Question

Can you recommend a durable and easy-maintenance floor for a bathroom?

Asked by Kathleen Schaeffer, Easton, PA

We are remodeling our main bathroom. I would like to install a "green" floor. What would be the most durable and easy-maintenance option? How about linoleum?

Answer

Paul Gleicher

Answered by Paul Gleicher

New York, NY

Gleicher Design Group

June 12, 2009

Several options come to mind for bathroom floors. When it comes to durability and easy maintenance, I find porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles to be great solutions.

Imagine Tile makes unique ceramic tiles: they emboss a photographic image on the face of the tile, creating wonderful design opportunities.

  • The components they use are all-natural (i.e., earth minerals and ores) and environmentally safe.
  • Images such as rocks, water, and flowers are available, or you can create a custom image.

As for porcelain tiles, the Italian company Atlas Concorde makes amazing products. The company has obtained the European Union's Eco-label certification for all its porcelain collections.

Resilient flooring

I suspect, however, that you are looking for a more resilient floor that is not as hard underfoot as porcelain or ceramic tile. Linoleum is a wonderful choice in that regard.

  • It is manufactured from primarily natural raw materials including linseed oil, rosins, and wood flour applied to a jute backing.
  • Forbo makes a product called Marmoleum Click which employs a linoleum topping over a cork backing.
  • Each board is "snapped" into its neighboring tile, and thus no glues or adhesives are required for installation. This can be a major benefit, as it is the adhesives that can offgas into your home, resulting in unhealthy indoor air quality.

That being said, for a bathroom application, I recommend using linoleum sheets rather than tiles so as to reduce the number of seams in the flooring.

  • These seams are the weak points in the system where water can enter.
  • It is therefore important to apply a bead of silicone around the tub, shower, toilet, and sink where they meet the floor to protect against water infiltration.

Not only is the linoleum floor durable, but it is also antimicrobial and its antistatic properties make it easy to clean with just a damp mop or a dustmop. Another nice quality of the linoleum is that you can walk on it without your feet being cold.

It is important to consider the social and environmental policies of the manufacturer, and Forbo takes great pride in its state-of-the-art processes to protect the environment, recycling waste whenever possible and keeping emissions to an absolute minimum.

Linoleum products generally run about $10 to $15 per square foot to furnish and install.

Also consider terrazzo flooring 

Another wonderful product to consider is IceStone. This company, based in Brooklyn, NY, mixes glass from recycled bottles into a cement substrate to create 1¼-inch-thick slabs similar to granite.

  • It is quite beautiful, very easy to maintain, and extremely durable.
  • The manufacturer is a socially and environmentally responsible company, employing healthy labor policies and housed in a fully daylighted factory.

I have used IceStone for a shower-stall floor by sanding it down to remove the gloss finish so it is not slippery when wet. (I don't think sanding would be necessary for a bathroom floor that stays dry, such as a powder room.)

This product is a more expensive option, as its pricing is similar to granite, ranging from $60 to $70 per square foot to furnish and install.

 

For more information:

Read "Can you recommend healthy flooring for a home with kids and pets?" a Q&A answered by Mari Strain.

Tagged In: eco tile, linoleum, recycled content

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