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How to Choose the Right Bathroom Flooring

By the Vevano Home Team
October 16, 2020

Each bathroom comes with certain needs when it comes to flooring. With all the water that comes from usual bathroom activities, you need flooring that can resist moisture and provide a sturdy ground underfoot.

Before style, the most important thing to consider when looking for a new bathroom floor is water resistance. Look into how much water the flooring can resist before purchasing. The second most important decision is what you want your floor to look like! Which bathroom are you looking to redo the flooring in? Would you prefer a wood, stone, or tile look for that particular bathroom? This may help you to narrow your flooring choices, but also gives you different price range options with different flooring materials that match your desired aesthetic.

Below we’ve outlined a few of the most optimal flooring options to choose from for your bathroom floor. For a broader outline of other floor options, see our Ultimate Guide to Flooring here.

Highly Recommended: Tile

Tile Only: $1 - $15 per square foot

Tile + Installation: $5 - $30 per square foot

There’s a reason tile is one of the most ideal flooring types for bathrooms. It’s one of the tougher, longer lasting flooring options on the market. It is water resistant with proper maintenance and sealant over the grout. Flooring tile is even workable on walls (but not vice versa) in the bathroom for your shower and/or bath to protect the walls from water and moisture. With its longevity and hardness, tile does tend to run more expensive than other options, but it lasts for years. Though tile flooring may be cold to the touch, it is also compatible with radiant heating if you want those luxurious heated floors.

A few different materials can be made into tile flooring. You mostly find porcelain or ceramic tiles; porcelain is a kind of ceramic, but ceramic can be made with other bases or made to look like stone or wood. Porcelain is ultimately stronger and more durable, while ceramic tile is easier to cut and more affordable. Note that ceramic does need a top glaze in order to be waterproof.

Tile is also highly customizable with a variety of sizes, shapes (hexagon tiles are particularly popular), patterns, and colors. You can play with different designs and looks, whether you want to make your floor an accent piece or a more subtle design aspect of your bathroom. Another perk is that when you need to replace your tile flooring, you usually only need to replace the damaged tile as opposed to the whole floor.

Tile with high slip resistance is our top recommendation for bathroom flooring. Large tiles are recommended to eliminate grout lines and they are generally easier to clean.

Affordable & Durable: Luxury Vinyl Tile

Tile Only: $2 - $7 per square foot

Tile + Installation: $3 - $11 per square foot

Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) is another ideal choice for your bathroom floor since it is waterproof and affordable, though it doesn’t have as long of a lifespan as tile does. Like laminate, LVT has at least four layers: bottom/base layer, core (the substance), photographic layer, and the wear layer. Unlike laminate flooring that has wood fibers in its core, LVT has a vinyl core, which makes it more resistant to water and warping. LVT is a big improvement from laminate as there’s no asbestos used in its production and it has lower VOC (volatile organic compounds) emissions. It also provides more insulation and sound dampening since LVT is thicker than laminate.

If you want a natural looking floor, such as stone or wood, LVT is a more cost-effective and easier to install option as it comes in tile form. Above the core is the photographic layer that can look like either wood or stone; you can even add a texture to make it feel like the material depicted. The transparent wear layer on top protects the photographic layer from moisture, scratches, and scuffs, making it a very durable bathroom floor option.

Ideal for Half Bath: Laminate

Uninstalled: $1 - $5 per square foot

Installed: $2 - $8 per square foot

Due to less moisture in half baths, laminate flooring is an option for these smaller bathrooms. When installed and cared for properly, laminate can last up to 30 years. It’s affordable, easy to install, and is softer on your feet and joints compared to tile or stone. Laminate is also compatible with radiant heating for your floors as well.

Standing water can warp or stain laminate so it’s not ideal for a full bathroom that has a tub or shower. There is water-resistant laminate available, though it’s not entirely waterproof since water can affect the lower layers and cause mold and mildew buildup as well as damage the laminate surface. Look into the sub level layers for the type of core to see if it’s water-resistant. Once it’s damaged, laminate is a flooring material that needs to be replaced.

Laminate does emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds), so you want to look for products that have the FloorScore certification to find the laminate product with the least amount of VOCs emitted.

Laminate comes in different grades based on durability. How thick the laminate is, AC ratings (Abrasion Criteria), and any embossing will indicate the quality of laminate. The laminate flooring AC rating we recommend for bathrooms is AC3.

Premium Style: Stone

If you have the budget, stone flooring in your bathroom is definitely a luxury flooring option. Like natural wood, stone also needs regular upkeep with sealants and resurfacing to ensure a long life. It’s very expensive and requires professional installation, though the style is tough to beat.

Note that if you want the trendy appearance of stone, marble, wood or other natural material for your bathroom floor, you can always use tile, LVT, or laminate flooring to match your desired flooring design. These other flooring types come in a variety of designs so you’ll save money and they are easier to install.

To wrap up, the most important thing to remember is to find the most waterproof flooring for your bathroom. The style and design is up to your personal preference.

If you still need help in identifying the right type of flooring for your bathroom, feel free to reach out to our professional designers for a consultation.