Few things capture a homebuyer’s eye, quite like a well-designed bathroom. For homeowners, the state of their bathrooms plays a significant role in their post-purchase satisfaction. Ultimately, the bathroom is one of the most used rooms in the house, so many homeowners want to keep theirs up to date. Since changing the flooring can have a significant impact, many wonder if installing vinyl plank flooring in a bathroom is a smart move.
Vinyl plank flooring comes with its fair share of pros and cons. The affordability, durability, and water resistance are big benefits. Plus, vinyl plank flooring is comfortable underfoot and offers sound traction. However, it’s hard to repair, not eco-friendly, and may not improve resale values.
Those are only a few benefits and drawbacks homeowners need to consider. Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of installing vinyl plank flooring in a bathroom.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- What Is Vinyl Plank Flooring?
- Pros of Vinyl Plank Flooring in a Bathroom
- Disadvantages of Vinyl Plank Flooring in a Bathroom
- How to Choose the Right Floor When Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring in Bathroom?
- Is Vinyl Plank Flooring Good for Bathrooms?
What Is Vinyl Plank Flooring?
Vinyl plank flooring is a synthetic material designed to resemble other types of flooring, typically hardwood. Each plank is made of several layers, with every layer being a different material with a specific function.
While the exact nature of the layers may vary between manufacturers, vinyl plank flooring usually contains materials like PVC and fiberglass. A backing layer acts as the base and may have built-in underlayment to ease installation. The core layer provides the planks with structure and offers water resistance.
The printed layer on vinyl plank flooring is the section with the visible design. In most cases, the printed layer is designed to look like hardwood when looking at vinyl plank flooring, though it may look like another material.
Next, you have the wear layer, which protects the printed layer from damage. It also enhances durability and stain resistance. Finally, there’s a top coat, giving the vinyl plank flooring its sheen and increasing toughness and wear resistance.
Pros of Vinyl Plank Flooring in a Bathroom
Compared to genuine hardwood floors, vinyl plank flooring is affordable. While the exact price difference may vary depending on the type of vinyl plank flooring you purchase, it may cost half of what a similarly looking wood floor runs.
The cost of installing vinyl plank flooring in a bathroom is also far less than wood. In many cases, using the DIY approach to install vinyl plank flooring is an option, even if you’re a novice. With hardwood floors, hiring a professional is almost universally a must.
In most cases, vinyl plank flooring is cheaper than vinyl tile flooring. Plus, since single planks often cover more area, they’re less expensive to install or aren’t as labor intensive if you choose to DIY the project.
Due to its layered construction, vinyl plank flooring is incredibly durable. It stands up very well to typical wear and tear, including the foot traffic you typically get in bathrooms.
Most vinyl plank flooring is scratch-resistant, thanks to the durable top coat and wear layer. Similarly, they aren’t prone to scuffing or denting.
Typically, the biggest risk is puncturing since the material is softer than some alternatives. However, punctures in a bathroom aren’t as likely as in some other areas of your home where sharp objects or dragging furniture is more common, such as in kitchens or dining areas.
Your vinyl plank floor could last 10 to 20 years when properly installed and cared for. With high-end versions, you may even have warranties for up to 25 years, giving you ample longevity.
One of the most attractive benefits of vinyl plank flooring is its low maintenance. It’s incredibly easy to clean, which is ideal in a bathroom. Regular sweeping and mopping are enough to keep vinyl plank floors in excellent shape for years.
In most cases, you don’t need to seal (or reseal) vinyl plank flooring. Even if you choose to seal the seams, the process is far less involved than maintaining the finish on wood flooring.
Plus, you aren’t dealing with the grout lines that come with many tiles floors, making vinyl plank floors comparatively easier to maintain. Grout lines are potentially prone to staining, chipping, and cracking; you won’t have those issues with vinyl floors.
Waterproof or Water-Resistant
Vinyl plank flooring is either water-resistant or waterproof when properly installed. The materials involved help prevent water penetration, reducing the odds of swelling or similar water-related issues. For a bathroom, this is an excellent benefit, as the occasional splash won’t necessarily harm your floor.
