Are you ready to update your flooring but aren’t sure which options are right for you? You’ve come to the right spot! I’ve used a few different options on the abundance of tile in my house and I definitely have some opinions on which option is my favorite. We’ll look at the pro’s and con’s of painted tile, vinyl tile and vinyl planks. I’ll cover budget, ease of installation and durability. If you just want my opinion on which is best feel free to scroll to the end.
The first transformation I did to a portion of the tile in my home was painting the tile shower surround. Most of the tile in our house is the builder grade brown that you see a lot of in homes that were build in the early 2000’s. We had it in our old home that was remodeled before we moved in and it was definitely in style during that time. And at the time I loved it. But our bathrooms don’t have any windows in them (something that my husband and I would both love to fix someday but just isn’t quite in the budget at the moment) so the need something brighter and a little modern.
So to start off we decided to paint the shower surround white. Yup. We painted our shower tile. If you want to see how we did it you can read about it here. And you know what? I would do it again. In fact, we’ll do it again to the tile surrounding our master bath tub. Over the last year and a half it has held up amazingly well. Granted, it’s not a bathroom that is used frequently for showers, but we do have a couple of kids who make quite the ruckus during bath time. And we haven’t had a single scratch in the paint.
Now, as far as painting floor tile, I can’t say for certain. I have seen a number of people who have done it and done it quite successfully. (You can check out this blog to see how their painted tile held up) I imagine that it would hold up splendidly, especially in a bathroom situation where you might not have as much shoe traffic as say an entryway or a kitchen. Out of the three methods, though, I expect it is by far the most time consuming option, so if you have a lot of tile that may not be the route you want to go.
Vinyl Floor Tile may not be a new idea but up until a year and a half ago I definitely never considered it for my floors. Especially not for covering existing tile flooring. If you do a google search of vinyl floor tiles you will find a wide range of vinyl tiles ranging from downright ugly to beautifully chic and modern. You also have options of groutable vinyl, peel and stick vinyl and vinyl you can glue down yourself. I went with the peel and stick option, as it seemed the easiest and it had the widest assortment of styles I liked. I have to say, I’m still intrigued by the groutable vinyl and I just may have to do that to my laundry room someday. I’m seeing hexagon groutable tiles in my future! To see my vinyl tile makeover click here.
This is probably the most common flooring you will see in new homes, as least in my area of the U.S. When we were on the house hunt a couple of years ago we usually found that brand new homes had vinyl plank in all of the common areas of the house. I didn’t, however, realize that you can put vinyl planks directly over existing tile. Who knew?! Well, probably everyone except me. That was a game changer for me. I knew we had to try it right away, and since I was getting ready to work on the master bath I figured the timing couldn’t be better. Off to Lowe’s we went to pick our planks. You can see that project here.
Now that you have a little introduction into each of these options I want to grade them based on a few criteria. If your first priority is budget, it’s important to know what you need to expect in terms of cost. These are just my experiences based on the amount of material I had to get for the space I was working on. Yours will be different and you’ll want to calculate your own estimated costs. Hopefully I can give you a better idea of what you’ll need to expect.
For the painted tile, you’ll obviously need paint. But you’ll also need a really good primer. I used Stix. Keep in mind a really good durable primer can be pricey. You’ll also need a water-based polyurethane, which can also be expensive. If you already have painting supplies that will help, but if not you’ll need those as well. For this project I used foam rollers. If you’re doing a stencil on the floor you’ll also need an accent paint and a few stencils. You’re most likely looking at $100+ for a small bathroom. (Again, you’ll want to do your own calculations.
For vinyl floor tiles the price can range greatly. We used floor pop tiles and they were very budget friendly. At the time of purchase we spent $20-30 on the tiles. We also had to purchase a floor leveling compound (we used Henry’s floor leveler). In total we spent around $60 for a small bathroom floor. If you’re strictly looking for a budget friendly flooring this could be a great option for you.
Vinyl plank flooring is likely to be your most expensive option. I will say, however, that if we had done our smaller bathroom rather than our larger bathroom, we probably could have done it for under $100 since we likely only would have needed one box. It will all depend on the price of your planks (which ranges as much as the tiles) and how large a space you’re doing.
