In this comprehensive buying guide from the experts at Victoria Plum, find out everything you need to know about bathroom flooring before you purchase.
If you’re planning on making changes to your current bathroom, the flooring will play a big role in setting the right visual and tonal balance for the room. You will want to make sure it not only looks great but is also safe to walk on and easy to maintain and clean.
There is no shortage of flooring materials available for the bathroom. While much will depend on your available budget based on the size of the space you need to cover, there are a number of other important factors to consider when weighing up your options. Read our buyer’s guide to bathroom flooring and let us help you choose the right material for your home.
Click on any of the links below to skip to a relevant section.
- What is the best bathroom flooring material to use?
- What is the best flooring material for wet rooms and shower rooms?
- Is different flooring needed for ensuites and cloakrooms?
- Can I buy waterproof flooring?
- What about non-slip flooring?
- How to measure your bathroom floor
- How to choose the right material for your bathroom
- Choosing bathroom flooring based on age groups
- Using underfloor heating in your bathroom
- The installation process
- More bathroom flooring ideas and advice
- Shop bathroom flooring
What is the best bathroom flooring material to use?
Pros: Whether ceramic, porcelain or stone, tiles are an ideal choice for bathrooms as they are great at withstanding water and come in a variety of different styles, sizes and colours, making it easy to match with the colour scheme elsewhere in the bathroom. Not only are they hygienic but can be cleaned without much hassle and mostly require very little maintenance (although slate tiles will need to be sealed every year).
Cons: Unless you have underfloor heating installed, tiles do not retain heat well and are cold underfoot–especially during the colder months. Do not install tiles with a smooth finish as combined with the wet these could create a safety hazard. The installation of tiles is best done with someone who has good DIY experience to avoid potential levelling and grouting issues.
Vinyl or Linoleum
Pros: There is a perception that vinyl and linoleum is old fashioned and not suitable for modern homes, but this is definitely not true. Present day manufacturers provide a wide range of styles and designs, with some even imitating the look of tiles or timber. Vinyl or linoleum is easy to keep clean and to ensure the longevity of the material it makes sense to pay a little extra to invest in a good quality product. In relative terms, these materials are usually the more cost effective option compared to alternatives.
Cons: While vinyl or linoleum is durable and long lasting (depending on the quality purchased) it can prove difficult to repair if damaged by sharp objects. Some floors with these materials may develop bumps or curls along the seams or edges over time due to over-exposure to moisture. When it comes to reselling your property, neither vinyl nor linoleum will add value to the sale price.
Pros: Although it may not seem like the obvious choice for a modern bathroom, there are plenty of homeowners who prefer to have carpet installed on the floor. Bathrooms are rarely the largest rooms in most houses, making it quick and easy to install carpeting. It also provides nice warmth underfoot throughout the year, especially on colder mornings.
Cons: Bathrooms that experience heavy usage may not benefit from carpet flooring. If there is not sufficient ventilation then the material may develop mould and mildew which is not hygienic and can create other health problems. It would also mean the carpet would not look or smell very appealing. Keeping a carpeted bathroom floor clean is not easy, as vacuuming may not be enough to clean dirt and grime embedded within the material.
Pros: Not only does solid wood create a warm and inviting bathroom floor, in many ways it is the ideal material for any bathroom. The best type to choose are products that have been treated especially, as otherwise it can become warped and rot very quickly due to overexposure to water. Another option is engineered wood that features several different layers of wood and is generally a cheaper alternative. Engineered wood is also less likely to move when the temperature rises in the room. Installation of wooden floors can usually be done without having to hire a professional—although it does depend on the type of wood being laid.
Cons: Untreated wooden floors in the bathroom should be avoided as it is likely to mean they will absorb too much water and rot. If adhesives or click-and-fit wooden floors are not used you may also experience moisture issues underneath the surface.
Pros: Laminate flooring is a user friendly material that can be installed quickly and easily on the bathroom. It is also an extremely durable option that stands up well to potential dents and scratches appearing. Maintenance is always important and it passes that test with flying colours, being easy to clean and keep hygienic, which is vital for any bathroom. There is also a varied selection of styles and colours available, making it easy to strike the right balance between substance and style.
Cons: One of the main problems with laminate flooring is it can become quite slippery when wet, which is why bathmats are essential when it is installed. If moisture becomes excessive within the bathroom the material may start to warp, which can eventually mean having to replace the entire floor if not managed correctly.