If you’re looking for a waterproof version, you’ll typically need to focus on luxury vinyl plank flooring. That’s a higher-end version, offering greater resilience to moisture. Also, proper installation is essential, as gaps between the planks could allow water to seep through the deeper layers, including the underlayment or subfloor.
Sometimes, homeowners choose to boost the water resistance of traditional vinyl plank flooring by sealing the seams. Typically, this is a quick process involving silicone or a clear caulk. As a result, it’s an easy option that won’t impact the final look of your floors when properly installed.
Vinyl plank flooring can come with wear layers that are stain-resistant. With those, you won’t see the discoloration from spills or other staining materials. Instead, as long as you clean up the stain-causing spill in relatively short order, you won’t see any lasting impact.
Generally, any vinyl plank flooring with a printed layer will have a stain-resistant wear layer. However, it’s wise to read any provided materials from the manufacturer to confirm the degree of stain resistance. Additionally, check the warranty for stain-related coverage, as some offer it as long as you meet the maintenance requirements.
The bathroom is part of the home where walking around barefoot is common. As a result, choosing flooring that’s comfortable underfoot makes a difference.
Vinyl plank flooring is softer than tile, and some may even seem a bit springy underfoot. Since that’s the case, it doesn’t feel as uncomfortable to walk or stand for long periods when barefoot.
Additionally, some tile floors don’t get as cold as vinyl plank flooring. That also increases the overall level of comfort underfoot, as you won’t have to step onto a chilly floor when exiting a hot bath or shower.
Compared to ordinary, untextured ceramic tile, vinyl plank flooring is far more slip-resistant. When wet, vinyl plank floors still offer reasonable traction, which is critical in a spot like a bathroom. With untextured ceramic tile, they’re usually slick when wet, which can increase the odds of falls.
Even when compared to textured tile, vinyl plank flooring offers comparable traction. As a result, you don’t have to sacrifice safety if you go with vinyl plank floors.
Hard flooring like tile is typically noisier than softer alternatives like vinyl plank floors. Along with producing more noise when contacted by an object, tile reflects sound, ceasing it to bounce around the bathroom.
Vinyl plank flooring is more sound-dampening overall. There’s less sound when an item contacts it, and it absorbs more sound to prevent reverberation. As a result, it keeps the bathroom far quieter overall.
It’s important to note that other specific flooring types do outperform vinyl plank floors when it comes to sound dampening. The two top performers are usually carpet and cork. However, those options aren’t suitable for bathrooms, as they’re more susceptible to water damage.
Many homeowners adore the look of wood floors, so the idea of having them in a bathroom purely for aesthetic purposes is enticing. The issue is that hardwood isn’t ideal in high humidity, spill-prone areas. Excess moisture can cause wood to crack, split, warp, and bulge. Additionally, seam popping is possible.
Vinyl plank flooring allows homeowners to get the look of wood without moisture-related drawbacks. Many manufacturers do an excellent job mimicking genuine grain patterns and color variations, making the vinyl plank floors closely resemble wood. Some even have physical textures that match the wood included in the design, making it even harder to differentiate from the real thing.
As with hardwood floors, homeowners can choose from a wide array of wood-like looks. You can find vinyl plank flooring to resemble all popular species and different kinds of washes or stain colors.
Disadvantages of Vinyl Plank Flooring in a Bathroom
Hard to Repair
While vinyl plank flooring is durable, that doesn’t mean damage can’t occur. In many cases, repairing vinyl plank floors is challenging if the damage extends beyond the top coat. While you can potentially disguise a surface-level scratch, refinishing vinyl plank floors isn’t an option.
Additionally, while you have the option to replace a damaged plank, that isn’t always simple. With click-and-lock vinyl, the planks are held in place by a tongue and groove system, along with pressure. As a result, you may have to remove several planks – typically starting at a wall and moving across – to free the damaged plank and replace it.
Replacing damaged planks isn’t always easy even if you didn’t use click-and-lock vinyl flooring. You have to free the plank from the floor, remove excess glue, and ensure the replacement is the right size. Otherwise, you compromise the water resistance.
