Category: Bathroom


How To: Install a Shower Head

A small project that makes a big impact, installing a new shower head is a quick and easy job that almost anyone can do—no fancy plumbing tools required.

How to Install a Shower Head

Photo: shutterstock.com

Installing a new shower head is not quite as easy as changing a light bulb, but almost.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- New shower arm (optional)
- Replacement shower head
- Pipe wrench
- Thread seal tape
- Plumber’s putty or caulk

STEP 1
As you begin, decide whether or not to keep the existing shower arm—that is, the angled pipe to which the shower head attaches. If the shower arm has become corroded over time, or if it doesn’t match the finish of your new shower head, scrap it. A pipe wrench does the job when you’re bare hands fail. Note that while shower heads don’t usually come with shower arms, you should be easily find an appropriate one for sale separately.

How to Install a Shower Head - Outdoor

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
Skip this step if you’ve opted to keep your existing shower arm. To install a new shower arm, start by wrapping its threads, two or three times over, with thread seal tape. Stretch the tape slightly, as you apply it. Next, carefully turn the pipe into the wall fitting, and then seal the wall opening with plumber’s putty. Slide the shower flange over the arm and  press it into the putty. Wipe away excess.

Related: 10 Dream-Worthy Showers to Give You Bathroom Envy

STEP 3
The next step depends on the type of shower head you’ve purchased. If yours is the type that attaches directly to the arm, here’s what to do: Use thread seal tape to wrap the threads at the base of the shower arm, then turn the shower head into position, taking care not to over-tighten. (If using pliers instead of a wrench, protect the finish on the fitting with several layers of cloth or plastic tape.)

Homeowners who have purchased a handheld shower head probably do not need to add thread seal tape at the shower arm base (to be certain, however, check the manufacturer’s directions). Here, installation consists only of threading the handheld onto the shower arm, before threading the handheld shower head’s flexible hose onto the bracket.

Additional Tips
• Arguably, handheld shower heads are more practical than fixed ones.

• A low-flow shower head saves both water and the energy your water heater must use to deliver a comfortable bathing experience.

• Metal shower heads generally perform better than plastic ones. Look for chrome finishes and brass construction. Ease of adjustment and problem-free longevity justify the added cost of such fixtures.

• Metal hoses on handheld shower heads are more flexible, and thus easier to manipulate, than plastic hoses.

• Shop online for greater choice, but visit stores for a chance to see and feel the products you’re considering. Expect to pay at least $80 for a quality model.


Bob Vila Radio: Bath Mistakes

Thinking of renovating the bathroom? Before you begin, bear in mind these mistakes to be avoided.

Before you plan a bathroom renovation, listen up to a few suggestions that will help you avoid some all-too-common remodeling missteps.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON BATH MISTAKES or read the text below:

bath-mistakes

Photo: appliancesconnection.com

If you’re installing a whirlpool tub, consider the size of your water heater—you may need to buy a larger one. The water heater should hold at least two-thirds the capacity of your new tub. A standard tub maxes out at about 40 gallons, but even a basic jetted tub could hold 50 or 60. A 60-gallon tub needs a 40-gallon water heater, or else you’ll be taking some cool baths in it.

If you plan on installing grab bars or a shower seat, don’t forget that they’ll require blocking beyond the wall.

Choose materials appropriate for your lifestyle. If you have little time (or patience) for cleaning, or if you’ve got young kids, don’t install a marble vanity, wood floors, or oil-rubbed-bronze faucets. And remember: larger floor tiles equal fewer grout lines!

Plan for enough lighting, especially if your bathroom doesn’t have a window. Don’t forget a light fixture right over the tub or shower, so you’re not showering in the dark.

Even if your bathroom does have a window, include a sufficiently powerful vent fan. A fan does a much better job of venting than an open window does.

Double-check clearances. You don’t want to end up smacking into the corner of the vanity every time you step through the door, nor do you want a shower door that hits the toilet.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Shower Heads 101

Focus on features in order to choose a shower head from the many different options awaiting you in the bathroom hardware aisle.

