In many parts of the home, choosing flooring mainly comes down to appearance. You want your living room, dining room, bedroom, or office flooring to look great; performance, while important, is second. With bathrooms, the playbook changes.
When choosing bathroom flooring, consider how it will perform under stress. And the stress event in this case involves water, lots of it. Water is so prevalent in bathrooms that it is an expectation, not an anomaly. Water is everywhere: on the walls, ceiling, and the floor. Moisture will quickly ruin the wrong flooring. To make matters even more difficult, you eventually have to pull those other factors into the dialogue. If moisture were the only factor, sheet vinyl or ceramic tile would likely win every time. But these additional factors, like durability, appearance, cost, and ease of installation, need to be considered, as well.
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Porcelain or Ceramic Tile
Porcelain tile is the best of all worlds for bathroom flooring, as it is waterproof, stylish, and cost-effective. Like stone, porcelain tile can achieve a rich, textured, solid feeling. Like vinyl, it is waterproof and is fairly inexpensive. Like wood flooring, tile looks great.
Should you choose porcelain or ceramic tile and is there a difference between the two? Porcelain is part of the general ceramic tile family with one slight difference: water absorption rate. The Porcelain Tile Certification Agency (PTCA) certifies types of tile as “porcelain” if these tiles have a water absorption rate of 0.5-percent or less. If this is a half bathroom or powder room, there is less of a need to purchase porcelain tiles because there are no bathing facilities.
Because there are so many different types of ceramic tiles, you can create the exact floor you want. You can even find ceramic tile that looks like wood or stone.
Individual tile comes in a wide variety of size and shapes, from square and rectangular to octagonal and hexagonal. Smaller mosaic tiles are pre-mounted on plastic mesh sheets, so you do not have to individually set each tile. With tinted grout, you can be even more creative.
Best of all, tile cleans up well and resists even standing pools of water. Like stone, tile is cold. However, radiant or heated tile can be laid under the tile. Wet tile is slippery. But texturing solves that problem. Smaller tiles are less slippery because more grout is used and the grout acts as a non-skid surface.
Pros and Cons
- Many style choices
- Good resale value
- Works well with radiant heating
- Cleans up well
- Cold under foot
- Hard under foot, so it is difficult to stand on for long periods
- Often sterile-looking
Vinyl Flooring: Sheet, Plank, or Tile
Good-looking and supremely practical, vinyl has been a popular choice for bathroom flooring for decades. Sheet vinyl flooring is your best option if extreme amounts of water are expected, such as in children’s bathrooms or laundry rooms. Because