Vinyl flooring, whether sheet vinyl, luxury vinyl plank or rigid core, is waterproof, durable, comfortable and budget-friendly making it an excellent option for bathrooms when compared to other floor coverings like tile or engineered hardwood.
Vinyl flooring on the market today has come a long, long way from the thin, peeling, plasticky flooring you may shudder to remember from the ‘70s. We now have incredible 100% waterproof rigid core vinyl plank and tile, and much-improved vinyl sheet, that offer consumers value for money and a credible alternative to authentic wood, stone and ceramic flooring options.
In this article we’re going to delve deep into what makes today’s luxury vinyl flooring or contemporary vinyl sheet one of the best options for your bathroom. We’ll discuss the different types of vinyl flooring, why its technical properties make it 100% waterproof, how advances in manufacturing vinyl gives you a huge range of style options, what to consider when installing vinyl flooring in your bathroom, the likely costs involved and the best brands on the market today.
We’ll also give you our top tips about what to look for when choosing the best resilient vinyl flooring product, because even though this is certainly one of the best flooring choices for bathrooms, there are still a few things to look out for to ensure you get the best results.
PROS & CONS OF BATHROOM VINYL
Our simple, at-a-glance table highlights the advantages and disadvantages of using vinyl in a bathroom compared with other flooring options.
You can read more about vinyl plank flooring pros and cons here.
BATHROOM VINYL AT A GLANCE
Here are the essential details you need right at the start of your search. Read on for a more detailed break-down.
Vinyl Flooring Types
- vinyl sheets
- luxury vinyl tiles (LVT)
- vinyl composite planks or tiles AKA rigid core, WPC and SPC
- vinyl sheets go from around $0.60 to $5 per square foot
- luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) range between $1 to $7 per square foot
- vinyl composite planks generally cost between $2 to $12 per square foot
DIY or Pro
- most vinyl is laid as a floating floor and can be done by proficient DIYers, but certain aspects of sheet and rigid core installation may be easier done by a pro
- vinyl flooring with a wear layers upwards of 12mm is extremely durable, but you’ll also be at the upper level of the price range
- when installed and treated right vinyl – especially rigid core – can last for ages
- manufacturers usually offer five years to lifetime warranties
- regular vacuuming and mopping with a basic soapy water are sufficient
- don’t use abrasives or bleach
- all vinyl is water resistant and usually waterproof, but not always stain proof so best to clean up spills efficiently to avoid stains
HOME FLOORING PROS ADVICE
Home flooring pros are happy to recommend vinyl flooring for bathrooms because it’s easy to install, great value for money and it’s waterproof.
Contemporary luxury vinyl flooring gives you the opportunity to replicate the most common design trends without their potential problems. You can get the look of authentic, characterful hardwood in rooms, like bathrooms, where using really wood isn’t practical because of moisture. You can have a chic and sleek stone look with vinyl tiles, without forking our huge amounts of money for real marble or slate.
Vinyl flooring is the great leveler in terms of getting the look you want for the price you can afford.
Water resistant Vs Waterproof
A little side note before we move on: you’ll see flooring products labeled as water-resistant or waterproof. The difference is essential to understand, especially in a bathroom remodel where you’re going to be seeing a lot of water!
Basically, water resistant flooring has a strong topcoat layer that will withstand splashes of water from a particularly boisterous bath time (people with toddlers will know what I mean), provided you’re quick to mop them up before they have a chance to seep under or down the side of the top waterproof layer.
Water resistant flooring will not however withstand being completely immersed in water – for example a typical laminate flooring has a non-waterproof core and can buckle and warp if it gets very wet or humid.
Meanwhile, waterproof flooring (such as rigid core vinyl, ceramic tile and stone) is completely waterproof and inherently unable to take in any water. You can dunk it for hours in a bucket of water and there will be no difference to size or shape!
