It doesn't matter if you have a large or a small bathroom, making a good flooring choice is crucial for the entire feel and design of the room, as well as how functional it is. Considerations to keep in mind include how kid friendly it is, how it feels under bare feet, its durability, environmentally-friendly flooring options and the overall look of it.
Flooring to Avoid
Solid hardwood and carpet are two of the worst bathroom flooring choices. Carpet is a poor choice because it's not moisture-resistant and its fabric which has a tendency to get moldy in high moisture environments. Solid hardwood looks nice and also feels good under foot, but is not moisture-friendly. Moisture can cause it to warp especially if water sits on the surface and isn't instantly wiped, which is common in the bathroom. It's also easy for water to get between the gaps which can cause the planks to lift.
With a little effort carpet or hardwood bathroom flooring can work if you have your heart set on them.
Carpet should ideally be installed on a concrete subfloor. Unless the bathroom is in the basement, you should install a concrete backer subfloor. Choose low pile 100 percent olefin carpet with loop or needle-punch styles to reduce the amount of moisture the carpet can absorb. Use indoor/outdoor carpet adhesive that's resistant to water. Use bath mats on top of the carpet to absorb moisture. Purchase a wet-vac so you can quickly vacuum all puddles of water and moisture from the carpet surface.
Hardwood floors in the bathroom are never recommended by renovation experts, but if you insist on having them, make sure they're professionally installed. You want to make sure all the planks are as close together as possible with no gaps for water to seep into. Put a high-quality finish on the wood and clean up all spills as soon as possible. Be prepared for some warping regardless of how careful you are.
If you want real wood floor in the bathroom, consider engineered wood. It has a top layer of real wood and a plywood base that's holds up better against moisture than solid wood. It's important to make sure the planks are all very tightly installed together so there are no gaps.
This type of flooring is available in a variety of finishes to create any look you want. It's easy to clean because the top layer is made of clear melamine that's also water-resistant if this wear layer is of high enough quality. Some companies provide a warranty on their laminates of up to 30 years. But it's important to make sure this warranty isn't voided if the flooring is used in high moisture areas.
Be aware that laminate has a wood chip base so it's important for it to be installed correctly with no gaps otherwise moisture will cause the chip base to bubble and expand. Clean water or other liquid spills up immediately.
Vinyl is the most practical bathroom flooring choice. Avoid vinyl tiles. They are easier to transport home for the do-it-yourselfer, but the effort to make each tile align and adhere properly may not make the mobility of vinyl tiles worth it.
There are a variety of texturing and styles to make vinyl look the best it can. But for someone completing a higher end bathroom remodel, it doesn't matter how fancy vinyl looks. It's an inexpensive option and it looks and feels that way.
Ceramic tile is waterproof and affordable, but it can be labor intensive to install. The tiles need to be correctly positioned and the grout needs to be properly done otherwise water will get under the tiles. Choose textured tile so it's less slippery when wet. Another way to make a tile floor less slippery is to use smaller tiles so more of the floor is grout. Grout creates a non-skid surface. Choose radiant or heated tile if you're concerned about cold feet.
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