Luxury Vinyl Flooring vs Tile for Bathrooms

Choosing a great floor for your bathroom can significantly impact the overall look and feel of the space. You may have been looking at your outdated bathroom tiles and wondering if it's time for an upgrade.‚ÄćBut selecting the ideal bathroom flooring goes beyond just its visual appeal. It's important to consider the flooring's durability and its resistance to water.‚ÄćMost homeowners, when considering a bathroom floor remodel, usually find themselves torn between two popular choices - vinyl or tile. However, before settling on either one, it's important to weigh several factors.

Understanding Material Composition

Both vinyl flooring and tile are popular options for bathrooms in modern homes. A good place to start when deciding on which one is right for you is by understanding the pros and cons of their material composition.

Vinyl Tile

Vinyl tiles are made primarily from Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) plastic. Before this PVC layer is laid, it is usually padded by some type of felt or a layer of fiberglass to give it more support and thickness. The two-layer approach improves its resistance to water since any moisture that penetrates the top layer is less likely to reach the subfloor. 

Although some people may think of vinyl flooring as less authentic or lower quality, there are a number of modern vinyl designs that convincingly replicate the appearance and feel of natural elements like wood or stone. LVTs, or luxury vinyl tiles, are a great option for homeowners who want the look of natural materials and a more durable option while still being budget-friendly.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles are known for their durability and water-resistant properties, which make them ideal for bathroom settings. Created from clay, these tiles are fired at high temperatures and then given a protective glaze, leaving a fully sealed surface. Tiles are laid individually and then grouted to create the finished flooring in a bathroom.

Similar to vinyl, ceramic tiles come in an array of design choices and styles, each falling within different pricing brackets. However, ceramic tiles can often come with a larger price tag than vinyl, primarily due to the cost of manufacturing and their installation process.

Durability and Maintenance Considerations

While an attractive floor can improve the look of a bathroom, practicality should be a priority. Bathrooms often encounter lots of water and temperature changes, so it's important to pick flooring that's not only durable but also easy to maintain.

Vinyl Tile

Vinyl tiles are manufactured way more durable than they were several years ago. With a typical lifespan of about ten years, these tiles can withstand daily wear and can survive a fair amount of water spills. 

The great thing about vinyl is that they're flexible, so dropping heavy objects on them won't usually cause a problem. However, because of their softer design, they can be susceptible to deep gouges caused by sharp objects. 

Maintenance-wise, vinyl tiles require minimal effort. Regular sweeping or vacuuming can keep the surface clean, and occasional mopping can help them shine like they're new. Their overall durability and low maintenance make them a cost-effective solution for those who prefer a more hassle-free upkeep.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles have a very long lifespan. High-quality tile can last for 40 years or more. With the right care, they retain their look and strength over time, and their superior water resistance makes them perfect for bathroom flooring options.

That said, while they're resilient under regular conditions, ceramic tiles aren't immune to damage. Improper installation or accidental drops of heavy items can lead to large cracks on the surface. If a tile gets damaged, it can be individually replaced, keeping the rest of the floor remains intact. However, these types of repairs might require a professional to handle.

Water and Heat Resistance Capabilities

Bathrooms are unique in that they experience rapid changes in moisture and temperature levels, unlike most other rooms in a home. Because of this, it's vital to choose the flooring that can survive these harsh conditions.

By default, vinyl and ceramic floors are both designed to have waterproof surfaces. But where they differ significantly is how they are joined to the floor.  

Vinyl tiles will usually come in large sheets and be glued to the floor, which could eventually peel or tear from water damage. Ceramic tiles are made up of small pieces grouted together and then sealed with a waterproofing agent. This means ceramic tiles will often retain their durability under more extreme conditions.  

Ultimately, the effectiveness of both flooring options depends on how well they're installed. Even the highest quality ceramic tiles can fall short if the grouting isn't done right or isn't sealed properly. For the best results, it's often a wise choice to hire a professional to handle tile installations.

Installation and Cost

The choice between vinyl and ceramic tiles often boils down to costs, which are largely influenced by the complexity of your installation and the materials required.

Vinyl Tile

Vinyl flooring stands out for its ease of installation, making it a common choice for DIY projects. Although lining up and installing sheets of vinyl accurately can take some time to master, it's generally a straightforward project. 

The costs of installing vinyl tiles can fluctuate based on your area and the type of flooring you choose. Generally, the range is around $2-3 per square foot.

Ceramic Tile

Installing ceramic tiles is a more complicated project. They are laid using a thin-set adhesive over cement boards, followed by grouting and sealing. This process demands precision, specialized tools, and a variety of materials.

Ceramic tiles can also be notably pricier than vinyl, especially if you hire a professional for the job. Installation costs can range from $12-$40 per square foot.

Environmental Impact

For most environmentally-conscious homeowners, the choice between vinyl and ceramic tile comes down to sustainability. In this category, there are a few things to consider when choosing the ideal material to use.

Vinyl Tile

While vinyl tiles come at a more affordable rate, their environmental footprint can be a concern. Their manufacturing process often involves the use of harmful chemicals. Although premium vinyl tiles contain minimal volatile organic compounds (VOCs), cheap or dated tiles could potentially emit these chemicals in your home.

It's also important to note that vinyl isn't biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to decompose in landfills. 

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles, on the other hand, are made from natural materials like clay and sand, and they don't contain toxic components. This makes them a safer choice for indoor environments in terms of air quality.

However, link vinyl they are not recyclable due to the high energy required to break them down. When ceramic tiles are removed, they often end up in landfills, contributing to waste accumulation.

Thankfully, you're able to get a good 40 years or more out of a ceramic tile floor before it needs to be replaced. That's much longer than vinyl tiles, meaning less waste over time.

Home Resale Value and ROI

Every home renovation decision carries potential financial implications, with some remodels offering better returns than others. Here are a few considerations to help you gauge the long-term return on investment from the bathroom flooring you choose.

Vinyl Tile

Vinyl tiles are frequently seen as a cost-effective flooring choice because of their reasonable pricing and straightforward installation process. They provide a fairly durable and appealing finish, making them an ideal selection for homeowners on a budget or those thinking about keeping their home for an extended period.

However, in terms of improving your home's resale value, vinyl tiles might not promise as significant a return as some other flooring options. Potential buyers might think of vinyl floors as lower quality or prone to more wear and tear, which might influence how they calculate the property's total worth.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tiles often contribute to a higher return on investment. As a more premium flooring choice known for its durability and timeless appeal, ceramic tiles are often seen as a value-adding feature in homes.

Many homebuyers will often prefer ceramic tiles over vinyl, especially in older homes where this is always the possibility that asbestos exists in the old vinyl flooring. Ceramic tiles also have a longer lifespan, meaning they may be more appealing to potential buyers who are looking for lower maintenance issues when purchasing a home.

Choose the Flooring That's Right For You

Whether you opt for vinyl or ceramic flooring for your bathroom ultimately depends on your budget, design preference, and how long you think you'll live in your home. By weighing the advantages and disadvantages of both options, you can make a choice that aligns perfectly with your long-term goals.

written with intention by
Rebecca Denis
Lead Interior Designer