Can You Put Laminate in the Bathroom? 7 Tips & Tricks
Are you redoing your bathroom and wondering if laminate flooring is a good idea? Can you put laminate in a bathroom? There are many arguments for and against using it in the bathroom.
You can only use laminate flooring in the bathroom if it’s a specialized waterproof laminate. Even then, it’s a risk because laminate flooring isn’t 100% waterproof.
At least, that’s one school of thought. Some people think laminate is one of the best bathroom flooring options available. Here’s a brief breakdown of laminate flooring plus seven tips and tricks for installation.
- Some people believe laminate flooring isn’t suitable for bathroom floors because it’s not completely waterproof.
- Laminate usually has a fiberboard core and wood chip backing, so any moisture that seeps through will warp it and ruin your floor.
- Some users feel laminate is one of the best bathroom flooring options because it’s easy to install, maintain, and clean. It’s also cost-effective, durable, and has plenty of designs.
- Use laminate in smaller bathrooms or those with less foot traffic.
- Plan your floor before installing, and start with the doorways because they’re the trickiest part of the whole job.
- Use extraction fans and dehumidifiers to reduce humidity and preserve your laminate bathroom flooring.
- Decide what the best direction for your laminate flooring is based on your style ideas.
- Use a breathable moisture-proof underlay to protect the subfloor and laminate planks.
Arguments for Installing Laminate in the Bathroom
Some people think laminate floors are an excellent bathroom flooring option. It’s cheaper than most of the alternatives, easy to maintain, and fun to install.
Laminate flooring is almost completely synthetic. Manufacturers infuse paper with resin and smear it over fiberboards (usually made from wood chips). They then coat realistic visuals and a clear wear layer over the top to give it a beautiful finish.
Laminate flooring is water-resistant, but it’s still susceptible to water damage thanks to its absorbent backing layers.
Waterproof laminate planks usually have tight seams that prevent water from seeping to the fiberboard core and wood chip backing. You can successfully protect laminate flooring with sealants, but we recommend reapplying often.
Why You Can’t Use Laminate Flooring in the Bathroom
Unlike vinyl, natural stone, and ceramic or porcelain tiles, laminate flooring is rarely waterproof. The wood chip backing and fiberboard core absorb water if it seeps through to those layers. Tight seams and proper sealing help keep moisture out.
Laminate floors are a decent alternative to hardwood flooring, which isn’t suitable for bathrooms either. Most laminate floor manufacturers don’t recommend using laminate floors in wet rooms like the basement, laundry room, or high-traffic bathrooms.
Leaving a spill to sit on the laminate surface causes damage, even on sealed floors. With time, moisture seeps through to the fiberboard core and wood chip base, and it becomes warped. When that happens, the only way to repair it is to rip out the whole bathroom floor and reinstall it.
Some manufacturers are attempting to create waterproof laminate by removing the fiberboard core. Others are trying to use PVC plastic to eliminate the wood chip backing.
Read our unbiased laminate flooring buying guide for more information about choosing a laminate product.
Laminate is a superb bathroom flooring option if you clean it regularly and maintain its protective coating. Here are a few tips to help you increase the longevity of your laminate bathroom floor.
1. Install It in Smaller Bathrooms With Less Foot Traffic
Laminate is a decent option for smaller bathrooms that don’t have bathing facilities. Use it in a guest bathroom to create unique designs that make people feel welcome. Warm colors like soft yellow, white, and beige make the room feel bigger.
You can install laminate flooring in bathrooms with baths or showers if they have less foot traffic. These rooms have moisture in them less often, so rare exposure won’t cause damage. Remember to clean all the liquid off the bathroom floor after using the bath or shower.
2. Minimize Humidity and Water Puddles
A brilliant way to protect your laminate bathroom flooring is to minimize humidity and immediately wipe up water puddles. Install an exhaust fan to pull the water molecules out of the bathroom.
You can also use dehumidifiers to stop moisture from building up. Charcoal is a natural dehumidifier. You can leave it in little bowls around the bathroom to absorb moisture from the air. Decorate them to make it look like an aesthetic feature.
3. Start With the Doorway if You Can
Where do you start installing laminate flooring in the bathroom? It’s always wise to have a plan before you begin.
It can be tempting to rush ahead and start along the straightest wall when you plunge into your DIY project, but it’s better to start at the door if you can.
Installing a new floor around the doorways is the most challenging part of any DIY installation job. Once you get a small section by the doorway fitted correctly, you can move to the rest of the room.
Plan by joining four or five planks together. Start laying them down (from a wall opposite the door) and marking the point they reach. Do this until you get to the door so you can see what planks you should cut.
4. The Best Direction for Laminate Flooring
Many people ask which is the best direction for laminate flooring. The truth is that it depends on the size and style you’re hoping to achieve. Here are a few different styles.
- Width open concept – Run laminate planks along the length of the longest wall if you want to create a more open space.
- From the door – If the bathroom is small, you may want to run the planks straight from the doorway to make it look longer.
- Best light – Run your bathroom flooring in the direction of the best light to make it look larger and feel warmer.
- Little natural light – A bathroom with little natural light will benefit from floors that run along its length to make it feel more spacious.
5. Use a Foam Underlay
The best underlay for laminate flooring in bathrooms depends on the subfloor beneath your flooring.
Polyethylene or polypropylene foam works best with a concrete subfloor, while a breathable foam underlay works best with plywood subfloors. Remember to add a moisture barrier underlay for total protection.
Always ensure your subfloor is level, free of bumps and cracks, and super clean. Take time to prepare it before you start placing the underlay and laminate planks. If you’d like to learn more about different underlays, check out our laminate underlay guide.
6. Protect Your Laminate With Silicone Caulk
Some people recommend applying a layer of wax or sealant over the whole laminate bathroom flooring. Still, most manufacturers think otherwise. Laminate planks come with a plastic coating that already makes them water-resistant.
The problem is the edges where the laminate planks meet the wall and each other. You can apply a silicone caulk sealant to stop moisture from seeping through those exposed areas.
7. Maintenance Is Crucial
Maintaining your bathroom floor is the best way to preserve it. Be sure to wipe up spills as soon as they happen.
Clean your laminate flooring at least once a week and check to make sure the seals are in place. Avoid using abrasive cleaning products and tools that might leave scratch marks or chip away the important wear layer.
While laminate flooring isn’t fully waterproof, it can work in a bathroom. You can choose from a wide range of colors, patterns, and designs. There are special precautions you’ll need to take to boost water resistance.
Remember to waterproof your substrate and seal all edges with silicone caulk. Most laminate flooring comes with a water-resistant later, so avoid adding an extra one over the top.
Can You Put Laminate in a Bathroom?
You can transform your bathroom flooring with laminate planks. The endless arrays of styles, and affordable nature, of this product open up a world of possibilities. The question: “can you put laminate in a bathroom” can be answered with a definitive: Yes. If you do it right.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, check out my guide on the most durable laminate in the world. If you have any tips and tricks for maintaining your laminate bathroom flooring (or questions), feel free to leave us a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.