When choosing from all the different types of flooring for bathrooms, it’s important to pick something that not only looks nice but is durable enough to withstand moisture and is easy to clean. You don’t want to waste your money on something that will be ruined in a couple of years.
Let’s walk through some of the small bathroom floor ideas for compact spaces, with flooring advice, as well as the pros and cons so you can make the best choice for your bathroom.
1. Tiles for Small Bathroom Floors
Probably the first flooring type you thought of while considering your bathroom renovation was tile. It’s a classic choice for any bathroom size and has the added benefit of being extremely durable. There are a few different types of tiles to choose from:
- Ceramic Tile: resistant to water, scratches, stains, and dents, and costs a lot upfront but will last a very long time. They can also be very reflective, giving bathroom floors depth and making small bathrooms feel much larger.
- Porcelain is excellent for bathrooms with showers and/or baths since it is very waterproof and cheap, costing about as much as vinyl per m2, if you shop around. This is your choice for a contemporary bathroom finish.
- Natural stone: A traditional look and feel, and are easy to repair. Stone is also less slippy when wet and give a softer feel underfoot. Real stone is a hardwearing natural material and works well in a busy bathroom.
Bathroom tiles are an excellent option for both visual appeal and practicality but can be an expensive way to floor a larger bathroom. You don’t need to spend thousands of pounds to transform any room into an elegant space. With just some inexpensive tiles, you can create beautiful rooms without breaking the bank.
That said, because your bathroom is on the smaller side, you can use more expensive tiles because you won’t need too many.
Regular cleaning helps keep tile floors looking new for longer, and they are ideal for laying on top of underfloor heating for that warm underfoot feeling after showering.
Unless you have experience and are confident fitting tiles, the installation might be something better left for a professional tiler. You may want to consider hiring someone else to install them instead or chat with someone who knows what they’re doing. You may want to order at least an additional ten per cent to cover any potential issues with cracks or chips. Cutting porcelain floor tiles can be tricky, require specific tools and the right technique.
They are all completely water-resistant and last for a long time.
One downside to tile flooring is because it’s so water-resistant, it can become quite slippery when the water has spilt over onto it, which is very common around showers, even with a good shower screen, you’ll still find bathroom floors get wet.
If you have a busy household with small children running around, you might want to consider one of the other materials listed below, if you’re budget-conscious.
2. Bathroom Laminate Floors
Laminate flooring is the way to go if you want the look of just about any flooring type but for a cheaper price tag. Note that laminate needs its base layer and joins to get as little moisture as possible, so it might be best to hire someone to install it for you.
The top layer is a patterned plastic that protects the wood underneath and makes it stand up to moisture and spills very well. You should make sure that any flooring you’re considering is from a company that includes a warranty for that top layer, so if it does become damaged soon after installation, you won’t have wasted your money.
Not all laminate flooring is suitable for bathroom floors – you must check that your laminate is water-tight. Remember, laminate flooring is made from wood, which will absorb bathroom moisture, causing the planks to swell, split, and warp.
Always let your flooring provider know that you intend to lay the laminate in a bathroom, and advise on the range of waterproof designs available.
It’s an inexpensive floor type, but if your bathroom is exceptionally small, installation could be tricky.
3. Vinyl Floorings
If you are looking for flooring for a family bathroom, especially a small bathroom children will use, vinyl is your best option. Sheet vinyl has no seams except at the very edges, so as long as you seal around the edges, it will be impenetrable to water. Plank vinyl is also a good option for just about any other bathroom, available with a bold pattern, even wood effect finishes to suit all tastes.
It’s best to avoid tile vinyl since it will have too many seams to block out moisture properly and is likely to not last very long as a result.
It is inexpensive to replace or repair should the need arise, and it allows for heated floors under it should you wish to avoid cold feet in the mornings or after a shower.
Some of the luxury vinyl floorings come in slip-resistant brands, so if slipping or falling is something that you want to go out of your way to avoid, if you have young children or the elderly in the house, then there are options for that too.
Vinyl flooring has been a staple choice for kitchens and bathrooms for decades. It’s cheap, relatively easy to fit (all you really need is a sharp Stanley knife) and comes in a wide range of patterned designs.
4. Linoleum in Bathrooms
Wait… isn’t linoleum the same as vinyl?
No, vinyl is made from Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) which is a synthetic plastic polymer. Linoleum on the other hand is made from natural materials such as pine resin and linseed oil. Linoleum is more expensive than vinyl, is a little harder to work with. But it lasts longer, has better thermal insulation, is softer underfoot, and has a nicer smell. Linoleum should be your go-to choice if mildew and black bathroom mould are a concern since its antimicrobial. It is also water and fire-resistant.
