Flooring is an important consideration when you’re designing a bathroom, but it’s not always an easy one. When choosing a bathroom flooring material, you have to consider safety, cost, maintenance and aesthetic, and each type of flooring has its pros and cons.
Here’s what you need to know about the various types of bathroom flooring.
Marble is an increasingly popular material for bathroom flooring. It can make even the smallest bathrooms look grand.
The quality of marble varies hugely, so a lot depends on what kind of marble you buy. You’ll notice the difference if you get the high-grade stuff, but you can expect to pay a lot more for it.
Pros: Marble is…
- Created in all sorts of colours and designs, so it can work aesthetically whatever colour scheme you use in your bathroom.
- Warm. Because it’s a great conductor of heat, you can pair it with underfloor heating.
- Easy to replace. If a marble tile gets cracked, you can replace just that tile. You don’t need to fork out for a whole new bathroom floor.
Cons: Marble is…
- Easily scratched, and those scratches are difficult to repair. Once a marble tile gets damaged, you’ll probably have to buy a new one.
- Prone to discolouration. Acidic substances, such as common household cleaning products, can discolour marble tiles. The effect is permanent, so you should be careful how you clean and maintain a marble floor.
- Prone to water penetration.
- Tricky to install. If it’s not done properly, marble will crack, break or chip, so consider getting it installed by a professional. This will add to the overall cost.
- Slippery when polished, so it’s often not the best option if small children or the elderly use the bathroom.
- Expensive, compared to many other types of bathroom flooring.
Vinyl flooring is cheap, easy to maintain and durable. Replacing it can be a pain, but vinyl is one of the best bathroom flooring options if you’re on a budget.
Pros: Vinyl is…
- Low maintenance. Vinyl doesn’t need a lot of cleaning or looking after.
- Water resistant. Water won’t seep through a vinyl floor very easily.
- Warm in winter, so it’s not unpleasant to walk on in bare feet.
- Cheap – it’s one of the cheapest bathroom flooring materials available.
- Durable, often lasting for at least 20 years.
- Stain resistant. Cleaning vinyl with common household sprays won’t damage or discolour it.
- Easy to install. You don’t need to be a DIY expert to install vinyl, so you can save yourself a bit of money by not hiring a professional.
Cons: Vinyl is…
- Non-biodegradable. Vinyl’s not the best option for the environmentally conscious, because it’s difficult to recycle.
- Prone to yellowing with age. Although vinyl lasts a long time – usually at least 20 years before it starts to wear – it doesn’t look its best for all that time. As it ages, vinyl will turn yellow, which most homeowners find a bit ugly.
- Hard to repair. Although vinyl is durable and strong, it’s difficult to repair if anything does go wrong. In most cases, you’ll need to completely replace it.
Bamboo is an unusual choice of bathroom flooring. Its distinctive, stylish appearance gives it a unique appeal for many homeowners.
Practically, though, bamboo has its problems. So unless you’re really in love with the look, it’s not the best flooring for your bathroom.
Pros: Bamboo is…
- Stylish and unique. Bamboo creates a different look to any other type of bathroom flooring. So if you want to design a bathroom that really stands out, bamboo’s a good option.
- A good fit with most bathroom designs.
Cons: Bamboo is…
- Easily scratched. Bamboo can’t be refinished, and you can’t replace individual tiles. If your bamboo floor does get damaged, you’ll have to replace the entire thing.
- Not waterproof. Water can get between the tiles and damage the base of a bamboo floor, especially if puddles aren’t wiped up.
- Reshaped by humidity. The heat in a bathroom can cause a bamboo floor to expand and contract. This can open up gaps between the strips, increasing the likelihood of water getting through.
Cork is becoming an increasingly popular choice of bathroom floor material, largely because it’s an eco-friendly alternative to the likes of vinyl.
Pros: Cork is…
- Eco-friendly. Cork flooring is made from the outer bark of the cork oak tree. When this is stripped, it doesn’t damage the tree, and it grows back every decade or so. These sheets of cork are cured, boiled and pressed, and the scraps can be reused to make more, so nothing gets wasted.