Pros: There are a lot of similarities between laminate and rubber flooring, although rubber does offer more durability. It’s a tough and resilient material that works well in the demanding environment of a bathroom. Not only is it easy to maintain but water-resistant and soft underfoot, which is why it works so well when padding around on the material.
Cons: The cost of rubber is usually higher than many other alternatives, which can prove to be an issue for anyone working to a tight budget. Rubber flooring is also known to be quite slippery when exposed to large amounts of water and is also susceptible to staining from certain products–strong detergents, in particular. When first installed there may also be a pronounced odour that does eventually go away, although it may be off-putting at first.
Pros: Bamboo flooring might not be the most obvious choice for many people but it does have a number of benefits. It is a tough material that looks very similar to wood in many respects and offers a clean appearance in the room. All it takes is a simple mop to keep it clean and hygienic for use, while installation of laminated bamboo is simply glued to the floor making it ideal for entry-level DIYers.
Cons: It pays to go for the most expensive bamboo flooring as cheaper alternatives can show signs of wear and tear very quickly. You must also ensure it is sealed and finished to a high standard, as too much absorption of water and moisture can damage the material. The range of colours available with bamboo isn’t the greatest, so your decorating choices may be limited as a result.
Pros: Similar to wood, natural stone is one of the most beautiful materials around and adds considerable value to any bathroom. Whether it’s marble, slate, limestone, travertine or granite, it reveals an elegance and refined style that other materials can only usually mimic but not replicate exactly. When sealed correctly, natural stone will be able to handle excess moisture and water, regardless of how much usage the bathroom experiences.
Cons: One of the biggest draw backs of the material is cost. Luxury comes at a price, which means it is not suited to anyone working on a tight budget. Natural stone will usually have to be resealed on a yearly basis to maintain its integrity and the installation usually requires a professional to undertake the job. The maintenance size requires more work too with specialist products typically needed to keep it clean without ruining the surface.
What is the best flooring material for wet rooms and shower rooms?
Wet rooms and walk in showers are becoming a more popular option for homeowners who have the space and budget to install them. They bring real luxury to any home, but as with bathroom flooring, the material used on the floor is extremely important.
The flooring options for a wet room or shower room are very similar to those used in standard bathrooms. The three most regularly used tend to be:
- Tiled flooring: Using tiles in the wet room or shower offers more flexibility on the type of under tray/wet room tray installed in the space. Along with the vast array of styles, shapes and sizes of tile available, it is also a very economical choice.
- Vinyl flooring: The anti-slip covering found in luxury vinyl makes for the perfect fit for wet rooms and shower rooms. If professionally fitted with sealed joints, it also waterproofs the entire floor.
- Microcement flooring: This is a relatively new product that is a composite based on cement, containing other elements to produce a decorative finish. It has good non-slip properties and requires no seals due to a wall-to-wall layering.
Is different flooring needed for ensuites and cloakrooms?
An en suite bathroom makes for a wonderful addition to any bedroom and, in general, requires the same type of flooring as a standard bathroom. Whether it features a bath, shower or both units, you will still want to ensure the flooring remains safe to walk across and can be easily maintained over time.
That means considering the points raised throughout this article and weighing up cost, appearance, safety, usage levels and anything else that affects your decision. With regards to an ensuite, you should also think about the flooring material used in the adjoining room and how exposure to moisture may affect it.
Cloakrooms (a downstairs toilet) will experience water splashes from the basin and toilet bowl. Compared to a bathroom, the exposure to moisture will be far less, although you’ll want it to be easy to clean and maintain as there are other important hygiene factors to bear in mind.
Can I buy waterproof flooring?
There are options to buy waterproof flooring that will ensure water is not absorbed by the material. One of the newest types available is Wood Plastic Composite (WPC), which is a luxury vinyl tile that gives the impression of a timber floor being in place.
You can also find waterproof ceramic and porcelain tiles that can be installed in the bathroom. The top surface of the tile is coated with a durable glaze that ensures water is unable to seep through.
Waterproof laminate flooring also exists, although it pays to do good research on this option as not all products live up to the claims made in their marketing. You can also take the DIY approach to waterproofing laminate by sealing up the areas where the planks meet on the floor using a floor sealant (for laminate of course) during installation, or top coat the material with polyurethane.
Rubber flooring can also be purchased as waterproofed. The vast majority of rubber floors are recycled from old car tires. This material does not absorb water, which is why it is ideal for cars and for your bathroom, if needed.
