When choosing bathroom flooring, remember that the bath is the site of heavy traffic and the occasional tub overflow. Remember, too, that slips in the bathroom are a major cause of home injuries. Look for a durable material that is both beautiful and slip-resistant.
Properly installed, tile is one of the most durable flooring materials. It's the most popular choice for bathrooms because it's waterproof, easy to maintain, and stain-resistant. Ceramic tile is available in a wide range of sizes, shapes, and colors, and comes plain or decorated, glazed or matte. Tile has some drawbacks, however. It's hard and cool underfoot, and without a textured surface it can be slippery when wet. Laying a tile floor can be a good do-it-yourself project, although it requires patience and care.
Vinyl resilient flooring is soft underfoot, yet stands up to heavy traffic and resists water penetration. Vinyl is available in sheet and tile form and in an array of colors, patterns, and textures. Tiles are sold in 9- and 12-inch-square units that are easy for do-it-yourselfers to handle. Sheet vinyl requires skill to install well and is best left to the pros.
The costliest surfacing material, marble provides a smooth, classic covering for floors. It comes in a variety of colors and can have either a polished or satin finish. Marble is durable but can be slippery when wet, so think twice before using it in or around showers and tubs. You can purchase marble in large, thin slabs or in smaller tiles. Slab marble is difficult to install, and its weight may require reinforcing the structure beneath. Check with a professional before choosing marble.
Though it's comfortable underfoot, carpet is vulnerable to stains and mildew. As a rule, carpet is more practical in dressing and grooming areas of the bathroom than in wet areas.
Wood floors are common in bathrooms, even though the potential for moisture damage is high. If your heart is set on a wood floor, be sure it's well-coated with a urethane finish to protect against moisture penetration. Avoid wood planks that have beveled edges, as these form water-collecting grooves.