How to Choose a Shower Head

Photo: faucet.com

Gone are the days of the utilitarian shower head. Today’s spigots are anything but standard. From sleek handheld units to adjustable sprays to stand-up spas, the bathroom hardware aisle has begun to rain a torrent of tantalizing options.

TYPES AND BENEFITS

Standard wall mount. The standard wall-mounted shower head ranges from simple designs to more elaborate, feature-heavy models with adjustable angles and multiple spray modes. Such fixtures also include technology to counteract hard water buildup, corrosion, and tarnishing. Some have only one setting, while others boast mist, massage, and assorted other shower effects. Prices run the gamut, but if you’re economizing, this is where to start your search.

How to Choose a Shower Head - Panel

Photo: hudsonreed.com

Top mount. Opt for this type of shower head if you like the idea of your daily deluge falling from above. A top-mount model either installs directly onto the ceiling or hangs down from an extension arm.

Sliding bar. In response to the height and personal preference of the user, a sliding bar shower head moves up and down along a wall-mounted base. For a bathroom shared among family members, a shower head like this, whether it’s fixed or removable, ensures that everyone enjoys an optimal experience.

Handheld. Removable from its mounting, a handheld shower head performs well in bathing applications and can also be useful for washing things other than adult bodies (e.g., pets and kids). If you can’t decide between a handheld or a traditional fixture, why not settle on a two-in-one combination? Remember to select a model that is easy to grip and maneuver when your hands are wet and soapy.

Related: 10 Dream-Worthy Showers to Give You Bathroom Envy

Shower panel systems. A great way to think of these showers is as Jacuzzis you stand up in. Highly customizable, shower panel systems deliver more water pressure where you want, less where you don’t. Buy a pre-configured unit or design your own, specifying the number of spigots and their placement (overhead, chest-level, knee-high, etc.), the output volume, as well as the included spray options.

Note that in homes with shower panels, hot water consumption tends to increase. Make sure there are no environmental restrictions in your area concerning the installation of multiple shower heads.

Also, confirm that your plumbing can accommodate any shower system you’re eyeing. While the standard diameter of water pipes is one half inch, some custom showers require pipes that are wider. Meanwhile, your existing water heater may not have sufficient capacity to meet a graduated level of demand. Retrofit options are often available, but the wise course is to seek the advice of a professional.

Aerating. Many shower heads on the market are aerating, which means they mix air and water to create the sensation of enhanced water pressure, even though they actually use less water than a regular fixture. Aerating shower heads cost more initially, but they save you money on monthly utility bills.

Lighted. Shower heads enhanced by LED lights provide adjustable, mood-matching illumination that can make your habitual shower routine that much more pleasurable and convenient.

How to Choose a Shower Head - Low Flow

Photo: jaclo.com

Environmental Considerations
Since the early 1990s, the EPA has limited shower heads in the U.S. to a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm), thereby conserving both water and the fuel that runs water heaters. Knowing that the average family goes through almost 400 gallons of water in a single day, consider investing in a water-saving shower head that uses even less than 2.5 gpm. Models that carry the EPA WaterSense label have been demonstrated to utilize no more than 2 gpm.

Going the green route? Take your home’s water pressure into account. The EPA-specified flow rate is for a standardized pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (psi), so if your water pressure is not that high to begin with, a low-flow shower head probably won’t offer the results you’re seeking. In fact, if you’re already unsatisfied with the water pressure in your home, concentrate on models that have been specially engineered to mitigate that issue.

Related: Designers Tell All: Today’s Top 10 Bathroom Trends

Price Range
To upgrade your shower, you can spend anywhere from $5 to $1,000 and beyond. Decide for yourself whether special features that tip the price scale are worth the expense. When comparing two models with similar feature sets, keep in mind that a higher price does not always indicate a higher level of quality.

Other Considerations
Who is going to use the bathroom you’re updating? If it’s the master bath and you don’t plan on sharing the space with guests, do whatever you like. If it’s a bathroom that visitors to your home are likely to use, select from those models that are easiest to use.