This type of flooring is ideal if you’re the kind of person that likes to get the bathroom super steamy with hours long bathing sessions. That constant level of humidity can saturate more porous flooring materials, and lead to warping in the long run. Plus, waterproof flooring will also handle those everyday splashes and spills.
That’s why it makes sense to have the best possible waterproof flooring material in your bathroom and, as we’ll see, rigid core vinyl is a great contender.
Waterproof is NOT Flood Proof
Please note, however, that even the waterproof vinyl flooring will struggle with an out and out flood situation. This is because water is amazing at getting into crack and crannies – and in a flood, water will get under your vinyl sheet or vinyl planks, causing damage to the adhesive, the underlayment and the subfloor; plus, trapped water under planks that haven’t fully dried out after a flood are the perfect environment for mold and mildew growth.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the different vinyl flooring options.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF BATHROOM VINYL
We’ve already mentioned that there are different types of vinyl flooring, so which one is the best one for your bathroom project?
TYPE OF FLOORING
GOOD FOR BATHROOMS?
|Vinyl Sheet||YES: budget option so you can spend more on bathroom fittings
NO: dents easily, so not good if you plan to have a claw foot bath
|$0.60 to $5 per square foot|
|Luxury vinyl tile (LVT)||YES: a bit less prone to denting than vinyl sheet
NO: often made with non-waterproof core, so not ideal for bathroom
|$1 to $7 per square foot|
|WPC/SPC composite vinyl tile (aka rigid core)||YES: 100% waterproof throughout and very resilient
NO: will never have the cachet of real hardwood or stone flooring
|$2 to $12 per square foot|
VINYL SHEET FLOORING: GREAT FOR SMALL BATHROOMS, POWDER ROOMS, AND SMALLER BUDGETS
Contemporary vinyl sheet is now much more durable and much more attractive than the sad, peeling flooring of yore. It is made up of several layers of impermeable but flexible materials, and with modern digital photography, sheet vinyl patterns can look almost exactly like real wood, stone or ceramic tiles. There is also a growing trend for abstract and graphic geometric patterns, often in punchy colors, which provide a fun option – rather like wallpaper, but for floor!
The great advantage of vinyl sheet is that it can be pretty cheap, super easy to install with no grouting to worry about – perfect for renters to remove later, or for young homeowners who need to stretch their budget.
The downside for vinyl sheet is that it is not the sturdiest, toughest vinyl option and so it can and will get dented if you put heavy furniture on it.
So, if you’re using this in your bathroom, it’ll be fine if vinyl sheet is cut and fitted right up to the edge of your vanity units and tub units with flush edges; but if you’re opting for bathroom furniture that needs to sit on top of the flooring (for example a claw foot tub, or a vanity unit with exposed legs) then we’d advise you choose one of the more robust types of vinyl flooring (see below).
LUXURY VINYL PLANKS/TILES: GOOD ALL-ROUND OPTION FOR MOST BATHROOMS
LVT is made using a similar process to vinyl sheet, but is available in plank or tile sizes. It is somewhat less flexible than vinyl sheet, but softer than rigid core, so it is prone to denting. It’s a pretty good option for every day bathroom use, provided you are not living in extremely humid conditions.
This is because, whilst all LVT flooring is water resistant, some brands use a core material such as high-density board that is not 100% waterproof – so be sure you check the product details.
LVT used to be marketed as the best alternative to laminate, so it is widely available in lots of wood and stone look options. And you can also get groutable versions of stone look luxury vinyl tiles, which can add to the a more authentic look.
RIGID CORE (OR EVP FLOORING) 100% WATERPROOF COMPOSITE VINYL: BEST, MOST DURABLE OPTION FOR ALL TYPES OF BATHROOMS
Also known as WPC and SPC depending on the exact composition of the core layer, this is the (fairly) brand-new type of vinyl that everyone raves about and that has so many different names depending on the manufacturer – hybrid LVT, rigid core, resilient vinyl to name a few!
