick when it gets wet, as it doesn’t absorb almost any water. This means that the water sits atop the tile, and as the tile is very smooth, a bathroom floor made from porcelain tiles can become very dangerous.
8. Natural Stone Tile Bathroom Flooring
Source: 1 MLN Bathroom Tile Ideas
Natural stone is quite a popular bathroom flooring option for those that desire a luxuriously modern look.
Stone tile flooring is available in numerous varieties. The most popular of these include marble, limestone, and travertine. Thanks to these materials’ level of waterproofing, all three are great bathroom floor options.
In addition to its waterproof nature and timeless good looks, natural stone tile bathroom flooring is loved for its long lifespan. With proper maintenance, natural stone flooring can last a lifetime. Not only this, but adding stone tile flooring to a bathroom does wonders to improve a home’s overall value. If you sell your home in the future, you’re sure to make money back thanks to a natural stone investment.
Another key highlight of using natural stone tile in bathroom flooring is how easy it is to repair. If you scratch, crack, stain, or otherwise damage a tile, often just the damaged tile or tiles can be replaced. There’s no reason to replace the entire floor when your bathroom floor is made from natural stone!
9. Concrete Bathroom Flooring
Concrete flooring gives your bathroom a unique, modern, and industrial look.
Concrete acts as both the structural floor and its finished top layer. Its single-material design makes concrete a cost-effective and eco-friendly flooring choice. Concrete bathroom flooring is also notable for its strength and durability. It’s completely water-resistant and very hard to scratch, stain, and otherwise damage.
The biggest downside to concrete as a bathroom flooring option is that it is difficult and expensive to replace. If one part is damaged, usually the entire slab must be replaced. On the other hand, you can simply lay a different flooring material over your concrete flooring if the damage is minor. You can even lay a different material down if you simply grow tired of concrete one day. There are not many other bathroom flooring materials that make this possible.
Finally, concrete flooring that utilizes recycled glass, porcelain, and certain aggregates for an even more unique look and increased eco-friendliness is available to consumers.
10. Pebble Tile Bathroom Flooring
Source: Pebble Tile Shop
Those who want a trendy and stylish bathroom should consider using pebble tile for the bathroom flooring material.
This unique-looking material creates a contemporary-style design in the bathroom. The small pebbles used in this bathroom flooring option are available in a variety of colors and sizes that enable you to create a look that’s entirely your own.
Most pebble tiles used for bathroom flooring are mined from stone. However, certain brands also offer recycled glass versions for those committed to environmental friendliness.
People rave about pebble tile bathroom flooring for the spa-like look it creates in a bathroom. If you choose the right tiles you’re in for a gentle foot massage every time you walk into your bathroom. Talk about relaxation!
The biggest downside to pebble tile flooring, aside from its relatively high cost, is the amount of grout needed to keep it sealed. The grout between pebble flooring tiles needs regular cleaning to stay in ideal condition.
11. Terrazzo Bathroom Flooring
Few, if any, bathroom flooring materials match the minimalistic good looks of terrazzo floors.
Terrazzo flooring is notable for its clean, modern style and rugged durability. This material is all but indestructible! Terrazzo flooring is made from of a mixture of marble, granite, and glass chips embedded in ground concrete. The mixture is then colored and ground down into the finished product.
A benefit of terrazzo flooring is that it’s incredibly low maintenance. It’s stain resistant, bacteria resistant, and water resistant, so very little regular upkeep is needed to maintain a beautiful terrazzo bathroom floor.
While terrazzo was created with affordability in mind, the modern-day manufacturing process and the high demand for it has made it into one of the most expensive flooring options available. Still, there’s a reason why so many luxury bathrooms utilize terrazzo – it simply looks fantastic, and its durability means it almost pays for itself!