In addition, think about how much time and energy you wish to spend on installing your shower head. If you’re renovating the bathroom or building a new home, the course of work already being done might easily absorb an otherwise demanding installation. For a weekend afternoon project, basic wall-mounted fixtures are most accessible for do-it-yourselfers.


Bob Vila Radio: Shower Seats

Stylish new choices in bathroom seating make adding this safety device a no-brainer.

Making a bathroom safe for everyone doesn’t mean making your home look like a hospital.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SHOWER SEATS or read the text below:

shower-seats

Photo: signaturehardware.com

Most companies that make faucets and towel racks also make bathtub grip bars that match, so your bathroom can still be stylish, not industrial-looking. And there are lots of choices in shower seating now—adding a seat can make a shower stall safer and more useful, and it can look great.

Shower seats are available in compact flip-down models that fit even the smallest showers. You can find them in teak for a stylish sauna look, or if teak doesn’t work with your decor, you can choose from bamboo, classic chrome, or powder-coated aluminum in white or black. They all look great and won’t detract from your room’s style. They need to be screwed into wall studs or into a reinforced wall to be sure they remain safely in place.

The best part is that once you add a seat to your shower, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it. It’s especially handy for women who shave their legs in the shower, but it’s a luxury for anyone to be able to sit back and have the shower hit you after a long day. And just think—the more you consider safety now, the longer you may be able to stay in your home as you do get older and need a few accommodations.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


How To: Replace a Toilet

To replace a toilet, you don't need a professional license in plumbing, only basic tools, patience, and a few hours of free time.

How to Replace a Toilet

Photo: kohler.com

There are many reasons to replace a toilet. Maybe it’s old or avocado green. Or maybe it rocks more than the Red Hot Chili Peppers when you sit on it. Or perhaps it uses more gallons per flush than the amount of water Survivor contestants get in an entire season.

Fortunately, replacing a toilet is one of the easiest DIY projects there is. With patience, a few simple tools, and a little strength, you can install a gleaming new water-efficient commode within only a few hours.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Measuring tape
- Rubber gloves
- Small cup or old towels
- Adjustable wrench
- Putty knife
- Level
- Silicone caulk
- Replacement toilet (with accessories)

STEP 1
Before removing your old toilet, don’t forget to measure it. Specifically, mark down the distance from the wall to the center of the bolts that attach the base to the floor. Is that distance 12 inches? You’re in luck. Your toilet is standard-sized.

If you’ve measured a distance other than 12 inches, you might need to custom-order your replacement toilet. To avoid ordering one that is too large, also measure the space you have available to accommodate the width of your new fixture.

How to Replace a Toilet - Supply Line

Photo: deltafaucet.com

STEP 2
Beneath the tank of your existing toilet is the water supply line. Adjust its knob to stop the flow of water to the tank, then flush. Most likely, there will still be some water left in the bowl, so don your rubber gloves and use either a small cup (to bail it out) or some old towels (to soak it all up).

STEP 3
The easiest way to get your old toilet out of the bathroom is in two stages. Start with the tank and finish with the bowl. To separate the tank from the bowl, unscrew the bolts that attach the two pieces, then lift the tank off and carry it away, or set it aside on some old towels or a panel of cardboard.

To remove the bowl, pop off the caps that cover the closet bolts (the ones that go into the floor). Next, unscrew the nuts from these bolts, rocking the bowl back and forth gently to break it free from the wax seal at its base.

When the bowl feels loose, lift it off. A putty knife should remove the old wax seal from the flange under the bowl. Wipe everything clean and to prevent sewer gases from entering your home, stuff a rag in the drain hole (or cover it with duct tape-secured plastic).

Assess the flange (the ring beneath the wax seal). If it’s in good shape, leave it alone. If it’s cracked, you might be able to patch the damaged area with a repair tab, available at your local home improvement center. If the condition of the flange appears irreparable, arrange for a plumber to come and replace it.

