Bathrooms are the highest traffic areas in most houses. With all the water splashing around and a constantly moist environment, your bathroom floors are sure to take a beating. Also, they are cleaned more frequently, adding to the already existing high-stress pile. So, in addition to picking a bathroom floor that looks good, its longevity and performance and whether or not it suits the environment are essential when choosing the best flooring option for bathrooms.
Both vinyl planks and tiles have gained massive popularity in the past few years. They are versatile, durable, and affordable. But is vinyl good for bathrooms? Can vinyl even be used in bathrooms? This article will answer everything you need to know about vinyl for bathrooms.
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Can Vinyl Even Go in a Bathroom?
The short answer to that question is yes, absolutely!
The best flooring for a bathroom needs to possess a few qualities. For instance –
- It needs to withstand moisture and humidity.
- It needs to be sturdy enough to handle high foot traffic.
- It needs to be easy to clean and maintain.
- It also needs to resist slips when wet.
- It needs to have a comfortable underfoot.
Vinyl flooring, including its most popular type, luxury vinyl, is primarily made of flexible polyvinyl chloride or PVC. It is coated with a chemical top layer that makes it super durable. The top layer of vinyl is scratch-resistant and can tolerate a fair amount of beating. It checks out most of the criteria you should look for in a bathroom floor.
One additional thing about vinyl for bathrooms is it can mimic the look and feel of any hard-surface floor, including hardwood. Even though hardwood looks great in a bathroom, its sensitivity to moisture makes it an unsuitable choice. But you can still create a wooden look in the bathroom using luxury vinyl planks, which are a great alternative to hardwood floors. You can also get it in tile form if you want to bring a tile-like look into the bathroom.
Types of vinyl for bathrooms
Vinyl flooring comes in a wide range of varieties. In addition, vinyl flooring comes in different forms with unique shapes and installation methods.
There are three main types of vinyl flooring: vinyl plank, vinyl sheet, and vinyl tiles.
Vinyl Plank Flooring
As the name suggests, this vinyl comes in a plank shape. This floating floor can go over existing floors as long as it is smooth and level. Vinyl planks usually resemble wooden flooring. But sometimes, they can also take after stone or tiles flooring. Vinyl plank can be glued down, but the tongue and groove method is the most popular. These are also DIY friendly.
Vinyl Sheet Flooring
Vinyl sheet flooring is the best option if you want a seamless installation. It comes in large flexible sheets that are cut to fit the room. In addition, it is relatively inexpensive than tile and plank vinyl. Vinyl sheet flooring is also preferred in bathrooms as its seamless finish prevents water from seeping through the seams.
Vinyl Tile Flooring
Generally known as vinyl composite tiles (VCT), the tile form is easy to install and DIY-friendly. The most significant benefit of vinyl tiles is that they can be easily repaired by replacing the damaged tiles. Vinyl tiles resemble natural stone or ceramic tiles while being much more affordable. However, since the tiles have more seams, water is more likely to penetrate through and reach the subfloor.
Is Vinyl Good for Bathrooms: Pros and Cons
Vinyl for bathrooms: Pros
Vinyl flooring has outstanding water-resistant qualities — an essential element for bathroom floors. The wear layer that sits on the top prevents any water from seeping through the vinyl. However, in plank and tile vinyl, water can still penetrate through the seams and reach the subfloor, which can rot the subfloor and cause mold growth. So, you should still avoid leaving standing water for an extended period on your bathroom floor. You can also install waterproof underlayment to protect your subfloor.
Vinyl is one of the most affordable flooring options, costing only $1 to $2 per square foot for sheet flooring and $2 to $3 per square foot for planks. In addition, professional installation for vinyl floors costs another $1 to $5 per square foot, depending on your location, which is an exceptionally low price for flooring labor—totaling around $600 to $1000 in a 200-square foot area. You can also get more expensive variations of luxury vinyl that cost about $4 to $10 per square foot.
Easy to clean and maintain
In terms of maintenance and cleaning, vinyl flooring is as simple as it gets. Vinyl is stain-resistant, meaning you don’t need to bring out your steel wool as often. You can clean vinyl flooring with water and mild soaps. However, if you are going for cheaper options, you might need to be careful about not scuffing up the top layer. But it is not as problematic in sturdier options. And as for maintenance, vinyl flooring does not require any maintenance whatsoever. Clean regularly, and you are good to go.
