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A guide to bathroom flooring


A guide to bathroom flooring

Many bathroom flooring options are available for all budgets, requirements and tastes. Use this general overview to learn the basics, and consult with your local building store to be sure you choose the right material for the rigours your bathroom floor will undergo, now and in the future.

Flooring forethought…Consider the five Fs:

Family: Who will be using the bathroom? If you have small children (or expect to in the future), consider the amount of traffic, and splashing water.

Feet: Some floors are cold and uncomfortable to stand on for long periods. If you choose stone or ceramic, also consider in floor radiant heating.

Finish: Some finishes (especially those that are shiny) are slippery, and increase the risk of slips and falls.

Fresh: Highly textured floors can be beautiful, but difficult to clean. Most bathroom floors require occasional sealing, depending on amount of traffic. 

Fit: Perhaps most overlooked…how much will the flooring material raise the floor? A couple of centimetres can be significant and cause problems where your fixtures sit.


If you enjoy the natural look of stone flooring, you are among many homeowners who also appreciate the ability to choose from many shapes, colours and styles. Stone also resists stains, water, bacteria and odour, so it is often considered an ideal option for the high traffic and moisture level in the bathroom.

However, stone is cold on the feet, and after long periods of standing, can also be uncomfortable.

Things to think about:

  • Electric in-floor, or radiant heat is an excellent option under stone flooring.
  • Needs resealing to keep to keep stain and water resistant.
  • The grout can stain, and be difficult to clean properly.


Vinyl is a budget-friendly, manufactured flooring material made from layers of urethane, clear vinyl, a printed design, and felt or fibreglass backing. It’s not cold on the feet, like harder materials, and the layered construction provides some cushioning which makes it more comfortable to stand on for periods of time.

Vinyl flooring offers many options, depending on your requirements and taste. For example, seamless sheet vinyl is an excellent choice, especially in bathrooms where young children splash a lot (and other accidents may occur).

Things to think about:

  • Tiles that resemble stone or ceramic, and planks that resemble hardwood are practical options if trying to achieve a certain style. DIYers will especially like tiles, because of self-sticking backings, or spray adhesives.
  • Very easy to clean.

Ceramic tile

Ceramic tile is made from clay, water, and other materials mixed together and fired at high temperatures. It’s very durable, so it’s great for a high-traffic bathroom, and it resists stains, water, bacteria and odours. Many choices are available in a range of shapes, colours and styles.

Ceramic tiles are generally slippery, so opt for a matte finish, or choose smaller tiles for better traction, since the grout provides more non-slip surface. As well, ceramic tile can be cold on feet, and standing for long periods can be uncomfortable.

Things to think about:

  • Over time, tiles can crack and grout can stain.
  • Reasonably easy to clean.


Like vinyl, laminate is made from four layers fused together: melamine, high-resolution photo of the surface, core board, and melamine backing layer. This affordable, durable flooring resists stains, fading and moisture.

Laminate comes in strips or planks that resemble wood, or in squares that resemble tile, and can be laid in any pattern.

Things to think about:

  • Ideal for DIYers since many laminate floor pieces simply click and lock together easily.
  • Needs a moisture barrier.
  • Easy to clean.
  • since laminate has a wood chip base, if moisture seeps in, it could expand and bubble, so this option might not be ideal for a bathroom used by children


Made with only natural materials, linoleums are making a comeback, especially among the health and eco-conscious consumer. This flooring option doesn’t use solvents and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and is biodegradable and recyclable. Like vinyl, linoleum is comfortable and warm to stand on.

Things to think about:

  • When properly installed and sealed, it resists water well.
  • Easy to clean.

By Paula McKee

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