How to Replace a Toilet - Flange

Photo: toiletpartshq.com

STEP 4
Installing the replacement toilet involves the same process as the above, only in reverse. First, place a new wax ring (one should come with your purchase) around the hole at the bottom of the toilet, known as the water horn. Make sure the tapered side of the seal is the one facing the toilet.

Set the bowl onto the closet bolts. Hand-tighten the nuts back into place on the bolts, but make sure there is still plenty of play between the nuts and the toilet base. Rock the bowl back and forth to set the wax ring, then gradually tighten the bolts all the way, one side and then the other.

Use a level to make sure the bowl is not sitting on a slant. If you’re a bit off, use shims to get it right before tightening the bolts one last time. Be very careful not to over-tighten the bolts; toilet bowls have been known to crack during this stage of the process.

If your toilet came with a rubber gasket, place it on the bowl, setting the tank right on top. Make sure to line up the holes for the bolts that will join the bowl and the tank, then go ahead and tighten the nuts on these bolts.

Finally, reattach the water supply line, put a thin line of silicone caulk around the toilet base, and turn the water back on. You’re all set!


Bob Vila Radio: Bathroom Square Footage

Before you remodel and build a new bathroom, consider what you'll really get for your square footage.

If you’re planning a remodel and are hoping to squeeze an extra bathroom into your home, there are a few things you need to know.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON BATHROOM SQUARE FOOTAGE or read the text below:

Bathroom-Square-Footage

Photo: shutterstock

First, it’s possible to create a small powder room in less than 15 square feet, but it will probably feel cramped and uncomfortable at that size. A powder room that’s at least 16 square feet will give you a much more usable space, and 20 square feet is best for comfort.

If you’re working with a small space, be sure to choose a smaller-scale sink and a compact toilet, so the room doesn’t feel as crowded. Wall-mounted sinks don’t give you much basin area for hand washing, but they do make it possible to create a powder room out of an extremely small space.

If you’d like a three-quarter bath—meaning one that includes a shower stall, not a tub—you would ideally plan on another nine square feet to accommodate a shower stall that’s three feet by three feet. But corner shower stalls, shaped like a triangle, can be installed in less than seven square feet of space. Those corner stalls can feel a little cramped, so stand in one in a showroom before you include it in your plans.

A full bath with toilet, sink, and tub needs a minimum of 36 to 40 square feet, even more if you want amenities like a separate tub and shower, a double sink, or a linen closet.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Small Can Be Beautiful—Even in the Bath

Just because your bathroom is petite, doesn't mean it has to be inefficient or unattractive. Award-winning designer Leslie Lamarre shares her pro tips for getting the most out of any bath.

Ideas for Small Bathroom

NKBA's "Best Small Bath 2013" by TRG Architects

When it comes to bathroom remodeling, small can be beautiful. With smart planning, a petite bath can be attractive, efficient, and luxurious. And here’s another beauty point: Working within your current bathroom’s footprint rather than bumping out a wall or adding on will help keep your budget under control, even if you opt for luxe materials—a real plus in these financially uncertain times.

Designer Leslie Lamarre, co-owner and principal of interiors at TRG Architects in Burlingame, Calif., and winner of the first place award for Best Small Bath in the 2013 design competition sponsored by the National Kitchen & Bath Association, enjoys the challenge of making the most of a small space. Working around size constraints requires “creative solutions to make the design outstanding and unique,” she says. “It makes things more interesting and less predictable. Take advantage of every square inch: A little gap in the wall can become a storage niche; an awkward jog in the floor plan might make room for a built-in bench or window seat.”

A creative approach to picking out fixtures is key to making the most of a tight space. The size and shape of the room, your willingness to move plumbing connections, and personal style preferences are among the factors that will influence your fixture choices.

Ideas for Small Bathroom - Corner Tub

Neptune WIND 60" Customizable Corner Bathtub.

Lamarre recommends sticking with an average-size bathtub. “A too-big tub is a real space waster. Most people sit upright in the tub, so a five-foot tub is sufficient for practically everyone. There are all kinds of ways to use the space that you save with a smaller tub,” such as adding a mini storage unit. Consider custom pieces to best utilize small or oddly shaped spaces: “The more you can build in, the better.”

