New construction and remodels each have things in common. Part of the process is choosing and installing a floor for your rooms. In the bathroom, the choice is more difficult than it may appear at first.
Bathrooms are considered wet areas, and as such you must select a flooring that can handle getting wet and constant foot traffic. This article will examine the best bathroom flooring options with ideas, reviews and comparisons.
Best Waterproof Bathroom Flooring Materials
- 1 Best Waterproof Bathroom Flooring Materials
- 2 Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Right Flooring for Bathrooms
- 3 Best Flooring for a Bathroom, Reviewed and Compared
- 4 Care and Maintenance of Bathroom Floors
- 5 Bathroom Flooring Costs by Type
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
- 7 Conclusion
- LVP (Stone-plastic core). Easy to install, waterproof and durable. Luxury Vinyl is hard to beat.
- Engineered hardwood. With proper installation and care, this floor can last a long time.
- LVP (Wood-plastic core). Not as durable as SPC vinyl, but still has all the other benefits.
- Ceramic & Porcelain Tile. Always waterproof, super durable but difficult to install.
- Laminate planks. While not waterproof, the water-resistant styles offer comfort and durability.
- Natural Stone. Luxurious, beautiful and hard to install. Worth it, though, if you can afford it.
- Waterproof Carpet. Yes, it is real. Real soft, real warm and really waterproof.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Right Flooring for Bathrooms
When choosing the right flooring for your bathroom, you need to take a moment and consider various factors. Below, we outline those factors and explain why they are important to think about.
When looking at any flooring solution the size of your home (in square footage) is generally the one measurement you need the most. In just the bathroom, though, you may not think much about it.
The square foot size of your bathroom is still an important measurement to have handy. It will tell you how much material you need, and if professional installation is worth the cost or not.
Amount of Use
Foot traffic is generally considered when dealing with hallways, entryways and living spaces. The bathroom gets a different kind of traffic though. There isn’t a lot of walking around but there is standing, and sometimes for long periods.
You want your floor to be comfortable for standing as well as stepping on (from out of the tub or into the room barefoot, etc.).
Flooring options are becoming more and more DIY friendly. Smaller sections, easier installation methods and less use of glues or grout. Because of this, you can save a lot of money by installing the flooring yourself.
Additional Tools or Materials Needed
Many flooring options like vinyl and laminate don’t need much to install. Many come with their own underlayment and can float over any flooring that is already in place.
However, tiles, hardwood and other options will need some additional materials. You also need to check the subfloor and ensure it is level, sound and without major cracks or damage.
You also need to consider water sealants, grout, proper install tools and equipment. If you don’t already have these tools and materials, you will need to add them to your budget.
Most flooring options will have a warranty, though what is actually covered can change. For example, all floors are warrantied until they are installed. This covers damage to the tiles, planks or boards from shipping or storage.
Once installed, though, you won’t be able to make a claim on a broken plank. However, many warranties will cover peeling, cracking or other factors that shouldn’t happen under normal use.
The cost of the flooring is only part of your budget allotment. Installation, materials, tools and other costs all play a part. You need to understand the total cost and where you can save money, or need to spend a little more for quality or performance.
Best Flooring for a Bathroom, Reviewed and Compared
Here, we will review and compare the best bathroom flooring options. Each one is thoroughly explained so you know what to expect and what is involved when making your purchase.
Stone-Plastic Core LVP
Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP) comes in two basic composites. All vinyl is synthetic, but the SPC, or stone-plastic core, is a durable, rigid and damage-resistant type. While it is made more for commercial applications, the density is making it viable for home use, too.
Because the core is so strong, it can withstand heavy furniture, high foot traffic and even daily cleaning. Made to withstand thousands of feet and shopping carts, strollers and pallet jacks on a daily basis, it will have no problem with your daily bathroom use.
LVP is also 100% waterproof (when installed correctly) which means it can hold up to slashing from the tub, a leaking pipe or even full wet mops while cleaning.
Speaking of cleaning, maintenance is fairly low with LVP. A sweep and a mop every once in a while is all you really need to upkeep appearances. However, due to the wear layer composition, using harsh chemicals while mopping, such as bleach, can lead to a dulling of the planks.
To avoid this, you should only clean with cleaners approved by the manufacturer or simply use plain, warm water. There also isn’t a need to manually dry the flooring after a mop, unless you get the floor too wet.
