Opinions abound on the best flooring options for bathrooms. But, zeroing in on the cold, hard facts – we find there are a few clear-cut top choices, as well as a few interesting types with notable drawbacks.
- Ceramic & Porcelain Tile
- Natural Stone Tiles
- Engineered Hardwood
- Luxury Vinyl
- Important Tips
- Easy Maintenance
- The Verdict
Thanks to modern engineering and technology, there are many more choices available today in bathroom flooring than there were in the past. Today’s bathroom flooring is highly durable, water resistant, and can stand up to most anything.
Let’s face it, depending on the size of your family and the number of bathrooms you have, this may be one of the most used rooms in the house. So, you need something that can handle the traffic, the moisture and humidity, and all the messes that wind up in the bathroom.
Dirty children, wet dogs, sweaty adults, little boys who haven’t yet learned to aim. They can all take a toll on your bathroom floors.
That’s why you need a floor that can handle anything and everything that life throws its way.
So, what is the best flooring for bathrooms? It must be a product that is durable and able to handle all the messes and moisture you’ll typically find in a bathroom.
Today, there are plenty of options resilient enough to install in a wet area. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the most popular bathroom flooring options:
Ceramic & Porcelain Tile
- Many styles and colors to choose from.
- Easy to maintain.
- Durable, waterproof, and stain resistant.
- Moderately priced.
- Difficult to install.
- Feels cold and hard to the touch.
Why do so many people choose tile for their bathroom? With ceramic and porcelain tile, you won’t need to worry about water or moisture damaging your flooring.
Plus, there are so many different options to choose from. If you’re a fan of hardwood flooring, you can even find ceramic tiles that look like wood.
They are easy to maintain and look very classy and clean. In the case of ceramic and porcelain tiles, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
Yes, they are tough to install yourself, but wouldn’t you rather have someone else do it anyway?
Ceramic and porcelain are highly durable, yet you can find options that are very moderately priced. This flooring will remain one of the best flooring options for bathrooms for many years to come.
Natural Stone Tiles
- Many different kinds of stone available.
- Available texture variations.
- Highly durable.
- Higher maintenance than ceramic or porcelain.
- Requires regular cleaning and sealing.
- Can be pricey.
Natural stone provides a luxurious, high-end look to a bathroom. And it comes in many beautiful choices such as marble, travertine, granite, and slate.
You can also choose from various textures including etched, sandblasted, and tumbled. So, the possibilities here are truly numerous.
It is also a highly durable floor. However, it will require regular cleaning and reapplying sealant to keep it in its best shape.
While there are many options to choose from, and it is very durable, expect to pay more for these benefits.
Natural stone tile flooring is one of the more expensive flooring options. And because it is harder to install, plan to pay for professional installation, as well.
However, stone tile stands up well to the moisture and humidity in a bathroom. So, it is a good, long-term investment in your home.
- Easy to install.
- Low maintenance and upkeep.
- Warm to touch and soft to walk on.
- Highly sustainable and green flooring.
- Mold and mildew resistant.
- Unfinished tiles require multiple layers of polyurethane.
- Water resistant, not waterproof.
Cork flooring is a very eco-friendly (highly-sustainable), attractive flooring that can be used in bathrooms.
It is very easy to install, so it’s a good option for the do-it-yourselfer. And cork is low maintenance.
People like it for bathrooms because it not only looks good, it feels good on your feet. Cork is also warm and soft when you step on it.
Cork also has anti-microbial properties, and resists both mold and mildew. So, it is a very healthy choice.
There are a few drawbacks, however. Cork is water-resistant, but it is not waterproof.
You must liberally seal your cork floors with multiple layers of polyurethane to protect them from water and other damage. Otherwise, your flooring can crack or warp.
- Made of real wood.
- Withstands heat and moisture.
- Variety of options.
- Can be installed over existing flooring.
- Tough to repair damaged boards.
- Water resistant, not waterproof.
If you have your heart set on hardwood flooring throughout your home, even the bathroom, then engineered hardwood is a great option.
It is real wood, but because it is made of multiple layers with a veneer top, it can often go places that solid hardwood planks cannot.
Engineered hardwood can hold up in rooms with higher humidity and moisture. And like its solid wood counterpart, there are countless species, colors, and styles to choose from.
This type of flooring can also be installed as a floating floor over existing flooring. So, it works well for remodeling jobs.
It is one of the more expensive flooring options for bathrooms. Expect to pay as much as you would for solid wood, and in some cases, you may even pay more.
Also, keep in mind that engineered hardwood is another option that is water-resistant, but not waterproof.
If there is a leak in the bathroom, or the boards are not properly sealed, water that finds its way between or under these boards can cause damage. And damaged planks are difficult to replace.
- Water resistant and waterproof options.
- Looks like higher end products.
- Feels good to walk on.
- Can be installed over existing flooring.
- (Probably) Does not improve property value.
- Looks ‘cheap’ if not installed right.
- May emit VOCs.