Believe it or not, there is also waterproof carpeting available. That is, if you choose to install carpet in the first place. Look for a brand featuring RX2 technology as it ensures water is wicked back to the surface of the material making it easy to clean up.
What about non-slip flooring?
If you are installing flooring into a home with kids, for an elderly person, a person with disabilities, or just want to increase safety measures in general, you might want to look at the non-slip options available for the bathroom.
- Non-slip tiles: Unless you install tiles with a smooth finish, they are usually a safe option to install on the floor. However, you can also buy tiles that offer slip resistance.
- Non-slip luxury vinyl: The non-slip options will make it less likely you slip onto the floor. Vinyl flooring also includes built-in padding which means should you experience a slip, the impact will be cushioned beneath you.
- Cork or Bamboo: Cork and bamboo offer good sound and heat insulation as well as non-slip properties. This is because the materials can absorb water without damaging its integrity.
- Carpet: You won’t fall on a slippery carpet, although the negatives may outweigh the positives when it comes to using this material in the bathroom. While you may not fall, you may find yourself on your hands and knees trying to maintain its condition in such a moisture-filled room.
- Rubber: While not a material used by many, it can be a good option for elderly people as it does reduce the chances of slips occurring. Rubber is also soft so should a fall occur there is far less chance of somebody hurting themselves.
No floor is completely slip-resistant, but the options above will help to significantly reduce the chances of accidents or falls taking place. Also, remember that one of the easiest ways to avoid accidents is to place a bathmat on the floor. Not only will it keep you stable, but provide a softer, warmer touch underfoot when you get out of the bath or shower.
For more accessible bathroom options, browse our Independent Living range.
How to measure your bathroom floor
Before you start measuring the bathroom floor, make sure you have the following equipment:
- Pen or pencil
- Measuring tape
- Calculator (or smartphone)
Measuring the bathroom floor is a pretty straightforward task. You’ll need to have this information before you start to look at the materials you want to use as it will determine the base cost per square metre.
Clear away any obstructions on the floor so you can get an accurate read of the dimensions in the room.
Use the tape measure to find out the length and width of the space. Then multiply the two together to get the square footage of the room. For example, if the bathroom is 3 metres long by 3 metres wide, you will need to buy enough flooring material to cover at least 9 square metres (3 x 3 = 9).
Rooms that are not square or rectangular but of an odd shape will need two calculations. Split the room in half by measuring the length and width of one half, then the other, before adding together the total square footage from both parts.
You should add an extra 10% to the square footage you have calculated to account for any cuts and wastage that may happen during installation. You might want to increase this to 20% for a patterned tile. This is an important part to remember as the cuts in the flooring need to be staggered. You’ll also want pieces of the material left over in case you need to replace or repair areas in the future.
When you’re ordering material, be sure to double-check your measurements before confirming. You may choose to use a professional bathroom installation service and they will come to visit your home to take their own measurements to ensure the dimensions are correct.
How to choose the right material for your bathroom
There is no shortage of options available when it comes to flooring materials that can be installed into your bathroom. But you could easily be confused by having too many to choose from, as each material has its own pros and cons, so what are the important points to consider when trying to find the right one for your home?
Cost usually plays a big role in anything you buy and that is no different when it comes to bathroom flooring. Tiles and laminate are usually the most cost-effective option, while still giving you plenty of stylistic choices. If money is less of an issue, you might gravitate towards wood and natural stone instead which are at the more expensive end of the scale.
You want the bathroom to be appealing to the eye, and most importantly of all, look clean and feel relaxing. If you are thinking of selling your home, renovating the bathroom is one of the most cost-effective ways to add value to the property, as it can be done effectively for a relatively low price. It is also one of the most important rooms to impress potential buyers with. At the top end, natural stone and wood really stand out, while vinyl and tiles offer good design options at affordable prices.
If you have a busy household full of kids, cleaning up after them is no fun at the best of times. This is certainly the case when it comes to bath time. With water splashed everywhere you’ll need a durable and cost-effective flooring option that deals with water and can be easily wiped down and cleaned. Tiles, vinyl and rubber are ideal in this respect. People leading busy professional lives will also want less cleaning hassle, while quieter, smaller households have the luxury of more choice as less time and energy is spent on maintenance.
If you want to install the bathroom flooring yourself, you will have to be honest about your DIY skills. While it can save you a lot money, you need to be sure you have the right level of experience to complete the job to a high standard. Vinyl flooring is good for this, as is engineered wooden flooring which is quite straightforward to lay in position. Tiling can prove to be hard work if you are not used to dealing with grout and sealing, and unless you have the right kind of experience, you may need to call in a professional.
