Choosing the Right Direction for Vinyl Plank Flooring in Your Bathroom

which direction to lay vinyl plank flooring in bathroom

Choosing the right direction for vinyl plank flooring in your bathroom may seem like a minor detail, but it can have a significant impact on the overall design and functionality.

In interior design, the choice of flooring material plays a pivotal role in defining the aesthetics and ambiance of a space.

Mainly, vinyl plank flooring has emerged as a versatile and visually appealing option for bathrooms, thanks to its waterproof characteristics and various styles.

But equally important is the direction of the planks. How the planks are laid can dramatically alter the perception of space, creating illusions of a larger or narrower bathroom.

This piece will delve into the importance of vinyl plank flooring in bathroom design, the role of plank direction in aesthetics and functionality, and an overview of the main points to consider when making your decision.

Consideration of Bathroom Layout

Bathroom’s size and shape

1. Rectangular bathrooms

In my experience, dealing with rectangular bathrooms can be pretty straightforward. The long side of the rectangle tends to be the natural direction to run the planks.

This makes the room appear longer and more spacious. I remember when I was redesigning my bathroom, the decision to lay vinyl planks lengthwise totally transformed the space, making it appear much larger than it was.

2. Square bathrooms

Now, square bathrooms can be a bit trickier. When tasked with fitting vinyl plank flooring in a friend’s square bathroom, I found that diagonal placement worked best.

It added a unique visual interest to the space and helped to distract from the room’s compact size.

3. Irregularly shaped bathrooms

Irregularly shaped bathrooms can be challenging, but they’re also an opportunity to get creative. Once, I worked on a project that had an L-shaped bathroom.

After some thought, I decided to lay the planks along the length of the ‘L’, which not only looked great but also helped to guide people around the space intuitively.

Identifying the main focal point

1. Shower or bathtub area

In many bathrooms, the shower or bathtub area is the primary focus. When I renovated my second bathroom, I concentrated on orienting the vinyl planks towards the tub. This directed attention towards the beautifully tiled bathtub, making it a stunning focal point.

2. Vanity area

The vanity area can also serve as a solid focal point. I learned this when I was helping my sister redo her bathroom.

We opted to lay the vinyl planks leading up to her vanity, which drew attention to her exquisite sink and mirror setup.

3. Entryway

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of a dramatic entryway. In a recent project, I directed the planks towards the bathroom door.

The result was a striking perspective as soon as you entered, making the bathroom feel welcoming and spacious.

Aesthetics and Visual Flow

The Impact of Plank Direction on Visual Perception

The direction in which you install your planks can dramatically alter the visual perception of your bathroom.

I remember this lesson vividly from a project I undertook for a small, narrow bathroom. By running the planks lengthwise, I could elongate the room’s look, making it appear more spacious than it was. This clever illusion can genuinely transform a confined space.

Horizontal vs. Vertical Plank Installation

1. Creating a Sense of Width

Horizontal plank installation is a great go-to tactic when creating a sense of width in a narrow room.

A client once approached me with a long, skinny bathroom. By laying the planks horizontally, we were able to widen the appearance of the room, making it feel more balanced.

2. Emphasizing Height

On the flip side, vertical plank installation is perfect for emphasizing height. I once helped my cousin with a bathroom that had a low ceiling. We installed the planks vertically and took the room from feeling cramped to airy effortlessly.

Diagonal and Herringbone Patterns for Added Interest

If you want to add an element of surprise, diagonal and herringbone patterns are the way to go.

I will never forget a funky bathroom remodeling project where we used a herringbone pattern.

It added a unique, sophisticated touch and took the design to another level.

Coordinating with Existing Design Elements

Lastly, it’s essential to ensure your planks coordinate with the existing design elements.

When helping a friend update his rustic-style bathroom, we chose a plank color that echoed the warm tones in his wooden cabinetry.

This created a harmonious, unified aesthetic that genuinely pulled the room together.

Practical Considerations

Moisture Resistance and Water Drainage

  • Proper Underlayment and Sealing

When dealing with bathroom flooring, it’s crucial to consider the moisture-prone environment.

It reminds me of when I was helping a friend, and we ignored this factor, resulting in warped planks within a few months.

Now, I always use a moisture-resistant underlayment and seal all the edges properly. It’s the best way to ensure your bathroom floor’s longevity.

  • Direction to Minimize Water Pooling

Let’s talk about water pooling. I once worked on a bathroom floor with mini lakes forming after every shower.

