These are the best flooring materials for your bathroom

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JOE SCHMELZER, STUDIO TREASURBITE

Thinking of remodeling your bathroom? Flooring might be low on your checklist, but it’s just as important as all the fixtures and built-ins (if not more so!). A bathroom floor should be very durable, not to mention the look and feel good underfoot.

“Impervious floors are your best bet for bathrooms, especially those with showers and tubs,” says LL floor expert Jennifer Meska, who recommends Duravana Hybrid Resilient Blades. “Waterproof floors will give you peace of mind when your kids or pets splash on the edge of the tub, or when you forget the floor mat after getting out of the shower.”

By far the most common bathroom flooring material? Tile. “It really is the best for bathroom floors,” says Jill Byrnes, vice president of marketing and merchandising at The tile shop, since it is the only 100% waterproof material, she explains. “Tile is a timeless material with a wide variety of shapes and styles, from modern to traditional, and can be customized with grout selections and pattern layout,” adds Meska. “Bathrooms are a great opportunity to try out a new style, especially something that may seem too bold for a larger room.”

Among this year’s bathroom floor trends is zellige tiling (a handcrafted ancestor of the ubiquitous subway tile), which have softer edges, imperfections, and color variations, Byrnes reveals. “On the other hand, we’ve seen a lot of people like a more glamorous look and use marbled, mirrored or gold tiles.”

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When it comes to shower enclosures, opt for smaller tiles, which provide more traction. “Larger tiles with fewer grout lines can be slippery when wet,” says Byrnes. But there are plenty of alternatives to consider, from concrete to natural stone. And if you’re looking to DIY your bathroom floor, “rigid vinyl planks and waterproof laminate have easy-click installation systems and require minimal tools,” notes Meska. Luxury vinyl tiles are growing in popularity because they’re often marketed as being waterproof, although most “are not guaranteed against damage when completely wet,” warns Byrnes.

Whichever material you choose, proper installation is essential. “It’s an essential part of any bathroom project because it’s a very humid environment,” says Byrnes. From subfloor preparation to final finishes (like weatherproof moldings), attention to detail is critical to the success of any DIY flooring project. “The key is making sure you have all the right materials beyond the tile. The thin coat, grout, sealants and tools you use can mean the difference between an installation that looks professional and a failure.

Meska agrees that investing in quality products is a must: “Most bathrooms have relatively small footprints, so choosing a premium product does not significantly increase the total cost of the project,” she explains. “For example, if your bathroom is 100 square feet, spending an extra $1 per square foot is only $100 more for a renovation project that can cost thousands of dollars.”

A common rookie mistake? “Not choosing the right grout color,” says Byrnes, pointing out that light grout can be difficult to maintain in the long run.

An equipment that is worth it: underfloor heating. “It’s an affordable luxury that every bathroom should have,” she insists.


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