Bathroom floor coverings degrade faster than any other flooring in the home. That is because they have to contend with all of the worst hazards of water, humidity, heat, stains, and corrosive soaps and substances. If your bathroom floor looks like it's seen much better days but you're not ready to go all-out on a replacement flooring, self-adhesive tiles are a simple, cost-effective solution that can be replaced whenever you might like.
Tile in the bathroom must be able to handle splashes of water, humidity, and other elements of a room where water is king. To that end, there are two good options: vinyl and rubber. Though linoleum might cross your mind as a contender, it is generally not recommended for bathrooms. It's not as waterproof as rubber or vinyl and may be subject to curling or warping over time in the humid bathroom environment.
Equipment / Tools
- Sharp utility knife
- Vinyl or rubber floor tiles
Cover the Floor with Vinyl Tile
Vinyl tile is often the ideal option for dealing with high-use bathroom conditions. Relatively inexpensive, vinyl tile can usually be purchased for a few dollars per square foot or less, and they are available in hundreds of different colors, patterns, and faux-natural looks. They are also highly durable and resistant to stains, water damage, and physical scuffing.
There are a few drawbacks to the use of these materials. Even high-end luxury vinyl tiles will only give you 8 to 10 years of use before they start to fade. Lower-grade products might contain dangerous chemicals that can be harmful to the environment and which may emit fumes over time. This can be particularly dangerous for the air quality of small enclosed bathroom spaces.
However, most reputable vinyl manufacturers have processes in place that minimize ecological impact from material production while also offering products that do not emit dangerous gasses. As long as you do solid research on the flooring you are purchasing, vinyl can be a great option for bathrooms.
Consider Rubber Tile
This is a relatively rare option that can be great for bathroom use. Rubber is water-resistant and impervious to most stains, although there are a few chemicals that can cause blemishes. It is naturally slip-resistant, and it comes in a variety of thicknesses, many of which provide padding that can make these wet environments much safer.
The main drawback of using rubber in a bathroom is that it is only available in a limited number of colors and patterns. While manufacturers are starting to produce more options, your decorative choices are limited right now, and these products are usually only available in a few solid hues or speckled looks. Recycled rubber can also have a slight odor. That odor is harmless but may be irritating in small, enclosed spaces.
Install Your Choice of Tile
Generally, self-adhesive tile products are available with peel and stick backing, with a paper sheet on the underside that can be stripped away to reveal an adhesive surface. That allows you to simply stick them into place wherever you like. In most cases, you can even install them directly over existing hard surfaces such as wood, tile, concrete, and stone. Check the box to make sure that the glue will adhere to the material it is being placed on.
Bathroom flooring installation is often complicated by the need to cut materials so that they fit around fixtures such as toilets, tubs, and vanities. The difficulty of this will vary based on the thickness of the product chosen. Most vinyl can be measured directly against the obstacle and then cut with a simple shop knife. Heavier rubber pieces may require more effort or special tools.
Maintain the Bathroom Floors
The maintenance of a vinyl or rubber floor will be fairly simple. These materials are resistant to most stains and water damage so you don’t have to worry about long-term damage.
One advantage of rubber over vinyl is that it tends to plump, making the individual tiles press closer together. That makes it harder for water to penetrate into the cracks. These products are also often sold in larger tiles which means there are few vulnerable divisions between them.
Wipe up soap spills so that they do not cause a slipping hazard. Never let water stand on the tiles as it can seep down between the seams, damaging the subfloor or the glue holding them in place.
Anticipate Regular Replacement
Most self-adhesive tiles are designed to last for just a few years in a bathroom before they need to be replaced. This is offset by the fact that they are easy to install or remove, which cuts down on the cost of hiring a professional. Most products will be relatively inexpensive, although the price can vary greatly depending on the quality of the material.