May Develop Bumps or Curl
In some cases, vinyl plank flooring may develop bumps or curl at the edges over time. This is common with thinner, lower-quality vinyl plank floors, as the underlying structure isn’t as rigid. Additionally, installation quality plays a role, as improper installation makes issues of this nature more likely.
If your vinyl flooring curls or develops bumps, you can’t simply stick the floor back down. Instead, you may need to replace the warped planks, which is a significant undertaking.
May Not Boost Home Resale Value
Having genuine hardwood floors in your home typically boosts its resale value significantly. Buyers prefer houses with real wood flooring, which alters how much they’re willing to pay.
While vinyl plank flooring can look like authentic hardwood, it isn’t viewed the same way by buyers. As a result, installing vinyl plank flooring in a bathroom may not significantly impact your resale value.
The only exception here is if you’re replacing a far less attractive floor with vinyl plank flooring. For example, if your bathroom previously had low-end vinyl sheet flooring with an outdated pattern, the vinyl plank may give you a slight resale value boost. If your bathroom was carpeted – which is a major turnoff for buyers – then installing vinyl plank flooring in your bathroom could have a bigger financial impact.
Difficult to Remove If Glued
If you choose glue-down vinyl plank flooring, one of the most significant drawbacks is the floor is challenging to remove later. Technically, this is true of any glue-down floor. The adhesive is strong and can stick to the subfloor in areas requiring more effort before you put down a new floor.
On a positive note, vinyl plank flooring does have a long life, so frequent removal isn’t typically necessary. Additionally, you can avoid glue altogether (or highly limit its use) if you choose floating vinyl plank flooring.
Generally, there are two options that don’t require a significant amount of glue. Loose-lay vinyl flooring only needs the planks around the room’s outer edges glued down. With click-and-lock vinyl flooring, the adhesive is often entirely unnecessary.
Poor Fade Resistance
While the amount of fade resistance you get does vary by manufacturer, some lower-end vinyl plank flooring doesn’t offer much fade protection. Typically, this is because there isn’t any UV protection in the wear layer, which allows sunlight to fade the print layer.
Again, this issue is avoidable. By choosing a higher-end vinyl plank floor with UV protection in the wear layer, discoloration over time is less likely or significantly slowed. Additionally, if your bathroom doesn’t have a window or skylight, there isn’t direct sunlight exposure, so it may be a non-issue.
Since vinyl plank flooring contains synthetic materials like PVC, it isn’t inherently eco-friendly. While the industry is increasingly focusing on sustainability during the manufacturing process, the inherent materials prevent vinyl plank floors from becoming fully eco-friendly.
However, some versions of luxury vinyl plank flooring are potentially recyclable. Whether you could recycle the flooring after use will vary depending on the product. Additionally, local access to a recycling center that accepts vinyl plank flooring is also part of that equation.
May Contain VOCs
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are present in various flooring types, and vinyl plank flooring is no exception. In fact, lower-end versions may have relatively high concentrations of VOCs when compared to other flooring types.
If VOCs are a concern, there are low-VOC vinyl plank flooring options on the market. A few brands are even producing zero-VOC vinyl plank floors, though the selection is minimal compared to the broader market.
How to Choose the Right Floor When Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring in Bathroom?
When installing vinyl plank flooring in a bathroom, you must select the best product for the job. Choosing a waterproof luxury vinyl plank flooring product is a wise choice, as bathrooms are more prone to moisture issues and splashes.
Additionally, look for low- or zero-VOC options, preferably ones with UV protection in the wear layer. By doing so, you’ll have fewer health and safety concerns and less fading over time.
If you want to avoid the hassles of glue, stick with click-and-lock vinyl plank flooring. That simplifies installation and removal, should the latter become necessary. Going with an option with a built-in underlayment also makes installation easier, as you’re eliminating the need to put one down separately.
Finally, select a product that comes with a long warranty. A lengthy warranty is usually a sign of quality and protects against manufacturer defects that, while uncommon, can occur.
Is Vinyl Plank Flooring Good for Bathrooms?
In many cases, vinyl plank flooring is an excellent option for bathrooms. You’ll get a wood-like appearance, higher water and stain resistance, and solid durability. Plus, it’s relatively easy to install, softer, warmer underfoot, and more affordable than many alternatives.