If the average five-foot-long rectangular tub doesn’t appeal—or won’t fit—some readily available options are 48-inch tubs (including some extra-deep, claw-footed Victorian-style models), corner tubs, and square or oval Japanese soaking tubs.

Related: How To: Create a Spa Bath at Home

Or consider getting rid of the tub entirely. “It’s actually more comfortable to take a shower if you’re not standing in the tub,” Lamarre says, “and a frameless glass shower makes the space look bigger.” A clear glass shower enclosure visually expands the space more than etched or frosted finishes will. Using the same wall and floor covering throughout the whole bathroom, including the shower area, lends an open, spa-like ambience.

Older homeowners or those with mobility issues will find it convenient to enter a shower without climbing over the side of a tub. But think twice about eliminating the tub if you don’t have one in another bathroom; if you decide to sell later on, a totally tub-free house may be a turnoff to some buyers.

Whether you want—or have room for—a vanity will influence bathroom sink choices. Lamarre says a vanity has to be at least 24 inches wide to accommodate a full-size sink and provide some functional counter space. But the hidden storage even a petite vanity offers is still a plus if you can make do with a smaller sink and don’t need much counter.

Vessel Sink Vanity

Photo: Columbia CabinetWorks

If you’re pro vanity, a vessel or above-surface sink maximizes below-counter storage—a flush or undermount unit can take up as much as a third of the vanity’s internal area. And a vessel sink “doesn’t need a deck around it,” according to Lamarre, yielding more usable counter space.

The standard depth for a vanity is 21 inches, but you can go shallower if you choose a semi-recessed sink installation. These sinks are designed to be positioned about halfway into the vanity, and protrude several inches beyond the counter’s front edge. Besides being space-savers, they look great.

Corner sinks, with or without vanities, are another way to make the most of limited space. “When you’re remodeling, you’re handed the space that you’ve got,” Lamarre says. “Once I had a jog in the vanity wall, so I carried the countertop across the space. It feels cohesive, and created a dynamic design aspect.”

Related: 7 Easy Ways to Boost Bathroom Storage

If you don’t have room for a vanity, or just don’t want one, check out a pedestal or wall-mounted sink. These styles have a lighter, less solid look than a vanity, and may be ideal for truly tiny spaces. “There are some really cool options; some wall-mounted sinks are only 11 inches deep,” Lamarre says. Some have broad, integrated ledges or shelf-like surfaces at the side; some come with built-in towel bars.

There are lots of ways to incorporate storage into the open space below pedestal and wall-mounted sinks: open shelves, prefab or custom cubbies, even decorative baskets and bins.

Lamarre advises that wall-hung toilets or those with round rather than elongated bowls are the best picks for compact spaces. But keep in mind, “Your choices have to fit the design aesthetic,” she says. A wall-hung unit “has a contemporary aesthetic; a round bowl works better with a traditional interior.”

Don’t overlook the storage potential above the toilet—there’s plenty of wall space for open shelves or shallow cabinets. And there are lots of over-toilet storage units available at big-box stores and storage specialty shops.

Small Bathroom

Photo: wallsfloorsandmore.com

Once you’ve picked your major fixtures, focus on the smaller but still important details, such as the medicine cabinet. You can stash more items in a deep cabinet, but one that’s flush with the wall might be a better pick. A protruding cabinet “will make the space feel smaller,” Lamarre says. Depending on the room and your cabinet choice, it may be possible to install two identical cabinets side by side. Besides doubling the storage, the expanse of mirrors can make the room look larger.

Last but far from least: lighting. A light, bright space is always more attractive and inviting, and in the bathroom in particular, light improves functionality. Recessed ceiling lights are a good starting place, but be sure to provide task lighting—Lamarre recommends sconces—around the mirror. If you like to shave in the shower, good-quality lighting will make the job easier and safer. She also recommends installing motion-activated accent lighting in the toe-kick area. It provides a gentle glow and can increase safety when someone enters the room in the middle of the night.

