How to choose bathroom flooring - everything you need to know, according to experts

Marble? Vinyl? Porcelain? Ceramic? Discover how to choose bathroom flooring with these expert tips...

how to choose bathroom flooring porcelain check tiles by Porcelain Superstore
(Image credit: Porcelain Superstore)

When learning how to choose bathroom flooring, there are a host of factors to take into consideration, not least how to blend form and function.

'It’s important to consider the entire room when choosing your bathroom flooring,' says Louisa Swannell, Head of Creative Design at Walls and Floors. 'If you want to make a statement of your flooring, a patterned tile might be a good choice. But if you’re making a statement with your wall design, you may want to consider something more subtle for the floor such as a wood design of vinyl or tiles.'

As well as aesthetics, there are a number of practicalities you'll need to think about when considering your bathroom ideas, including durability,  water resistance and whether you intend to install underfloor heating.

'Bathroom lend themselves to having underfloor heating, though the type and model you go for can affect the flooring you choose so it is worth considering if this is something you’d like to install before picking your bathroom flooring,' says Barrie Cutchie, at BC Designs. 'An electric system can be retrospectively fitted during a renovation project and works best with either tiles or stone flooring.'

One of the key considerations to think about is choosing non-slip flooring, as wet floors in bathrooms can be dangerous. 'Tiles with a smooth finish will be slippery underfoot, though you can get tiles that have an extra layer of slip resistance which are worth investing in,' Barrie adds. 

We've tapped the experts to find out more top tips on how to choose bathroom flooring below.

How to choose bathroom flooring

how to choose bathroom flooring grey porcelain tiles by Mandarin Stone

(Image credit: Mandarin Stone)

How to choose bathroom flooring can be a bit of a minefield, but experts are on-hand to help make the decision clearer.

Nick Woodward, of Essential Living says: 'As well as taking into account all of the practicalities (see more below), the best way to go about choosing a bathroom floor is to pick a design that reflects your intended style. If you want the freedom to create unique styles for your bathroom, custom tiles are the best option.' 

If you want your bathroom flooring to have more of a natural and authentic feel, then go for textured vinyl or porcelain that has a wood grain. 'Similarly, if you’re looking to target a modern and luxurious feel, natural stone and concrete may just be what you’re looking for,' Nick says. 

What practicalities are there to consider when choosing the best flooring for the bathroom?

how to choose bathroom flooring porcelain grey and white tiles by Mandarin Stone

(Image credit: Mandarin Style)

'When choosing your bathroom flooring, there are three main requirements: slip-resistance, durability and how easy it is to clean,' says Walls and Floors' Louisa Swannell.

And Nick Woodward elaborates, commenting: 'There are many practicalities to consider when choosing the best flooring for your bathroom. Due to water and moisture buildup, the most important thing is to ensure that the materials  you choose are completely waterproof. Making sure your flooring is anti-slip is also an essential factor to consider for health and safety purposes. 

'Choosing a floor that is easy to clean will also benefit you in the long-term. While there is no denying that tile is a beautiful choice for a bathroom floor, there is the hassle of keeping the grout lines nice and maintained. You should also strongly consider floors that won’t discolor when they come into contact with cleaning solutions. 

'Whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring someone else to do the job, you should ask whether the flooring you want is easy to install. Vinyl planks and click-lock flooring shouldn’t take too much time to set up, while tile flooring is very labour intensive. Before you even begin the installation process, make sure to first measure your bathroom to determine how much flooring you’ll need. 

'Another thing to consider is the cost of the materials you’re working with, as well as the price of the installation if you’re planning to hire someone. Vinyl bathroom flooring is generally the cheapest of all tiles, while marble or other types of stone could totally blow your budget if you don’t consider the entire cost of the job beforehand.'


What to avoid for bathroom flooring

'Ultimately, the choice of flooring you decide for your bathroom is a personal choice, though there are a couple of options that have many more disadvantages than other options, in particular carpet and hardwood,' comments Barrie Cutchie.

'Where toilets are concerned, carpets can be an unhygienic choice as they cannot be cleaned or disinfected at the same level as other floor options. There is also a lot of water around and carpets can quickly become sodden and take forever to dry, while there is also a risk of mold building up. 

'Water is also an issue for hardwood flooring and, in fact, laminated flooring. While suitable for other areas where water is present, like the kitchen, it doesn’t work as an option for a bathroom. 

'For them to be suitable, they have to be perfectly installed and perfectly sealed from the moisture, and this is almost impossible. If hardwood floor isn’t fitted correctly, water will penetrate, and will eventually rot. 

'Plus, they will need to be re-sealed with a polyurethane type coating more frequently than if they were in another room without the moisture challenges presented by a bathroom. 

'Laminate flooring and engineered woods are also on the list of flooring choices to avoid. While engineered wood does have real wood layers at the top, you have to ensure it is fully sealed as well. 

'Often the material underneath the wood layers is not waterproof or even water-resistant. Such is the case with laminate floors, which typically are not great with water, requiring spills to be cleaned immediately or risk swelling and warping. '

how to choose bathroom flooring marble-effect porcelain tiles by Walls and Floors

(Image credit: Walls and Floors)

What kind of flooring is good for a small bathroom?

When choosing flooring for a small bathroom, you can express your creativity with a patterned floor, or choose large-format, glossy tiles that reflect the light.

Louisa Swannell, Head of Creative Design at Walls and Floors says: 'It's important to consider the size of the space, and find a harmonious balance for your decor; too much intricate pattern could make a small space feel cluttered. 

'Bright, light colours and glossy finishes are great for small spaces as they bounce light around the room.

'Large-format floor tiles are great for small spaces as they have fewer grout lines which gives a more seamless appearance. 


how to choose bathroom flooring blue parquet porcelain tiles by Mandarin Stone

(Image credit: Mandarin Style)

She continues: 'Laying flooring in a herringbone format (see above) can also have a space-enhancing effect, as this layout tricks the eye and makes the room appear longer.'

Nick Woodward adds: 'When you’re dealing with a small bathroom, a top tip is to choose flooring that will give you the creative freedom to maximise the wow factor of your space. 

'For example, ceramic tiles come in different patterns, colours and geometric shapes and choosing these for your floor will add energy and character to your small bathroom.'


What is the current trend in bathroom flooring?

How to choose bathroom flooring patterned ceramic tiles by Original Style

(Image credit: Original Style)

'A bathroom trend that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere is patterned tiles!' says Louisa Swannell.

'This timeless style is perfect to create a standout feature of your flooring. From encaustic and monochrome to Mediterranean and terrazzo; there’s something for every aesthetic.'


Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.