Luxury vinyl tile or plank flooring can give a bathroom a high-end look for a fraction of the price. It often comes in beautiful wood and natural stone-look options.
You can find both water resistant and waterproof planks – a plus in bathrooms where moisture is always a factor.
Luxury vinyl also feels soft and warm. So, you will enjoy stepping on it, even on cold days.
This is another bathroom flooring that can be installed directly over an existing floor. So, it is another good option for remodeling projects.
However, while it is a great for your budget, it will not likely improve the property value of your home. If you are remodeling for the purpose of selling your home, keep this in mind.
Whether you install it over another floor or not, make sure the subfloor is absolutely spotless. Luxury vinyl will show every dust particle and speck of dirt left beneath it.
Also, keep in mind LVP or LVT may not be the eco-friendliest choice. Many of these tiles and planks emit VOCs that are bad for your health and for the environment.
However, you can find some manufacturers who offer greener, safer options. So, check the manufacturer policy before you buy.
Most Important Factors to Consider When Choosing Bathroom Flooring
With numerous options to choose from, how do you narrow down the field to the best option for your bathroom? First, determine your priorities.
– Why are you in the market for bathroom flooring? Is it for a new home, to restore an existing bathroom, or are you remodeling for resale? Each scenario can potentially impact the type of flooring you choose.
– Budget and personal preferences also play a role. Your options may be limited by what you can afford.
– Finally, stick to bathroom flooring options that can handle the moisture and humidity of a bathroom. If you decide to go with hardwood, choose engineered hardwood over solid hardwood.
And, be sure to choose products that are both durable and easy to maintain.
Which Flooring Options are the Easiest to Maintain?
Each of these bathroom flooring choices has their benefits. However, if low maintenance is what you are looking for, then there are two that stand out from the crowd. Ceramic tile and luxury vinyl.
Ceramic tile is not only water resistant, but stain resistant, as well. So, virtually any messes or spills can easily be cleaned up.
It is also extremely durable. Bathrooms get a lot of traffic, but with ceramic tile, you’ll never have to worry about scratches or dents in the flooring.
Luxury vinyl is also very low maintenance. It comes in both water-resistant and waterproof options.
What is the Best DIY Flooring for Bathrooms?
If you want to install a new bathroom floor yourself, there are plenty of options to choose from. And, of course – some to avoid.
First, unless you are a big fan of This Old House and know how to use a wet saw, stay away from any kind of tile flooring.
Your three best DIY bathroom floor options are cork, engineered hardwood, and luxury vinyl. Why?
Cork flooring (cork plank flooring, in particular) is very easy to install. Just snap planks together to create a floating floor.
Cork planks do need a thin layer of underlayment. However, you can find some cork tiles that come with this already attached to their base.
Engineered hardwood is another relatively simple flooring to install. Choose prefinished planks and attach over a foam-rubber underlayment to create a floating floor.
For the look of natural stone tiles without the hassle, luxury vinyl tiles are a much simpler option to install yourself. They are easy to cut, and you can even grout the tiles for a realistic stone tile-look in your bathroom.
Pricing Guide on Best Bathroom Flooring
With all these different options for bathroom flooring, what can you expect to spend for each one? The answer depends on how big your bathroom is and whether or not you plan to hire someone for the install, or do it yourself.
Here’s a guideline based on average prices around the country. Your specific cost may be more or less depending on where you live, the brands you choose, and the level of difficulty of the installation.
- Ceramic and porcelain tiles – Ceramic and porcelain prices range from less than $1 to over $8 per square foot, plus $4 to $8 for installation. On average, ceramic and porcelain flooring is $5.50 per square foot, $11.50 installed.
- Natural stone tiles – Depending on what natural stone you choose, prices range from $5 to $10 per square foot, plus $7 installation. On average, natural stone flooring is $7.50 per square foot, $14.50 installed.
- Cork flooring – Prices vary from $3 to $8 a square foot, plus $1 for installation. On average, cork flooring is $5 per square foot, $6 installed.
- Engineered hardwood – The price really depends on the quality of the engineered hardwood flooring you choose, and prices range from $3 to over $14 a square foot, plus another $3 to $8 for installation. On average, engineered hardwood flooring is $7 per square foot, $13 installed.
- Luxury vinyl – Prices are based on the level of quality luxury vinyl you choose, and range anywhere from $2 to $5 a square foot, plus around $1.50 for installation. On average, luxury vinyl flooring is $6 per square foot, $7 installed.
Which option really is the best for bathroom flooring? Well, that simply depends on you.
Are you on a tight budget? Consider ceramic tiles or luxury vinyl.
Do you want to install the floors yourself? Pick a material that can be installed as a floating floor, like engineered hardwood or vinyl plank.
Would you prefer a green flooring option? Go with cork – the eco-friendliest choice, by far.
Does your home’s resale value top your priority list? Invest in a higher end product like natural stone or engineered hardwood, and have it professionally installed.
These are some of the many factors that weigh into the decision. What else do you think is important when choosing the best bathroom flooring for your home?