When you’re doing a project yourself there are times when budget may be the only factor you can consider. In our old house we sometimes had to do the harder project because it was the cheapest option for us. We were also younger and putting in a significant amount of time and elbow grease was easier than I find it these days. If you’re not solely focused on budget you may want to consider the ease of installation.
I would say, by far, the most time intensive option would be painting the tile. Not only is there more prep work, but you’re also accounting for multiple layers and drying/curing time. I know that once I start painting our master bathroom shower it will be unusable for a few days. Honestly that’s the main reason I’ve been putting it off for so long.
Installing vinyl floor tiles also involves a bit of prep work. Since the tile has to stick to the floor you have to make sure it is well cleaned and then you have to level the floor. If you don’t level it you’ll have dips where the grout lines were. Once you have all the prep work done, laying the tiles isn’t too hard.
Installing the vinyl plank was the easiest of the three. Once we had the installation tools we were able to quickly get to floor down. There was minimal prep work, since the floor is actually floating and not stuck to the subfloor.
Assuming you’re not looking for a temporary fix, you want to know how each will hold up. Out of the three options I would definitely say that the vinyl tile is the least durable. Now I don’t want to discount it as an option, because it’s been great, and for the most part it’s actually held up really well in the last year or so since we put it in. The only part that has started coming up is right behind the toilet where I think we had a leak in the pipe the connects to the toilet. Otherwise it’s held up great! Vinyl tile is the one I worry most about when the kids are in the bath and splashing everywhere. Surprisingly around the bathtub has done well too. I did add some clear silicone in the cracks near the tub to try to keep any water from getting under the tiles.
When I painted our bathroom tile I wasn’t sure how the painted tile would hold up. I worried about scratches or pealing. But in the last two years I haven’t had a single scratch or pealing. The painted tile I have, though, is on the bathroom walls and not the floor. I have hear great things from people who have done it on the floor though! So if you’re leaning towards painting the floor and you’re worried about durability I think you’ll be okay if you take all of the precautions of prep work and sealing properly.
In my opinion, I think the vinyl plank flooring is the most durable. Though I haven’t had issues with the painted tile, and I’ve had minimal issues with the vinyl tile, I just worry less about the vinyl planks. They’re waterproof and are built for the wear and tear of everyday living.
It depends. Haha. I know that’s the last thing you want to hear after reading that novel. It will depend on what your goals are. If you are concerned about budget vinyl tiles may be the way to go. And I’d really like to try groutable vinyl tiles. I think that would make them more durable with less concern about the tiles pulling up. But if budget isn’t a concern and you just want to get the job done and have a super durable floor, I would absolutely go with the vinyl planks all the way.
I hope this helped in your search for the best flooring option for your needs! If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask!
If you saw my post on how to install faux shiplap, you probably already know that our master bath has a lot of tile. I mean, every surface but the vanity and walls is tile. Brown, builder-grade tile. My plan was always to change it up. I mean, why is tile in bathrooms a good idea?? Do you know what gets stuck in that grout??? I don’t even want to think about it.
First I thought I’d paint the floor and use a stencil to give it a modern pattern, (I’ve had success painting tile, which you can see here.) but the prospect of all that work on so much tile was daunting. Then I discovered vinyl tile. I put some down in our small, upstairs bathroom (you can see that project here) and after a year of moderate use decided that probably wouldn’t work in our master bath that gets used daily. Finally, I learned that you can actually put vinyl plank flooring directly over tile. We found some 100% waterproof vinyl and it was the perfect solution!
This was one of our quickest bathroom installations to date and it made such a huge difference. Although it wasn’t our cheapest project, coming in at under $200, I would definitely recommend going this route over vinyl tile or painting. (Not to mention it’s wayyyy cheaper and less work than tearing out the tile and replacing it!) *Before going out an buying your vinyl planks make sure that by adding the flooring on top of the tile your floor won’t end up being to high to clear the bottom of any doors or that it won’t stick up higher than your carpet. You don’t want to end up with an awkward transition.
Utility knife to remove current baseboard
Cat’s paw or pry bar to remove current baseboard
Vinyl plank flooring (We used Style Select, Dovetail color from Lowe’s)
Vinyl floor installation kit
Saw for cutting (you can score the planks with a utility knife, but I found using a saw easier)
Brad nailer and nails to reinstall baseboard
Spackle for baseboard.
