It’s probably not the first thing you think of when considering a bathroom – most people focus on the bath and toilet suites or the walls – but in fact a beautiful floor can have a greater influence on the overall feel of a bathroom than any other aspect of furnishing or decoration.
It is also important in terms of every day use to consider how much water spillage will occur, whether it will stain easily and whether the floor will be safe when walked upon by wet feet.
Here are the usual choices for bathroom floors – followed by some more unusual options.
This is the traditional flooring for bathrooms and it’s easy to see why: it is durable and hygienic, easy to keep clean and most of all, completely waterproof. It is also impervious to most stains, although grouting can be susceptible to mould and mildew.
Ceramic Tiles come in an endless assortment of colours, shapes, patterns and styles and can also incorporate ribbing, ridges or other textures to prevent slipping when wet. The downside of tiles is that they are very cold underfoot and very hard should you fall.
The next most popular after tiles, Vinyl is affordable and easy to maintain, which is all what most people want from their bathroom floors. Like tile, it is waterproof, stain-resistant and non-allergenic; it is also simple to install and has good durability, lasting for a reasonable amount of time.
While it does not provide a ‘luxurious’ feel, it is an economical, practical solution for every day living, particularly for busy families. It comes in a huge variety of colours, styles and textures, with many simulation designs of wood, marble, slate, brick, etc.
Laminate is a good choice if you would like a Wood-effect Flooring for your bathroom but do not want to take the risks of a high moisture environment on real timber floors.
While it looks exactly like hardwood, it is in fact made up of multiple layers of wood fibre bonded together and overlaid with a photographic image, followed by a protective top layer which is stain and water-resistant. It is extremely durable and easy to maintain and much cheaper than real hardwood.
Unusual Choices – Hardwood
If your heart is set on the real thing, then you’ll be pleased to hear that hardwood can be used in bathrooms provided that they are finished with a water-resistant sealant which will keep it watertight.
It is certainly hard to beat the warmth and beauty of real timber and if the rest of the house has hardwood floors then it may be most aesthetically-pleasing to continue this in the bathroom as well.
Cork is often overlooked when it is actually an ideal choice: it is soft and incredibly comfortable to walk on as well as being warm underfoot. It also helps to insulate against sound and is naturally rot-resistant and non-slip, even when wet.
In fact, it can be used unsealed in bathrooms although sealing is usually recommended to prevent dirt becoming ingrained. Cork is also an environmentally-friendly, renewable resource. A great thing for bathrooms is that cork is naturally anti-microbial and resistant to mould and mildew.
This may only suit more modern interiors but Rubber Flooring has many qualities to recommend it: it is extremely durable and resilient, insulating to both sound and warmth, water-resistant and even burn-resistant. To prevent slipping when wet, rubber can be studded to provide texture and grip.
This includes many of the luxury flooring options, such as marble, limestone and slate and has a price tag out of most people’s price range.
However, there are many who feel that its sense of quality and timeless natural beauty to be worthy of the investment. Naturally, it is resistant to wear & tear and completely waterproof.
Like tiles, it can be very cold underfoot and also hard if you fall; in addition, it may need to be sealed to prevent staining and may be very slippery when wet, especially if it is in the polished form.
This may be the last form of flooring you would consider for bathrooms but believe it or not, Carpet can be used in bathrooms if it is chosen carefully. It must water-, stain- and mildew-resistant and it must have a backing which prevents water from seeping into the pad.
By meeting these conditions, it is possible to have a carpeted bathroom which will transform a usually cold and clinical room into something unusual and luxurious.
Having said all that, however, carpet is not recommended for family bathrooms, particularly with many children, as it will not be able to cope with the high intensity of water spillage and repeated soakings.
With the wealth of options available nowadays, including modern synthetic materials with tailor-made properties, there are bathroom flooring types to suit every budget and personal taste.