Most important is, where you live and what type of material is readily available and will wear appropriately considering moisture and placement in your house. Choices abound, but stick with materials that can withstand moisture, look attractive, and feel good under bare feet. Some of the more popular options include:
#1. Ceramic Tile
This material tops many lists because it offers variety, durability, and good looks (a few even mimic stone). It is also fairly inexpensive and highly waterproof. On the downside, ceramic can be cold and slippery when wet. Choose textured finishes or smaller tiles that require more grout, thereby providing better traction.
A budget-conscious favorite (about $10-$13 per square yard), vinyl is available in 6- or 12-foot wide sheets or as tiles that are typically 12- to 18- inches square. While sheet vinyl is seamless and won’t come up like tiles tend to do, it is more difficult to install than the DIY-friendly vinyl tile. Both are soft underfoot, resist moisture, and are easy to clean.
Few materials can match the warm, inviting characteristics of wood, but moisture issues give reason to be cautious. Consider it a viable option if you’re willing to put on extra coats of varnish, make sure there are no gaps where moisture can sneak in, wipe up any water spills right away, and install a high-efficiency vent to help keep humidity in check. If you’re not up for that kind of maintenance, take a look at engineered wood, which has a plywood base that better withstands moisture.
In general, carpet and baths don’t mix, but modular carpet tiles—like Flor—are one exception. Super easy for do-it-yourselfers to install on top of existing surfaces, these tiles have an antimicrobial backing to inhibit the growth of mold and bacteria. Plus, they come in numerous colors and patterns and can easily be pulled up, dried, and replaced.
#5. Natural stone
Flooring like marble, limestone, and granite requires a strong subfloor and some deep pockets, but there’s no denying it makes an impressive style statement in a bath. If you’ve ever walked on slippery wet rocks along the coast or in the woods, you’ll know firsthand that these natural beauties require textured or honed surfaces to make them safe.
If you’re looking for something a little different, check out this natural material that readily resists mold and mildew and feels soft and natural underfoot.