The first thing you want to do is remove the toilet and your current baseboards. You will want to have the baseboards on top of the new flooring to give it a clean look. We also removed the toe kick under the cabinets too. Your baseboards will have a bead of caulk on the top so you’ll need to score it with a utility knife. We used a pry bar to get the baseboards off. We knew we weren’t going to use the original baseboards again, so we weren’t too careful when removing them. If you will be putting the baseboards back on you’ll want to be careful not to damage them.
If you’ve seen any of my other projects you may know that prep work is my least favorite part. But it’s oh, so necessary. Vacuum or sweep the floor and then give it a good mopping. I really wanted the floors underneath as clean as possible. After the floors are dry you’re ready to get going. That’s my kind of prep!
Okay, so this step is optional, but I would definitely recommend it. Depending on the brand you get you’ll have a few different patterns of vinyl planks. We organized the flooring by pattern so that we could make them look more random and not end up with a bunch of the same pattern at the end.
Now it’s time to get rolling! We started by the bathroom door. I wanted the boards to slide under the door trip so it would look nice. I used our multitool to cut the very bottom of trim. If you don’t have a multitool you can carefully try a handsaw or remove the trim, cut it down and replace it. (If it’s not making sense watch the video below)
You also want to keep in mind that these floors are floating, meaning they aren’t glued to anything. You’ll need to give it some space to move around a bit as the floors fluctuate. We ended up leaving approximately 1/4″ for this. (We started off just using bits of wood for the spacers but quickly realized that to make this project easier we would need the installation kit. The one we purchased had spacers included.)
It may take a bit to get the hang of installing the vinyl planks. I wish I had a better video clip of us clicking the vinyl planks in. When we do the next bathroom I’ll make sure to get one. This will have to do.
At first I thought they should just snap in easily. The first row we did was especially frustrating. But then we bought the installation kit and using the bar pull was super helpful. Occasionally you’ll also need to use the mallet to get everything to snap in flat.
When you get to the end and cut off your remaining bit you can either use a sharp utility knife or a saw to cut your vinyl plank ends. I preferred using a saw to make my cuts, but just know that you can do this project without power tools.
For any cuts that you make you will only be able to use that leftover as the beginning of a new row. So where possible use the remainder for the new row. Make sure you’re starting with different lengths so you’ll have some staggering among the boards.
The middle portion is my favorite. When you don’t have obstacles to work around it starts to go super fast! Woohoo! The end of the installation was a lot of measuring and cutting. When I had to go around the toilet I just lay the board down and traced an approximate guide to cut. The toilet base should cover it just fine. If you’re using a utility knife you may have trouble at this part. I’m not sure how well it will cut curved lines. I used a scroll saw to cut these parts, but a jig saw would work well too.
To get under the vanity base we took off the toe kick. We had to rip a couple of the planks to get them to fit, and we ripped the toe kick before putting it back on. We re-attached the toe kick with the nice edge on the bottom touching the planks.
As you finish installing you will likely have to rip some of the vinyl planks to make them fit next to the wall. (You’ll have to cut some of them lengthwise.) For shorter planks we used the scroll saw, but for the longer ones we used a utility knife. Both worked just fine.
When you’re all finished installing the boards it’s time to put everything back together. Start with the baseboards. It’s easier to get the baseboards put in before the toilet is reinstalled. If you have any bullnosed (rounded) outside corners and you’re not putting the original baseboards back on let me save you some time and give you the angles. Luckily most saws have this one marked because is a commonly needed angle. You’re inside edge will be 5/8-3/4″ and the cut angle will be 22.5 degrees. You’re welcome. Use a brad nailer to attach the baseboards.
Last, install your toilet, touch up the brad nailer holes, and paint or apply touch-up paint to the baseboards and you’re done!!
So we’ve had this project done for a couple of months now and I am so happy with it. I would absolutely do this again and we’ll probably replace our vinyl tiles in our guest bathroom with vinyl plank flooring soon. We haven’t had any problems with water, it’s easy to clean and I don’t feel gross walking on it. This project was a bit more expensive than the vinyl tile I installed in our other bathroom a year ago, but since I don’t have to worry about the water I consider it worth it. Plus you don’t have to do as much prep work and it would be even easier to take out if you need a temporary solution for your bathroom or kitchen. Such a win! Have you ever put vinyl planks over existing floors? If you try it let me know how it went!