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Ask Bob and Betsy: Can I Use Laminate Flooring in a Bathroom?

Dear Bob and Betsy,
I know laminate flooring is not waterproof, but it is water resistant. Can I use laminate flooring in a bathroom? Or do I have to pay for and install expensive tile?
– Ariana L.

Dear Ariana,

You’re right. There’s no such thing as waterproof laminate flooring. But that does not mean that laminate cannot be installed in rooms where there is some water. The biggest concern with bathrooms is both water and humidity, which can cause buckling or bubbling. For those reasons, we would only recommend installing in a half-bath or powder room that does not have a shower or tub installed. During a half-bath installation, you can seal the joints to keep any water from absorbing into the locking system.

If you are looking for a wood look in your bathroom, the best choice is a vinyl floor, which is water proof and slip resistant.

With that said, here are some reasons you may choose to do your half bath with laminate:

  • It’s water-resistant. Although it does not have the same waterproof quality as a vinyl flooring, laminate is still water resistant. If you regularly clean up after spills in a timely manner, your laminate will not be affected.
  • It looks good. Let’s face it – laminate flooring is stylish. With so many colors, patterns, and shapes to choose from, you can install the floor of your dreams.
  • It’s inexpensive compared to other types of flooring. You get a stunning floor for a stunning price. Laminate flooring is one of the most affordable options available.
  • It’s durable. Laminate flooring might be inexpensive, but that doesn’t mean it’s low quality. This popular flooring type can withstand a lot of abuse.
  • It’s easy to install. That means, you can install it yourself if you need to. If you hire someone else to help, they will move quickly, limiting your installation times and costs.
  • It’s easy to clean. Although laminate is not waterproof, it is resistant to water. To clean it, all you need to do is run a damp cloth over the surface.
  • It matches. Many main floors will be outfitted with the same flooring. Continue your laminate into your half bath for a cohesive look.

In spite of the many benefits, some homeowners are wary about installing laminate in water prone areas. It boils down to who will use the bathroom.

  • Will someone at heightened risk of falling use the bathroom? One of the biggest downfalls to laminate flooring in bathrooms is the texture. When wet, laminate can become very slippery. If you, your spouse, or anyone living in your home is at a heightened risk of falling, you might need to use flooring with a stronger grip. Sometimes, people opt to install laminate and use a slip guard. These slip guards can build up moisture underneath the surface causing damage to the floor. They are not always an ideal alternative to preventing falls and protecting the floor.
  • Will the person using the bathroom clean up spills in a timely manner? Parents know their children have the best of intentions but that doesn’t always mean they will notice and/or clean up spills right away. If your child leaves puddles of water lingering around the bathroom, it might be a good idea to avoid installing laminate flooring. Although more expensive, it reduces the risk of it warping and getting ruined from excessive amounts of moisture.

Although there are certainly pros and cons to having laminate flooring in your bathroom, many homeowners decide that the benefits far outweigh the costs. Happy shopping!

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  1. Thanks for your question, Danson. Depending on how heavy the large china cabinets are, they may be fine. Things like kitchen counters and islands cannot be moved easily so it is important to install flooring around them. If the cabinets you are referencing can easily be moved, they are likely ok to have flooring installed underneath, as long as you are still leaving expansion gaps.

  2. I have large china cabinets a buffet in my dining room why don’t we have the same concerns with them being permanent as we do with kitchen cabinets. Wouldn’t they keep the floor from expanding and contracting?

  3. Hi Kevin, thanks for the question. You should not put a wall on top of the vinyl, as it will need to move and should not be restricted. You will need to cut it and leave the proper expansion gap between the floor and wall.

  4. i need to build a wall for my shower do i put it on top of my new vinyl flooring or do i need to cut it to the wall

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