What are the Different Types of Bathroom Tile for Flooring?

T. Alaine

The wide availability of different types of bathroom tile for flooring means there is most likely an option to suit the aesthetic and function of any design. Varieties of bathroom tile for flooring can range from traditional midsize ceramic tiles to oversized natural stone, vinyl, or linoleum tiles, to tiny mosaic tiles. Each material is usually available in an extensive array of colors, designs, and finishes to accommodate multiple styles. The most important aspect of bathroom tile for flooring is that the tiles are durable enough to withstand the high traffic and moisture inherent to a bathroom.

Installing ceramic tiles can ensure waterproofing and durability of bathroom walls and floors.
Installing ceramic tiles can ensure waterproofing and durability of bathroom walls and floors.

Ceramic tiles are usually considered the classic choice for bathroom floors. These tiles, which are formed from clay and heated at high temperatures to become solid and inflexible, are frequently chosen because they meet the demands of the job. Bathroom tile for flooring needs to be long-lasting and water-resistant, and ceramic tiles meet both of these requirements. Generally, it is probably best to choose unglazed ceramic tiles, because glazed tiles are very smooth and may become slippery when wet. If glazed tiles are selected, a solution to slipperiness is to use small area rugs on top of the ceramic tiles near the shower or tub; using rugs also addresses the complaint that ceramic tiles sometimes feel too cold against bare feet.

Bathroom tiles can look nice and provide a little traction for bare feet.
Bathroom tiles can look nice and provide a little traction for bare feet.

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Natural stone shares many of the same properties as ceramic when it comes to bathroom tile for flooring. Similar to ceramic tiles, natural stone is very durable and water-resistant, but the polished versions might be slippery, and the tile can feel cool to the touch in cold weather. Using natural stone as bathroom tile for flooring allows access to a wide variety of natural colors and patterns and produces attractive results. Tiles made of natural stone are often one of the more expensive tile flooring options.

Stone floors in bathrooms can look naturally elegant, but they are also the most expensive choice.
Stone floors in bathrooms can look naturally elegant, but they are also the most expensive choice.

Less expensive options for bathroom floor tiles usually include vinyl or laminate tiles. These tiles are synthetic, and while they are not made from stone or clay, they are often designed to imitate those natural materials. Synthetic tiles are usually easier to install, but may not be as durable or resistant to moisture as ceramic and stone. Most laminate or vinyl tiles are applied to the existing floor with a glue-like adhesive—many are peel-and-stick—, in contrast to the grout used to install ceramic and stone tiles. The cracks between laminated pieces may separate over time as the tiles shift, however, opening up opportunities for water to seep in.

Mosaics are another option when selecting bathroom tile for flooring. Mosaic tiles are tiny, so a great number of them are needed to cover an entire floor. As a result, individual mosaic tiles, which are usually ceramic, are typically used in conjunction with larger tiles as a decoration to add visual interest. Some synthetic mosaic tiles, however, are available in large rolls of vinyl or laminate or, alternatively, in the form of large tiles processed to look like a bunch of tiny mosaics. These options are available to achieve the look of a full mosaic floor without incurring the cost or intensive labor of using individual tiles.

A shag rug can provide a nice textural contrast to the hard surfaces found in most bathrooms.
A shag rug can provide a nice textural contrast to the hard surfaces found in most bathrooms.

Discussion Comments

Drentel

If you have any ability and think you can do the job of tiling a bathroom floor then you can save a lot of money. I read somewhere that the usual saving on not hiring a professional tile person for the average size bathroom is from $500 to $1,500. So if you go with a reasonably prized tile and then put it down yourself then you will save a small fortune, enough for your next home project.

Sporkasia

@Feryll - If the size of the pieces of tile is all the same to you then you should use larger pieces of the bathroom tile flooring. I helped a friend put down ceramic tile in her bathroom and she had the really small pieces. They look great, but getting them where they were supposed to be was a major challenge because there are so many of them, and you have more opportunities to get something out of line.

For me, working with the larger pieces of tile is much easier, and the process of installing them goes much quicker. Whichever tile you purchase, be prepared to take your time and simply concentrate on one piece at a time. When all is going well, do not get overconfident and rush and get ahead of yourself. I speak from experience.

Feryll

I am dreading tackling the job of replacing the tile in our bathroom. The tile currently on the walls and the floor looks okay, but I can see that it was a do-it-yourself project for someone. Some of the tile pieces don't line up exactly perfectly, and there are some places where the person doing the job made some questionable choices.

However, as I said, the tile looks okay. My worry is that I won't do the job nearly as well as the previous person did, and we will have a small disaster in terms of the overall look of the bathroom. I want a tile that is simple to lay, but I don't want the peel and stick laminate type. I want real clay ceramic or stone bathroom tile flooring.

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