Updated Jan 12, 2023
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If you’re looking into flooring options ahead of your bathroom remodel, you will surely find plenty of factors to consider. Your budget, stylistic and aesthetic preferences, durability, and overall lifespan are chief among these. Here, we’ve broken down each of these factors to help you properly distinguish between the six top flooring materials for your bathroom. Read below to learn more about each and to find out which would be best for your situation.
When choosing the best flooring option for your bathroom, consider your budget, the durability required, and overall comfort. The following flooring providers can each provide premium flooring, no matter which material you choose.
Here’s a look at the best bathroom flooring options and key factors to consider about them:
|Flooring Material||Cost*||Ease of Installation||Moisture Resistance||Durability|
|Vinyl||$2–$8 per square foot||Easy||Waterproof||Medium|
|Cork||$3–$7 per square foot||Easy||Water-resistant||High|
|Engineered Wood||$4–$9 per square foot||Easy||Semi water-resistant||Medium|
|Laminate||$3–$8 per square foot||Intermediate||Water-resistant and UV-resistant||High|
|Natural Stone||$5–$10 per square foot||Difficult||Water-resistant||High|
|Porcelain or ceramic||$4–$10 per square foot||Easy||Water-resistant||Medium|
Vinyl sheets or luxury vinyl plank flooring are popular for moisture-prone areas like mudrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and finished basements. Vinyl is available in many colors, styles, and designs that match the existing room’s appearance. As a bonus, this material is stain- and water-resistant, making it suitable for prolonged exposure to moisture or damp air.
Vinyl typically offers a more pleasant underfoot feel, which can significantly affect comfort levels during colder months. Key for DIYers is vinyl’s lack of required maintenance and ease of installation. Vinyl can last up to 20 years in ideal conditions. Combined with its low cost, this lifespan makes it an attractive choice for budget-conscious homeowners.
If you’re looking for a relatively easy-to-install flooring option for your bathroom, cork may be a viable choice. It rates as one of the most affordable options on our list and the market in general. Though using cork flooring in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and mudrooms can be a somewhat contentious topic in the flooring industry, its water resistance and soft underfoot feel can make it a pleasant option.
Cork is generally sold in more earthy tones and can be found as tongue-in-groove paneling, which makes DIY flooring installation with this material doable. However, the easy installation that this floating floor type allows also presents its major weak point. Spills on cork should be handled quickly before moisture can seep into the unglued joints between panels. Failure to do so can lead to water damage over time.
Hardwood veneers with an underlying plywood core give engineered wood the appearance of hardwood flooring at a lower cost. This material withstands wear and tear and offers enhanced stability and durability comparable to traditional hardwood floors.
That said, this flooring type often requires total replacement if it sustains damage. Unlike hardwood, engineered wood can only be refinished once, if at all. This will vary depending on the exact model you purchase.
Engineered wood isn’t susceptible to severe water damage from moisture exposure, and it’s easy to keep it clean with basic maintenance. Regular cleaning with a broom or damp (not soaking) mop should suffice for spills.
Waterproof laminate flooring is another fairly durable synthetic material. This flooring type typically features a fiberboard base layer with a printed wood overlay. This is topped with a clear melamine wear layer. Laminates can be made to mimic the appearance of almost any hardwood, even upper-end woods like walnut and oak.
Tongue-in-groove installation makes DIY flooring work somewhat accessible with this material. However, we recommend hiring a qualified professional to do this for you. Making the necessary cuts and custom adjustments to these planks can be difficult. Laminates are typically around ¼-inch thick, giving it a more realistic feel and appearance than vinyl or comparable options.
Natural stone tile is among the most sought-after flooring types for its durability and appearance. While not completely waterproof, most stone flooring is highly water-resistant. This makes it an ideal—if costly—choice for bathrooms and other moisture-prone areas of your home.
While stone has a less forgiving underfoot feel, you can install radiant heating underneath to improve your bathroom flooring. Stone also comes in various textures and colors to suit your tastes and existing home aesthetics. As a bonus, stone is generally seen as a flooring option that will increase your home’s overall value and has a minimum lifespan of 50 years with proper care.
Tile is a leading bathroom flooring choice as it is water-resistant and relatively inexpensive. Ceramic and porcelain tiles are sold in varying textures and colors to suit various tastes and are available at most hardware stores. This powder room flooring option also cleans up well and can withstand prolonged moisture exposure compared to the other options.
Bathroom floor tiles are available in many sizes and shapes, so this material makes unique design choices and installation in tight corners or odd sections viable. Smaller tiles in mosaic patterns can be affixed on plastic mesh sheets ahead of time, which can also expedite your installation.
We still recommend hiring a professional flooring contractor to handle this, however. Expect your tile floors to last 20 years or more if properly installed and maintained.
Here are the main factors to consider when making your flooring selection:
Below are bathroom flooring options you should steer clear of.
Carpeting will grow mold and mildew when exposed to moisture and heat for any length of time and should never be considered a bathroom floor option. Breathing in the resulting spores can become a huge health hazard over time.
Hardwood absorbs moisture, which results in warping, and damage to your subfloor, including rotting. Solid hardwood also requires a lot of care and attention, including regular oiling and cleaning. If damaged, it can be expensive to replace.
We recommend vinyl flooring for many reasons. First and foremost, vinyl is a cheap flooring option that you can install yourself in a single day with the right tools and know-how. Vinyl flooring is also waterproof, which means that you’ll be likely to maximize the 20-year lifespan of your floors. If you have the wiggle room in your budget, the other options on this list present far more stylistic choices that you may want to consider.
Vinyl flooring is generally considered a better option than laminate flooring due to its moisture resistance.
With proper maintenance, stone flooring will last the longest in any setting within your home. However, this will also come with somewhat regular maintenance. Stone flooring is water-resistant, not waterproof, so you should still clean up any spills and puddles fairly quickly.
The best flooring options for small bathrooms or irregular spaces are ceramic tile and vinyl. Both are available in various colors, shapes, and designs. For the price, ease of installation, and lack of maintenance, you should go with vinyl flooring.
Prices to install bathroom flooring vary between about $2 and $13 per square foot, depending on selected material, labor costs, and installation fees. With typical bathrooms ranging in size from 40 to 100 square feet, expect costs for materials alone to range from $80 to $1,300. We recommend setting a budget within this range before deciding on a type of flooring.
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