Selecting materials for a bathroom remodel
When a homeowner considers undertaking a bathroom remodel today, their first step in contemplating potential redesign ideas is to select what kinds of materials they would like their new bathroom to be finished with – should I have sandstone, granite, ceramic, or marble floors? Should the walls be wallpapered or tiled? Should the tile on the walls be the same as that used on the floors?
Many homeowners quickly proceed to consult their local Home Depot or design magazine for material recommendations, only to recoil in shock at the sheer volume of materials available. Gaudy advertisements accompany every finish material, and every finish material claims it is the most cost-effective. So many materials – especially the numerous engineered, altered, or synthetic materials – claim to offer the best value for a limited budget, and it is understandably very difficult for the bewildered homeowner to begin the material selection process. What materials truly provide the best value, durability, and beauty at the lowest cost?
The honest answer is the one that most people do not like to hear – you truly “get what you pay for.” Yes, a linoleum finish is extraordinarily affordable and can be installed quite easily, but do not expect to receive any lasting benefits from the meager investment. As with most other “value engineered” materials, it will quickly fade, yellow, stain, and curl over time – why spend roughly $800 every couple years to replace a cheaply-surfaced wall or floor when a seemingly-higher initial investment of, say, $4000 on a higher quality floor finish will result in many more years of satisfactory performance?
Our recommendation for selecting bathroom materials is to quickly eliminate the synthetic and engineered materials. Select natural finishes wherever you can afford them – the initial investment will be high, but you will get many more years of reliable service. Synthetic and engineered finishes are – as the name implies – specifically engineered to last for only a set amount of time before they fail and require replacement. Natural materials, while certainly not immune to premature damage – this usually occurs if unskilled or improper installation procedures are used – tend to last much longer, and, more importantly, they age gracefully. An engineered material will look ugly after wearing out, contrarily, a natural material will acquire a warm patina over the decades – why else, for example, is historic architecture so cherished? The natural materials used in such architecture – stone, brick, ceramics, hardwoods – age beautifully over time and looks better the older they get.
dRemodeling thus recommends that the homeowner consider using various stones for bathroom surfaces – granite, marble, sandstone, and similar stones are extremely durable and will offer decades of reliable service if properly installed and maintained. High quality ceramic tile is also suitable.
Please feel free to browse through some Bathroom Design Ideas for ideas on coordinating materials in different styles and kinds of bathrooms.