Linoleum isn’t even easy to scratch and is very durable and comes in rolls to measure like vinyl, so if children spilling water at bath time is a concern, then this right be the perfect flooring for you.
It’s best to invest in a good-quality linoleum floor as different brands can have very different thicknesses, durability, and textures. Better to invest a little more now and have the floor last.
5. Hardwood Floors
Hardwood is not the go-to flooring choice for just any bathroom. It looks fantastic, adds a lot of warmth to a room, and gives off a lovely natural wood aroma, but it doesn’t hold up well when moisture is a constant. It will buckle and swell with humidity or if water is spilt on it too often.
If you have your heart set on hardwood flooring for a bathroom, consider a smaller guest bathroom that sees little use or a bathroom without a shower or bath to reduce how much moisture it will experience.
6. Concrete floor
If you want a floor that’s waterproof, rugged, and is eco-friendly too, then concrete flooring is what you need. There aren’t any seams for moisture to get into, and it takes a lot to leave a scratch or damage it.
However, if you do end up damaging it, it can be costly to fix because you’ll probably have to replace the whole floor. You can opt to install a different flooring type over top of the concrete, which will be a lot cheaper.
Terrazzo fits a more minimalistic style, and it has the advantage of being indestructible. Not only that, but it’s resistant to scratches, water and bacteria, making it incredibly easy to maintain.
It’s a little more on the expensive side because of high demand, but if you’re able to invest a little more of your renovation budget into your floors, then terrazzo will last a very long time, and you’ll be thankful for it whenever cleaning day comes around.
8 Cork for Small Bathroom floor
Cork is one of those materials that feels nice to walk on because it doesn’t have the sometimes shocking coldness of tile. Its soft material is great on the feet but can make it prone to damage and stains without a protective layer over it.
Unlike tile, you won’t have to worry as much about slipping, and it’s also antimicrobial. It’s also relatively easy to repair, even more so if you choose a cork tile.
9. Rubber Bathroom Flooring
Rubber is the material when it comes to waterproofing just about anything, so if you’re concerned about water damage, then this could be a good choice.
You can get rubber flooring in a range of colours you can think of, as well as many patterns to suit your taste. It also comes in tiles to get a similar look to tile flooring, but if you get a textured rubber, it won’t become super slippery when water spills onto it.
Carpet probably wasn’t one of the options you were thinking of for a bathroom, but this used to be a popular choice in the ’70s, and there are some benefits that carpet is the best at providing.
If slipping is something you need to avoid, whether because of energetic kids or elderly family members, nothing is more slip-resistant than carpet. And you’ll never have to go through the discomfort of stepping on a cold floor first thing in the morning or after a refreshing shower.
Of course, water damage and staining are probably the top issues people have with installing carpet in a bathroom. However, carpet brands come with a water-resistant backing to prevent damage and mould and come with a protective topcoat to make cleaning easier.
Bathroom floors decked out in colourful carpets was quite common in the 1980’s – certainly in the UK. While carpet gives a luxurious feel as you step out of the shower – or sat on the throne – there is more cleaning maintenance.
What makes a good floor in a compact bathroom?
Before we look at the advantages and disadvantages of floor coverings, let’s deal with the question of what makes a good bathroom floor in the first place.
- The covering should be waterproof and must not swell.
- Slip resistance is important. Where there is water, accidents can quickly occur.
- The flooring in the bathroom should be barefoot friendly. We want a comfortable feeling when we walk barefoot on the ground.
- The floor in the bathroom should prevent mould growth – or at least not promote it.
- Puddles must not leave permanent stains.
- Dust and dirt must be removed quickly.
- And the floor should also be chic and we should like it for many years.
Pro’s and Con’s of Bathroom Floor Tiles
You don’t find swimming pools tiled for no good reason, these porcelain tiles are incredibly long-lasting, easy to keep clean, and watertight. Bathroom designers, or tilers, are able to create mosaic tile designs to create a completely unique look.
Advantages of tiles in the bathroom
- Tiles are resistant to moisture, which is one of their greatest strengths.
- There is a huge selection in terms of quality, format and design. Coloured mosaics or large format tiles with a light grey concrete look. Very noble!
- Tiles are very durable and easy to clean. Neutral detergent plus a little vinegar will suffice.
- There’s a width of costs, from cheap to very expensive, which makes them suitable for all budgets.
Disadvantages of tiles in the bathroom
- Floor tiles are hard and cold underfoot unless you have underfloor heating. Although, this minor issue can be resolved with small bathroom mats.
- Water and tiles sometimes make a slippery combo. Check your tile for slip resistance.
- Tiles are classic for wet rooms and therefore perfect for the bathroom. However, the replacement can be a lot of work. Therefore, you might not necessarily want to follow the current pattern or colour trend that you will regret in a few years.