12. Recycled Glass Tile Bathroom Flooring
Recycled glass tile as a bathroom flooring material has become an increasingly popular option as of late. Constructed from recycled glass embedded in a hard resin, people love these glass tiles for their jewel-like appearance. Limitless color options also contribute to the overall popularity of recycled glass tile bathroom flooring. You can find these floor tiles in just about any color and pattern you can imagine.
When installed by an expert, recycled glass tiles are completely waterproof. Their study design also makes them resistant to scratching, staining, and other damage. Another benefit of recycled glass floor tile is its eco-friendliness. Certain brands use up to 97% recycled content in the creation of their recycled glass flooring tiles.
The only serious negative to this flooring material is its price. Recycled glass tiles are expensive, and professional installation makes using them in a bathroom even more costly.
13. Cork Bathroom Flooring
Homeowners rave about cork flooring for its incredibly soft feel underfoot. Yet is this unique, environmentally friendly flooring material the right choice for bathrooms?
The short answer is, yes, cork flooring is a great option for bathrooms – as long as the material is covered with a water-resistant sealer. Without a sealer, cork is prone to water stains and water damage. Something to keep in mind is that cork flooring, even with the best water-resistant sealer, is still likely to warp and discolor in the event of a flood.
Additional benefits of cork bathroom flooring include its insulating properties, slip-resistance even when wet, its antimicrobial properties, and its ecological friendliness. All of these benefits are additions to cork’s most appealing traits: it’s warm, inviting, and has unique and beautiful appearance.
Yet cork flooring doesn’t come without faults. Chief among these are scratching, denting, and other damage. While the softness of cork feels nice underfoot, it also means that this flooring option is very easily damaged. Fortunately, repairing or refinishing cork flooring is relatively easy. You can even opt for cork tiles for easier damage repair.
14. Rubber Bathroom Flooring
Rubber is another once-unpopular bathroom flooring material that is quickly gaining in popularity, especially in home bathrooms.
Part of the reason rubber flooring is rising in popularity is an increase in options in it. In days gone by, black and gray were the only rubber flooring options available. Today, almost any color you can think of, as well as numerous patterns, are available in rubber flooring.
Most rubber flooring comes in the form of tiles. You can lay the same color tiles down to create a seamless appearance, or lay different color tiles down to create a pattern. Rubber tiles are also easily cut into different shapes (such as triangles) to create an even more unique look.
Another option for rubber flooring is a rubber sheet. The rubber sheet is rolled down, usually at a width of about four feet, to create a more seamless floor covering. Though rubber tiles work well in bathrooms if sealed properly, a rubber sheet is usually the best bet, because there are fewer seams for water to seep through.
You can choose from a variety of textures when it comes to rubber flooring. Polished rubber might look nice, but it gets slippery fast when wet. Textured rubber flooring is a much better bet for use in bathrooms.
Additional pros of rubber bathroom flooring include easy maintenance, antimicrobial properties, eco-friendliness, insulating properties, and its extreme durability. It’s also incredibly easy to repair and replace as needed.
The main complaint people have about rubber bathroom floors is their dull look. Even colorful rubber floors have a dull appearance unless a bright finish is applied to them.
15. Carpet Bathroom Flooring
Source: The Spruce
“Carpet – in the bathroom?” you might ask, in shock.
Yep, that’s right! Carpet is a viable option for bathroom flooring. Despite most modern homes opting for hard flooring in bathrooms, carpet still gets the job done.
The major downside of using carpet in a bathroom is obvious: it gets wet, and retains moisture. In a bathroom, carpet can quickly turn into a breeding ground for mold and mildew. There’s also the very real possibility of staining it. Track large amounts of water onto carpet on a regular basis and you’re almost certain to see stains in no time.
Still, some people swear by using carpet in bathrooms. The benefits of installing carpet in a bathroom include its softness and the way it eliminates the need for rugs. Carpet bathroom flooring also significantly reduces slipping accidents. Few bathroom flooring materials are as slip-resistant as carpet. However, despite its few benefits, the threat of water damage lures most people away from installing carpet in their bathroom.
