When considering flooring styles and materials for the home, many things should be taken into account. The location of the room in the house and what it will be used for are possibly the most important factors. This is especially true when it comes to choosing a floor for the bathroom.
Prefinished hardwood flooring has long been one of the most popular choices in any area of the home. However, mention it in relation to bathrooms and people generally shake their heads knowingly, as though you’ve said something out of turn. It is quite a commonly held view that hardwood flooring is simply not suitable in the bathroom due to its tendency to absorb moisture. This doesn’t have to be the case and with a few extra preventative measures, increasingly hardwood flooring is just as successful in bathrooms as it is everywhere else.
Hardwood products that are specially prefinished are recommended for bathroom applications. Moisture kills solid hardwood so it is advisable to select a prefinished product. It is also a good idea to choose a wood that is harder and less absorbent. The following species are well suited to bathroom applications because of their strength, hardness and durability; oak, cherry, ash and walnut.
There are many reasons that people are coming around to the idea of hardwood flooring in the bathroom, many of which are similar reasons for having it elsewhere in the home. It creates a luxurious high-end look in any style of bathroom, it provides a natural warmth on the feet that is unrivalled by tile or vinyl, again bringing an extra level of luxury. It can also be refinished multiple times over its lifetime.
There are however, some reasons that hardwood flooring has not traditionally been seen as a suitable option in the bathroom. If water is allowed an entry point, certain types of softwood will buckle, warp and eventually rot. Even if spills are cleaned quickly, the bathroom can still be one of the most humid rooms in the home.
Glass tile can be installed just about anywhere a ceramic tile would work, it’s resistant to temperature changes and moisture damage. Glass tile flooring is as easy to keep sparkling as the glass in your windows and mirrors; just use a mop and the same glass cleaner you would use elsewhere in the home.
Provided you select the right, less porous varieties of stone, such as granite, limestone and marble, there shouldn’t be any moisture problems. As with other bathroom flooring options, stone has some potential drawbacks; it can be quite cold to the touch and tends to get slippery when wet. There are ways around this, such as choosing a stone with a more textured surface. Stone is at the more expensive end of bathroom flooring but once installed, will last for years to come with minimal maintenance.
Traditionally one of the most popular choices for bathroom applications, vinyl comes in both sheets and tiles. The main advantages of vinyl flooring in the bathroom are its relatively low cost, its moisture resistance and its dizzying range of styles, shapes and sizes. However, along the many seams, vinyl tile floors do have potential areas for germs to collect.
Ceramic tiles are incredibly popular as bathroom flooring, namely because it is hard-wearing and easily cleaned. It is important to pay close attention to the porosity, hardness, slip resistance, resistance to abrasion, and impact resistance, all of which can vary between products.
About the Author
Sean Stewart is President and owner of Stewartfloor, based in Chicago. Stewartfloor is one of the leading importers of fine South American prefinished hardwood flooring. As a member of the National Wood Flooring Association, Stewartfloor sells only ethically and legally obtained South American hardwood flooring, which is Lacey Act Compliant. Ethical harvesting standards have reduced the impact on the environment through strict adherence to Forestry and Environmental Laws. Stewartfloor’s commitment to ethics guarantees that the prefinished Brazilian hardwood flooring they supply is of the highest quality and as promised.