Here is our ultimate guide to buying bathroom flooring for your home which sets out the 15 options, each with pros and cons.
Your 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 options, many of which look good as well.
Below we set out the 15 bathroom floor material options followed by a style guide.
I. Bathroom Flooring Buying Guide
Table of Contents
- I. Bathroom Flooring Buying Guide
- A. Bathroom Flooring Materials
- 1. Solid Hardwood Bathroom Flooring
- 2. Engineered Hardwood Bathroom Flooring
- 3. Laminate Bathroom Flooring
- 4. Vinyl Bathroom Flooring
- 5. Linoleum Bathroom Flooring
- 6. Ceramic Tile Bathroom Flooring
- 7. Porcelain Tile Bathroom Flooring
- 8. Natural Stone Tile Bathroom Flooring
- 9. Concrete Bathroom Flooring
- 10. Pebble Tile Bathroom Flooring
- 11. Terrazzo Bathroom Flooring
- 12. Recycled Glass Tile Bathroom Flooring
- 13. Cork Bathroom Flooring
- 14. Rubber Bathroom Flooring
- 15. Carpet Bathroom Flooring
- B. Bathroom Flooring Design Options
- C. DIY or Professional Installation?
- A. Bathroom Flooring Materials
- II. More Details
- III. Where to Buy Bathroom Flooring Online
Buying the perfect flooring for your bathroom is a far cry from buying the perfect flooring for other parts of your house.
Bathroom flooring faces unique challenges, chiefly water, humidity, and heavy foot traffic. Start your search by narrowing things down to material type.
From material type, you can think about other bathroom flooring design options like dimensions, color, and texture. The final step is deciding upon the best installation method for you.
A. Bathroom Flooring Materials
There’s a seemingly endless variety of types of bathroom flooring available.
We’ve narrowed down the options slightly, selecting the fifteen best types of bathroom flooring materials.
Not only do you want your bathroom flooring to look good and complement your bathroom’s overall style, but it should also be waterproof, slip-resistant, and durable.
Here are the most popular bathroom flooring materials broken down by their pros and cons.
1. Solid Hardwood Bathroom Flooring
There’s no denying solid hardwood flooring is beautiful – but is it the right choice for your bathroom?
Not for most people. Despite solid hardwood’s natural warmth and wear resistance, it doesn’t do well in areas with a lot of moisture.
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.
The only time solid hardwood is an okay bathroom flooring option is in a rarely used guest bathroom, or perhaps a half bath.
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 your bathroom flooring if you insist on going with solid hardwood. There must be absolutely no gaps for moisture to seep through.
2. Engineered Hardwood Bathroom Flooring
If you really want natural hardwood in your bathroom, and you won’t take “it’s not a good idea” for an answer, then engineered hardwood is the way to go.
Engineered hardwood flooring is constructed from a durable plywood base, designed to better hold up to moisture and humidity. A thin top layer of real wood or bamboo is applied 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 is still problematic.
You’re probably fine in a well-ventilated master bathroom used by adults only. But a heavily-used family bathroom, especially one with children, likely suffers from too much humidity (and water on the floor) for this material to be a viable option.
3. Laminate Bathroom Flooring
Laminate flooring is a good choice for a bathroom flooring material, as long as you install it correctly.
The base layer of laminate flooring is constructed from dense fiberboard. You 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 is a thin layer of resin-impregnated paper that contains a photograph of a different flooring material.
The photograph paper layer is often of a high-end natural hardwood (oak, cherry, etc.) or natural stone (slate, marble, etc.) flooring material.
You can use laminate to achieve just about any look you want – for a fraction of the price of the real thing. In other words, laminate flooring looks great at a great 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.
Secondly, you must ensure tight seams between each piece of the laminate during installation to prevent moisture from workings its way down to the fiberboard layer.
4. Vinyl Bathroom Flooring
Vinyl is a solid material for bathroom flooring because of its overall water resistance.
Vinyl bathroom flooring comes in several varieties. These are sheet vinyl, plank vinyl, and tile vinyl. These different varieties relate to how the flooring is laid down.
Sheet vinyl flooring is laid down as a solid piece. It’s best for bathrooms where a lot of water gets on the floor (such as those used by children) thanks to the lack of seams.
Plank vinyl flooring comes in several long strips or planks. Though it’s far easier to install than the sheet variety, it’s also slightly less resistant to water damage since it has more seams.
Tile vinyl flooring, as the name implies, comes as tile-shaped pieces of vinyl. It’s not usually a good option for bathrooms since 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.
