What types of flooring are suitable for the bathroom?

Theano bath from Villeroy & Boch

These days, there is a whole world of stylish and exciting bathroom flooring to discover beyond the traditional tiled floor. Whether minimalist-modern, cosy-comfortable or timeless and elegant – a new bathroom floor can create an entirely new sense of space. In this guide we present the best alternatives to tiles in the bathroom – and provide tips on what to look out for when buying and maintaining them. 

What types of flooring are suitable for the bathroom?

The demands placed on bathroom flooring are high. After all, the floor should not only correspond to a particular trend – its aesthetics should also fit in with the architecture and the overall concept of the bathroom and, if possible, still make entering the bathroom a pleasure several years later. In addition, the chosen flooring should have many practical qualities, such as: 

  • Water resistance: In no other room is the floor exposed to as much splashing water, water vapour and humidity as in the bathroom. The flooring should therefore be completely waterproof. If it contains any components that could swell on contact with water, these must be securely sealed. 

  • Slip resistance: Even if small puddles are present, the surface of the bathroom floor should retain its non-slip properties. 

  • Hygiene: The floor should be easy to clean and impervious to mould. It should be possible to remove stains without leaving any residue. 

  • Pleasant feeling underfoot: We often walk barefoot in the bathroom. A floor covering that provides a pleasant feeling underfoot is therefore a real benefit. 

  • Durability: In the best case, the flooring in the bathroom will still look like new even after many years. 

  • Robustness: Objects are knocked over or dropped in the bathroom all the time. Good flooring should therefore be as scratch and impact resistant as possible. 

For a long time, tiles were the standard choice for bathroom floors. And for good reason – tiles are very easy to clean, waterproof, scratch-resistant and can last for up to 30 years with proper care. These days, there is an amazing variety of tiles to choose from. At the same time, however, the alternatives to tiles in the bathroom are more versatile than ever before. So it's worth taking a closer look at the different types of flooring beyond traditional tiles. 

Flooring from Villeroy & Boch

  • Wood: Many people dream of a wooden floor in the bathroom – little wonder, as this natural material exudes a wonderfully warm and authentic charm. But not all wood is suitable for damp rooms. Hard woods that don't swell on contact with water include, for example, oak, teak and Douglas fir. The surface should be well oiled – this repels moisture and is good for the indoor climate. Disadvantage: Wood surfaces in the bathroom must be cleaned thoroughly and any small puddles must be removed promptly. 

  • Laminate: Special damp-room laminates include a waterproofed carrier board and waterproofed edges that prevent swelling. This makes them an inexpensive and practical alternative to real wood flooring in the bathroom. 

  • Stone floor: Do you want a touch of luxury and extravagance in your bathroom, while at the same time creating a natural and unaffected look? Stone floors give every bathroom an exclusive ambience. The range of options is broad: from natural stone such as slate or granite to elegant marble or sophisticated stone carpets – a stone floor offers countless possibilities. Of all the types of flooring for the bathroom, stone floors are the most durable. They are easy to clean, waterproof and scratch-resistant. Stone flooring for bathrooms is usually roughened to make it slip resistant. 

  • Cork: This flooring type is a newcomer to the bathroom – but it offers some advantages. Cork, for example, is particularly sustainable and environmentally friendly, as it is made from the renewable bark of the cork oak. Unlike parquet flooring, therefore, not a single tree must be felled to create this flooring material. Cork also has a cushioning effect, is easy on the joints and extremely comfortable underfoot. Cork flooring is also suitable for laying over underfloor heating. It is available in a natural look or various other designs. A special sealant and edge protection ensure that cork bathroom floors are waterproof.

  • Rubber: Besides cork, natural rubber is also one of the best options in terms of sustainability. This is because rubber is also a renewable raw material. In addition, it is non-slip, very hard-wearing and offers a slightly yielding, warm and comfortable feeling underfoot. 

  • Linoleum: Modern bathrooms are increasingly being fitted with linoleum flooring. This is by no means a synthetic flooring material, but rather a natural one – made from a mixture of natural resins, lime, linseed oil and wood flour, in a variety of designs. Linoleum is very hygienic thanks to its natural effect biocidal and sporicidal properties. Since it is laid without any joints or grooves whatsoever (apart from the wall joint) it is also easy to maintain. 