LVP is also known for it’s simple DIY installation. However, installing in a bathroom should take a bit more skill. While the process is still simple, you will need to cut more of the planks than normal and at angles or directions aside from straight across.
Because the stone-plastic core isn’t truly designed for this, it can cause microfractures in the core layer. If this happens the planks affected may not hold their waterproof capabilities, or can end up breaking more when being walked on, causing you to reinstall new planks in their place.
If, however, you are patient, installation is affordable, since most LVP comes with an underlayment already attached. With no real extra materials needed, you can save a lot of money with a DIY install.
|100% waterproof options||Designed for commercial applications|
|Wide variety of styles and colors||Core can break during installation|
|DIY install possible|
|Affordable for all budgets|
When you read about hardwood floors you will find that they are the only true flooring option that raises the value of the home. While engineered hardwood planks aren’t going to do that, they can do something natural hardwood planks cannot. They can be made waterproof.
If you opt for higher end planks, engineered hardwood planks can form a water-tight seal on top. Coupled with a moisture or vapor barrier underneath and a waterproof sealant, these planks make a warm, comfortable bathroom flooring option.
Most engineered hardwood has a wood core, so it is essential you take as many waterproofing precautions as possible. It is also imperative that you clean up any water as soon as possible. This is the only downside to installing engineered hardwood planks in your bathroom.
However, that alone is enough reason for most people and brands to advise against it. We believe, though, that if you are willing to take the time to understand the care and maintenance of engineered hardwood, it makes a solid choice for bathroom floors.
Hardwood is durable, hardy and looks great. It also maintains warmth so you aren’t walking on a cold floor first thing in the morning. On top of that, with the styles and colors available, they will fit any décor you have in mind.
Installation is simple with these planks, like it is with LVP or laminate. You will need a moisture barrier, as mentioned above, and a waterproof sealant on the top. You also need to understand that wet mopping is out of the question as it can ruin the planks quickly.
Manual drying may be in order, but the planks will withstand daily sweeping or even vacuum use. This makes cleanup quick and easy and the occasional mopping won’t hurt your schedule or the planks, just keep the amount of water used to a minimum and dry as you go.
|DIY install||Not as waterproof as LVP|
|Many styles, colors and wood types available||Maintenance is a little high|
|Maintains warmth||Damaged planks are difficult to repair or replace|
|Sturdy and durable for many years of use|
|Made from real wood not just photos|
Wood-Plastic Core LVP
Unlike the stone-plastic core LVP mentioned in this list, wood-plastic core, or WPC, is an option designed for residential applications. The planks hold all of the benefits of the other LVP but aren’t quite as durable or long lasting.
In your home, though, you may not notice. Each style will offer long warranties, including some brands with a lifetime guarantee. The subtle difference here is in how strong the planks are. WPC planks aren’t designed for heavy daily use.
In your bathroom, though, this won’t be a problem. As one of the most visited rooms in the home, the bathroom actually receives little traffic. This makes LVP and its waterproof capabilities an ideal solution for bathrooms.
Like the SPC counterpart, WPC planks are a DIY install that takes little time and can be performed by almost anyone. Unlike the SPC planks, these aren’t as vulnerable to core cracking when being cut at weird angles or directions.
WPC is also slightly cheaper so you can add that value to your budget costs when shopping for the exact brand and style of LVP planks.
|Easiest flooring to install||Not the strongest option on the list|
|100% waterproof||Cannot easily repair damaged planks|
|Inexpensive even with professional install costs|
|Free floating design|
Ceramic and Porcelain Tile
Ceramic and porcelain tile is easily one of the most popular choices for bathrooms and other wet areas. While it isn’t the easiest option to install, it is one of the cheapest materials and the tiles are always waterproof.
Because the waterproof properties aren’t diminished by install, improper or incomplete, it makes an ideal solution in bathrooms. The problem is that both porcelain and ceramic are cold almost at all times, and can become uncomfortable underfoot.
Installation is generally left to professionals. The tiles need to be cut, shaped, smoothed and need a skilled, steady hand. While DIY installs are possible, if you plan to use intricate designs, it is worth the added cost for professional installation.
Unlike most other floor types, though, the various colors, shapes, sizes and patterns on tiles can make for unique and self-designed floors. You can potentially create intricate and detailed designs by using different colors and styles of tiles. This is a unique trait to tiles over other floor options.
