Your friends all call you crazy. They say you’ll live to rue your design decisions. But the heart wants what it wants: and what yours wants is carpeting—in your bathroom. Yes, it’s not just some mad decorator’s fever dream: whether you’re tired of walking on a cold floor in the middle of the night, or just want an inexpensive alternative to tile, a carpeted bathroom can be yours, and without the dreaded mold and yuckiness your friends have warned you about.
Still, if you’re going to break all the rules of home design, you’re going to have to be savvy about how you go about it. Here’s what you’ll need to consider if you dare to dream the impossible dream and install carpeting in your restroom.
Choose the Fiber Wisely
Moisture is the enemy in a carpeted bathroom. Therefore, your best bet is to pick a material that will be less absorbent and will dry out quickly. Generally, this means opting for synthetic carpeting like nylon or olefin, which are both mildew and stain resistant. Under no circumstances should you use wool. This cannot be stressed enough. Wool is basically like a giant sponge–and you want a carpet that will dry as quickly as possible.
Be Picky When it Comes to Pile
The pile, or thickness of the carpet, really comes into play in a carpeted bathroom. The lower the pile, the less likely your carpet is to spend days drying out from an accidental spill. Additionally, pay attention to the pile shape. Loop pile carpets will fare better in a bathroom than cut or plush carpets because loop types can take a beating and still retain their shape, meaning they’ll look fresh and new for longer.
Double Check the Adhesive
Not all carpet adhesives are created alike, and an indoor-only type can have your carpet pulling up after a few good splashes. Unless you’re using self-adhesives, make sure to put down an indoor/outdoor carpet glue that can stand up to moisture. These are typically resistant to water and will therefore extend the life of your rug.
Consider Washable Carpeting
As we all know, bathrooms are filled with all kinds of yuck, so it makes sense that you’d need to give your bathroom floors a deep cleaning every now and then. And machine washing your carpeting can do just that. Thankfully, there are a handful of machine washable wall to wall carpeting options available, and since bathrooms are usually small, you’ll probably be able to pop it right into your home washer (although you can always dry clean if that sounds too onerous). Make sure you always follow the cleaning instructions carefully—you don’t want your carpet to shrink or fade!
Think About Carpeting Tiles
One of the best inventions in carpet’s recent history has been the development of modular carpeting tiles. These are self-adhesive squares of carpeting that can be lifted out when they need to dry off—or easily replaced if they succumb to staining. This makes them a perfect choice in the bathroom. In fact, FLOR, the most well-known modular carpeting company, even has a model that they specifically recommend for bathrooms. FLOR tiles are also VOC-free, which is great news for those of us trying to use more environmentally friendly materials in our homes.
Install a Subfloor
If you really want to rest easy in your bath, think about installing a subfloor. It’s a little more work, but a concrete subfloor, combined with a layer of dimpled polyethylene, helps keep things dry by allowing air flow between the carpeting and floor. The extra space gives moisture a chance to dissipate before it becomes problematic mold. If a concrete floor does not work for your space, you can also consider using cement backer board specifically designed for wet areas.
The same concept that works to keep a tiled or wood laminate floor dry in a restroom applies to carpeting, too. No matter the floor type, a good bath mat provides protection and helps absorb excess moisture from the shower, sink, and toilet. Microfiber bath mats are great because they’re super fast drying—and you can help extend the life of your carpet by lifting the mat up to dry when you’re done showering.
Keep it Dry
Carpets need love, just like any floor. When spills, overflows, or just a particularly splashy shower happen, you’ll need to take care of the extra moisture quickly to prevent mildew. In fact, you may want to consider investing in a wet vac, so you can suck up those soggy spots extra efficiently.
Plan on Replacing Frequently
With all the wetness and traffic in bathrooms, even the sturdiest carpeting gets worn down after a few years. If you decide to go the carpeting route, you’ll need to make plans to swap it out frequently. It’s something to think about when budgeting your bathroom remodel.