Q: Can you suggest best ( and least expensive! ) options to do bathroom flooring? In our modest 2BHK home, we can not do many changes, but want better flooring, which is easier to clean, skid-proof and with minimum joints (I don’t know the term).
This post is in response to Preeti’s question.
Preeti’s situation mirrors most of our issues with bathrooms. Most of our problems with keeping bathrooms clean would not occur if they were dry all the time. Let us go back to the basics of bathroom design. For a bathroom to remain free of moisture, there should be well demarcated areas for the vanity, wash basin, bath area and the commode. If it is a free flowing surface with no segregation and proper sloping for water to flow, then the chances for a clean and low-maintenance bathroom are slim.
I have often observed that bathroom renovation happens much earlier in most apartments than the remaining parts of the house.
1. Non-porous/Low water absorption : Most Indian bathrooms are wet unlike those in the West. So it is important to choose tiles that are non-porous in nature with a low water absorption capacity. The longer the water stays on the tile surface, the higher the tendency for dirt to get absorbed. Since it is not always possible to immediately wipe clean the moisture, check the water absorption by weight ratio before buying a tile. The recommended number is less than 3%. Most brands publish this as part of their product’s technical specifications.
2. Size:The standard size for floor tiles a few years earlier was 300 mm * 300 mm (roughly 1 *1 sq.foot). Which meant more grout area, or the joint between tiles. The gaps between ceramic tiles filled with white cement is what gets dirty the most because of discoloration from dirt. Frequent cleaning with Harpic or a scouring agent like soda/vinegar paste will ensure it remains spotless. But that’s hard work and you don’t want to be holed up in the bathroom all day on a Saturday, right? Notice the number of joints in the picture below? Such bathrooms look great in pictures, but are hard to maintain.
The market is inundated with a wide range of choices of 600 mm *600 mm (roughly 2*2 sq. ft) floor tiles. If you are planning for a bathroom renovation, then I suggest you take a look at this. Nitco, Kajaria, Somany and most leading brands have sizes closer to this dimension. This would mean less grouting area.
Unless you opt for a floor tile with a design or pattern on it, the size of the tile is not dependent on the size of the bathroom. Large tiles with a contrasting design look out of place in a very small bathroom. The only disadvantage of the large size tiles is that if the bathroom is smaller or if it is of an odd shape, then the wastage will be high.
Though color of the tiles comes much after the above factors in the selection process, it is one that cannot be ignored. Because, finally, it is the physical appearance of the tile that sets the mood. After all, you wouldn’t want to step into a gloomy, dark bathroom every morning that puts you off. But, color is a very personal choice. What works for me may not work for you. So, do a bit of introspection before you settle on one.
For a dirt-free floor at least one that doesn’t show, I would prefer a rusty color such as this. It may be tempting to choose a dark colored tile assuming it will camouflage the dirt. But, soon you will realize you have a bigger monster when the hard water stains start showing up. Taking that into account, I would recommend you choose a beige colored tile. You may opt for contrasting dark colored wall tiles.
If you are remodeling and do not intend to take down the wall tiles, then choose a floor color that goes well with the existing color scheme. You could even look at covering the entire height of your wall with tiles if not already done so. Most bathroom walls are tiled to a height of 7 feet. Choose the same color as your floor tiles as skirting above the current wall tile or if it is a neutral color you can take it all the way up to the ceiling. It’s your area to play with. So experiment.
4. Scratch resistant: since it is not a very high usage area like commercial spaces, you would not generally need to worry about this aspect. Most tiles are scratch resistant.
I often get e-mails from many of you asking specifically for recommendation on tile colors and sizes. I have put together a list from several brands. these tiles are scratch-resistant, anti-skid, anti-slip, chemical-resistant, highly durable tiles.
Aegis Beige of Somany (600 mm * 600 mm)
Aegis Grey of Somany (600 mm * 600 mm)
Argento Creme, Cotedor Aube, Estonia Areno, Fregio, Laguna Grisaceo, Naturalia Perla, from Nitco
If you’ve recently renovated your bathroom, please share before and after pictures and tell us how much it costed you.