With careful shopping and planning, it’s possible to have the bath of your dreams in a compact space—without breaking the bank.


The Basics of Bathroom Design

Good bathroom design, starts with the basics. Here are twelve pro tips to consider in your remodel or renovation.

Bathroom designs

. Photo: Comfortable Home Design

The fun part of bathroom remodeling is ogling vessel sinks, walk-in showers, towel heaters, translucent tiles and graceful faucets. Even the newer toilets on the market are pretty cool. But when it comes to putting together bathroom designs in plans that you (and your building inspector) will be happy with, there are some recommendations and rules you should follow. Here is a selection of a dozen, courtesy of the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA).

1. Minimum entry door size
It’s smart to design for all eventualities. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a bathroom door opening should be at least 32″ wide when measured from the open door to the opposite stop. That means the door itself should be at least 34″ wide—unless you’ve opted for a pocket door.

2. Door interference
It’s not a good idea to slam the bathroom door into a loved one. Make careful measurements so that doors won’t bump anyone standing inside the bathroom. Similarly, no door (entry, cabinet, or shower) should bump into any other door. In a very small bath, change the hinges so the door swings out.

3. Ceiling height
Bathrooms must often be shoehorned into tight spaces where ceiling height is less than the general code calls for. For bathrooms, the minimum height is 80″, except in places where occupants can’t walk. In these cases, the ceiling can be even lower. Talk to your building department about what they will or won’t permit.

4. Clear floor space
A little extra space goes a long way in the bathroom, especially when two people must use it at the same time. NKBA designers recommend a 30″ clearance between the front edge of a fixture, such as a vanity or toilet, and any other fixture or wall. The building code allows for a minimum of 21″.

Bathroomdesignz White Bathroom Vanities35. Lavatory placement
The bathroom lavatory, or sink, should be placed far enough from a wall or shower wall that it’s comfortable to use and easy to clean. The NKBA recommends 20″ measuring from the center of the lavatory to the wall. Code is a minimum of 15″ (with 4″from the edge of a pedestal sink to the wall). In a double-sink vanity, the sinks should be 30″ to 36″ apart, measured from center to center.

6. Lavatory height
A comfortable height for a lavatory depends upon the height of the user, but when two or more people of varying heights are using the same sink, you’ll have to compromise. A 36″ height is standard. The NKBA says the height can range from 32″ to 43″. What you choose is up to you, but it’s probably not a good idea to install a low vanity for small kids. They grow up quickly and can use a stool in the meanwhile.

7. Lighting
A single light in the ceiling of a bathroom will put shadows under your eyes, even when they don’t exist! Add lighting above and to either side of the vanity mirror. Called cross lighting, it will eliminate shadows and provide enough light for grooming. You may consider a recessed light with a waterproof lens over the tub or shower, as well.

8. Countertops
Avoid sharp corners on countertops for safety. Top edges should be rounded over. Corners should be rounded too, or “clipped”.

9. Shower size
For user comfort, a 36″ x 36″ space is recommended. Codes will allow a minimum 30″ x 30″ stall. A shower with an angled door should be at least 32″ x 32″.

10. Tub and shower controls
The height of shower controls should be 38″ to 48″ from the floor, depending upon the height of the user. Tub controls should be between the rim of the tub and no higher than 33″ from the floor. This, of course, poses a problem if your tub and shower are controlled by the same lever or knob. In such cases, this author’s opinion is to keep the controls below 33″. In an emergency, it can be quickly reached by someone sitting in the tub.

11. Toilet placement
A toilet should have some elbow room between it and another fixture or vanity. The NKBA’s recommendation is at least 18″. Codes allow a minimum distance of 15″. If you’re placing your toilet in a compartment, it should be 36″ x 66″, although codes will allow 30″ x 60″.

12. Toilet paper holder
Even the toilet paper holder merits a recommendation. The NKBA says to put it 8″ to 12″ away from the front edge of the toilet bowl. It should be 26″ above the floor.

For more excellent information about bathroom design, visit the NKBA.


