Small Bathroom Flooring Ideas

Woman standing on bathmat in tiled bathroom
Sean Justice/Getty Images

It's cool to be small. Puppies. Babies. Mini Coopers. Even bathrooms.

Tiny bathrooms are great. They're easier to clean, faster to paint, cheaper to floor. Cue segue into a discussion of flooring for small bathrooms:

  • Pros: Small floor space means you can ramp up your flooring budget. Some homeowners even take this as they opportunity to install high-end flooring, such as real travertine, Of course, it all depends on how much money you care to spend. But consider that a floor that even costs as much as $10/square foot will be only $550 dollars for a 50 square foot bathroom. Spend away, baby!
  • Cons: Careful with those seams. Prominent seams, made all more visible by grout that highly contrasts with the tiles, can give a weighty, ponderous appearance to your tiny bathroom. Use grout that doesn't stand out so much.

Ceramic Spiral Tile

Here's an idea that doesn't range too far from normal: spiral mosaic tile.

This is unglazed porcelain mosaic that can be used for either the bathroom flooring or walls. It's four white rectangular tiles spiraled around a square black tile. Simple but effective.

Pictured: Old World Spiral Tile from tile manufacturer Merola, available at The Home Depot.

Old world spiral tile by merola
Courtesy of The Home Depot 

Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring

Solid hardwood is never one of the most advisable types of flooring to install in your bathroom, water being the main issue. Vinyl, as the saying goes, is final. This means that vinyl can be considered the ultimate waterproof solution.

But you say that you don't like vinyl tile? You think it's mousy and plain? Then luxury vinyl plank flooring may be the way to go. Vinyl has come of age with this product (often shortened to "LVP") ​since it looks more like real wood than before.

Like anything else in life, you get what you pay for. Cheap luxury vinyl flooring is 2mm thick or even down to 1.5mm and comes in the peel-and-stick variety. To put this in perspective, better LVP, such as the pictured Karndean Canadian Maple Plank, runs as thick as 5mm and has click-and-lock joinery.

Just be careful using those wider dimension planks in small bathrooms; they tend to overwhelm the room.Wide plank is more appropriate for larger bathrooms.

One thing that isn't mentioned often is that using LVP in bathrooms provides a bit of a surreal experience. Because wood is so rarely found in bathrooms, installing flooring that looks quite realistically like wood is a clash of expectations. You might like that. Others might find that it's just too weird to have anything looking like wood in a bathroom.

Pictured: Canadian Maple Luxury Vinyl Plank from Karndean

Small Bathroom Flooring Ideas - Luxury Vinyl Canadian Maple Plank
Canadian Maple Luxury Vinyl Plank from Karndean. © Karndean

Waterproof Laminate

You say that bathrooms and laminate flooring don't mix? Ordinarily, you are right. But in this case, major flooring maker Aqua-Step wants to have a few words with you.

Their laminate flooring is one of the smartest ideas around because it combines the look of wood, without wood's poor performance in baths or without "going LVP," if vinyl bothers you.

What Is Waterproof Laminate?

The key is the product's thermoplastic core, not laminate's traditional water-hungry fiberboard base. That fiberboard swells up to 8% upon contact with water; plastic, none. Laminate would be a bad choice for real water-prone areas such as basements, near water heaters, under clothes washers, and of course, bathrooms.

But since this has no wood product, isn't this just vinyl flooring in disguise? No. Vinyl flooring has a dense, integrated layer structure. Waterproof laminate such as that produced by Aqua-Step is up to 8mm thick, with a honeycombed plastic base. This base means the flooring has "give," a feeling more akin to conventional laminate than with vinyl flooring.

Pictured: Limed Oak Waterproof Laminate from Aqua-Step

Waterproof Laminate Flooring
Limed Oak Waterproof Laminate from Aqua-Step. © Aqua-Step

Slate or Other Natural Stone

Laying natural stone is not the easiest or cheapest thing in the world. First, let's deal with the issue nearest and dearest to the hearts of all: money.

Cost

Natural stone--and don't be fooled by porcelain tile that looks like ​natural stone--is not cheap. Much of it is not domestically quarried. Natural stone often comes from places like Indonesia or Turkey and gets shipped via container across oceans to your home. The supply line is long and middlemen need to be paid--and sometimes paid off--before you can get your stone. Look at some prices per square foot:

  • Marble: $9.00 to $14.70
  • Travertine: $9.00
  • Slate: $1.80 to $4.35

These per-square-foot prices skyrocket when applied to large expanses like kitchens or master bathrooms. But we're talking about ​a small bathroom: score! That $9 travertine, with 15% added to account for cuts and breakage, over the course of a 65 square foot bathroom comes to $672.75, self-installed. Consider we're looking at higher-end figures, too. You'll likely find lower prices.

Installation

Should you install natural stone yourself or hire a professional? Stone can be tricky, so there is no shame in hiring a professional tile installer.

However, should you decide to try your hand, you'll find no better playing field than a small bathroom. You can take your time with those exacting wet tile saw cuts. You even have the luxury of time to take on fun tile patterns like diagonal.

Pictured: Bianco Carrara 12"x12" Flooring by Arizona Tile

Bianco Carrara 12
 Arizona Tile