This extremely rigid and durable vinyl is available in plank or tile sizes depending on the look you’re going for and is absolutely the best choice for your bathroom.
This is because it is composed of several layers made from 100% inherently waterproof materials, that will not warp no matter how humid it gets! Rigid core vinyl is also the most resilient and strongest vinyl flooring – perfect if you’ve got a heavy claw foot bath, or other large bathroom furnishings.
Because of its unbeatable performance, most reputable manufacturers are moving to offer rigid core vinyl as their main vinyl option and so it is increasingly available in many different authentic looking styles and patterns to suit all kinds of bathroom designs, including options that can be laid in popular herringbone or chevron formation.
HOW TO FIND THE BEST VINYL FLOORING FOR BATHROOMS
When you begin to look at possible vinyl floors to buy, be sure to take these four factors into account in order to get the best possible quality flooring.
- Floor Score Certification: After the first flush of contemporary LVT and rigid core vinyl products there were concerns that the plastics used could emit toxic vapors and affect your indoor air quality. Thankfully these concerns were taken seriously and addressed and now the most reputable flooring manufacturers put their products through rigorous air quality control testing. So, for your peace of mind be sure to choose a vinyl flooring that has been FloorScore-certified against VOC toxins.
- Cheaper can look cheap: Vinyl flooring that replicates the look of real wood or stone is never going to be absolutely authentic. This is because each authentic plank or tile is completely unique; vinyl uses digital images for the pattern so there will be repeats. In the cheaper end of the market, these repeated images can be quite frequent, which – to the very keen eye – results in a look that is too uniform. So, our advice is to choose vinyl at the top end of your budget: it will just look better.
- Wear layer is key: Wear layers on vinyl flooring can range from as little as 4 mils to upwards of 12 mils. The thicker the wear layer, the more durable the floor. Typically, vinyl flooring at the top end of the market will have a super-protective wear layer of at least 12 mils which will be reflected with a 20+ years or lifetime warranty. So, if you can afford it, then definitely go for it!
- Beware heavy furniture: As mentioned before, vinyl sheet and LVT flooring are relatively soft and prone to denting. So, if you plan to have heavy furniture in your bathroom standing on the floor, we recommend going with rigid core vinyl instead.
INSTALLING VINYL FLOORING IN A BATHROOM
As with all flooring installation, the best results will be had if you pay attention to preparing the subfloor. Subfloors should be clean, dry and as even as possible. If your subfloor is concrete, then you MUST use a vapor barrier.
INSTALLING VINYL SHEET IN YOUR BATHROOM:
The least forgiving if the subfloor isn’t even, vinyl sheet can either be glued down to the subfloor or simply allowed to sit on top of the subfloor, with an adhesive strip at the edges.
DIY or Pro? Theoretically if you know how to install vinyl sheet flooring, you can just roll the sheet out about 24 hours before installation – let it acclimate and flatten out – and then shift into place. But in reality, you may need to cut the vinyl to fit to your space and around any non-moveable items such as the toilet. If you’re not great with working out negative space, then hire an experienced pro who’ll get the job done in no time.
INSTALLING LVT IN YOUR BATHROOM:
Luxury vinyl tile or plank usually comes with a click lock edge that allows you to link each plank together and install as a floating floor; for a bathroom installation it may be advisable to use the glue down method for added stability in case of extreme humidity. Increasingly there are LVT peel and stick tiles available which is a decent option for a small DIY bathroom project. Always check the product installation pages for details.
DIY or Pro? Attaching planks together with the click lock system is relatively easy, but a bit tricky at first until you get the hang of it. The biggest pitfall with DIY is not ensuring an optimal subfloor – experienced pros will be able to fully assess if you need a humidity barrier, repairs or leveling done to your subfloor. In a small bathroom you’ll also need to know about cutting vinyl plank flooring if you plan on doing the work yourself.