Bathroom Floor Tile: Which Is Best for You?

While there are many bathroom floor tile options, knowing the pros and cons for each will help you make the right choice in your home.

Bathroom Floor Tile

Vinyl floor tiles are among the most popular choices for the bath, and for good reason.. Photo: BathroomDesignIdeasX

Don’t miss Bathroom Floor Tile: 14 Top Options

Bathroom floor tile is available in a surprising number of materials. Ceramic, porcelain, and vinyl tiles are what come to mind first, and for good reason. They are the most popular choices and perhaps the most practical. But there are many options available today, from wood and cork to stone and glass. Here is a quick guide to help you determine the best floor tile for your bath.

VINYL TILES
Vinyl is the most popular bathroom flooring material, because of its low cost and high degree of practicality. It is well-suited for every bathroom in the house, from the master bath to the powder room. Hands down, it beats other popular choices for safety, comfort, and durability. Almost as important, vinyl tiles have come a long way in aesthetic appeal and ease of installation. The material is self-adhering and can be cut with a utility knife. Prices start at $.95 per square foot.

CERAMIC AND PORCELAIN TILES
Nothing looks better than ceramic or porcelain, whether your tastes run to stone or wood lookalikes or brilliant colors and surprising patterns. Ceramics score high with regard to maintenance, too, but they are not nearly as comfortable to the bare foot as vinyl. Installing radiant floor heat helps to change that, but a hard surface is hard whether or not it’s warm. Ceramics are not as easy to install as vinyl, though it is a job the adventurous do-it-yourselfer can tackle. When protected with a high-grade glaze, ceramic will resist wear and scratches. Porcelain tiles are harder than clay-based tiles and may have through-body color, an advantage if chipping occurs. Prices start at around $1.09 per square foot.

Bathroom Floor Tile - Laminate

Photo: shutterstock.com

PLASTIC LAMINATE TILES
Plastic laminate tiles (more commonly available as planks) are also a good choice, especially if you’re remodeling. Similar to the laminate material that covered kitchen countertops for a generation or two, the tiles don’t significantly raise the height of the existing floor, which makes it easier to plan transitions from room to room. While durable and easy to keep clean, laminate falls short when it comes to moisture. Standing water can infiltrate the fiberboard core, causing the material to expand and buckle. With laminates, it’s critical to caulk gaps along the walls, around the tub, and surrounding other fixtures to prevent water infiltration. Another con: Laminates don’t come in the same variety of styles you’ll find with ceramics and vinyl. From $.49 per square foot.

STONE TILES
Stone tiles were once confined to the foyer. In the past decade, however, they have become popular in other rooms as well, bathroom included. Made from limestone, marble, granite and slate, stone tiles are available in colors that range from creams to blues, reds, greens and golds. Available textures are nearly as numerous and include cleft, tumbled, sandblasted, etched and flamed variations. Stone requires more maintenance than ceramic tile; regular cleaning and sealing are recommended. Plus, stone is typically more expensive than similar-looking ceramic or porcelain tiles. Prices vary.

Slideshow: Bathroom Floor Tile: 9 Top Options

WOOD FLOOR TILES
Wood is only for the fearless. Once water penetrates the finish, it will stain—probably for good. During installation, the wood parquet tiles must be carefully sealed around the room perimeter and at all other joints. Two coats of polyurethane must then be applied as protection. Use it in a powder room but avoid wood floor tile in full baths that get a lot of use. Prices vary.

LINOLEUM FLOOR TILES
Linoleum is made of linseed oil, cork powder, wood flour, ground limestone and pigments. It is at home in contemporary or retro settings and well-suited to the bathroom. It’s touted as naturally inhibiting the growth of microorganisms and being able to repel dust and dirt, all while retaining its color. In my experience, that’s hype. Click-in-place plank designs make it easy to install, and there is no doubt that the stuff looks great. The look comes at a cost, however, as linoleum is relatively expensive. Average cost per square foot: $4.

