Sue Cade steps over the shag pile and into the modern world of bathroom flooring
I’m old enough to remember the days when a fluffy carpet in the bathroom was the ultimate in glamour (Jane Mansfield had thick, pink shag pile surrounding her gold, heart-shaped bath, apparently). Today, luxury in the bathroom is a tad more tasteful.
Paul Greenslade from new tile showroom La Fabrico in Exeter is a fan of decorative tiles for beautiful bathroom flooring. “But where you might once have used decorative tiles just for a border in a shower or as a wall feature, these are now making a real mark used as an entire floor,” he says.
One of his favourites is a wood-effect porcelain tile. It looks as good as the real thing but comes with added benefits. “If you have underfloor heating, tiles are superior to wood in terms of heat transference,” Paul explains. “The technology of creating tiles has moved on to the point where texture can be created on the surface; you can feel knots and grains as you would on real wood. And importantly, they don’t scratch.”
The range available at La Fabrico is mind boggling, with driftwood-style porcelain tiles perfect for homes by the sea or for those of us wanting a permanent reminder of summer beach visits to cheer us up during bleaker winter months. You might also consider pebble tiles for an unusual effect – bringing the beach to the bathroom and adding texture underfoot.
Amtico is the favoured bathroom flooring choice of Clive Kerswell, Sales Manager at Russells Flooring. This British-made luxury vinyl flooring – LVT for short – is ideal for bathrooms due to its practical water and stain resistance. But beyond the practical, even more appealing is Amtico’s range that encourages individuality in design. The Signature Collection includes warm wood, subtle stone and funky abstracts, each with multiple choices of colour and sense of texture. Stay on trend by choosing from bright palettes available in the Abstract range, such as vibrant fuchsia Marrakesh, yellow Napoli and deep blue Paris.
There are also many possibilities to stamp your own style with Amtico, not just through colours and tone but the way the tiles are laid. Use patterned borders and eye-catching motifs to make your bathroom all your own.
Perhaps surprisingly, laminate is a better choice for a bathroom than natural wood, as long as the bottom layer is protected from moisture. Flooring specialist Quick-Step offers exactly this safeguard; the company has been manufacturing flooring material since 1960, but in 2007 it unveiled a laminate flooring collection perfectly suited for damp areas, including bathrooms. Relatively simple but offering crisp, clean results, Quick-Step’s Impressive and Majestic ranges allow scope for interior design, with choices varying from subtle natural oak and pine to brushed, sandblasted, scraped and more dramatic ‘burned’ styles. As a finishing touch, you can choose matching skirting boards or a basecoat-white, ready-to-paint skirting board and give it the colour of your choice.
As well as its water-repellent credentials – provided by the clever-sounding HydroSeal protective technology – this laminate is also scratch-resistant, making it ideal for coastal homes as the flooring copes easily with the remnants of a fun-filled day on a sandy beach. The manufacturers are confident that your bathroom laminate flooring will still look great in 25 years’ time.
Back to tiles, with a word from Rob Ingram of Devon Tiles on achieving the natural stone effect without the bother of ongoing maintenance. Rob believes traditional stone tiles are still popular, but these, especially the softer, more porous stones such as marble, limestone and travertine, require regular sealing to protect them from water, dirt and stains. However, he says, the natural stone look can now be achieved with digital printing on more hard-wearing, water-resistant porcelain tiles. Natural stone-effect tiles tend to be neutral so can work with any colour scheme.
Two ranges Rob recommends are Calacatta, which provides a classic gloss marble effect, and Tides by Unicom Starker. The latter is a new range only recently added – so if you want to get ahead of your neighbours, do it now. Rob says Tides is a stunning stone reproduction perfect for bathrooms and has a mosaic option designed for wet room floor areas. Devon Tiles has two colours available: Fitzroy and Saint Malo.
And what of carpet in the bathroom? A quick peek at a Mumsnet thread on this very subject reveals a mix of responses, but mainly a resounding ‘no’ due to well-documented male habits! Sadly, carpet – whether wool or nylon – will quickly become saturated, so dreams of shag pile must be stepped on immediately. However, if you fancy a little extra luxury with your vinyl, laminate or tiles, how about a White Company Hydrocotton ribbed bath mat, which will grace any style of bathroom floor? Available in white and muted shades, the clever ‘low twist’ technology makes them feel supremely fluffy. Perfect for busy households, they are fast drying and stay blissfully soft and supple, even after washing.
"Laminate is a better choice for a bathroom than natural wood, as long as the bottom layer is protected from moisture"
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