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Choosing bathroom flooring

Floorcoverings form the very base of our living space, but they can be costly so take time to pick the one that is best for you. We give you the low-down on the best types of flooring for your bathroom.

Ceramic tiles

A practical choice for humid areas like bathrooms, ceramic tiles are durable and come in a huge choice of colours and designs, enabling you to create unique patterns. On the minus side, they can be expensive and feel hard and cold underfoot. Some glazed tiles can become slippery when wet, and should therefore never be polished. If a heavy object is dropped on them they may also crack.
Laying ceramic tiles is a relatively easy job if you are skilled at DIY, but take time to plan the job properly. To lay ceramic tiles you need a firm, level base that is able to take the weight of the tiles. If tiles are being laid on a suspended wooden floor, cover the floor with plywood and fix to the floorboards with screws. A flat, dry concrete floor is also an ideal base. Before you start to tile, mark out the floor and work out the spacing. Start in the middle of the room and work outwards. You will need a proprietary ceramic floor tile adhesive that is waterproof and slightly flexible. When the tiles have been in place for twenty-four hours you will need to apply grout. As with walls, a dark grout is less likely to look dirty after time. It is possible to buy combined adhesive and grout. To keep ceramic floor tiles looking good, simply sweep and wash them from time to time.

Vinyl tiles

Inexpensive, long lasting and easy to lay, vinyl flooring has the added advantages of being waterproof, warm underfoot, hygienic and easy to clean. Vinyl tiles are ideal for bathrooms that suffer from high humidity, and are a great choice of flooring for flats where some level of soundproofing is required.
Whether you choose plank or easy to lay floor tiles, vinyl flooring is available in a wide range of colours and textures. Some designs look like wood, marble or ceramic tiles but are a fraction of the cost of the real thing. To achieve a good finish, vinyl flooring should be stuck to a clean, dry, smooth surface. Many vinyl floor tiles are self-adhesive; others should be laid with vinyl floor tile adhesive. They can be cut to shape easily with scissors, or a sharp knife held against a straight edge.

Sheet vinyl

Practical and hardwearing, vinyl on a roll has all the advantages of the above, although it’s even easier to fit, providing you have a clean, dry and smooth surface. Bought by the square metre, it is easy to cut to any shape or pattern. For comfort, avoid the cheaper sheet vinyl’s – they can be thin and feel cold underfoot. To keep vinyl flooring looking good, it should be swept regularly and washed with a warm water detergent solution, then rinsed with water.

Carpet tiles

The advantages of using carpet tiles rather than wall-to-wall carpeting are that they are easier to lay and cut to shape. Another great plus point is that worn or stained tiles can be replaced instantly, so always buy extra tiles for this purpose. They are also hard wearing, slip resistant, stain resistant and bleach proof. When dirty they can be simply lifted and rinsed under the tap. They are available in cord, loop and twist piles as well as a range of synthetic fibres in both plain and patterned designs.

Cork tiles

A good insulator cork is light, easy to lay, quiet underfoot and warm to walk on. The cheapest cork tiles are not sealed and must be finished with at least two coats of polyurethane varnish immediately after laying. More suitable for bathrooms are ready-sealed cork tiles that are coated with a tough, easy to clean acrylic surface and vinyl backing. The down side of cork tiles is that they can fade in sunlight, or may be easily damaged by cuts, cigarettes, or household chemicals. Cork tiles are easy to cut to size, and should be glued using contact adhesive to a dry, smooth sub-floor.

Aluminium tiles

Previously only available for commercial use, aluminium floor tiles are now available for the home. They are durable, spill-proof and not too slippery. Use a jigsaw to cut tiles, then simply glue onto a level surface. However, aluminium tiles are not the cheapest form of flooring and can be cold underfoot, as well as noisy.