Laminate is a popular flooring material that can look very realistic, often giving the appearance of hardwood floors. It can also work well in the bathroom, particularly when used to contrast tile applications around toilets and sinks. However, it’s important to consider how the laminate will hold up in a wet area and whether it will be able to handle humidity, spillage, splashes or even water damage.
Laminate flooring is relatively quick and easy to fit, with a professional being able to complete a room up to 45 square metres in about a day or two. But it’s a slightly different story when you’re working in a bathroom, as you will have to work around existing elements like the bathtub, shower, vanity sinks and toilet.
The good news is that a quality laminate floor can be very hard-wearing and will withstand the normal wear and tear of use in most areas of the home. It will also be able to cope with the occasional splash and spillage, providing that it’s wiped up straight away. But it’s not waterproof in the way that rubber or vinyl is. If you leave a puddle of water sitting on the floor for too long, it will eventually soak through and cause serious damage to the subfloor, requiring expensive repairs or replacement.
Fortunately, the use of a vapor barrier underlayment will help to protect the laminate flooring from moisture. In bathrooms, this is especially important, as water and condensation can often form in the space between the laminate and the subfloor. When using a vapor barrier, make sure that it meets the bottom of the toilet flange so that a silicone seal is created. This will prevent moisture from getting under the laminate flooring, potentially damaging the subfloor and causing mould.
It’s also a good idea to place rugs in the bathroom, both for comfort and to stop the laminate from becoming saturated with excessive amounts of water. Keeping humidity levels low by running an exhaust fan, opening doors and windows and not leaving hot water on for too long will also help to keep the floor in good condition.
Once the vapor barrier underlayment has been installed, it’s time to start fitting the laminate planks. When laying the laminate, it’s important to remember that it will expand and contract in response to changes in temperature and humidity, so leave a gap of 3/8 inch around the perimeter of the room. This will allow the laminate to expand and contract without damaging the baseboard or the wall. If you are installing the laminate into a tight corner, use plastic spacers to help you achieve a neat finish. It’s also worth putting down a line of silicone caulk around the edge of the laminate, as this will prevent any water from getting in through gaps and into the flooring. Finally, when it comes to cutting the planks, it’s a good idea to use a diamond blade on your saw to avoid any damage to the laminate surface.