Bathroom Flooring Options | Info, Advice & Everything You Need To Know
Are you really tired of staring at dingy grout or cracked and chipped flooring in your bathroom? It is time to get rid of that outdated look and breathe some fresh air into one of the busiest rooms in your home. But what type of flooring is right for your budget and family, and what types of bathroom flooring options are there?
In this post, I’ll go over the pros and cons of all the most popular bathroom flooring options so you can make a more informed decision.
Let’s get into it!
Things To Consider Before Deciding On The Right Bathroom Flooring
You may not look at your bathroom floors every day, since you often ignore the cold tiles the first thing in the morning. But before you buy flooring that looks awesome, make sure that it will perform as needed in your home.
If somebody lives in the house that is unsteady on their feet, you will want a non-slip floor. Kids are more prone to excessive splashing, so their bathroom should have thoroughly waterproof floors. Do you live in an old home with an unknown structure supporting the upstairs? You may want to avoid heavy stone tiles that add to the weight of the first floor.
Is this your dream master suite? As a responsible adult, you can make a choice that is less durable and provides a decorative accent to the space. For the shared bathroom used by the entire family and guests, a tougher product such as ceramic tile should be the highest on your list.
Are you installing underfloor heating? Some tiles are better suited to hold and radiate warmth while wood may dry, crack, or warp.
Sometimes, spending a little extra on a tough floor material that is proven to last for decades makes a better return on your investment compared to something pretty that will wear out after five or ten years.
Have a think about who is using the bathroom and what you want out of your bathroom flooring before you fall in love with something that won’t match your needs.
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Best Bathroom Flooring Options
All of these flooring options are long-lasting and will perform above expectations in your bathroom.
Porcelain And Ceramic Tiles
Both porcelain and ceramic tiles are made out of clay and then fired in a kiln, producing an incredibly durable flooring option. If installed properly and maintained, they can last 50 years or longer. Ceramic tiles are still being found in Roman villas unearthed after being buried for 2000 years.
You can find them in a huge array of colours, patterns, and textures. Some ceramic tiles are extremely affordable while hand-painted porcelain can be one of the priciest options for a luxury bathroom. They can be finished in a high gloss, that can be slippery when wet, or installed without glaze for better traction. You can order them from almost any home improvement store or online.
Average Pricing: £20 to £100 per square meter
Installation Considerations: Installation costs average between £200 and £700 depending on the size and intricacy of the job. Laying the floor can take several days. The floor must be levelled, apply a layer of mortar, install the tiles, and allow the mortar to dry. Grout is added to the seams after the mortar is set, and there is dry time for the grout, too.
Top Tip: I always recommend installing the floor across the entire room. Wall to wall. Rather than cutting around sanitaryware. This way, you future-proof the bathroom. As, if you ever need to replace sanitaryware and it’s a different size or wall hung, you won’t have any gaps or holes in your flooring.
- Extremely durable
- Endless design options
- Materials available for budget-friendly renos and opulent spas
- Good for underfloor heating
- Can be slippery when wet
- The tile can be cracked, or it can break items dropped on it
- Requires professional time-consuming installation
Stone introduces a unique, natural feel to your bathroom renovation. You can find tiles in marble, granite, slate, soapstone–almost any type of stone used in other types of construction and art. When laid properly, the floor can last forever. The stone should be sealed to prevent discolouration and cracks.
It is one of the pricier options, and you will not have a uniform pattern on your floor. Stone floors are very hard and unless they have underfloor heating, will be cool on your toes. But the beauty of a stone floor can be worth the time and money. It is also heavy, so not a great idea for upper floor bathrooms.
Average Pricing: £18 to £100/ sq. m
Installation Considerations: Installation costs, time, and materials are similar to ceramic floor tiles. Make sure to order enough tile for the entire project plus 10% for future repairs as matching tile can be much harder compared to other types of tile.
- Rich, natural appearance
- Every installation is unique–there is no duplication with stone
- Extremely durable
- Works well with underfloor heating
- Requires regular sealing to protect the appearance
- Very hard–kids can get injured if they slip and fall
- Difficult to repair if a tile is damaged
- Requires lengthy professional installation
Vinyl floor tiles or rolls are the 21st-century answer to affordable, functional, and attractive flooring needs. They can look like a stone tile, wood grain, or fun designer patterns. It is easy enough to install so that you can dress up your bathroom floor in a single day.
If you spend a little extra and precisely follow the installation instructions, expect your vinyl floor to last up to 25 years. It is water-resistant and even features a slight cushion, so that trip and falls result in fewer bruises. If you are looking to freshen up your bathroom on a budget, vinyl floors are a great choice!
Average Pricing: £10 to £60/sq. m
Installation Considerations: Vinyl floors are glued to an underlayment–whether that is wood boards or a concrete subfloor. The subfloor must be completely flat for best adhesion, so you may need to use a self-levelling compound before you begin. Some tiles are peel and stick, while others require you to apply the adhesive. Professional installation will only take a few hours and the floor is ready for immediate use.