By reorienting the planks, we created a slope that directed water toward the drain, preventing pooling.

Maintenance and Cleaning

  • Easier Cleaning with Proper Orientation

Did you know how you align your planks can affect the ease of cleaning? My grandmother’s bathroom had planks laid diagonally, which made cleaning a nightmare.

Swift mopping became impossible due to the direction of the wood grain. So, when laying planks, consider how it will affect your cleaning routine.

  • Durability of Seams and Edges

Remember to focus on the durability of seams and edges. My neighbor’s bathroom had a bad case of edge chipping just after a couple of years of use.

Now, I prefer to use vinyl or engineered wood for bathroom flooring due to their superior seam strength.

Transition Areas and Doorways

  • Ensuring a Seamless Transition to Other Rooms

While working on a big house project, I learned that transitioning from the bathroom to the hallway or bedroom needs careful consideration.

I match the bathroom flooring with the adjacent room to ensure a seamless and harmonious transition.

  • Addressing Potential Challenges in Doorways

Doorways can propose a unique challenge. In my home, I faced an issue where the bathroom door couldn’t open smoothly due to the new, slightly thicker flooring.

Now, I always measure the clearance and trim the door before installation. This way, we avoid any potential hiccups down the line.

Installation Tips

Choosing the Right Installation Method

  • Floating

I’ve found that most people, especially DIY enthusiasts, prefer the floating installation method due to its minimal hassle and relatively easy process.

I remember when I first tried it, having been told that it’s as simple as snapping the planks together like a puzzle.

But here’s a nugget of wisdom – ensure your subfloor is flat and smooth. It can make all the difference!

  • Glue-down

The glue-down method is a bit more complex, but it’s worth the trouble for areas that experience high humidity, like bathrooms.

One incident sticks out in my mind – a family friend who had opted for a floating floor in a high-moisture area.

Within a few months, the planks started to buckle. That was a hard lesson on why glue-down installation can be a better choice under certain conditions.

Acclimating the Planks

Remembering my first flooring project, I underestimated the importance of acclimating the planks.

I was so eager to start that I skipped this step, only to experience a significant expansion of the planks later.

Since then, I always let the planks acclimate to the room’s temperature and humidity levels for at least 48 hours before starting the installation. Trust me, patience pays off in the end.

Starting and Finishing Points

Picking the right starting and finishing points can significantly impact the aesthetic appeal of your flooring.

I started installing from the corner of a room, resulting in awkward cuts and an unpleasing look on the other end.

The lesson learned? Always plan your layout, starting from the center of the room. It makes for a balanced and visually pleasing floor.

Achieving a Professional Look

Attention to detail is what differentiates a DIY project from a professional one. When I installed my first bathroom flooring, I overlooked the importance of underlayment and ended up with a noisy floor.

Now, I use a quality underlayment to provide stability and sound insulation. Additionally, I maintain a gap around the room’s perimeter to allow for expansion, ensuring a snug fit and a professional finish.


Reflecting on my journey, I realize that installing vinyl plank flooring is not just about choosing the most visually pleasing option.

It involves many considerations, from understanding the room’s moisture levels to selecting the ideal installation method and ensuring the planks are acclimated adequately before starting the project.

Even deciding on the right starting and finishing points was vital in the overall aesthetic and functional outcome.

It’s crucial to strike a balance between aesthetics and practicality. When I first started, I was swayed by the design and finish of the planks, overlooking crucial aspects such as underlayment and space for expansion.

My eagerness to start resulted in a floor that looked good but had functional flaws. Nowadays, I give equal importance to visual appeal and practical aspects, such as sound insulation and durability, realizing that a beautiful floor is only truly beautiful if it is also functional.

I encourage all DIY enthusiasts to learn from my experiences. Take the time to plan your project, consider all relevant factors, and don’t rush the process.

Remember, installing vinyl plank flooring in a bathroom is not just about choosing the most trendy option. It’s about making an informed decision based on your circumstances and needs.

It’s about creating a floor that is pleasing to the eye but also stands up to the demands of your bathroom environment. This way, you ensure a result that you can be proud of and enjoy for years to come.


Hi! I’m Kobby, one of the co-owners of and the newest house owner in town. I’m a huge fan of most things natural. Over here on this site, I'm happy to share all the exciting hacks, tricks, and tips I have learned and continue to learn each day about taking care of natural stones.

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