When choosing the right flooring material for your bathroom, it's important to consider your style, budget, and lifestyle. This simple guide to popular materials can help you narrow the choices.
Tile: One of the most popular flooring options for bathrooms is ceramic tile. It offers a clean and classic look that's also extremely durable, waterproof, and stain-resistant. To avoid slip-and-fall accidents in the bathroom, it's smart to choose a tile that is certified slip-resistant. On the downside, tile is cold underfoot unless installed over a radiant floor heating system, which is a smart investment in a bathroom where it's important to keep bare feet warm. Also, tile can be tricky to install for even seasoned DIYers.
Vinyl: One of the most budget-friendly floorings available, vinyl is easy to clean, waterproof, and stain-proof. Choosing a top-quality sheet vinyl (rather than peel-and-stick tiles) will reduce seams where water can seep under. A felt or foam backing makes vinyl softer than wood or tile, which is helpful in bathrooms where slip-and-fall accidents are common on wet floors. Experienced DIYers can tackle vinyl installation, but professional help is advised for large bathrooms that will require piecing seams.
Cork: Made from bark, cork is a highly renewable resource and great for the environment. It is resistant to mold and mildew and is water resistant -- perfect for a bathroom. A polyurethane topcoat will protect the floors from minor spills (the floor should be resealed every few years to protect against moisture). Glue-down tiles, which come finished or unfinished, are perfect for above-grade applications, but click-in-place planks should be used for below-grade bathrooms. To prevent water seeping between gaps, it's best to choose unfinished cork and finish the floor on-site. Installation can be tricky and is best left to a professional.
Bamboo: Made from a highly sustainable resource, bamboo is eco-friendly and also easy on the budget, costing as little as half the price of hardwood floors. In the bathroom, the smart choice is engineered bamboo (rather than solid bamboo) because the planks are extremely durable and ideal for wet environments. They are also simple to install and damaged pieces can be replaced easily.
Wood/laminate: A timeless choice that rarely loses popularity, hardwood floors create a warm and classic look in the bathroom. Engineered wood, which is made of real wood veneer backed by plywood, resists humidity better than solid wood and is a smart choice in a damp space. There are also many prefinished options that withstand heavy foot traffic and are water resistant. Budget-friendly laminate gives the look of wood but is actually a photographic image sandwiched between two wear layers. The material is exceptionally scratch and stain resistant. When considering wood, know that water doesn't play well with these materials; one big water-line leak can cause serious and expensive damage.