INSTALLING WPC/ SPC RIGID CORE VINYL IN YOUR BATHROOM:
Rigid core vinyl usually comes with an underlayment pad already attached which will allow for minor subfloor imperfections and can be installed over an existing flooring (such as ceramic tile) but be aware that no vinyl floor will be able to compensate for an extremely uneven subfloor. WPC and SPC flooring is installed as a floating floor.
DIY or Pro? Some argue that since there is often no grouting with WPC/SPC flooring that it is less forgiving and needs to be undertaken by a pro to ensure planks or tiles are tightly locked together. As with all flooring projects, if you choose to do it yourself, the finished result will depend on how proficient you are. Note that SPC is particularly tricky to cut, so you will need top end cutting tools for that, which a pro should have as part of their kit.
VINYL FLOOR BATHROOM STYLES, PATTERNS AND SIZES
We’ve mentioned a few time snow that there is a huge range of styles and looks available in vinyl, so you’ll be sure to find something that suits your design; but here are some of our top trends and ideas to consider.
BEST VINYL STYLE FOR A SMALL BATHROOM/ POWDER ROOM
A small bathroom, and in particular a little powder room, is the best place for being bold and adventurous with your décor style. Vinyl sheet in a colourful geometric pattern is a fun option, and because it is relatively cheap, it can be more affordable to replace when you’re ready to change your bathroom style.
Other unusual vinyl flooring designs for maximum bathroom design impact include metallics and faux encaustic cement tiles.
BEST VINYL STYLE FOR A LARGE FAMILY BATHROOM
Bathrooms that are going to get a lot of use from the whole family need to stand up to increased traffic and offer both practicality and style.
Opting for a rigid core vinyl in a wood look design gives you both a robust flooring and lots of flexibility in terms of the rest of your bathroom décor. You can dress it down for a farmhouse chic look, add blues and cream for coastal vibes, or style it up in family-friendly neutral tones.
And, if you have a very large family bathroom, choosing rigid core that can be laid as chevron or herringbone formation is an added stylish touch.
BEST VINYL STYLE FOR A KIDS’ BATHROOM
If your kids get to have their own bathroom, then there are two ways to go: either get a practical and classic rigid core flooring that will stand the test of time (and all the splashes) or choose a vinyl sheet flooring with a fun pattern that you can easily replace once the kids are older and need a more grown-up look.
Both rigid core and vinyl sheet are available in the distressed, weathered wood look which pairs nicely with a coastal vibe that is perfect for kids. Alternatively, a monochrome checkboard vinyl flooring with plain bathroom fittings can then be dressed up with fun and bright kids bathroom accessories.
BEST VINYL STYLE FOR A MASTER ENSUITE BATHROOM
Your master ensuite bathroom should be a place of luxury, your own private spa to escape to.
SPC rigid core vinyl is widely available in stone looks that beautifully mimic marble, slate and limestone. Pair with brass bathroom fittings for extra glamour, and statement bathroom linens and scented candles for ultimate decadence.
Top end wood look rigid core vinyl planks are another way to go. They’ll be just the right thing (and tough enough) to pair with an opulent claw-foot bath. Add extravagant lighting and stylish wallpaper to create a grown-up sanctuary just for you.
BEST VINYL STYLE FOR A WET-ROOM
A less well advertised feature of vinyl flooring is that it is slip proof, making it a good choice for wet-rooms. The best version is vinyl sheet which is specifically designed for wet-rooms, such as those available from Gerflor, Tarkett and Armstrong. However, these vinyl floors can be a bit “commercial” in their aesthetic (ceramic non-slip tile, or cement flooring might be a more stylish choice). Also note that, if you’re opting for vinyl for a wet room, choose an experienced installer to ensure the floor is installed correctly over the drainage system.
BEST VINYL BRANDS FOR A BATHROOM
Now you’re ready to start shopping bathroom vinyl so let’s take a look at some of the best vinyl flooring brands available at different price points to suit all budgets.
