Options and Alternatives for Tile Bathroom Flooring

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Ceramic tile tends to be one of the most common flooring choices applied in bathrooms because it meets a number of key criteria well: resistance to moisture penetration, durability, and tile is very easy to clean.

No surprise, home builders almost always install tile in the bathroom area, just like they do in the kitchen and laundry room. However, alternatives do exist, which include: cement, rubber leather, carpet, multiple forms of hardwood, linoleum, vinyl, and laminate.

What Can I Put on My Bathroom Instead of Tiles


The choices are plenty, and each one comes with a lot of variation per category. If someone starts looking at each of them, it’s almost given that there will be at least 10 to 50 different choices available that can fit all types of wants, needs, interests, and designs.

The quality of each category can be good to great, depending on how they are applied and the use conditions that are involved (i.e., traffic, the level of moisture, installation skill, and age duration expectation).

Hardwood Flooring

Many residential construction experts will warn against hardwood flooring in the bathroom, but it is entirely possible and doable. One just needs to work with the right wood. There is no such thing as natural waterproof hardwood flooring.

Obviously, something like cherry mahogany would be a bad idea. However, both cork and bamboo make for very durable hardwood flooring that can be resistant to moisture and provide natural colorations that can’t be fully matched with synthetic flooring choices.

Neither will work as well as tile, but they can resist moisture enough that it won’t cause warping or fast water absorption like what would occur with oak or redwood, for example.

Sitting water is never recommended, so even with the most durable of woods, one needs to wipe up the water quickly to avoid staining or watermarks that otherwise occur over time.

Bathroom Carpeting

Another flooring choice that is often not recommended but quite possible is carpeting. It feels great underfoot due to softness.

Assuming only a scattering of water is exposed to carpet, and the room has a good amount of ventilation power, carpeting is going to do just fine in a bathroom, especially if it has stain-resistant or water-resistant synthetic fibers. More interesting, carpeting is going to be one of the least expensive floorings to apply.

However, because it is a fabric, it has the risk of absorbing stains very quickly. Fortunately, carpeting can also be replaced easily.

One just pulls out the old version, and a new cut is installed in about an hour or so. No surprise then, carpeting makes for a viable alternative with an easy recovery should there be a problem.

Polished Concrete

Most homes that are structured on the ground have a cement foundation. Assuming that the concrete itself is not damaged or cracked, it can be treated with a polishing treatment that makes the bare cement both appealing and functional for bathroom flooring.

When completed, the cement is finished with a gloss layer that is both water-resistant and smooth to walk on. As a result, it can make a bathroom pop with a very modern, unique look that would be hard to find in other homes.

Rubber Leather

Not a common flooring choice, rubber leather is an uncommon alternative to tile, and it can be applied as a sheet across a flooring section. The leather can be bought in rolls and then cut and sized to the shape of the bathroom floor specs.

Maintenance is simple, with a bit of waxing to keep up the gleam of the flooring choice. Cleaning is also straightforward, soap and water and nothing more.

Vinyl Flooring

While it still seems to have a lingering reputation from the 1970s, today’s vinyl is a night and day difference from what it used to be generations ago.

Modern vinyl comes in a variety of colors, including natural color variations, forms, and impressive indentations today, and it definitely has durability and water resistance factors comparative to tile.

While it is not a hard surface, vinyl is extremely resilient and can take a high traffic beating without showing any wear for years.

Sheet Linoleum

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Another version of sheet flooring, linoleum, is also a viable bathroom flooring choice that has a high moisture resistance rating and durability.

Linoleum can be applied as a sheet, custom-shaped to the bathroom, and exact square feet specification of the unit. It has a solid resilience to high traffic, and it ages well.

Sheet linoleum is also very cost-easy and affordable, which makes it a great choice for bathroom renovations on a budget.

Laminate Flooring

Designed a bit different from other choices, laminate flooring is a combination of synthetic flooring material merged with natural wood fiber, in essence, an engineered hardwood floor material.

It produces a plank or tile style flooring that produces a similar, natural-style flooring look similar to hardwood flooring. However, because it is partially synthetic, laminate has a higher water resistance than normal, natural flooring.

Using a plank or tile format, it’s also easier to repair as well when there’s an issue. Overall, today’s laminate provides multiple choices for installation, color, style, texture, and variation.

And this is one of the reasons why laminate is chosen on a regular basis for rental refurbishments. It’s also chosen because laminate is also very budget-friendly for renovation projects as well.

What is the Best Type of Flooring for a Bathroom?

Being a very open-ended question, the best flooring for a home depends a lot on how it will be used.

For example, a guest bathroom with mild usage could enjoy some of the more sensitive flooring choices, such as hardwood, because the traffic is light and moisture risk is low. On the other hand, hardwood would be a bad choice for a bathroom for the kids where a lot of tub water is being splashed, things spilled, and stains being made.

On the other hand, carpet may be fine for this location, even if stainable, because it’s low cost and can be easily replaced.

So, a lot of choice starts first with usage, then the best flooring for the condition, and then the differentiation factors like cost, quality, durability, and décor.

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What is the Easiest Flooring to Install in a Bathroom?

From an installer’s perspective, sheet flooring tends to be the easier choice. It’s brought in as a roll, cut to size, and fitted.

Because it’s one sheet, there are no seams which make the choice a great one for water resistance and easy cleanup. Carpeting would come in the right behind sheet flooring because it too can be installed similar to a sheet, cut to size.

After that, flooring that comes in units or segments would be the next level of application.

From a homeowner hiring a contractor, all the choices are doable and easy as long as the contractor chosen does a professional job with quality skill.

How Do I Research Flooring Before Making a Choice?

There are a number of ways to solve the challenge of the unknown. First off, working with any flooring provider, there’s going to be samples and stages of flooring choices and how they look.

However, these don’t give a complete feel of how the flooring looks in a real bathroom.

Instead, what a person needs to do is either get references from a floorer who would be willing to show their flooring installed or talk to friends and acquaintances about the flooring they have and if it can be seen in person.

Experience is a great teacher as well as invaluable for comparing different products in practice.

The Most Important Step in Choosing Flooring for Bathrooms

Take your time to choose the flooring that works best for you. There’s no reason to jump into the first choice, nor should you pick a flooring because it’s the first one you see or because someone said so.

With any major change to a home, you want the choice to be right, to last for at least a good duration. That’s a normal expectation.

So, expect to do some homework, research different flooring choices, and then make a decision on which one works best for your home.

After all, you’re the one who will literally be living with it for years to come. It only makes sense the flooring chosen should be the one that serves you best.

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