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Bathroom materials: What to embrace and what to avoid

The lowdown on bathroom flooring, walls and countertops.

Choosing a flooring material is one of the

Choosing a flooring material is one of the most difficult parts of a bathroom remodel. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Branislav

Bathrooms are susceptible to conditions such as water damage, mold, mildew and slick surfaces. Here is a list of the best and worst materials for a bathroom remodel.

FLOORING

Choosing a flooring material is one of the most difficult parts of a bathroom remodel. You want a material that will stand up to water droplets and hot steam without getting slick.

Embrace: A few go-to options include slip-resistant tile, rubber and linoleum flooring. If you choose linoleum, use sheet flooring instead of linoleum boards, which have more cracks and are susceptible to moisture seeping through.

Avoid: Wood flooring isn't a good choice for bathrooms because it warps under wet and steamy conditions. And slick substances such as stone or porcelain can be dangerous when damp. The obvious worst choice for bathrooms is carpet, which will harbor mildew and mold and lead to water damage in the subfloor.

WALLS

Unlike floors, it doesn't matter if your walls are slippery. So, you have a bit more flexibility when choosing wall materials.

Embrace: Ceramic, porcelain and stone tile are great waterproof options that add personality to a space. Try installing decorative tile around areas that are exposed to a lot of water, such as above a shower and behind a sink. And for walls that are farther away from water sources, paint is a good choice. Avoid flat matte shades, which show every speck of water.

Avoid: The least favorable material for your bathroom walls is wallpaper because it may peel from the constant steam. You won't have any issues if you use wallpaper in bathrooms that don't have a shower. A solid vinyl wall covering can add texture without moisture issues.

COUNTERTOPS

Luckily, when it comes to bathroom countertops, there's a relatively small margin for error. Most countertop materials are waterproof, which offers a wide range of options to choose from.

Embrace: Laminate, solid surface, glass, stone and quartz are all popular options that should be able to withstand moisture and normal wear and tear.

Avoid: Don't install tile countertops in the bathroom. Grout gets dirty much faster in these heavily used areas, and items such as colored soap, makeup and lotion can stain it. If tile is a must, consider going for a dark grout color to disguise grime. And stay away from copper countertops if you're not up for the regular maintenance they require.

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