Aside from the cold, hard feel underfoot and the difficult install, tiles make some of the best bathroom flooring solutions out there.
|Easiest care and maintenance||Professional install only|
|Always 100% waterproof||Cold and hard underfoot|
|Among cheapest material|
Laminate isn’t as viable or popular for bathrooms as maybe it should be. Laminate isn’t waterproof and can only ever be water-resistant. With a wood pulp core, similar to pressed plywood, it eagerly and readily absorbs any moisture in the area.
As you can tell, this may pose a problem when installed in one of the highest humidity rooms in the home. However, laminate planks are highly affordable, easy to install and can be made waterproof enough to withstand your bathroom.
This will take a little extra work and materials, though, which does add to the cost. A moisture barrier underneath is required, and a good sealant on top after the install is complete is also a good idea.
You can skip the sealant if you purchase a high-quality brand of laminate. Many manufacturers now add waterproofing measure to the top layers of laminate planks. Once they are installed, the wear layer forms a water-tight barrier that prevents absorption from the top.
With the extra measures in place, laminate makes a decent option for bathrooms. You will need to take care when cleaning and performing maintenance. Laminate isn’t the strongest flooring option (for any room) and is easily scratched, dented and damaged.
Repairs are near impossible on laminate planks, so you will need to have excess planks on hand for replacements. While laminate does have a lot of negative aspects for bathroom installs, there is a place for it.
Guest bathrooms and smaller bathrooms may benefit from the cheap flooring solution. This is especially true for half-baths where there is less chance for excess water or leakage.
|Simple DIY installation||Extra water protection needed|
|Affordable solution for smaller bathrooms||Laminate scratches easily|
|Multiple styles and colors available||Not ideal for all wet area installs|
Natural stone is one of the most aesthetically pleasing options out there. The natural beauty of the stone cannot be ignored. However, it also has the highest costs and requires professional installation.
If natural stone falls inside your budget, you won’t be disappointed with the purchase. Stone can be used over radiant heating to offset the cold feeling and while it isn’t as giving or flexible as LVP or laminate, it is still comfortable underfoot.
One thing to note, though, is that wet stone can become slippery. To combat this, there are textured stone options that can add grip and traction. The bad news, though, is that stone must be professionally installed. Each stone needs to be cut and requires special tools and expert hands.
Because stone can be etched, textured or treated, it also requires near constant cleaning and maintenance. However, for the high-end look and luxurious nature, the extra cleaning and care are worthwhile.
|Extremely durable||Most expensive option on the list|
|Textured options available||Must be professionally installed|
|Many types of stone to choose from|
If you think carpet can’t be installed in bathrooms and other wet areas, you would be correct. However, waterproof carpet is different. Depending on the brand you go with the waterproofing technology is something different.
With Shaw carpeting, for example, calls the waterproofing R2X. Berghaus calls theirs AQ2. The point is that while these technologies are patented and vary slightly by brand, the result is the same.
A waterproof carpet has each individual fiber coated with the stain fighting, soil resistant waterproofing material. The result, then, is a carpet that can be installed in a wet area such as your bathroom.
While it may seem counter intuitive, there are still precautions to make. Cleaning, for example, will require a lot more than just a standard vacuum. A good carpet cleaner and cleaning solution are needed, along with a method to dry the carpet.
Just because the carpet can stand getting wet without worry of mold or mildew, it doesn’t mean the padding or floor underneath can. Leaving the carpeting wet with more than just after-bath footprints can lead to mold eventually.
Carpet still isn’t the best option for bathrooms, of course, but it can add some style and texture to an otherwise boring décor.
|Many brands now offer waterproof carpeting||Care and maintenance are high|
|Multiple styles, colors and types available||Must be dried when cleaning|
|Stays warm even in winter||Professional installation needed|
Want 3 Free Quotes or Flooring Advice?
Connect with Local Pros
Care and Maintenance of Bathroom Floors
Bathroom floors need a little more care and attention than most other areas of the home. While you can vacuum your living room once a week or sweep your kitchen twice a month, the bathroom is different.
Because of the humidity, moisture, condensation, and general use of the room, the floors go through a lot. Keeping the floors clean is only part of the process.
Some flooring will need to be dried manually or dust mopped regularly, This will prevent debris and dust from collecting which can hold moisture and lead to mold.