Advantages and Drawback for Stone Floors
- Stone is an all-natural way to cover a floor, providing a non-slip textured finish.
- Stone floors are very durable. For example, water cannot harm a granite floor, not even in the long term.
From marble to granite, stone looks classy as a floor covering. The material is almost indestructible. In addition to many advantages, there are also some drawbacks you need to consider, especially when laying.
- Can be expensive
- Prone to limescale stains, watermarks, and general staining for walking over.
- Natural stone as a floor covering is difficult to remove again. So you should be very sure when choosing.
Parquet as Bathroom Flooring Idea
Parquet is pure real wood – plus wax or varnish. Perfect for people who value natural materials in the bathroom.
- Parquet in the bathroom is super homely, feels pleasant and warm underfoot.
Thanks to the open pores, the parquet regulates humidity. However, this effect disappears if the surface is protected against moisture.
- Parquet can be sanded down several times, waxed or varnished again and then looks like new.
Overall, the floor covering will last for decades if properly cared for.
- Parquet is probably the most comfortable floor covering of all.
- They’re not good with standing water, as the wood can swell and get permanent stains, requiring sanding and restaining.
- Requires professional sealing to make fully water-resistant.
- The joints between the floorboards must be sealed with a suitable sealing material to prevent water from draining into deeper layers.
Real wood can be costly, as with fitting.
Parquet in the bathroom is beautiful and natural, but not necessarily the best flooring. It does not come close to the qualities of tiles.
Bathroom Laminate Flooring
Laminate also comes into play as a floor covering in the bathroom. The biggest competitor to parquet – in terms of appearance, with its natural wood effect.
Advantages of laminate in a small bathroom
- Laminate is available with a wood look, and many other designs and colours.
- Laminate is cheap compared to parquet and tile.
- Waterproof joins are available for bathroom and kitchen floors
- Easy clean with vacuum and mop.
Disadvantages of laminate in the bathroom
- Minor damage can allow moisture to penetrate and cause the laminate to swell.
- Not very soundproof or as long-lasting as tiles.
With a robust surface and good sealing for damp rooms, laminate is suitable for bathrooms, but it is not a perfect floor covering.
Cork as an alternative?
What the bark of the cork oak yields is also good as a floor. Either as a sheet from the roll or in panel form for easy laying.
Benefits of cork flooring in the bathroom
- Cork is natural.
- Cushioned and comfortable when walking.
- Absorbs sound, insulates and feels wonderfully warm underfoot.
- Cork flooring is as easy to care for as laminate or vinyl.
- Cork floors are an eco-friendly alternative to traditional hardwood floors.
- When cork gets very wet, the material swells. It must be sealed, and special edge protection is also required.
- Because cork insulates so well, it cannot be used in bathrooms with underfloor heating.
- Can be expensive to buy and install.
Bathroom vinyl flooring
Linoleum as a floor covering consists of around 80 per cent renewable raw materials: linseed oil, resin, wood flour and limestone. Often with a decorative layer. In fact, you can have anything from a random pattern to wood effect tiles, luxury vinyl flooring can be bought to match any bathroom design of walls and suite.
Advantages of linoleum in the bathroom
- Linoleum is non-slip, mostly.
- Withstands larger temperature fluctuations.
- Linoleum is antibacterial and often mould resistant.
- Linoleum is elastic and easy to instal.
- price points to suit any budget.
Linoleum is environmentally friendly, durable and easy to care for. No wonder flooring is becoming more and more popular.
Disadvantages of linoleum as a bathroom flooring idea
- Can be easily damaged.
- Can lose shape over time.
- If water penetrates into a cut or scrapes, linoleum swells, causing curls, and making it impossible to shape smooth again, even after drying. That is why linoleum in the bathroom must always be glued over the entire surface.
There are several benefits to linoleum floors, but they’re not always the best choice for bathrooms. For floors made from these types of materials, full surface bonding and grouting are necessary for them not to leak any water. Linoleum must be laid with particular care in areas such as showers or bathtubs, where standing water can quickly occur.
The Best Floor Covering for Your Bathroom Big or Small
In the bathroom, tiles are still the best idea, especially since the price is also very attractive. Stone is also convincing, but not every variety – this option offers the best durability and luxury styling.
Parquet, laminate and design flooring require very reliable moisture protection and a number of things must be taken into account when laying them so that they can withstand permanent contact with water.
Whether you’re looking to update a busy family bathroom or refresh the style of a guest bathroom, knowing what you need from your floors is an essential step to picking the right one.
The choices can be a bit overwhelming at first but plenty of options means that you can rest assured that you will pick the one that works best for you and make your decision with more ease.