Sunday, August 30, 2009

Laying Laminate in a Bathroom

About a week ago I revealed the results of the makeover one of our bathrooms received here. A big part that makeover was covering up the old, yucky white vinyl floor. I was tired of the floor never looking clean. It had stains and scratches and every piece of dirt or animal fur was magnified against the white background. However, we really wanted to do something fairly inexpensive and easy to cover up the floor. I looked at using peel and stick vinyl tile, but wanted something a little nicer and more durable. So I looked into using laminate that looks like tile. There are a few rules you have to follow when using laminate in a bathroom, especially a full bathroom.

1.Not all laminate is rated or warrantied for use in a bathroom. Certain types of laminate are more moisture resistant than others. We went with the Swiftlock brand from Lowe's. The package labeled it as highly water resistant and the website stated it could be used in residential full bathrooms. Make sure the kind you choose does say it can be used in a bathroom, some brands are not recommended to be exposed to the potential of so much moisture.

2. Double check all your cuts before you start cutting down pieces to fit. Also make sure you are cutting the right end. Each side and each end has either a tongue or a groove. If you cut from the wrong side, you might have two grooves or two tongues that won't fit together. Not a groovy match. Trust me. I cut the wrong end of a plank. Twice.

bathroom 012

3. Use an undercut saw to trim down the door jambs by sawing up the bottom portion. Lay a piece against the door jamb to determine where to cut. This allows you to slip the pieces of laminate underneath and not have to remove the door trim. This also works when installing ceramic tile.

bathroom 010

4. Most laminates will require you to use glue when connecting the pieces together in order to make the seam watertight. Our laminate said to put the glue on top of the tongue only, but the glue kinds of ends up everywhere. You mostly just want to prevent any water from getting underneath the floor. The top of the laminate is water resistant, the underneath is not. In theory, you should avoid walking on the floor and flexing the seams while the glue is drying. However, the easiest way to lay the floor in our bathroom was by starting at the doorway so we ended up walking on it alot. Oops.

5. Once the floor is installed and you have left the required 1/4"-3/8" gap between the edges of the floor and the walls, tub, and/or vanity, you must go back and fill in that gap with caulk. Make sure you use 100% silicone caulk. Silicone caulk is waterproof and is flexible so that the floor can still move and expand as needed. Also caulk all around the edge where the toilet drain is. See this post for tips on getting a nice pretty caulk line.

6. We also caulked all around the top and base of the trim in order to further prevent any possible water seepage.

7. You will probably need a new wax ring for your toilet because the new floor height will be taller if you are going over another floor. Removing and reinstalling the toilet and wax ring is gross, there is not way around that. Our toilet spent over a week sitting in the bathtub while we worked on the floor, caulking, and trim. It helps to have a strong guy around to help lift the toliet around, they are heavy!

bathroom 001

8. They sell trim kits that contain pieces to transition from the laminate to carpet or whatever flooring you have outside the doorway. We only needed one small piece, but you had to buy a whole kit. The kit was $27. So we bought a $6 pewter colored metal floor transition that works just as well.

bathroom 055

Hopefully this tips will help you out if you decide to try laminate flooring in your bathroom.

Before you know it, your floor could go from this:

bathroom 002

to this:

bathroom 053


  1. Flooring is a very neglected point in home decor sometimes. It's amazing how various types of flooring can completely change a space.

    I think it looks fabulous.

  2. Wow, that work looks really professional! Your bathroom even looks like the ones in a 5-star hotel. In my home, to titivate my floor, I've applied laminate flooring. Tampa, where I currently live, also have houses that have the same flooring style.

    But in my study room, I used wood as my flooring, that is why I bought laminate wood flooring (Tampa based store).

  3. Wow... That is amazing. You have done it great. Laminate floor is suitable for your bathroom. It can stand direct contact with the water. When cleaning it, it is better for you to use the wet mop or sponge. It is enough. Do not use the wire brush. Treating the laminate flooring in the proper will help the flooring to last longer.


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