Goodbye Tile? Bathroom Flooring Makes a Statement

Tile is the reliable, go-to option for many bathroom floors. It’s durable, easy to clean and lasts for ages. However, it can also be drab and boring. And if someone wants to evoke a modern bathroom look that’s both sleek and timeless, tile sometimes just doesn’t cut it.

Here’s a selection of alternative floor materials that work well in any bathroom and have more character than the average tile.

Wood Flooring

Wood isn’t typically anyone’s first choice for bathroom flooring with all the water from bathing and showering. But as Carlisle Wide Plank Floors points out, high quality wood can be easier to maintain and last longer than other floor options. Plus, wood never goes out of style.

To figure out which wood is best for a bathroom, consider how often the space is used. ESB Flooring says that engineered wood can be a solid choice for coping with humidity fluctuations in bathrooms that are in daily use. Engineered wood is manufactured from a single piece of wood, rather than multiple boards, so has more durable properties.

For something with real character, teak is a great option for a long-lasting bathroom floor. Floor Coverings International writes that since teak trees mainly grow in jungles and other humid locations, they’re biologically formulated to withstand moisture.

As for wood floor styles, hand scraped wood is gaining popularity for its rustic, sophisticated feel. says each plank appears handcrafted, and remains looking classy for decades.

Painted Wood

Another bathroom trend is hand painted wood floors. Tracie Stoll of Cleverly Inspired painted her prefinished wood floors with a refreshing white that would liven up any bathroom. Painting a floor works well in houses that are older, where the wood is worn and needs an affordable upgrade.

One growing trend is stenciling, which gives the illusion of intricate or exotic tile. Cutting Edge Stencils features a project where beige linoleum tile was replaced by a hand painted stenciling pattern.

If someone decides to paint wood floors, DIY writer Maxwell Ryan offers a few tips for ensuring the project goes smoothly. Ryan suggests using polyurethane based porch and floor enamel, painting a primer and waiting at least 24 hours between coats.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl is often thought of as a floor material of the past, but modern vinyl designers prove that it’s just as in-style as it ever was. Scott Humphrey, chief executive of the World Floor Covering Association, explains that printing technology has given vinyl flooring a serious upgrade. Vinyl flooring printed in wood, for example, is a popular and affordable way to evoke a country or rustic theme in a bathroom.

Parterre Flooring writes that mix and match wood designs are a rising trend for bathroom floors, because they add dimension and depth but are also fairly easy to install. Matte finishes are popular for vinyl floors because they hide scratches and dirt and always look sleek and modern. Polyflor says that grey shades, natural brown and wood-colored tones work best for matte floors.

Luxury Vinyl

Drab, outdated vinyl is a thing of the past. Today’s vinyl is bright and inviting, often referred to as luxury vinyl. Dean Howell of MODA Floors & Interiors adds that luxury vinyl combines the durability of vinyl with the classic look of hardwood floors.

This kind of vinyl looks extremely realistic and has more integrity than the peel and stick varieties of the past. Kacey Bradley of The Drifter Collective writes that luxury vinyl is popular in plank form, and is reinforced with fiberglass for additional durability. Laminate flooring is also easy to clean and keep in optimal condition, making it a smart choice for families with children. In fact, BestLaminate says that laminate flooring can easily be cleaned with natural ingredients like vinegar and water.


Cork is an unexpected flooring choice that can have a big impact on a bathroom’s appeal. Katie Allison Granju explains that cork is naturally resistant to mildew, mold and bacteria. It also naturally resists moisture, making it a superb option for a bathroom.

Many homeowners are choosing cork because it’s made from naturally occurring grasses that replenish themselves in the wild, so they have little adverse impact on the environment and won’t contribute to forest depletion. An additional perk of cork flooring is that it absorbs noise. BuildingMoxie explains that cork is comprised of tiny honeycombs filled with air, which dampen sounds coming from the bathroom, providing peace and quiet both in and outside the bathroom.

Stone and Cement Flooring

Stone and cement are great materials for achieving a modern look. Marble is a popular stone that pairs well with almost all appliances and finishes. According to Keystone Granite and Tile marble is a reliable and elegant stone choice for bathrooms and it’s also versatile.

Marble can be installed on walls and and tub decks, meaning it can assist in creating the floor-to-ceiling look that’s popular for making bathrooms look larger. The best way to incorporate marble into floor and wall design is with large slabs. Writer Wendy Jacob says that by using larger slabs rather than tiles, it’s possible to create a more expansive look in a bathroom, giving the space fluidity and symmetry.

A stone look can be created with real stone, such as pebbles or mosaics. A faux option like laminate can also help achieve a stone feel. Laminate printed with stone patterns can create a soothing, spa-like element for bathrooms. According to Armstrong Flooring, laminate floors are less intensive to install and can be replaced more easily than stone or cement.

To mix up stone features and add more character, Shirley Meisels suggests pairing stone flooring with carved stone bathroom elements. Carved stone adds an edge to the earthy stone appeal and can balance softer elements with a modern feel. Cement flooring is also gaining momentum among bathroom designers and homeowners.

“Cement provides a cool, relaxed feel to any bathroom and can make a space seem larger as it can be laid as one smooth surface,” says designer Robin Levien. Cement can be quite cool, so consider heated flooring — another bathroom trend set to grow in the near future.

Images by: Henryk Niestrój, Emerson Albuquerque, Prairat Fhunta