Although they serve very different roles in the house, one element bathrooms and kitchens tend to have in common is their flooring. Both rooms need resilient, moisture-resistant flooring, sometimes referred to as wet area or wet room flooring. If you’re looking to build a new bathroom or kitchen or remodel an existing one, knowing what options you have and the best choices for your home can save you time, money, and effort.
Choosing the right flooring for your bathroom or kitchen is not entirely unlike the process you’d go through for your other rooms, but it does come with specific challenges. It doesn’t just have to look good, fit within your budget, and match your decor, but it also has to be durable and resist moisture damage. Although some would argue that kitchen flooring doesn’t have to be as moisture-resistant as bathroom flooring, anyone who uses the kitchen frequently knows the floor experiences many spillages during its lifetime. You will also need to gather the appropriate tools, such as a cut off saw, to cut and reshape your flooring and match your room’s dimensions.
The 5 Best Types of Wet Area Flooring
Most flooring materials for bathrooms and kitchens fall into five categories: tiles, sheets, laminate, natural stone, and polished concrete.
Tiling gives your bathroom and your kitchen a classic, timeless look. Tiles are usually made of porcelain or ceramic materials, making them reasonably easy to install. Of the two, porcelain is the least porous and has the highest moisture resistance, making it an ideal choice. The main advantage of using tiles for your flooring is the ease of replacement. Depending on the size of the tiles, you can pull off and remove chipped or broken tiles quickly without having to remove other, non-damaged tiles. The main disadvantage is aesthetics; if you prefer a seamless look, you may not find tiles appealing, and the grout may affect the visual impact of your floor.
Sheets are typically made from vinyl materials, offering a smooth, seamless surface and a wide variety of different colors and graphic patterns. Additionally, this option is one of the most affordable types of flooring. Typical vinyl sheets may feature textures patterned after tiles or planks, replicating the classic hardwood floor look without the disadvantages. Some manufacturers even sell custom vinyl flooring, making it the best option if you want to personalize your kitchen or bathroom flooring. However, sheets are relatively challenging to apply, requiring precise cuts and fitting. Poor installation can result in air bubbles, meaning you’ll need to remove and replace the entire sheet. If you don’t feel confident enough to DIY sheet flooring, call professionals to install it for you.
Wood laminate flooring offers the advantages of hardwood for a fraction of the cost. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, laminate flooring possesses high durability, increased moisture resistance, and excellent stain resistance. Additionally, a well-maintained laminate floor can last 10 to 15 years, making it a very cost-effective option. The primary drawback of laminate flooring is that if water seeps between the joints, the edges of your flooring may start chipping and swelling, degrading it and shortening its lifespan, making it a better choice for a kitchen than a bathroom.
4. Natural Stone
Natural stone can be marble, limestone, granite, or sandstone. Natural stone flooring provides a beautiful and upscale look, offering a style for your bathroom or your kitchen that no other material can provide. After the stone flooring is installed, you can coat it in a chemical sealant to compensate for its poor natural resistance to humidity. However, natural stone is significantly more expensive than most other flooring options. You must be ready to spend extra if you want a natural stone floor in your house.
5. Polished Concrete
If your home has an industrial or rustic farmhouse aesthetic, finished concrete is an excellent low-maintenance option that is highly durable. You can smooth and polish the existing concrete substrate or install a thin concrete overlay if the substrate is in poor condition. However, one of the disadvantages of raw concrete flooring is its potential to stain or absorb moisture. For use in bathrooms and kitchens, you need to seal the floor with an acrylic sealant that penetrates the concrete’s porous structure to make it waterproof.
Concrete can be stained, painted, or etched to create stunning, unique floor patterns to suit your home’s interior style. However, depending on the type of sealant and finish you apply, concrete flooring can become slippery when wet, so ensure you use bath mats around bathroom sinks, tubs, and showers and area rugs at the sink in the kitchen.
Methods of Installation
Several installation methods can be used for a variety of bathroom and kitchen flooring types: self-stick, floating floors, glue-down, and loose-lay.
- Self-stick: Self-stick flooring employs an adhesive backing designed to stick onto a subfloor. Installing self-stick tiles or planks is simple enough even for a novice DIY-er.
- Floating floor: A floating floor consists of interlocking planks or tiles using no adhesive compound. They are among the easiest to DIY install and are low-cost. However, they have a slightly hollow feel, and you cannot refinish them.
- Glue-down: Glue-down flooring requires you to apply an adhesive compound, such as epoxy tile mortar and epoxy grout, onto the subfloor before laying the tiles, planks, or sheets. It’s a popular choice for vinyl or linoleum sheets, but, unless you have prior experience, DIY installation is not an option.
- Loose-lay: Loose-laid flooring uses no adhesives or interlocking mechanisms to stay in place, relying entirely on rubber backings and friction instead. Their simplicity of use and installation makes them a popular choice for DIY projects.
Choose a Floor That Is Stylish Yet Durable
Regardless of the combination of materials and installation methods you prefer, always ensure you have enough tiles, planks, or sheeting for your project. A good rule is to measure your bathroom or kitchen surface area, and then purchase 10% to 15% extra to account for wastage. That way, you will always have enough material, even if you make mistakes.