More common, however, are brands that the look mimic stone, tile, and hardwood flooring.
5. Linoleum Bathroom Flooring
Linoleum is similar to vinyl (and is often confused for vinyl). Despite outer appearances, the two 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 exciting component. The compound is naturally resilient and fundamentally antimicrobial.
The antimicrobial properties of linoleum flooring make it a great choice for bathrooms were mold and mildew are common.
Linoleum flooring is both water and fire resistant. It doesn’t even scratch easily and holds up well for multiple decades.
Like vinyl flooring, linoleum is available as sheets, planks, or tiles. Though 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.
The only real con of linoleum is inconsistency from brand to brand and product to product. It’s best to pay more up front for a top-quality brand than to get stuck with low-quality flooring at a budget price.
6. Ceramic Tile Bathroom Flooring
Consider ceramic tile as your bathroom flooring material for a classic bathroom style.
Not only does a ceramic tile bathroom floor look beautiful, but the material is also rugged and durable. Ceramic tile is water resistant, so you don’t have to 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.
The only wear you’ll notice is in the grout between tiles. Grout stains easily and needs to be cleaned on a regular basis.
Another highlight of ceramic tile bathroom flooring is long-term value. Though it costs a pretty penny up front, you’ll make up for the high cost with an improved home resell value.
Ceramic tile flooring is also notable for the range of options available. In addition to natural colors, textures, and styles, ceramic tile that mimics wood is also available.
7. Porcelain Tile Bathroom Flooring
Few materials are better than porcelain tile when it comes to bathroom flooring.
A part of the ceramic tile family, porcelain takes waterproofing up another notch. While ceramic tile absorbs a small amount of water, porcelain absorbs even less.
In fact, the Porcelain Tile Certification Agency requires all porcelain tiles to absorb less than 0.5% water, making porcelain one of the most water-resistant flooring materials around.
Interestingly, porcelain tile bathroom flooring is almost too waterproof. Though it works wonders in bathrooms with showers and bathtubs, there’s little to no reason to use it in a half bathroom.
So, what makes porcelain tile tick aside from waterproofing? The answer to that question is its outstanding looks.
Porcelain tile bathroom flooring is an excellent option for modern or contemporary style bathrooms.
On top of its water resistance and good looks, porcelain tile flooring is surprisingly cheap, around the same price as vinyl flooring.
One small negative to keep in mind is that porcelain tile becomes very slick when it gets wet (since it doesn’t absorb any of the water).
8. Natural Stone Tile Bathroom Flooring
Source: 1 MLN Bathroom Tile Ideas
Natural stone is a popular bathroom flooring option for those that desire a luxuriously modern look.
Stone tile flooring is available in numerous varieties. The most popular include marble, limestone, and travertine. Thanks to their waterproof ratings, all three are great materials for bathroom floors.
In addition to its waterproof nature and timeless good looks, natural stone tile bathroom flooring is loved for its long lifespan. With proper maintenance, it can last a lifetime.
Not only that, adding stone tile flooring to your bathroom does wonders to improve your home’s value. Sell your home in the future, and you’re sure to make money back thanks to your natural stone investment.
Another key highlight of natural stone tile bathroom flooring is how easy it is to repair. Scratch, crack, stain, or otherwise damage a tile and just the damaged tiles can be replaced. There’s no reason to replace the entire floor.
9. Concrete Bathroom Flooring
Concrete flooring gives your bathroom a unique modern industrial look.
The material acts as both the structural floor and the finished top layer. The 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 big downside to concrete is that it’s difficult and expensive to replace. If it’s damaged, the entire slab must usually be replaced.
On the other hand, you can simply lay a different flooring material over your concrete bathroom floor if the damage is minor.
You can even lay a different material down if you end up growing tired of concrete. There are not many other bathroom flooring materials that can say the same.
Finally, concrete flooring is available that utilizes recycled glass, porcelain, and certain aggregates for an even more unique look (and increased eco-friendliness).
10. Pebble Tile Bathroom Flooring
Source: Pebble Tile Shop
Those that want a trendy and stylish bathroom should consider pebble tile as their bathroom flooring material.
The unique-looking material creates a contemporary-style design in the bathroom. The small pebbles, available in a variety of colors and sizes, enable you to create a look that’s all 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 vibe it creates. Choose the right tiles, and you’re in for a gentle foot massage every time you walk into your bathroom.
The only downside to pebble tile flooring, aside from relatively high cost, is the amount of grout needed to keep it sealed.
The grout between your flooring tiles needs regular cleaning to stay in tip-top 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. Seriously though, the material is all but indestructible.
