Should You Waterproof A Bathroom Floor?

By default, our bathrooms are exposed to large amounts of water every day. With its presence here, there, and everywhere, you may be concerned whether or not your flooring needs to be protected using waterproofing techniques. Well, we’ve scoured through the research for you to find the answer.

Waterproofing the bathroom floor is a resounding, yes, a necessary step! This insulative, protective layer will prevent leaks, inhibit mold growth, and be viewed as a benefit for resale value. There are few disadvantages; although, waterproofing can be a costly home improvement project, depending on your carpentry skill and materials used. 

Interesting. Now, you’re wondering how exactly do you waterproof a bathroom floor before tiling anyway? Please keep reading as we delve into the why's and how-to's of waterproofing your bathroom floor. We'll also discuss waterproof flooring options to consider. 

Shot of luxurious interior of a bathroom with shower, Should You Waterproof A Bathroom Floor?

Waterproofing A Bathroom Floor - Pros & Cons

Interior of a modern bathroom with contemporary interior design, What Do You Put Under A Shower Base?

Let's take a look at the advantages:  

  1. It reduces the build-up of condensation that leads to mold and mildew, which can make you sick.
  2. It stops damage from leaks in its tracks, which saves major money in repairs. For example, if your toilet overflows or a pipe bursts, any wood structure beneath will not be compromised by rot. This is especially important for upstairs bathrooms!
  3. There will be fewer cold feet during those chilly months, as waterproofed flooring also acts as extra insulation. Was that the sound of electric bill savings we just heard in the background?
  4. It can help raise your property’s resale value if or when you decide to sell it.
  5. Waterproofed flooring is less susceptible to the devastating destruction caused by those miscreant termites and carpenter ants. 
  6. Stains from water and pets are less of an issue than in a non-protected bathroom.

There are few disadvantages to waterproofing the bathroom floor:

  1. As with many home improvement projects, the major downside here is the expense. Having this job performed by licensed professionals can cost up to $800, depending on the bathroom's size. 
  2. Due to the curing and drying processes, you can count on losing the use of your throne room for a few days while the work is being completed.
  3. If you’re handy enough to do the project yourself, it will still cost you time and materials. This is doubly true if you haven’t done it before, as you’ll have to spend some extra moments getting all your rubber duckies in a row before you begin. 

How Do You Waterproof a Bathroom Floor Before Tiling?

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Let’s go over the basic process in a few simple steps, so you can prepare for this DIY project. First, you’ll need to head to your local hardware store and grab the right materials for the job, including: 

  • waterproofing floor primer,
  • bathroom grade silicone,
  • waterproof sealant,
  • caulk gun,
  • painter’s tape,
  • and a few rollers (possibly a wool applicator if you decide on anything oil-based).

The folks that work in the paint department are normally knowledgeable and can point you in the right direction if you get overwhelmed. 

1. Clean

Now, break out those brooms and mops and clean that floor until it shines! Get up everything you can so it doesn’t ruin all your future hard work. Let it dry completely.

2. Prime

Use your paint pole and rollers to apply the first coat of waterproofing primer. Start in the back corners, making sure to roll a few inches up the wall as well, and work your way out of the room. Now take a break while it dries. There will be instructions for the exact length of time on your product label. 

Click here to get fully equipped with this paint roller set from Amazon.

3. Lay Silicone & Affix Painter's Tape

Next, lay the silicone in all the seams and cracks around the base of the wall and structures. It will need to cure for a full day afterward. Once dry, grab your roll of painter’s tape and hit the walls at the same height you applied the primer. Hint: this is most likely right above your baseboards if you have them.  

Laying silicone is a breeze, using this caulk gun from Amazon.

4. Apply Sealant, Allow Sufficient Drying Time

Apply the first coat of the waterproof sealant in the same manner as the primer was done. Then, you guessed it: more drying time!

While you’re just chilling out, here’s an extra piece of information regarding waterproof membranes. If you have existing flooring, this is not particularly needed. However, if the work is being done from the foundation, you’ll probably want to include the membrane now as a base layer of protection. You can find it in rolls at your local hardware store. 

5. Apply Second Coat of Sealant

Apply a second coat of sealant. Allow another day of drying. Remove the tape, and you’re ready for your tiles to be installed!

Get inspired! Before tiling your bathroom floor, check out "17 Interesting Bathroom Floor Tile Ideas."

Is Waterproof Vinyl Flooring Good for Bathrooms?

Absolutely! Vinyl is one of the best choices out there for several reasons. It’s durable and easy to clean. You can put it directly over existing flooring, and because of that, it’s also easy to remove if you choose. Vinyl is quite cost-effective, as well, especially compared to stone and even some types of tile. It comes in many designs that can really beautify a room, including patterns that mimic hardwood and stone! This material also retains heat fairly well.

However, there are a couple of potential drawbacks to keep in mind about waterproof vinyl. First, it is highly recommended to let a professional do the installation, as it tends to look cheap if not done correctly. This might add to your needed project budget. In addition, installing vinyl will not do much in terms of increasing the resale value of your property like stone or tile flooring might. 

For all the details on vinyl flooring in your bathroom, check out "Vinyl Flooring in The Bathroom: Pros and Cons."

Do You Need to Waterproof a Concrete Floor?

Concrete is extremely durable and can last a lifetime. However, it is naturally porous and subject to cracking with regular temperature expansion. Once water enters these cracks, fungal growth and mold can occur. 

It is strongly encouraged that concrete floors in bathrooms be waterproofed. Many experts recommend the method of adding a waterproof membrane topped with a second slab of concrete. Because this surface is also slippery, you would probably also want to look into having some surface scaling done to add texture. This can also assist in preventing stains. You’ll also want to be sure to have a professional do this installation, as working with concrete is tricky and often dangerous. 

In closing, waterproofing your bathroom floors is highly advantageous!

Interior of modern bathroom with round mirror

Going through this process now can save a lot of money and headaches later down the road by preventing many problems before they even start. Say goodbye to mold, rotten wood, and water stains. Welcome a cleaner, safer, healthier bathroom for your family!

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