Slip resistance is crucial for bathroom flooring as it is expected to get wet very often. Otherwise, getting out of the shower alone is enough to send you on a trip to the E.R. Vinyl flooring doesn’t get as slippery even when wet. Although the exact slip resistance depends on the particular finish of the vinyl you get, it still performs better than most tiles. In fact, this is one of the leading reasons many prefer vinyl for bathrooms over ceramic tiles.
Comfortable than tile
Although tile is quite popular as a bathroom flooring option, it gets a bad rep for being very cold and hard on the foot. However, with vinyl flooring in the bathroom, you won’t feel like stepping on ice on a cold winter morning. Also, vinyl has a softer underfoot, which feels more comfortable overall.
Quieter than tile
If you have tile floors in your bathroom, you already know how much it can amplify even the slightest noise. As vinyl is softer in comparison to tile, it absorbs soundwaves more. Therefore, the noise does not travel as far and gets muted to a certain degree. Sound insulation can be a significant concern if you live with a partner.
A great alternative to other flooring materials
Vinyl flooring is an excellent alternative to its competitors, such as tile, natural stone, and hardwood flooring. It has superior characteristics such as water resistance, slip resistance, easy maintenance, and an affordable price point that keep it at the forefront as the best option for bathrooms. In addition, the more expensive vinyl has embossing to mimic the appearance of other flooring materials closely with the additional pros of vinyl for bathrooms.
Vinyl for bathrooms: Cons
Might be hard to remove
This is not an issue if you pick the click-and-lock installing option. However, if you opt for a complete glue-down, it is a hassle to remove the vinyl. In addition, if you redo your bathroom floors in the future, the removal step will demand a lot of labor. So, if you are looking for a temporary glow-up for your bathroom, consider advising your contractor to use floating installation methods.
Difficult to repair
Although vinyl is quite durable, you cannot repair it if it gets punctured or cracked. Instead, you’d have to replace the affected planks or tiles, which takes quite a significant amount of time, money, and effort. However, if you install vinyl sheet flooring, you might need to replace the entire flooring in case of significant damage.
Doesn’t improve the home’s resale value
Vinyl is an affordable flooring option that is also relatively cheap to install. However, this pro of vinyl becomes a drawback at the time of reselling the house. Vinyl has an average lifespan of 10 years or more, shorter than tile or hardwood, with a higher resale value. So, if you plan to sell your house down the road ultimately, you might want to invest in other flooring materials with better returns in the future.
Might puncture easily
Even though vinyl is quite durable, it is softer than other flooring materials, such as tile, hardwood, and laminate. As a result, vinyl can get easily punctured if you drop something sharp and pointy on it. Sliding heavy objects or heavy furniture can also damage and dent the vinyl.
Non-durable top coat
Depending on the manufacturer and the quality of vinyl you get, the top coat can be non-durable, which can shorten your vinyl’s lifespan as it is the protective layer holding against water and wear and tear. Also, if your top layer is not U.V. resistant, the print on the vinyl can start to fade if it is exposed to sunlight. However, vinyl with a robust top layer is quite available now to tackle this.
Vinyl flooring contains many chemicals — some of which are toxic. Even though these are stable in vinyl’s manufactured form and will not affect you much in its lifespan, these chemicals do not safely break down in landfills. So, there is the potential for releasing toxic gases or VOCs if the materials are burned. However, the good news is that low-VOC vinyl flooring is the norm nowadays. There are even zero-VOC products hitting the market.
What Happens if Water Gets Under Vinyl?
Even though vinyl is water resistant, moisture can still seep through the seams of tiles and planks. This can lead to mold growth, which can be even worse if you have wooden subflooring. And remember, even if your flooring is waterproof, your subflooring most likely isn’t. The moisture can damage and even rot the subfloor — a structural part of your home. Once the damage reaches the subfloor, you have no other option but to remove the floor covering and replace the damaged subfloor.
One way to protect the subfloor is by using a waterproof underlayment between the subfloor and the vinyl. Other than a few exceptions, most vinyl flooring requires an underlayment. However, some vinyl comes with the underlayment attached, which you need to find out before investing in an underlayment. Still, be sure to clean up spills and standing water as soon as possible, even if your subfloor is protected, as the trapped moisture can still cause mold growth — which is expensive and time-consuming to deal with.
So, the answer to the question “is vinyl good for bathrooms” is a definite yes as long as you are aware of the pros and cons of vinyl for bathrooms. It is one of the best choices for renovating bathrooms without digging a hole in your wallet!