Bathroom flooring gets a lot of demands placed on it. So the one you choose has to be up to the task.
Splashed water, shower spray and bath over-spill can all soak the floor. And this can cause havoc with the surface especially if it is not designed to cope with high levels of moisture.
Incorporating Flooring Into Your Bathroom Design
The flooring can have a big effect on the look of your bathroom. Most UK bathrooms are relatively small therefore you have to try and keep the decoration light and bright. But it is possible to opt for darker colours in this area because the floor is low down and out of your main line of site.
The two main flooring designs tend to be either a stone effect or a wood grain effect. Stone can include many different natural styles. Marble, slate, sandstone or travertine are all popular choices. Woodgrains can have realistic, natural effects or emulate treated timber e.g. limed oak.
And you are not restricted to one type of material. There are ceramic tiles that look like wood and vinyl flooring that looks like tiles.
So we would recommend choosing the material that suits you best first and then choosing the design and colour.
Which Is The Best Flooring For A Bathroom?
There is no easy answer to this as there are various different materials and each material comes with its own set of positives and negatives.
There are dozens of different flooring materials so we will just deal with the main categories. We will look at each one in in more detail. The main ones are:
- ceramic tiles
- carpet tiles
- laminate flooring
- solid wood flooring
We have an article on our blog on this very subject – click here to read more
Ceramic Floor Tiles
Ceramic floor tiles are one of the most popular forms of covering for bathrooms.
They are hard wearing, relatively cheap and there is huge choice. They work best on solid masonry floors. But they have some downsides.
Ceramic floor tiles are cold underfoot and can be slippery when wet. They need a very flat, solid surface to fix to. Wooden floors need to be levelled. They also need to have a tile backer board fixed to them because wood expands at a different rate to ceramic. The tiles and grout can crack without this.
If you have wooden floors then you might want to consider some alternatives. Grout does not cope well with movement and will crack or fail under such conditions.
Tiles can be made from porcelain or natural stone as well as ceramic but they all perform similarly.
Vinyl flooring has always proved a popular choice with homeowners.
It is purchased off a roll so you can have one continuous piece of flooring with no joins. And the material itself is 100% waterproof. This makes it ideal for bathroom because there will always be spills from showers and baths.
The material is soft and relatively thin. The floor must be perfectly smooth underneath otherwise any imperfections will show through. Large sheets of hardboard are regularly used to cover floorboards to provide the smooth backing.
There is a huge choice of designs including tile and wood effects. Vinyl flooring can also be slippery when wet but some non-slip versions are available.
Carpet is not the most practical of coverings for a bathroom floor.
First of all, it is not waterproof. This is a major downside as however careful you are it is going to get wet. And when carpet gets wet it can start to smell musty. It is not really practical to have carpet around a toilet area either for similar reasons.
There are special grades of carpet designed for bathrooms to help try and alleviate some of these issues. And carpet does have the great advantage of being warm underfoot. It is also cheap and easy to fit.
You could budget to replace the carpet regularly. Bathrooms are quite small so you only need a small amount for most rooms. Taking the old carpet out and using it as a template will make installing a replacement carpet very easy indeed.
Carpet tiles suffer from the same basic problem as carpet. They are not really waterproof and can smell musty if they get damp. Carpet tiles can be taken up and cleaned separately so this is an advantage over standard carpet.
Many carpet tiles are rubber backed. This means that they do not let water through the tile readily but they are placed next to each other so the joins are a weak spot.
Laminate is used throughout the home because it looks good and is relatively easy to install. Each plank has a tongue and grooved edge. The plank then slots into the next and clicks into place. But most laminate flooring is not recommended for bathrooms.
Laminate flooring uses a plywood or MDF core. This will get damaged if it comes into contact with water. Some are more resistant to this than others but even the best will struggle with repeated soakings. And this happens in bathrooms quite frequently.
The planks will swell up if water gets into the core. This pushes the joints apart and can lead to delamination.
Some laminate flooring is available with a PVC core. These are perfectly suited to use in bathrooms as they are unaffected by water. They are not, however, waterproof so cannot be used in a wet room. Some examples of this type of PVC flooring and the joints can be seen below.
Solid Wood Flooring
Another type of flooring that has always been popular around the home. Solid wood flooring has a real sense of luxury about it. But, again, it is not ideally suited to bathrooms.
There is one exception – bamboo flooring. Bamboo is not actually a wood although it has many of the qualities of a hardwood floor. It is very hard, very solid, is easily shaped and is hard wearing but it has one quality that wood does not – it is unaffected by water.