Smart Choices for Bathroom Flooring

Bathrooms have unique requirements when it comes to flooring. Bathroom flooring must be able to handle moisture and humidity. A good vent fan can help combat the humidity but it won’t help if family members forget to turn it on. Drips while getting in and out of the tub or shower, leaks, overspray, and the occasional slosh of water out of the tub can all take a toll on the wrong flooring.

When choosing a flooring option for your bathroom, look for style, durability, comfort, and cost. Also consider safety. The flooring you select should be slip resistant, even when it’s wet. Bathrooms that are used infrequently or that have fewer fixtures tend to be less threatened by water damage and offer more options for flooring. Bathrooms that get a lot of use, such as kids’ bathrooms, need durable flooring that can handle the occasional spill or slash.

There are several types of flooring that are well suited for use in the bathroom:

Tile is the most popular bathroom flooring option for good reason. It offers a clean, classic look. There are several types of tile to choose from, including ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone, in a nearly endless selection of styles and colors. Tile handles water well, although it can be slippery when it’s wet. Using textured tile can improve slip resistance but can also make it harder to keep clean. Rugs and bath mats can also be used to help prevent slipping. For the best water resistance, look for unglazed tile with no more than 0.5% absorption rate or glazed tiles with an absorption rate of no more than 3%. Higher absorption rates will require sealing. Tile ranges in price, from 75 cents to $20 per square foot for ceramic and porcelain, or $3 to $8 per square foot for stone tile.

Vinyl is another popular choice. It can replicate almost any flooring choice, both in appearance and texture. It is also resistant to stains. While it is available as tiles or in rolls, rolls are better suited for bathrooms since it will have fewer seams, leaving fewer places for water to seep under it. Vinyl flooring requires minimal maintenance and can be cleaned by sweeping or damp mopping. It is a budget-friendly option at 50 cents to $5 per square foot.

Linoleum has made a comeback in the past 15 years, mainly due to the green properties it offers. It is made primarily of all natural products, is biodegradable, and releases few or no VOC emissions. It is also installed using a solvent-free adhesive. Linoleum is water resistant, antistatic, antimicrobial, and antiallergenic. It wears and ages well, and requires little maintenance. Sweeping or damp mopping is all that is needed to clean it. It should be resealed periodically. The average cost for Linoleum is $3 to $6 per square foot.

Cork is an eco-friendly option that provides warmth and comfort. Cork compresses and springs back, making it resilient and making it softer underfoot and forgiving on the joints. It offers great sound and thermal insulation. Cork is made from the naturally shed bark of cork oak, leaving the tree intact, making it a highly renewable resource. It is resistant to mold and mildew. Applying a polyurethane topcoat will protect it from spills and applying a sealer after installation will increase water resistance. Using cork sheets results in fewer seams, which also helps improve water resistance. The average price of cork flooring ranges from $4 to $14 per square foot.

Rubber lends a more commercial look to your bathroom. It is warmer than tile and hardwood and feels good underfoot. Both sheets and tiles are available. The sheet form is less expensive and offers better water resistance for bathrooms. Rubber flooring should be glued down and a membrane or waterproof layer should be applied before installation. Rubber flooring costs range between $2.50 and $20 per square foot.

Concrete flooring offers a modern, industrial feel. The cost to finish and seal concrete flooring is nominal if you’re already pouring concrete anyway. It can be finished with a variety of colors, stains, and textures. A textured finish is a good option in bathrooms to improve some slip resistance. Concrete flooring is cold on the feet, but that can be combated with heat mats or in-floor heat. Sweeping or damp mopping is all that is needed to keep it clean. Concrete flooring needs to be resealed periodically. The cost of concrete flooring is $2 to $5 per square foot.

Wood flooring is warm and classic. It is beautiful and feels good under the feet. However, wood flooring does not handle water well. The wood absorbs water quickly. One significant leak will mostly likely require the floor to be torn out. Wood is not an ideal choice in bathrooms where water is more likely to get on the floor, such as kids’ bathrooms, but may be an option in bathrooms with less traffic and water exposure. High-quality vent fans are a must with wood flooring. Wood flooring costs range from $2 to $10 per square foot. Engineered wood flooring is an alternative to solid wood flooring. Engineered wood consists of real wood backed by layers of plywood. It resists humidity better than solid wood and is less likely to cup or warm. It ranges in cost between $3 and $12 per square foot.

While you’re considering bathroom flooring options, also give thought using radiant heat flooring. Radiant heat flooring supplies heat through hot water tubes or electric wires installed beneath the flooring. It can be wired to a wall-mounted thermostat or set on a timer. Radiant heat flooring works well with many types of flooring, including tile, vinyl, stone, and concrete.

The experts at Mission Kitchen and Bath can help you select bathroom flooring that will give you the look you want with the durability you need.