  • Vinyl flooring: Vinyl is a cost-effective solution for the bathroom floor. This synthetic floor is waterproof, easy to clean and available in a variety of designs. Modern vinyl flooring is manufactured without harmful plasticisers. While vinyl is often offered in a click system – similar to laminate – PVC flooring is usually available by the metre. However, both flooring types are made of the plastic polyvinyl chloride. 

  • Fair-faced floor screeds: If you prefer a minimalist look, consider a floor made of fair-faced screed or concrete. For this purpose, the concrete or screed is ground down and sealed with special waxes or plastics to protect it against the ingress of moisture. It can then be coated with paint. 

Flooring from Villeroy & Boch
Flooring from Villeroy & Boch

What should be taken into account when laying the flooring?

Whichever flooring material you choose, there are a few things to note when laying the floor. 

Apply adhesive over the entire surface:

Flooring such as cork, vinyl, rubber or linoleum should be glued down over the entire surface so that no moisture can get under the floor. 

Special treatment:

Some types of flooring require special treatment to become waterproof or slip resistant. 

Perfect joints:

Special attention must be paid to the joints. They must be carefully sealed with a suitable sealant to ensure that no water can penetrate. 

Edge protection:

With flooring such as laminate, special edge protection is also useful. Water could penetrate if the edges are damaged. 

When laying the flooring, precision, care and expertise are essential. If joints are not properly sealed or an unsuitable material is used, moisture can penetrate unnoticed and lead to mould growth. It is therefore a good idea to commission a specialist company to lay the bathroom floor. 

The ideal flooring for a modern bathroom

Whichever flooring material you choose for your bathroom, It should also fit visually into the overall design of your bathroom and create a coherent sense of space. A harmonious interplay of colour and materials creates a soothing and calming atmosphere. Strong colours, contrasts and structures, on the other hand, can feel exciting and extravagant. 

  • Cosy: Natural flooring such as wood or cork creates a warm and relaxing atmosphere. It is a good idea to combine wooden floors in the bathroom with bathroom furniture that also contains elements made of solid wood. 

  • Exclusive: Floors made of dark, textured stone such as granite or slate look particularly stylish. For this, however, your bathroom should be as spacious as possible, because dark stone floors create a somewhat reduced sense of space. 

  • Extravagant: Combine nostalgic elements such as a free-standing bath with a minimalist exposed fair-faced screed floor in a modern industrial style. 

  • Expressive: Bathroom floors in dark linoleum or rubber can be combined wonderfully with light bathroom furniture in a minimalist style – for an expressive, high-contrast look. 

  • Timeless: A bathroom in warm earth tones or light shades of grey is timelessly modern and will continue to delight you for many years to come. Natural stone is ideal for this, but also consider linoleum or rubber flooring. 

  • Expressive: Bathroom floors in dark linoleum or rubber can be combined wonderfully with light bathroom furniture in a minimalist style – for an expressive, high-contrast look. 

  • Timeless: A bathroom in warm earth tones or light shades of grey is timelessly modern and will continue to delight you for many years to come. Natural stone is ideal for this, but also consider linoleum or rubber flooring. 

Taking proper care of the bathroom floor

If you want to enjoy your new floor for many years to come, proper cleaning is essential. Read the instructions provided by the manufacturer of your flooring carefully or ask your specialist installer how to clean it properly. As a rule, a mild vinegar cleaner or apple cider vinegar is suitable for maintaining the bathroom floor. 

These cleaners neutralise odours, remove limescale residues and grease, and at the same time combat germs and microorganisms. The slightly pungent smell of vinegar cleaner quickly dissipates. This is diluted with water and applied with a damp mop. However, be careful not to put too much water on the floor when mopping – less is more here. 

Flooring from Villeroy & Boch

Jointless bathrooms are all the rage today – but no bathroom floor is completely joint-free. If your floor is grouted, you should pay special attention to the joints – they are magnets for moisture, limescale and mould. For cleaning, a mixture of baking soda and soda water is ideal, applied directly with a toothbrush. This should be left to work for a few minutes and then wiped off with clean water.