When considering flooring, hardwood is usually the option that most people think of as the ideal. However, in a bathroom, hardwood can actually be a bad choice because the moisture in the air, as well as the water that ends up on the floor. Both can damage hardwood flooring. Therefore, you need to look to other alternatives and pick the one that is right for your needs, budget, and your aesthetic preferences.

Cartoon Interior with Bathroom Highlighted image via Floors For Your Home

image via https://www.floorstoyourhome.com


Bathroom Flooring Options

First, let’s run through the most popular types of flooring in the bathroom. Homeowners actually choose from a wide range of options because there are so many great products out there that have made technological advances in recent years.

  • Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile flooring is the most common type of bathroom flooring in older homes, because it’s been around for a long time and is relatively easy to install and clean in an environment like a bathroom. If you go this route, you will want to choose a non-porous ceramic tile so water doesn’t seep through it and causing damage. One fun way to make a ceramic tile bathroom more interesting is to use colored grout for a different look.

  • Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is one of the least expensive and easiest to install options for bathroom flooring. It comes in a variety of types, most notably sheets and tiles. They are both easy to install on your own and the tiles are easy to replace independently if needed.

See this article, for example, where I installed my own Checkerboard Vinyl Tile.

  • Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring has a variety of materials pressed together to make a very durable flooring. In fact, many types of laminate look like hardwood, but are not actually made of wood. They last longer and are more water-resistant, making this an ideal choice if you want the look of hardwood without the headaches that can come with it.

For tips on installing laminate flooring, see this article – 5 Tips for Installing Laminate Flooring.

  • Natural Stone Tile

Natural stone tile flooring is a great choice if you like the look and feel of natural stone.  It is a very durable option for the bathroom. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before going for this option. First, it can be slippery, so you will need a stone tile that does not have a particularly smooth finish.  Second, it is generally quite cold, so you’ll want to have a thick, cozy rug to keep warm during the winter. Last, it is heavy, so you need to have a strong structure to hold it up.

  • Bamboo

Bamboo flooring is an alternative to hardwood that has two major benefits. First, because bamboo grows so quickly, it is more environmentally friendly than hardwood. Second, it is a very dense type of flooring and is generally less susceptible to water damage than hardwood.

  • Cork

Cork flooring is another type of flooring that has gained popularity recently because it is renewable. Many people like the feel of cork under their feet because it is softer than most types of hard bathroom floors. It is also naturally mold and mildew resistant, which helps keep it in good condition in a bathroom.

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Our contributor Lisa Smith wrote about Installing Cork Flooring in her own bath.

  • Carpet

Carpet is actually a viable option for the bathroom, provided you choose the right type. For the bathroom, it needs to be mold and mildew resistant and have a waterproof backing so water can’t seep through the carpet onto the layers of insulation below. Some of the major perks of carpet are that it’s warm and cozy under bare feet and it doesn’t get slippery when wet. Therefore, you won’t need to add rugs on top of it to stay cozy and safe in your bathroom.

Tips for Picking the Right Flooring

Now that you know what choices you have, it’s time to make a decision for what you want to use in your bathroom. Here are some ways to help make the decision easier.

  • Evaluate your budget to decide whether to go for low-end or high-end flooring. In general, vinyl and laminate flooring will be the least expensive, followed by carpet, ceramic tile, natural stone tile, bamboo, and cork. Of course, the cost will vary depending on whether you opt for basic or higher-quality materials in each category.
  • Consider installation, in particular, whether you can do it yourself. Tile takes a notoriously long time to install, whereas vinyl is incredibly easy to install on your own. If you cannot install the flooring yourself, this will add to the cost when you hire a contractor to do the work.
  • Look at and touch the types of flooring you are considering. Each of them has a unique appearance, and you want the one that will match the look you want for your bathroom. In addition, you want to feel them to help pick the one that you want under your feet every time you brush your teeth or step out of the shower.


Editor’s Note: Whatever flooring you pick for the bathroom, you should consider how slip resistant the material is. To read more about this factor with tile, our article – Safe Tile. For more selecting flooring for a bathroom, here’s another article on the topic from HGTVChoosing Bathroom Flooring. Cheers. ~jb