Flooring is one of the many details you will have to plan out when building your tiny house, because you’ll need a versatile floor that can work for all spaces and purposes. This can be more challenging than you think, as you have to find a flooring type that is water-resistant, durable, and easy to clean. Fortunately, there are several flooring alternatives that work well for tiny homes on wheels (THOW).
So what are the available options for tiny house flooring? Many building materials used in traditional homes can also be used for tiny homes including vinyl, linoleum, bamboo, laminate, cork, carpet, and rubber flooring.
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The Most Common Flooring Options for Tiny Houses
|10 - 25 years
|Durable and water-proof;
Resistant to most forms of damage;
Works in any area
May cause health problems
|$0.5 - $5 per sq. ft.
|25 - 40 years
|Easy on the joints;
Natural materials, sustainably sourced;
Comes in a wide range of colors, patterns, and designs to match your décor
|May be difficult to find; Susceptible to heavy moisture;
Requires care and maintenance
|$4 - $8 per sq. ft.
|20 - 25 years
Light but sturdy;
Quick to install and clean
|Not totally resistant to damage;
Will require maintenance in the long term
|$5 - $7 per sq. ft.
|15 - 25 years
Durable and sustainable
|Prone to water damage
|$2 - $6 per sq. ft.
|10 - 20 years
Soft, firm, and smooth;
|Cannot be used for wet or humid rooms;
Easy to damage;
Fades in sunlight
|$3 - $8 per sq. ft.
|5 - 15 years
|Soft and warm;
Easy to install
|Can only be used in certain areas;
Tricky to clean and dry;
Can cause an allergic reaction
|$3 - $4 per sq. ft.
|15 - 20 years
Easy to clean;
Soft but durable;
High insulation value
Not resistant to grease
|$1 - $2 per sq. ft.
Vinyl or PVC Flooring
Among many tiny home builders, budget-friendly vinyl flooring is a top choice because it is versatile and can work in any space. Vinyl is made of plastic called polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which makes it naturally waterproof. You can install vinyl flooring indoors, outdoors, in wet rooms, and under heating systems.
Because vinyl flooring is resilient and easy to clean, it is available in various styles that resemble hardwood, marble, and other textures. These variations can also come with scratch-and-gouge-resistant coatings, easily installed with a tongue-and-groove system.
The downside to vinyl flooring is that it is not good for the environment compared to other options. Made with petroleum, vinyl flooring is neither natural nor sustainably made and has very limited options for recycling. PVC also emits dioxins which cause health issues in humans; this can be offset but ensuring the building materials you purchase are from a reputable source and that your tiny home is well-ventilated in the weeks following installation.
Linoleum flooring is largely in the same category as vinyl and PVC but it is made with renewable materials instead. Linoleum is made up of linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, mineral fillers, and natural pigments so that it’s completely biodegradable at the end of its life. Homeowners find that linoleum flooring is easy on the joints because it has a cushioning effect to it.
Linoleum can come in glue-down sheets and snap-together tiles so you won’t have problems with installation. It’s also fairly water resistant but needs to be taken extra good care of over the years. This type of flooring can be damaged by sharp objects like high heels or furniture legs and should not be installed in areas with too much moisture and humidity.
Fast-growing bamboo is the eco-friendly response to hardwood flooring. Instead of having to harvest lumber from trees that take 20 years to mature, bamboo can be harvested every 5 - 6 years. Bamboo flooring is also much lighter compared to hardwood but still sturdy to use. You won’t need to fuss with installation and bamboo does not need any chemical cleaners to keep it looking good.
Compared to hardwood, bamboo is slightly better at handling scratches, dents, and water damage; however, bamboo is not totally resistant and can also grow mold if water is present. When bamboo flooring receives direct sunlight, it may become discolored as well. Although bamboo is easy to clean, long-term maintenance requires it to be refinished every few years.
One super popular tiny house flooring option is laminate flooring for its ability to mimic hardwood or marble at a fraction of the price (and weight). Laminate flooring is made with a compressed particle board topped by a thin image layer and a transparent wear layer. The wear layer keeps the laminate durable, pretty, and easy to clean.
Many people argue that laminate flooring is the best for tiny homes because you can choose from a variety of colors, designs, and textures without exerting much effort on installation or maintenance. Many laminates are also manufactured with recycled materials, making it a sustainable choice.
However, you should be cautious with laminate because it can be sensitive to water. Although they are treated with water-resistant or water-proof sealing materials, the low-cost particle board is still susceptible to water damage. Even high humidity can cause laminate flooring to swell up or warp.
