Vinyl, Low Cost and Lovely

This low-cost resilient flooring combines easy-to-clean durability with the look of natural materials.
Bathroom Slate Flooring

Brazilian Slate Floor

This bathroom has an elegant feel with the beige Brazilian slate flooring.

This bathroom has an elegant feel with the beige Brazilian slate flooring.
By: Kim Hildenbrand

Sure, you love the look of natural stone and ceramic tile in the bathroom, but you don't love the cost. If you want an alternative that's easy on the budget, low-maintenance, and comfortable underfoot, turn to vinyl. Water-resistant and antimicrobial, vinyl is available in hundreds of colors, patterns, and designs. It's fairly easy to install (chances are you can do it yourself) and today's styles offer enhanced realism. It's warmer to the touch than tile, a plus for winter mornings, and has a cushioned feel that reduces leg fatigue. And if you knock a vase of flowers off the vanity, it probably won't break. Most manufacturers offer unique features for stain protection, cushioning, durability, and antimicrobial properties.

Vinyl Bathroom Floors

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Types of Vinyl Flooring

Choose from three basic types of vinyl floor options for the bath:

Sheet vinyl. This seamless option is a favorite for high-traffic baths that tend to get splashed. Generally available in 6- or 12-foot-wide rolls, sheet vinyl comes in a range of colors and designs, including styles that mimic tile and wood.

Vinyl tiles. This easy-to-install option mimics stone or ceramic tile. Virtually any color is available, and sizes range from small to large format. Tiles can be installed in virtually any pattern for a custom look. Many types can be grouted for a true-to-life look.Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT) is primarily made from limestone and is low cost. Solid vinyl tile (SVT) and luxury vinyl tile (LVT) contain more vinyl, for better performance and more realistic appearance.

Vinyl planks. Made to resemble hardwood, vinyl planks are a worry-free way to incorporate the look of wood in the bath. Features include true-to-life textures and beveled ends and edges, and they come in the same size as wood planks.

Considerations When Choosing Vinyl Flooring

Consider the following factors when choosing vinyl floors for the bath.

Style. What do you want from your floor? Today's vinyl can mimic everything from rustic stone to hand-scraped hardwood—and it is surprisingly realistic.

Texture. Highly textured floors offer tactile appeal. But keep in mind they can be a bit more difficult to clean.

Pattern. Does your bath require a quiet backdrop or a vivid focal point? Vinyl comes in a variety of pattern options.

Finish. Vinyl floors are available in a variety of finishes, including low-gloss, matte, and glossy.

Tough Enough? Vinyl is extremely durable. Quality vinyl floors stand up to spills, traffic and pets' nails better than most surfaces.

How to Clean. Vinyl is a breeze to clean. Sweep or vacuum regularly, and damp mop weekly. For glossy floors, occasionally strip and reapply polish as necessary. Avoid waxing or buffing the surface.

Underlayment. With proper prep, vinyl can be installed over virtually any flat, dry, clean surface. In most cases, a plywood underlayment is recommended.

The Lowdown. Vinyl is a manufactured material composed of four layers: a protective urethane top coat, a protective clear vinyl layer, a printed design layer, and a felt or fiberglass backing. It withstands water well, and it's fairly resistant to dents, scratches and fading. Vinyl flooring is quiet and comfortable to stand on, and items such as vases or glasses may bounce on it instead of breaking. Vinyl comes in a wide variety of colors, textures and designs.

Keep in mind that vinyl flooring probably won't be mistaken for the material it's imitating. Also, because it's relatively soft, vinyl can be damaged by sharp objects.

Vinyl flooring costs around $1 to $5 per square foot, uninstalled. Vinyl tiles are DIY-friendly, thanks to self-stick backing, spray adhesives, and other simple options. Sheet vinyl installation generally is better left to professionals.

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