If you must have a carpeted bathroom, we recommend looking for a brand with water-resistant backing and a stain-proof coating. In addition to selecting the right type of carpet, it’s imperative your bathroom is well-insulated. This will keep your carpet flooring as dry as possible.
B. Bathroom Flooring Design Options
Once you select a material type for your bathroom flooring, there are several other design options to consider.
These include flooring dimensions, color, finish, and texture. You might also be interested in extra features, such as heated flooring.
1. Bathroom Flooring Dimensions
Source: Home Designing
The dimensions of flooring in a bathroom depend largely upon the dimensions of your room. As far as length and width go, there isn’t much wiggle room. Unless you’re combining several different materials, the flooring should fit the bathroom.
However, you do have some wiggle room in bathroom flooring options when it comes to thickness. You can actually choose your preferred thickness when it comes to certain materials, namely rubber and cork.
The thickness of the flooring material doesn’t have much effect beyond increasing comfort and insulation. Thicker rubber provides more insulation than thinner rubber; thicker cork provides a softer feeling underfoot than thinner cork, etc.
2. Bathroom Flooring Color, Finish, and Texture
Most types of bathroom flooring are available in a variety of colors and patterns. This means that you can choose the color that best matches your bathroom style and décor.
Special finishes can be applied to most flooring types after they’re installed, as well. These finishes can either make your flooring brighter or more subdued, depending on your preferences.
Texture is largely reserved for materials like natural stone, pebble tile, and rubber. Add more texture to these materials for more grip when slippery, or less texture for a cleaner, sleeker look.
3. Extra Features
Perhaps the most popular bathroom flooring extra feature is a heated floor.
Under-floor heating can be used safely with most bathroom flooring materials. As the name implies, under floor heating helps warm up cold floors to a more comfortable temperature for bare feet.
Most heated bathroom floors utilize in-floor heating mats. Simply lay these down under the flooring material for a much-appreciated touch of warmth.
C. DIY or Professional Installation?
Source: The Family Handyman
Most types of bathroom flooring can easily be installed by homeowners, even if they’re not professionals.
However, it’s essential to be realistic about your skill level. Though it doesn’t exactly take a pro to install most types of flooring, it does require someone with a little DIY experience: most importantly, the ability to properly measure and re-measure to avoid mistakes.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, while normal flooring can easily be installed by an average Joe, bathroom flooring requires much more precision. Seams or joints that are too far apart are a magnet for water and moisture pooling. If moisture seeps beneath your flooring, then mold, rot, and a floor replacement are likely in your home’s future.
For many people, a professional installation is the ideal method of bathroom floor installation, especially for types of bathroom flooring that require grout.
II. More Details
Here are some other important factors to consider when buying bathroom flooring.
A. Overall Bathroom Design
Think about the overall style of your bathroom when selecting your flooring. For example, if you’re going for a modern look, try a modern material like concrete, granite stone tile, or terrazzo. Those who want a more traditional look should consider flooring materials such as natural hardwood, engineered hardwood, and porcelain tile.
B. Cost and Budget
Pricing for bathroom flooring materials varies wildly, especially depending on the type of material used.
On the low end of the scale, there are cheaper materials like vinyl and laminate that can cost anywhere from $2 to $7 per square foot. On the high end of the scale, there are more expensive materials like solid hardwood and ceramic tile that run anywhere from $10 to $15 per square foot. Perhaps the most expensive type of bathroom flooring is terrazzo. This bathroom floor material regularly costs anywhere from $20 to $100 per square foot.
Of course, installation costs should be factored on top of material costs, as well. If you’re not up for installing your flooring yourself, expect to pay somewhere between $5 and $10 per square foot for installation, depending upon the specifics of the job.
III. Where to Buy Bathroom Flooring Online
Now that you know the ins and outs of the best bathroom flooring options, here’s our list of the best online retailers to buy bathroom flooring and related products from:
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