As we explain further in the section below, the two most vulnerable age groups in the bathroom are young children and the elderly. Adults and older children are less likely to experience slips and falls, but this shouldn’t mean safety for everyone is overlooked. Rubber, vinyl and tiles can be slippery, so it’s important to use bath mats on surfaces like this. If you like to get out of the bath onto a natural floor, then stone or timber is a good choice. Just be aware that excess water and moisture can make any material unsafe, so always take care when getting out of the bath or shower.
Choosing bathroom flooring based on age groups
Everyone has different routines, needs and lifestyles at home, which means the type of flooring you need for the bathroom will have to reflect that.
You also have to take into account the ages of the people accessing the space, frequency of use and the type of activities occurring there. For example, families with children will see a lot more water splashed around compared to a middle-aged couple living alone.
The two age groups that need more consideration than others are young children and the elderly, as most homes with adults and older children are able to manage their own safety concerns.
Families with children
With little ones running around and likely to be energetic when getting out of the bath, you will need a material that has good non-slip properties and is able to deal with plenty of water splashes. Good suggestions for this type of household include materials such as rubber and vinyl, that are both hardwearing and water-resistant, while also soft underfoot.
Bathrooms for an elderly person should be both accessible and slip resistant to cushion any unexpected falls. Vinyl and rubber meet both of these requirements, with various levels of slip resistance available in the latter. Engineered wood floors are also a good choice, although they require a little more maintenance work to keep them in good condition.
Using underfloor heating in the bathroom
One of the best ways to warm any bathroom is to install underfloor heating. Whether you are renovating or moving into a new-build, it is a practical and cost effective way to ensure the room is cosy and inviting all-year round.
You have the choice to install either a water-based (hydronic) or dry (electric) system, depending on your budget and the heating system currently in place.
They also work with almost any type of flooring, including wood, tiles, carpet, laminate and more – although manufacturers do advise the recommended temperature limits are followed to maintain the integrity of the flooring material.
Underfloor heating systems offer a number of benefits for homeowners, such as energy efficiency which can lead to lower energy bills, next-to-no maintenance, ease of installation and more space due to the removal of wall-fixed radiators.
The main things to take into consideration when choosing an underwater heating system are:
- To enjoy the full benefits of underfloor heating, ensure the space has good insulation to maximise heat retention
- The bathroom must have proper drainage in place to avoid any issues occurring with the heating system
- Seek advice about the right flooring to use in the bathroom to ensure it will be adequately warmed
The installation process
If you choose to install the flooring yourself there are some basic preparations that apply to everyone, regardless of the type of material being laid down.
In particular, this relates to the preparation of the subfloor—the foundation upon which you will install the flooring material. Doing this part well will play an essential role in achieving the right sort of finish. You will need to ensure it is levelled out to accept the material to avoid issues with the material appearing at a later stage. Depending on the age of the property, a self-levelling compound may be required for an uneven floor. Although, achieving a perfectly level floor can prove difficult in some older properties as, compared to today, period houses were built with very shallow foundations that can move over time. There are also different requirements for timber and concrete floors:
- Concrete must be left to dry out completely before any flooring can be laid on top. If not, this could lead to the appearance of cracks in the concrete which will also reveal themselves in the material.
- Timber subfloors may require a marine plywood or membrane and flexible adhesive to be laid on top before the flooring material can be installed.
- If installing stone tiles onto timber floors, you will have to make sure the structure is able to deal with the extra weight as tiles are particularly heavy.
More bathroom flooring ideas and advice
At VictoriaPlum.com, you'll find plenty of practical, expert advice on bathroom flooring, which is great if you're thinking of fitting yourself. Click on any of the links below to find out more.
- Bathroom flooring advice
- Choosing the right flooring for your underfloor heating
- Ask the experts: Can I tile over old tiles?
- Ask the experts: Should I fit the toilet before or after tiling the floor?
If you're stuck for inspiration, why not browse our latest blog posts for fresh ideas? Simply click on any of the links below.
- 9 stylish wall and floor ideas for bathrooms
- Create beautiful bathroom floors with new, easy-fit laminate and vinyl flooring
- 6 fun ideas for a striking bathroom floor
- Introducing easy-fit, super-stylish flooring for your home
- 5 great bathroom flooring ideas
Shop bathroom flooring
Whichever option you choose, discover the widest selection of bathroom flooring and floor tiles at VictoriaPlum.com. Click on the image below to begin shopping.