We would all like our laundry room to be comfortable to work in, attractive, and functional. Function is a factor of many things—layout, size, choice of washer and dryer, lighting—and your laundry room's flooring is one of the most important choices you will make.
Laundry Room Flooring Considerations
Moisture is a major concern with laundry room floors. In catastrophic events, water can issue from many different sources: an overflowing washing machine, a clogged drainpipe, or a cracked or severed water supply pipe. Even short of those emergencies, water is always present in laundry rooms; it is unavoidable. For this reason, it helps to install a laundry room floor covering that is as moisture-resistant as possible.
You also will want an attractive floor covering that is warm and soft enough to stand on for long periods. You will want the floor to be smooth and easy to clean. You will want it to be durable enough to last for years. Finally, its cost should remain within reason including the option of installing the flooring by yourself.
Sheet Vinyl Flooring
If the best moisture-proof floor covering for the laundry room is a single, unseamed waterproof piece of material, then sheet vinyl flooring is it. As long as the width of your laundry room remains at or less than 12 feet, you can install a piece of sheet vinyl and avoid seaming altogether (sheet vinyl comes in 12-foot wide rolls).
Combined with a thermoplastic rubber wall base molding (a type of baseboard), sheet vinyl flooring is a highly reliable waterproof laundry room flooring. As long as the vinyl floor and the wall base molding retain their seal, the floor plus another vertical 3 or 4 inches can contain even minor flooding.
Sheet vinyl flooring also holds up well to traffic. If it ever needs replacing, you can lay another sheet right over it. As long as the lower floor is still in good condition, it's a perfectly acceptable substrate for another layer of sheet vinyl.
Few, if any, seams
Difficult to self-install in large spaces
Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVF)
Luxury vinyl plank, at up to 48 inches long, looks remarkably like real wood from a distance. Today's rigid, solid core LVF is a beefy 7 mm thick and more closely approximates laminate flooring than earlier iterations of LVF. Luxury vinyl is a do-it-yourselfer's dream, but care must be taken to tightly seam the boards on all four sides for the flooring to remain waterproof.
100-percent waterproof materials
Easy to install by yourself
Seamed material, so water may still leak through
Rigid core LVF requires a relatively solid substrate
Ceramic and porcelain tile are classic laundry room flooring materials since they are durable, easy to clean, and waterproof if installed well. Tile can be hard to stand on for long periods, and it is inherently cold—but this can be eliminated with radiant heating or the addition of fabric or gel mats.
Tile flooring is solvent-proof. Bleach or petroleum-based products will not affect tile flooring.
Tile provides a solid, firm base for the washer and dryer. There is no flexibility or "give" in tile flooring.
Wide range of style options
Waterproof if properly installed
Flawless installation can be tricky for novices
Cold and hard
Requires solid, inflexible substrate
Concrete might simply be your default laundry room flooring choice because that's what you already have. You don't even have to install a floor covering for it to be a hardy, reliable flooring choice for the laundry room.
Cold to the touch
Unattractive, though it can be improved with paint or stain
Laminate flooring has been the mainstay of economical do-it-yourself installations for decades. While laminate flooring can be used in the laundry room, it does run the risk of damage in the event of flooding or even repeated minor pooling of water. Even the tiniest amount of water introduced to the base fiberboard core can cause the flooring to swell or delaminate.
Always tightly seam laundry room laminate flooring. Use a pan under the washing machine as a precaution.
Easy to install by yourself
Particleboard base will be ruined if in contact with water
Wear layer and image layers may delaminate
Engineered Wood Flooring
Costly but with great looks to spare, engineered wood flooring brings real wood to homes, without the difficulties of solid hardwood flooring. Engineered wood's high-quality plywood base is dimensionally stable, which means it is less affected by moisture.
But engineered wood flooring's looks are only skin-deep: the hardwood is just a thin layer bonded to a plywood base. It doesn't take much to damage that top layer. As with other delicate laundry room floors, be sure to use a pan under the washing machine.
Valued by home buyers
Better choice than solid hardwood
The veneer may delaminate if flooded
Can be damaged by laundry chemicals
Solid Wood Flooring
Any solid piece of wood can swell and shrink dramatically when subjected to enough water, and solid hardwood flooring is no exception. If flooded hardwood flooring is not addressed quickly enough, it can dry and cup so much that sanding will not fix it. Site-finished hardwood flooring is a better bet than pre-finished flooring because its seams have been filled with sealant.
Can be sanded many times
Not dimensionally stable
Difficult to bring back to new if flooded
Subject to damage from laundry chemicals
It's all about preferences and priorities when choosing laundry room flooring. If you want a durable but less conventionally attractive laundry room floor, choose concrete, tile, or sheet vinyl. If you don't mind the maintenance, a more attractive floor that matches flooring in the rest of the house may be engineered wood, laminate, or hardwood. Once you've weighed your own pros and cons, you'll find the perfect laundry room flooring to suit your needs.