The function of a bathroom is the same whether it is located in a private home, public business, or office, but when choosing the flooring for a publicly used restroom, you have to find materials that have a very specific set of properties. Flooring materials must be able to handle large amounts of traffic in a safe and effective manner, while also being visually pleasing and stylistically in tune with the rest of the environment.
It’s also important that floors be relatively easy to keep clean so that you can cut down on long-term maintenance costs. The more use space gets, the more important these characteristics become.
Water Resistance: The bathroom is a moist, humid environment. If porous or permeable flooring is used in this space, eventually liquids can penetrate down into it, paving the way for the growth of mold and bacteria. Materials that require regular sealing to maintain water resistance will add to the maintenance costs. The ideal commercial flooring option will be naturally resistant to the penetration of liquids with little or no upkeep required to maintain that state.
Durability: Whenever installing flooring in a commercial location, consider its durability. The more foot traffic space receives, the more its surfaces will suffer from wear and tear. The ability to resist scratching, fading, cracking and breaking will reduce the costs of repair and replacement.
Safety: Liability is another important issue when dealing with public restroom flooring. These spaces tend to be wet and subsequently slippery. If someone falls and hurts themselves, the resultant lawsuit can be a major problem. That risk can be offset to a large degree by choosing a floor that has dimensional traction. Softer materials will also provide some cushion in case an accident does occur.
Health: It can be difficult to keep a bathroom sanitary, but a high-quality floor can help. Materials that are solid, even, and easy to clean will be much easier to maintain over time. Antimicrobial properties are also good as they can naturally help to kill off microorganisms that may try to lurk beneath your feet.
Appropriate Design: Just because it’s a bathroom, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t part of the rest of the location. The flooring in this room should not only match the overall environment but if possible, it should serve as an accent or a space that provides visual interest.
Affordability: The price of different bathroom flooring materials varies greatly. In addition to product costs, you also have to factor in the costs of installation, maintenance, repairs, and eventual replacement when choosing the best flooring for your location.
Commercial Bathroom Flooring Options
Concrete: This is a good, low-cost solution for first-story bathrooms in commercial locations. Concrete often already exists as a subfloor underneath surface coverings and can be relatively inexpensive to dress up with a variety of polishes, stains, and other decorative treatments. Easy to maintain, concrete bathroom floors do need to be sealed regularly. But once that is complete, sanitizing them is usually just a matter of mopping with warm water.
Vinyl: An inexpensive resilient flooring material, vinyl flooring products can be made to look like almost anything. A variety of faux natural stone and hardwood patterns are available as well as numerous solid and multicolor options. Vinyl is resistant to water and stains and is easy to keep clean with simple mopping on a regular basis. The drawback is that vinyl will fade over time, leaving your bathroom looking washed out after seven to 10 years.
Ceramics: Made from clay and other natural sediments, ceramics are fired in a kiln until they become as hard as stone and, in some cases, harder. They are often then treated with a melted glass (porcelain) glaze that makes them resistant to stains and water penetration. Ceramic tile can be printed to look like almost anything—even wood. That gives these materials an inherent versatility that is perfect for high traffic commercial bathroom locations.
Natural Stone: A durable, natural option, slate and other natural stone products have a dimensional texture that will provide traction even in a wet bathroom environment. Born in the belly of a mountain, these materials have an inherent power that can elevate the atmosphere of not just the bathroom but the surrounding environment as well. While quite strong, stone floors are also porous and must be chemically sealed every six to 12 months.
Brick: A warm, rich and vibrant flooring material, brick is very popular in restaurants, bars, bistros, and pubs because of the soothing earthen quality that it exudes. Like natural stone, brick materials are quite hard and rugged, but they also need to be sealed in order to prevent liquid and staining agents from penetrating down past their surface.
Ardley, Suzanne. The Bathroom Planner: Hundreds of Great Ideas for Your New Bathroom. Chronicle Books, 2001