The popular flooring material made out 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.
Another benefit of terrazzo flooring is that it’s low maintenance. It’s stain resistant, bacteria resistant, and water resistant, so very little regular upkeep is needed.
While terrazzo was created with affordability in mind, the modern-day manufacturing process, plus it’s high demand, has made it into one of the most expensive flooring options around.
Still, there’s a reason why so many luxury bathrooms utilize terrazzo. And that reason is that it simply looks fantastic.
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 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 this flooring material is its eco-friendliness. Certain brands use up to 97% recycled content for their recycled glass flooring tiles.
The only real negative to this flooring material is the price. Recycled glass tiles are expensive – and professional installation makes using them in your bathroom even more costly.
13. Cork Bathroom Flooring
Homeowners rave about cork flooring for its incredibly soft feel underfoot. Yet is this unique, green-friendly flooring material the right choice for bathrooms?
The short answer is, yes, cork flooring is a good option for bathrooms, as long as the material is covered with a water-resistant sealer. Without such 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 in addition to cork’s number one appealing trait: it’s warm, inviting, and unique appearance.
Yet cork flooring doesn’t come without its faults. Chief among these is scratching, denting, and other damage. While the softness of cork feels nice underfoot, it’s very easily damaged.
Fortunately, repairing or refinishing cork flooring is relatively easy. Opt for cork tiles for even easier damage repair.
14. Rubber Bathroom Flooring
Rubber is another once unpopular flooring material that is quickly picking up steam, especially in home bathrooms.
Part of the reason rubber flooring is rising in popularity is an increase in options. In days gone by black and gray were the only options available. Today, almost any color you can think of, as well as numerous patterns, are available.
Most rubber flooring usually comes as 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) for an even more unique pattern.
Your other main option for rubber flooring is a rubber sheet. The rubber sheet is rolled down, usually at about four feet wide, to create a more seamless floor covering.
Though rubber tiles work well in bathrooms if sealed properly, a rubber sheet is usually your best bet because there are fewer seams for water to seep through.
Choose from a variety of textures for 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 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.
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, carpet still gets the job done.
The major downside is obvious: carpet gets wet and retains that moisture. In a bathroom, carpet can quickly turn into a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
And that’s not to mention stains. Track large amounts of water onto carpet on a regular basis and you’re almost certain to see stains in no time.
But some people swear by carpet in their bathrooms. Its benefits include the soft feeling between your toes anytime you step foot in your bathroom.
Carpet bathroom flooring also significantly reduces slipping accidents. Few bathroom flooring materials are as slip-resistant as carpet.
Despite having some benefits, the threat of water damage lures most people away from installing carpet in their bathroom.
If you must have a carpet 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 to 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 your bathroom flooring depend largely upon the dimensions of your room.
As far as length and width go, you don’t have much wiggle room. Unless you’re combining several materials, your flooring should fit your room.
However, you do have some wiggle room 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 material doesn’t have much effect beyond comfort and insulation. Thicker rubber provides more insulation than thinner rubber. Thicker cork provides a softer feeling underfoot than thinner cork.
2. Bathroom Flooring Color, Finish, and Texture
Most types of bathroom flooring are available in a variety of colors and patterns. Choose the color that best matches your bathroom style and décor.
Special finishes can be applied to most flooring types after they’re installed. 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 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 flooring materials. As the name implies, it helps heat up cold floors to a more comfortable temperature for bare feet.
Most heated 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 DIY-style.
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.
Seems or joints that are too far apart are a magnet for water and moisture. If this moisture seeps beneath your flooring, then mold, rot, and a floor replacement are likely in your near future.
For many people, a professional installation is the way to go, 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.
If you’re going for a modern look, try a modern material like concrete, granite stone tile, or terrazzo.
Those that want a more traditional look should consider natural hardwood, engineered hardwood, and porcelain tile.
B. Cost and Budget
Pricing for bathroom flooring varies wildly, especially depending on the type of material used.
On the low end of the scale you have cheaper materials like vinyl and laminate that run anywhere from $2 to $7 per square foot.
On the high end of the scale, you have 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. It regularly runs anywhere from $20 to $100 per square foot.
Of course, installation costs should be factored on top of material costs.
If you’re not up for a DIY job, 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:
Home Stratosphere is an award-winning home and garden online publication that’s a result of our talented researchers and writers who work directly with hundreds of professional interior designers, furniture designers, landscape designers and architects from around the world to create helpful, informative, entertaining and inspiring articles and design galleries.