- Warm underfoot, so you don’t have to worry about stepping onto a freezing cold surface in bare feet on a winter morning.
- Stylish. Cork gives your bathroom a warm, cosy look, which fits both modern and traditional bathroom designs.
- Mould-resistant, which, in the humid environment of your bathroom, is a great benefit.
Cons: Cork is…
- Expensive, compared to many other types of flooring.
- Tricky to install, because you have to work around the curved edges of bathtubs and toilets. Unless you’ve got a lot of DIY experience, it’s best to hire a professional, which adds to the cost of installation.
- Prone to discolouring, if exposed to direct sunlight.
- Not waterproof, but it should be fine if you add a polyurethane topcoat.
- In need of refinishing every 5 to 10 years.
Standard laminate flooring isn’t suitable for bathrooms, because it warps if it comes in regular contact with water.
However, you can get special bathroom laminate. As long you wipe away any puddles, this can be used in a bathroom without any problems.
Pros: Laminate is…
- Cheap, compared to other types of flooring.
- Easy to install, so, unless you’re really averse to DIY, you won’t need to hire someone to install it.
- Easy to clean, so you don’t need to buy any specialised cleaning sprays.
Cons: Laminate is…
- Less water resistant than other bathroom flooring materials. If puddles of water are left to stand, they’ll damage the joints of the laminate. Any water that gets on the floor needs to be wiped clean.
- Impossible to refinish. If you damage laminate flooring, you can’t refinish it, unlike other hardwood floors.
Carpeted isn’t the most fashionable bathroom flooring material, but it has its benefits.
Pros: Carpet is…
- Warm and comfortable underfoot, without the need for underfloor heating.
- Versatile, with a wide range of colours and styles for different bathroom designs.
Cons: Carpet is…
- Prone to water penetration. Without proper waterproofing, water can seep through the carpet and damage the floor.
- Prone to mildew and mould, which can be a major issue in the humid environment of a bathroom.
- Slippery, which is a worry if small children or the elderly use the room. However, you can buy special bathroom carpets that prevent slipping.
There are two types of porcelain flooring tiles: glazed and unglazed.
Although you don’t need to seal glazed tiles when you install them, they can easily become chipped or damaged. They’re also slippery. You can get a wider range of glazed tiles, making them more versatile in terms of fitting with particular bathroom designs.
Unglazed tiles, although safer and less likely to get damaged, take a lot more effort to install. You need to seal and grout them. If this isn’t done properly, there’s a good chance of the floor underneath being damaged by water. You also need to reseal them every few years; over time, the water will wear away the sealant.
Pros: Porcelain is…
- Easy to clean, as long as you avoid abrasive materials like scouring pads.
- Durable and long-lasting.
- Stylish, and you can get a wide range of tiles to suit the design of your bathroom.
Cons: Porcelain is…
- Cold underfoot. Many homeowners combine porcelain flooring with underfloor heating.
- One of the more expensive types of bathroom flooring.
- Difficult to install. Porcelain tiles have to work around curved bathroom furniture, so you’re better off getting a professional to install it. This can add to the cost of installation.
Ceramic is by some distance the most popular type of bathroom flooring. Although porcelain is a type of ceramic, the two are generally considered separate, and “ceramic” refers to ceramic tiles that aren’t made of porcelain.
Pros: Ceramic is…
- Cheaper than many other types of bathroom flooring.
- Made in all colours and styles, so it can fit any bathroom design.
- Very easy to maintain. The only maintenance ceramic tiles need is re-grouting.
Cons: Ceramic is…
- Prone to water absorption, compared to other materials like porcelain. However, you can easily offset this by giving your ceramic tiles a protective glaze.
- Not always suitable for wet rooms. This depends on the product. If you want to use ceramic tiles in a wet room, check that the product you’re buying is suitable before you make a purchase.