If you're on a tight budget when remodeling a bathroom, you're always on the lookout for ways to cut costs, and the flooring is sometimes overlooked because it is generally not the highest-ticket item in a bathroom remodel. Homeowners are often so intent on choosing that elegant cabinetry or debating a whirlpool tub vs. a glass-block, walk-in shower that the flooring is a last-minute decision.
But you will be surprised at the savings possible if you carefully consider your flooring options. While there are many flooring materials that meet the criteria for bathroom use—humidity resistance, slip resistance, durable wear—some of the common options can be far more expensive than you imagine. Natural stone, for example, is a common choice, but it can carry a hefty price tag.
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Repaint Your Wood Floor
If you are lucky enough to already have a wooden floor in your bathroom, the simplest solution to refresh its look is to paint it a new shade—possibly one that fits your new color scheme.
There are excellent bathroom-compatible paints, but if you prefer a more natural look, you can add a tint to a white enamel for just a touch of color. Enamel will protect your wood and keep it shiny and beautiful for years to come.
Repainting is a solution most homeowners can do themselves, avoiding additional labor costs. And repainting can be combined with the use of some high-quality rugs to make a bathroom floor that is truly elegant at a fraction of the cost of premium materials.
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Install Porcelain Tile
Porcelain tile is the more elegant big brother to standard ceramic tile. It has several advantages when used for bathroom flooring. Made from fine clays fired at very high temperatures, porcelain has a very low moisture absorption rate (less than point 5 percent), which makes it perfect for the humid environment of a bathroom, and even outdoors in some climates.
Porcelain tile design also comes in a myriad of styles, from faux-wood to faux-marble to, well, faux-everything. So, that luxurious stone tile you wanted but is way too expensive? You can have it for much cheaper by using a porcelain tile designed to look like marble, slate, or granite.
Porcelain tile can be bought at less than $2 per square feet if you know where to look. Big-box home improvement centers now have a surprising selection of excellent porcelain tiles. Specialty tile outlets also may have more budget options or close-out styles among their selections.
Porcelain tiles are installed in the same way as standard ceramic tile. Most homeowners hire out this work, but a skilled DIYer can also install porcelain tile. And if you are dying for a bathroom with radiant under-floor heating, porcelain tile is a perfect surface.
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Throw a Rug On It
Rugs? In a bathroom? Why yes! As this beautiful bathroom by Buknola shows, a well-chosen rug can break the monotony of an ordinary floor and bring color to any space. In a bathroom with otherwise bargain-level flooring, splurging on one or two nice rugs can make all the difference in the world.
If you have some space, put a nice rug at the entrance of your bathroom. It'll set the tone for the rest of the room, and you won't have to replace or repaint the entire floor. Or buy a few complementary rugs and throw them around the room—at the entrance, in front of the sink, at the foot of the bath. Hide the less nice parts of your bathroom floor with a rug—it'll save you money and add plenty of style to your space.
However, do make sure you put anti-slip padding under the rug so water and humidity don't make it dangerous to stand and walk on it.
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Consider Vinyl Flooring
One thing that's great about modern printing technologies is that we can now make synthetic substances like vinyl look like nearly any material. The cheap-looking sheet vinyl and vinyl tiles once common are a thing of the past. Today's vinyls have textured surfaces and print layers that can look convincingly like natural stone, wood, and other premium materials.
Especially popular are newer luxury vinyl flooring (LVF), a thicker form of vinyl flooring that is generally installed as planks joined together with a modified tongue-and-groove system known as "click-lock." These floors are quite luxurious in appearance but cost a fraction of what natural stone or hardwood flooring costs. Of all the common flooring choices, vinyl the most resistant to humidity and water.
With many different textures and colors available, you can make the floor of your dreams without spending outlandishly for dream materials. And vinyl is super easy to install and even easier to maintain.
The beautiful vinyl pattern featured in this photo is from Esty shop QuadroStyle. There are plenty of specialty vinyls available at independent flooring outlets that will give you unique choices if you don't like what big-box stores have on hand.
While the flooring is not the biggest decision you'll make when remodeling a bathroom, it does make a big difference in your bathroom's look and a surprisingly big difference in your remodeling budget. If you want to refresh your style without spending a fortune, think about using one of these techniques for a totally new feel to your bathroom.