If you’re looking to do a bathroom remodel on a budget, then we fully recommend that you look at vinyl sheet.
Available at all national home improvement stores such as The Home Depot or Lowes, you’ll likely spend between $0.55 and $1.00 per square foot for a decent quality product from trusted manufacturers such as Armstrong, Mohawk and TrafficMaster.
Whilst LVT flooring rules the mid-range vinyl flooring market, we don’t fully recommend it for bathrooms because it doesn’t always perform best in high moisture environments.
Instead look for a WPC flooring in the $2.50-$5 price bracket that will give you great value for money and complete peace of mind in the bathroom setting. Brands such as Shaw Floors, Congoleum, SmartCore and Mannington all have quality WPC floors in that mid-range price bracket.
TOP OF THE LINE OPTIONS:
You’ll find a lot of very good EVP rigid core vinyl flooring in most big box stores retailing in the upper mid-range of $4-$6 per square foot, but for the best of the best we recommend having a look at CoreTec.
CoreTec are the original manufacturers of the very first WPC vinyl floors and they remain top contenders in the industry, offering both middle range to top end WPC and SPC products. Their very top ranges retail between $8-$12 per square foot and are definitely worth it for their attention to detail and durability.
Take a look at our rigid core review page for more on EVP flooring cost.
PRICE COMPARISON TABLE
Here is a list of top vinyl siding brands and their typical price ranges. Click any of the links for a more in-depth review of each brand:
Price per square foot
|MSI||$1.60 – $3.50|
|Islander||$1.70 – $3.85|
|Smartcore Pro||$2.00 – $3.70|
|Nucore Vinyl Flooring||$2.35 – $3.80|
|Congoleum Vinyl Tile||$2.50 – $3.50|
|Lifeproof Rigid Core||$2.79 – $4.39|
|Armstrong Luxe Plank Flooring||$2.79 – $4.39|
|Mannington Adura Flex Plank||$3.00 – $3.50|
|Mannington Adura Max Flooring||$3.00 – $6.00|
|Mohawk SolidTech LVT||$3.50 – $6.25|
|Adura Rigid Plank||$3.60 – $4.60|
|Mohawk Pergo Extreme||$3.99 – $5.99|
|COREtec Pro Plus||$3.80 – $7.99|
|Korlok Vinyl Plank Flooring||$4.50 – $7.00|
|Armstrong Pryzm Vinyl Planks||$4.90 – $8.00|
HOME FLOORING PROS CONCLUSION
- Vinyl flooring allows you to have the most enduring trends in bathroom flooring – hardwood or real stone – at a significantly lower price
- The best vinyl plank flooring is very much on trend in the flooring market now, so you also have the pick of more dramatic flooring trends (such as geometric patterned tiles) if you want a statement bathroom interior design
- Composite vinyl, aka WPC, SPC or rigid core, is a great option for a bathroom floor, followed by vinyl sheet if you’re on a tight budget
- Avoid LVT if you can find a rigid core alternative, since LVT doesn’t always have a 100% waterproof core
- Vinyl sheet is ideal for low-budget remodels but can be prone to denting
- Always check that vinyl floor is FloorScore-certified against VOC toxins
- For best durability, always opt for vinyl with the thickest wear layer you can afford
About the Author:
Jamie Sandford is the Owner and Chief Editor of Home Flooring Pros (find out more). After 12 years’ experience in screen and stage set construction followed by a further 15 years working in the home renovation/remodeling business he now writes and curates online home improvement advice.
“Buying and installing home flooring should be a fairly straightforward process, but often it isn’t. After more than 15 years’ experience in home flooring and remodeling, I started Home Flooring Pros in 2013 to help homeowners navigate the often-over complicated process of choosing, buying and installing a home floor. The aim is to save you time and money by helping you to make better floor buying decisions.”