Smart Choices for Bathroom Flooring

Tile may be the traditional bathroom choice for most, but it’s not the only flooring type that performs well in a wet environment. Like any other flooring, bathroom flooring should be chosen with style, durability, and comfort in mind. A bathroom floor must be able to handle moisture and humidity from daily use and the appearance of sudden leaks. Choosing the right bathroom floor that can handle the required amount of water that sneaks its way onto your floor is the first hurdle that you will have to jump. It’s normal for a certain amount water to end up on the floor. Wet spots are usually caused by drips that occur as you get out of the shower or from the occasional overspray. These minor mishaps can be easily cleaned up but it is the month and the years of the small beads of water dripping around the rim of a shower base that could turn into a nightmare for any home owner as the years roll by. Also the bathroom is the one place in the house which contains the most plumbing, making it the place more likely to spring a leak.  In addition to the water that you can see, you also have to take into account the water that you cannot see - humidity, which affects some types of flooring more than others. To help you think about the right type of bathroom flooring for your home here are a few choices.

Tile:

Tile is most likely the first option that comes to mind when you think of bathroom flooring and for good reason. It is the most popular and most commonly used flooring type. Its popularity stems from the fact that it can handle water well and comes in almost an endless variety of styles. You can chose from ceramic, porcelain, natural stone, or even glass. One downside to tile is that it is tough on your back if you stand on it for a long period. Also, in a room, where you are often barefoot, it can be cold. Other important factors to consider when shopping for tile are porosity and slip resistance. The higher the porosity of the tile, the more water it is likely to be absorb. The determining factors are the body of the tile and the surface of the glaze if used.

Grout Matters when installing Tile:

No matter how thin a grout line is it still tends to catch dirt. To reduce the appearance of dirt as much as possible make sure to choose a grout with a low absorption rate. The lower the absorption rate, the more resistant the grout is to staining and discoloration.

Linoleum:

Linoleum was largely ignored for much of the 1960’s all the way up to the 1990’s. However it has made a comeback in the last 15 years, due largely to its status as a green product. Modern linoleum is often made of all natural products such as linseed oil, wood flour, limestone, etc., which are biodegradable and have little or no VOC (volatile organic compound) emission. It can be installed using solvent-free adhesive and is naturally water resistant. Linoleum is also homogeneous throughout, which means that its appearance show less wear and tears. It requires only a little sweeping and occasional mopping.

Cork:

Another type of flooring that many people do not know exists as a bathroom flooring choice is cork. Cork flooring is made from bark that is harvested from the Cork Tree (Quercus Suber), which regenerates after the harvest. The bark can be re-harvested every 9-10 years without damaging the tree. Regulated forests, mainly in Spain &Portugal, are the producers of cork. Unlike bamboo, cork is a true green building choice. We at Stearns Design-Build recommend cork flooring due to its, sustainability, rot resistance, comfort, dent resistance, durability, and low acoustics. It is a healthy choice for the environment and people with no VOCs and it is a natural insect repellent with anti-microbial properties. Cork is also easy to maintain - a damp mop is all that is needed for efficient cleaning.

Vinyl:

Today’s vinyl can imitate almost any bathroom flooring choice you can imagine in both appearance and texture. Vinyl flooring is composed of multiple layers: a wear layer, a decorative layer, a foam core, and a backing made of either felt or fiberglass. Fiberglass backing is generally the best choice for bathrooms because the felt backing reacts to water. The Fiberglass backing has a layer of vinyl on the bottom, making the product completely waterproof. Maintenance for vinyl is minimal, only requiring sweeping and mopping and the use of some manufacturer recommended products.

Concrete:

Another durable and stylish choice for bathroom flooring that has become a trend in recent years is concrete flooring. Concrete flooring lends a modern, industrial look, which is quickly catching on. It can be poured using local ingredients lending to its green appeal. Concrete also handles water well if sealed properly, which is an ongoing maintenance issue. On the other hand, concrete almost always feels cold to the touch. Daily maintenance for concrete flooring is minimal, requiring only minor sweeping and some mopping when needed. But you should check the sealer of the floor every year. If a drop of water beads up, the floor is well sealed, but if it absorbs into the concrete, apply a fresh coat of sealer. This rule of thumb applies to all flooring.