This article will help you to decide which flooring option is going to suit your bathroom installation project. It will consider factors such as cost, durability, suitability and ease of installation.
Bathroom tiles don’t attract dirt or give off odours & are easy to wipe clean.Tile grouts & silicons are available with anti-bacterial qualities.Non-allergenic
Floor tiles don’t harbour dust or mites like carpet so are a good choice for allergy sufferers and those with asthma.Durable
Tiles don’t fade and porcelain tiles will last longer that alternative options if laid correctly.Water resistant
Tiles can withstand the everyday splashes that come with a bathroom environment.Good value
If correctly installed, a tiled floor will last for years and years.
See my other articles for more information on tiling a bathroom floor.
Vast choice of bathroom tile designs & types – ceramic, porcelain, marble, slate etc.
Bathroom tiles can be cold underfoot – can be remedied by underfloor heating
Correct sub floor preparation is essential leading to higher material & installation costs than other alternatives.Texture
Some floor tiles can be slippery when wet – use special textured floor tiles to remedy this.Hard
Bathroom floor tiles are not recommended for those with joint problems.Unsympathetic
Very unsympathetic to sub-floors that deflect under load.
See Tiling on wooden floors – prep for more information.
Light coloured grouts on floors can become dirty quickly – use a darker grout if possible.
See my article on choosing tiles for your bathroom.
Typical price for 4m2 bathroom floor (supply & fit including subfloor preparation & grouting) £320+
Price is largely dependent on tiles chosen e.g. ceramic floor tiles start from £15/m2 and porcelain or stone tiles may be £35/m2 +. Then there is the costs of preparing the sub floor and laying the tiles to consider.
Ceramic tile flooring is usually the cheapest tiling option.
If using laminate, only ever use specially designed ‘for bathrooms’ laminates, and bear in mind the AC rating which goes from unrated (poor quality) to AC 5 (commercial grade excellent quality)
e.g. Quickstep Laguna & Aquastep
These laminates are easy to wipe clean & are mould resistant.Non-allergenic
Laminate doesn’t retain dust or mites like carpet so is a good choice for allergy sufferers and those with asthma.Water resistant
has sealed surfaces and rubber joints do deal with humidity issues.Aquastep
is made from resins (not wood) and boasts 0% swelling in moisture laden environments. This makes it the best choice for bathrooms in my opinion.Quick installation
Fitting both recommended laminates is a glue-less process, requiring no over-boarding, that allows both to be immediately walked on after fitting.
Aquastep can be installed immediately without having to acclimatise to current conditions and can be lifted and re-laid if necessary.
Bathroom laminate flooring is generally warmer underfoot than floor tiles.
Some can be used in conjunction with underfloor heating – check with the manufacturer.
Very contemporary design options are available e.g. ship-deck.
Aquastep can be fully recycled at the end of its natural life.
must be carefully fitted to ensure excess humidity does not cause damage e.g. joining & gluing of cut rubber strips to ensure water-tightness.Expensive
Comparable costs to tiled floors.Do not buy cheap laminates for bathrooms: It is a false economy as it will not last!Soundproofing
Transmits more sound to the rooms below than cork or vinyl floors but Aquastep
boasts 30% less sound transition due to its honeycomb internal structure when compared to other laminates.
100% water resistant flooring with 20 year warranty. Prices from £35/m2+ underlay & fitting.
Typical price for 4m2 bathroom floor (supply & fit including underlay) – £300+
Vinyl flooring (sheet vinyl)
Vinyls don’t attract dirt as they have no grout lines, and are easy to wipe clean.NB Smooth surface vinyls have less ‘grooves’ in which to trap dirt than textured surfaces often found in wood effect vinyls – bear this in mind if buying online and you don’t get to ‘feel’ the vinyl prior to buying.No specialist cleaners are required – only a soap solution and mop.Non-allergenic
Vinyls don’t harbour dust or mites like carpet so is a good choice for allergy sufferers and those with asthma.Waterproof
Vinyl flooring can withstand everyday splashes that come with a bathroom environment.Edges can be sealed against the skirting with clear silicon.
Cheapest bathroom floor covering to fit.
Quickest floor to fit, can be immediately walked on.
Vinyl flooring is generally warmer underfoot than tiles with no additional heat source.
Many design options available from tiled to wooden floor effects
This means you can have the look of wood without any of the practical limitations associated with it (and for much less money).
Vinyls’ soft nature reduces the transmission of sound to the rooms below.
Not as durable
Bathroom vinyl flooring can be damaged by dropped items or stiletto heels.Aesthetics
Not seen as desirable when compared to some tiles due to cheaper nature.Tramlines can appear through the vinyl if the floorboards underneath are not levelled out by nailing down hardboard prior to fitting.Fading
Cheaper vinyls can fade. Check this when buying.
Typical price for 4m2 bathroom floor (supply &fit including over-boarding with hardboard) – £140+
For the purposes of this article I have not included vinyl tiles as I believe them to be cheap and not fit for purpose as any moisture leaching into the gaps between the tiles can cause problems.
Rubber bathroom flooring can also be fitted in a similar way to vinyl but prices start at £50/m2 + fitting, and it is recommended that floors need to be over-boarded with plywood 1st to give a smooth surface. www.therubberflooringcompany.co.uk
Cork flooring is environmentally friendly due to the way cork is harvested.Hygienic & safe
Hypo-allergenic, fire & mould resistant.Water resistant
IF finished with a high quality lacquer (done at the manufacturing stage.)Aesthetics
Many design options available.Comfortable
Softer & warmer underfoot than tiles – dropped items won’t smash, and will benefit those with joint pains or arthritis.
Similar to laminate flooring – some are also glued down.
Many contemporary designs now available.
20 year warranty on better floors (often thicker – 10mm rather than 4mm).
Cork flooring’s soft nature reduces the transmission of sound to the rooms below.
Floorboards should be over-boarded with 6mm ply prior to fitting.Maintenance
Special cleaners / sealers needed to keep the lacquer in top condition.
Typical price for 4m2 bathroom floor (supply & fit including over-boarding with 6mm ply) – £260
Carpet retains bathroom moisture and can rot and smell.
Carpet around a toilet is also not hygienic, particularly when males are present, and is harder to keep clean.
Consider cork or vinyl instead for a warm, soft feel or gel backed carpets as a last resort.
Solid wood flooring
Moisture or spills in your bathroom will cause a solid wood to expand and contract leading to buckling and floor failure – Use wood effect vinyls or bathroom specific laminates such as Aquastep instead.
These are not designed for humid bathroom environments!
Only use recommended bathroom laminates such as Quickstep Laguna or preferably Aquastep, and familiarise yourself with the pros and cons of these.
This is what happens to ‘standard’ laminates when water gets into them:
As you can see there are a myriad of choices for bathroom flooring, so just decide on what is most important to you (i.e. budget, longevity, aesthetics) and use this comparison article to refine your choice.
If you have recently renewed your bathroom flooring and would like to leave a comment that you think could help other readers, then please leave it below.
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