Mopping may not be a viable option all the time as it adds water to the floor. However, steam cleaning, damp or dry mops and sweeping or vacuuming are needed more often than your other floors.
Bathroom Flooring Costs by Type
However, we have looked at prices for materials and installation from around the country and offer you the various flooring type cost averages.
Your specific region and flooring type may cost you more, or less, but when starting to plan your budget, the following averages are a good place to start.
Luxury vinyl planks have a relatively low cost across the board. Installation is also fairly low due to the ease of the installation process.
LVP has a variance based on quality and brand, with the bigger names and better planks costing more.
If you are not installing yourself, you can add an average of a little more per square foot for a professional to show up and do it for you.
Tile costs vary from type (ceramic or porcelain) as well as professional installation. Unlike other forms of flooring, tiles are generally a professional install only. Since tiles need to be cut and shaped, it takes a skilled professional with the proper tools.
For the installation, you can expect to add about more per square foot. The install makes the cost almost double, but can be worth the cost in the long run.
Engineered hardwood isn’t as expensive as real hardwood, but it isn’t the cheapest option, either. Across the country, prices are coming down due to the popularity, though. It is also a more DIY friendly install, so you may be able to save some money there, if you want to install the planks yourself.
A lot of the variance here is due to thickness and quality of the planks as well as the type of wood being used.
You may find installation here hovers closer to the higher side because of the various cuts and fits needed to go around the fixtures and cabinets.
Laminate is among the cheapest to buy and install. The planks are designed for DIY projects and you can easily avoid the professional fees. However, you will need to add in costs for moisture barriers, sealants and underlayments, which are not accounted for here.
However, when calculating your costs, make sure you account for extra material.
If you do decide to have a professional do the install, you can add between more per square foot for the complete project.
Easily the most expensive option, natural stone also requires professional installation. The cost of the stones, though, are where you will find the most cost.
This may even be higher if you need the stone to be delivered, too, so keep that in mind.
For installation, the high cost is due to the tools and expertise needed to cut, fit, install and seal the stones.
Water proof carpet is a specialty flooring option and has a wide range of costs and fees. It is difficult to find a fitting average range as the fluctuations are wide and different from town to town.
However if you plan to go this odd and often overlooked solution, you can expect to pay more per square foot. This may or may not include the padding and transition molding.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now we will answer some of the more frequently asked questions about bathroom flooring options. If you have other questions or concerns, use the comment section below the article.
Q. What is the best type of flooring for a bathroom?
- The best type of flooring for your bathroom is the one that works best for you. While this may sound like a cop-out, it is not. Each bathroom is different. Higher humidity bathrooms will want to stay away from cork, wood and laminates.
Colder climates may want to avoid tiles. It really all depends on the size of your bathroom, what you are decorating with, and what you expect from your flooring.
Q. Can I use natural wood floors in my bathroom?
- Natural wood is highly inadvisable. Wood absorbs moisture from all sides, even the bottom and with the higher humidity found in a bathroom, it can quickly and easily begin to swell, crack, hold odors and even mold. If you want the wood look, we recommend wood-look tiles, or a waterproof LVP with a wood-grain finish.
Q. Do bathroom floors need a subfloor?
- Most bathrooms will already have a subfloor installed. Many fixtures including tubs and toilets need a subfloor for proper mounting. Some flooring types don’t require a subfloor, like LVP or laminate. However, these options will also install with a subfloor, so having one won’t hurt anything and will most likely help in the long run.
Q. Should I add flooring underneath the bathtub?
- If you decide to install a floor under the shower or tub it needs to be a fixed floor. Floating laminate planks, for example, won’t work under these fixtures. Tile, stone or no flooring at all are best for extending underneath the tub.
Q. What bathroom flooring is the easiest to clean and maintain?
- LVP is arguably the easiest flooring to care for, in any room. It can withstand heavy mopping, constant cleaning, vacuums, robot cleaners and a lot of foot traffic. Because the planks lock together in a waterproof manner, they also don’t hold as much dust and debris and any small crevices between planks won’t be very deep at all.
Finding the best bathroom flooring to suit not only your expectations but also your needs and décor can be a challenge. There are more and more options coming out as waterproof and suitable as bathroom flooring.
This article gave you the tools you need to make an informed decision. From things to think about to choosing the best installation method, everything you need is right here. Once you know what type of floor you prefer, you can then find the best bathroom floor for your house.