The versatility and economical nature of vinyl make it a very popular flooring choice in bathrooms. While it is not impervious to the rigors of this volatile room, it is resistant to many of the challenges presented in this environment. It is also relatively easy to clean and maintain, making it a low cost, low hassle bathroom flooring choice.
The main reason that vinyl flooring is popular in bathrooms is that it is very durable. Resistant to steam, humidity, and moisture, water will not be able to penetrate the surface of this material to do damage to the subfloor.
Vinyl is also resistant to dirt, stains, scratches, and punctures, although it can be pierced if heavy furniture legs are not outfitted with protective pads. It may also yellow slightly if it is exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period of time each day. Luckily this is generally not a problem in a bathroom where you often find small, stained or tinted windows which will cut down on solar illumination.
One thing that you do have to watch out for with a vinyl bathroom floor is that this material can have a chemical staining reaction if it comes into direct contact with rubber. Generally, the rubber found on the soles of shoes will not be a problem, although in high traffic areas it can cause permanent scuff marks on the floor. However, you should be very careful not to use any bath which contains rubber backing in this space.
Tile is relatively easy to install in a bathroom and can be done successfully, even by an amateur, in just a couple of days. Unfortunately, tile is not as resilient as sheet vinyl in a bathroom, as the seams between tiles may allow moisture to penetrate past the water-resistant surface, and cause damage to the subfloor. This danger can be offset to some extent by sealing the floor periodically.
Generally vinyl is available in sheets that are large enough to cover an entire bathroom floor without leaving any seams exposed which could be susceptible to moisture damage. The drawback is that it is very difficult to measure and cut sheet vinyl to fit perfectly into a bathroom. Further, any mistakes that you make can ruin the entire sheet causing a huge amount of waste. Finally, individual tiles can be replaced if they are damaged, but with a sheet vinyl bathroom floor, the only way to repair the damage is to completely uninstall and then reinstall the floor.
One of the drawbacks to vinyl flooring is that over time the material may tend to curl away from the subfloor. This can result in tiles lifting up from the installation, or curling at the corners of sheet material.
The process of cleaning a vinyl bathroom floor is relatively easy and only requires you to keep the surface free from dirt and grit that can wear down any sealers or protective layers. The use of harsh chemical detergents should be avoided as they can discolor the material.
Another obvious advantage to choosing vinyl for a bathroom floor is that it can be quite economical. Low-end vinyl can be as little as fifty cents to one dollar per square foot. However cheap vinyl materials will not be as durable, low maintenance, or resistant to stains and wear as higher quality products will. More expensive, durable, high-end vinyl will cost anywhere from $2 - $5 per square foot, with ultra premium vinyl topping out at as much as $10 per square foot.
Style and Design
The bathroom is a peculiar space, because it is often the first place you go in the morning, and the last place you stop off before heading to bed at night. It is a room where you will spend a large amount of time, in small increments. Because of this, the design of this space is key, as it will influence the subconscious psychological nature of the people who use it each day, in small and subtle ways.
Luckily vinyl gives you a wealth of options when it comes to choosing a design for your bathroom floor. These materials can be printed in nearly any color, and a variety of multi-colors, patterns, and images. There are also high-end vinyl tiles and planks that can be manufactured to resemble natural materials such as hardwood, slate, and granite. This allows you to not only simulate the look of less durable, more expensive materials, but it also gives you the option of creating designs that mix the look of several different materials in a single flooring application.
One thing that is true about vinyl flooring is that no matter how much it may resemble another material, as soon as someone steps on it, they will know that it is vinyl. In some cases this can be a good thing as vinyl is relatively warm and soft underfoot, making it a wonderful material to step on barefoot first thing in the morning. However, its flat manufactured feel is also sometimes seen as being cheap or unsavory in a bathroom setting.