Bathroom Floor Tile - Cork

Photo: shutterstock.com

CORK TILES
Cork is warm to the touch and very easy on the feet, and the tiles come tinted in a variety of colors. Installation is not difficult, but if you purchase unfinished tiles, expect to protect them with two coats of polyurethane. Generally, cork tiles are installed with a troweled-on adhesive, but click-in-place floating floor products are also available. Average cost: $2 per square foot.

GLASS TILES
Glass floor tile is about as different as you can get. Installed properly, this type of tile holds up well and if textured, it can resist slips. Small glass tiles with lots of grout joints are also slip-resistant. The aesthetic appeal is twofold: Covering the floor in a thin layer of glass creates the illusion of depth, and if the glass is tinted, you get a lovely stained-glass effect. Prices vary.

Tips: When buying glass, ceramic, or porcelain tile, be sure it’s rated for use on floors. Choose ceramic tile with a grade of 1 or 2 for floors. Ceramic tile also comes with a coefficient of friction (COF). For safety, choose one rated .50 or greater. The Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) rating system counts the other way; opt for tiles that are at least PEI III.


Bathroom Decorating Ideas

Read up on exciting, easy-to-implement bathroom decorating ideas for every budget.

Bathroom Decorating Ideas

Photo: HomeDecoratingIdeas.com

Whether you consider it an in-home escape from your hectic day or simply somewhere to wash up, the bathroom is one place in your home everyone is sure to visit. Making the most of  a small space is always a good idea, and turning larger master bathrooms into spa-like getaway rooms is a growing trend.

The following are some bathroom decorating ideas for any bathroom, no matter how much or how little you are looking to spend.

Make Simple Things Count
One of the easiest ways to update your bath cabinets—and add pizzaz—is to swap out the old hardware for new. You will have no problem finding an abundance of designs at retailers, which fit your style and budget. Before you fall in love with a new pull, knob or handle, be sure to measure the distance between holes to make sure the swap requires nothing more than a screwdriver, and consider the finish on the hinges to prevent clashing.

A simple can of paint can also go a long way in transforming your bathroom. As BobVila.com Executive Editor Larry Bilotti shared in a blog post, a coat of Ralph Lauren paint was all it took to freshen the look of a bathroom in his weekend home. Not sure which colors to go for? Consider black and white, a classic kitchen trend that has made its way to the bathroom.

Adding a new piece of furniture can also spice up the room. Consider putting in a new vanity table or mirror; go all the way and install Electric Mirror’s Visionary™ LED & TV Medicine Cabinet, which features LED lighting, audio system, 15-inch television, and waterproof remote. Anyone want to watch the news?

Bathroom Decorating IdeasAdd Some Ambiance
Spa elements—including showers that double as steam rooms, Jacuzzis and decadent soaking tubs, mini-bars and warming trays for towels—are all common bathroom decorating ideas nowadays. “People are spending more time in their baths because it’s a retreat from busy lifestyles,” says Susan Marinello, Principal Design Director of Susan Marinello Interiors in Seattle, WA. “It makes sense that they want the spa elements that help them to relax and rejuvenate.”

Although the sky’s the limit, you can have a luxurious master bathroom even on a budget. “There are some really low-cost tricks you can use to create a spa environment,” says Los Angeles interior designer Leslie Harris. “All lights should be on a dimmer, and a sound system or even an iPod if you can’t wire for speakers goes a long way towards creating a relaxing environment.” You can also install electric heating pads under the flooring material. “You can just heat a three-foot by three-foot pad in front of the vanity or shower and really enhance the bathroom experience,” Marinello explains.

Of course, don’t forget that little luxuries go a long way. Place fresh flowers and scented candles on your countertops, stock up on wonderful soaps and body scrubs and a few super-fluffy towels. Natural and soothing blues, greens, and gold are perfect. Touches of nature go a long way, as well;  add a window garden or hang framed photographs of your dream mountain getaway.

Related:
Planning Guide: Bathroom Remodeling
Bathroom Essentials: Tubs, Showers, and Sinks
Bathroom Flooring: A Wealth of Options
How To: Create a Spa Bath at Home