The Battle of the Bathroom Materials: Tile, Marble, or Laminate?

Written by: Penny Siml on Monday, April 29, 2019

Bathrooms can be a fun space to design. Whether you’re focusing on a quaint powder room or a large master bathroom, choosing the right materials for your space is a big decision. But what determines whether or not a material is the right choice for your bathroom? That’s up to you and how you foresee the space being used. Not as cut and dry of an answer as you would have hoped? Allow us to explain.

A huge component to take into consideration is the amount of water that will be used in the bathroom you are designing. If it is a full master bathroom with a walk-in shower, a stand alone tub, and two sinks, a lot of water will be used. Whereas a powder room with a pedestal sink, for example, won’t yield a high rate of water usage. Some flooring materials can withstand water much better than others.

Another thing to keep in mind is the amount of foot traffic the bathroom will see. Will the bathroom be used six times a year when out-of-town family visits or will it be used two to three times a day, everyday for decades? This is important to consider as some bathroom materials can take a beating while others require routine maintenance.

With these in mind, let’s take a look at popular bathroom flooring options and scenarios for which they are best suited.

Tile Flooring

Two popular options of tile flooring include ceramic and porcelain. These two materials possess significant differences, which come into play when determining which will be best for your bathroom.

Ceramic

A ceramic tile is a softer material than a porcelain tile and is composed of a clay subsurface. Since ceramic has clay just below its top surface, the clay will show through if the tile ever chips. Ceramic is known to be less durable than porcelain and has a porcelain enamel institute (PEI) rating of 0-3. This rating helps you to determine the hardness, and therefore the durability of the tile. With a PEI rating of 0-3, ceramic is best suited for low to moderate foot traffic areas.

Porcelain

Alternatively, porcelain tile is made out of finer, denser materials that are packed tighter together, making it stronger and more durable than ceramic tile. The color of porcelain is through body, so if you manage to chip this tile, the same color will appear. Porcelain absorbs water less readily than ceramic and has a PEI rating of 4-5, making it ideal for moderate to heavy foot traffic.

The biggest thing to consider when choosing between porcelain and ceramic tile is the amount of water that will be used. Bathrooms with tubs and showers will likely benefit from a porcelain tile due to its ability to withstand water absorption whereas powder rooms are great for ceramic tile.

Marble Flooring

When it comes to elegance and sophistication in the bathroom, marble is a material that really stands out. This elegance does come with a higher price tag, which is why marble is often reserved for master bathrooms. With unique grain patterns, marble brings a striking personality to the room. Available in numerous colors, marble offers flexible options to expertly compliment your design choices.

However, something to keep in mind with marble is that it is a natural stone and has a porous surface, meaning it has empty spaces, essentially similar to pores, which allows external substances such as water and other particles to sneak in. That being said, marble requires a significant amount of upkeep as compared to other bathroom materials. Ideally, marble should be sealed every six to twelve months to maintain its stunning appearance.

As long as you are prepared for the upkeep that marble requires, this is an exquisite choice that will truly add to a naturally beautiful aesthetic in your bathroom.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate is a material that consists of multiple layers of synthetic products that are fused together using a lamination process. This material is often made to resemble wood or even stone patterns. Since laminate is synthetic, you can also purchase styles that simulate the appearance of tiles of slats of wood. In addition to taking on the look of higher-end materials, laminate is incredibly affordable and easy to work with.

That being said, it’s important to note that laminate is more susceptible to warping in high-moisture atmospheres. Since we’re analyzing bathroom materials, laminate might not be the best choice for your master or guest bathroom where showers and baths are commonplace.

Laminate is the most budget-friendly bathroom material, however, if you’re in search of something durable that can withstand higher levels of moisture, your best bet lies with the other options presented here.

Ready to Roll with Your Winning Material?

As you consider the bathrooms in your house, the amount of foot traffic they will receive, and the amount of water that will be used, it will be easier to determine the materials that are the most ideal for your home.

If you’re ready to start discussing flooring options for your bathroom, we invite you to contact Carrington Homes to schedule a consultation with one of our friendly team members. As a builder on the cutting edge of luxury designs, we are equipped to put your unique ideas into action.

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