- Easy to install
- Ready to use within hours
- Available in a wide range of designer looks
- Soft underfoot and safer for little knees
- The vinyl surface can be scratched or damaged
- Difficult to repair or replace a damaged tile
- Not suitable for underfloor heating
Laminate floors look nearly identical to vinyl floors, but they vary in construction. They feature a base structure that is topped by a tough flooring surface designed to look like stone or tile. Laminates tend not to be as waterproof as vinyl tiles but are available in a waterproof option.
You can get the look of hardwood flooring without worrying about water damage. Laminates are designed to last from 10 to 25 years depending on the brand. Laminates are almost as easy to install as vinyl and can cost even less. Ultimately, you get what you pay for this type of flooring.
Average Pricing: £5 to £25/ sq. m
Installation Considerations: Laminates can be installed as a floating floor or using adhesives. The adhesive approach is better for bathrooms to prevent water from getting under the tiles. Installation goes fairly quickly with most floors going down in less than a day. The average cost for labour runs between £150 to £600 for the bathroom floor.
- Low Price
- Easy to install
- Mimics the look of wood or stone
- Does not last as long as vinyl
- Not the best for use over underfloor heating
- Some laminates are not waterproof
So, you absolutely love the look and feel of real wood, but that is usually not recommended for a bathroom. Engineered wood gives you the option of a product that is better able to withstand the constant changes in moisture levels and heat associated with bathrooms.
Engineered wood is built on layers of wood fibres that run in multiple directions, giving it strength and resistance to moisture. The top features an inlay of real wood, so you get the look of oak, bamboo, or mahogany without the cost. Wood is wonderful under the toes in the morning, is less likely to be damaged if you drop something on it, and its finish can be maintained for years.
Average Pricing: £30 to £100/sq m
Installation Considerations: Expect to pay an additional £10 to £30 per square metre for installation services on top of the cost of the materials. It can be nailed down like a traditional wood floor, glued to a concrete subfloor, or snapped together as a floating floor. The adhesive method is recommended for bathroom installations.
- Luxurious appearance and feel
- Long-lasting when installed properly
- Complements vintage or modern decor
- Expensive material
- Is not truly waterproof
Are you looking for an eco-friendly, affordable, and easy to install flooring choice? Rubber flooring goes down much like vinyl using adhesive. It is naturally water-resistant, provides a great grip for your toes, and offers a softer surface for the kids.
Rubber flooring is typically designed for gyms, garages, and other workspaces. There are not as many decor choices compared to other floor materials. However, when you look for a green brand, it is made using old tires, reducing the impact on the environment for building materials.
Average Pricing: £40 to £90/sq m
Installation Considerations: Due to the unique nature of rubber, it can take up to a week to have a rubber floor installed as the floor and adhesive require consistent temperature and humidity in order to cure. While tiles are a fairly easy DIY, you may be happier calling in a professional if you opt for a rolled rubber floor. The subfloor must be completely flat and spotless before installation.
- Eco-friendly flooring product
- Soft on the feet
- Works with underfloor heating
- Lasts up to 20 years
- Limited colours available
- Lengthy installation may slow down your renovation
- Expensive for a DIY project
One of the hottest trending looks for home decor with an industrial vibe is polished concrete. It is the ultimate bathroom flooring choice as it’s waterproof and nearly impervious to damage. You can add coloured flecks to the final coat to give it texture and interest while the polishing motion creates a lively appearance.
It is the most pricey flooring option available and the process from pouring to polishing can take weeks. If you are refinishing a ground floor bathroom with a concrete subfloor, it is possible to refinish the floor to a polished shine.
Average Pricing: £110 to £160/sq m
Installation Considerations: You will need a professional installer to get the polished concrete floor of your dreams. The bathroom will be out of commission for an extended period, so make other plans for your daily bathing routine. While concrete works well with in-floor heating, if you ever have a problem with the heating, you are looking at an expensive repair.
- Nearly indestructible floor
- Easy to care for
- Pricey flooring option
- Limited colour and decor choices
- Difficult to remove
- Heavy–not suitable for upper floor bathrooms
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Flooring Options Not Suitable For A Bathroom
If you see a floor that you absolutely love, take a moment to decide whether it is an appropriate floor for a bathroom. Some are just the wrong choice.
Wood is not water-resistant. Over time, it absorbs the moisture left behind by your morning shower. This will cause the wood to swell, crack, discolour, and rot.
Wall-to-wall carpeting will always absorb water and trap it in the pad where mould and smells will take over. If you must have something soft under your toes, use an area rug that can be tossed in the washing machine as needed.
There you have it! The pros, cons, considerations and everything you need to know when looking at bathroom flooring options.
There’s no right or wrong answer (except hardwood and carpet) each bathroom flooring option has its advantages and disadvantages and will ultimately come down to what best fits your lifestyle, look and budget.
So, which bathroom flooring option will you go for?
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Michael is a KBB designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom installations for over eight years now, and before that, he was an electrician and part of a KBB fitting team. He created The Bathroom Blueprint in early 2020.