Cork flooring is an ideal option if you’re looking for an eco-friendly flooring solution. Most of the cork used for flooring is harvested from living cork oak trees in southern Europe but can also be made from recycled wine corks. There are plenty of cork flooring options available so they aren’t difficult to find and buy.
If you want a smooth-looking, flexible, and quiet surface to tread on with your bare feet, then cork is a fantastic option. Cork can even serve as a natural insulator for low and high temperatures.
The main problem with cork is it can be easy to damage. It can fade in the sunlight and warp if it gets wet. It’s not a good idea to use cork for wet or humid rooms because when water penetrates the seams, the adhesive could come loose.
Carpet flooring is not an ideal choice for many families who are building a tiny house. Having carpets may stir up allergies and they show wear faster. Carpets are also difficult to maintain and can look cheap.
However, it’s pretty easy to install a carpet and you might want to have it for your loft bedroom. Carpet flooring is great for a sleeping loft because no one will walk there with their shoes on and there is a low chance of spilling anything there. If you want to pad over a soft, comfortable, and warm surface when the weather turns cold, carpeting your loft is your best bet.
Recycled rubber flooring is fast gaining appreciation among tiny homeowners because it’s an eco-friendly flooring option. Instead of leaving them to waste in landfills, rubber is recycled and converted to rolls or tiles for flooring.
Rubber flooring is comfortable, slip-resistant, and soft on the foot so it’s a good choice for tiny homes with children. It’s also extremely durable and resilient in most temperatures; in fact, rubber flooring has a high insulation value to keep your home warm during the winter and cool in the summer.
Another benefit of rubber flooring is that it is easy to clean. You don’t need any chemical cleaners and it can keep water, dust, and stains from soaking in. However, rubber is poor at resisting grease stains from butter, oil, and mayonnaise. Another downside is that it has an unpleasant odor; your tiny house should have excellent air circulation if you want a rubber floor.
Q: Why not tile, hardwood, or concrete?
Tile, hardwood, and concrete have constantly been used as flooring in traditional houses because of how sturdy and rigid they are. However, those good qualities don’t really work well in a tiny house setting.
Tile: Ceramic tiles are too inflexible and heavy for tiny homes, especially those on wheels. Tiles can weigh 4-6 pounds per square foot and they can easily become damaged as your mobile tiny home travels around.
Concrete: Much like tiles, concrete as flooring material is bulky, heavy, and breakable for a THOW. While you can use concrete for the structure of your tiny home, it’s not the best choice for flooring.
Hardwood: Hardwood perfectly meets the tastes of many tiny homeowners because it’s so durable and achieves a cozy, cottage-look for the flooring. However, it is not as water-resistant as other choices and requires a lot of upkeep. Hardwood is also quite expensive at $3 - $5 per sq. ft, so you might have to spend an upwards of $1000 for building materials alone.
What to Consider When Building Your Tiny Home Floor
Constructing a tiny house requires you to rethink how a traditional home is built and find a creative approach to make all elements work together in a much smaller space. With a tiny home, you have to re-evaluate your criteria for flooring as well:
Many tiny homeowners want to build their own tiny home but may be beginners when it comes to DIY construction. If you’re not planning to hire someone to build the house for you, you should choose a flooring material that is easy to install. Try to find a flooring option with tongue-and-groove systems so you won’t need to tack, glue, or nail them in place.
Tiny house flooring is meant to be versatile, which means you should have the same floor for every area. So if your flooring choice isn’t suitable for your bathroom or kitchen, it may seriously damage your floors. It’s best to look for a flooring option that is as water-resistant as possible.
Durability is one of the qualities you would want most for your floors. Flooring should be able to resist gouges, scratches, and other damages to the surface. If you have a THOW, the floors should also be able to shift and bend as you travel over the bumps and cracks on the road.
#4: Cleaning and maintenance
The philosophy of the tiny home movement centers on minimizing the stuff in your life so you can spend more time on the things that matter -- which would be difficult if you need to clean your floor all the time. The best flooring materials are those that are easy to sweep then wipe down, no additional cleaning chemicals or machines needed.
Find the Best Flooring Type for Your Tiny Home
The best part of building a custom tiny house is the opportunity to pick and choose exactly which building materials you construct your home with. Your flooring doesn’t have to be too elaborate or expensive; it’s good enough as long as it suits you, your needs, and your lifestyle.
Hey, there! We're Ivan and Manuela from Croatia, and we're crazy about tiny houses. We don't own one (yet).
This website is a result of our passion to share all the knowledge, photos, tips and tricks that we were able to learn while studying everything possible about the tiny house movement.