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Is it a Good Idea to Have Wood Flooring in the Bathroom?

Wood floor in bathroom

For as long as you can remember, you have loved wood flooring. You like its classic look, its durability and the way it can be found in homes built 100 years ago as well as modern dwellings.

You love wood flooring so much, you want to install it in every room of your home, including your two bathrooms and one powder room. But while you would love to have a wood floor bathroom next to your hardwood covered master bedroom, you are not sure if this is such a good idea.

After all, bathrooms have plenty of water—either splashing from sinks or coming over the side of a full tub—and if you love a long hot shower, the humidity could potentially damage a hardwood floor in a bathroom.

Here is some good news: under certain circumstances, and with really good care, it is possible to fulfill your dream of having hardwood in the bathroom. As for how and why this may work, please consider the following:

Modern sealers can make wood moisture-resistant

As The Spruce notes (1), while you will probably not find a manufacturer of hardwood flooring who will say their wood is waterproof, a good oil-based polyurethane sealer may make it moisture-resistant.

This will require some vigilance on your part—for instance, wiping up any spills after a bath or shower right away and keeping the room well ventilated to remove steam. This finish will probably have to be re-applied yearly—being extra careful to apply the seal to the seams, where water can easily get in—but these steps can typically mean that hardwood can be installed in a bathroom.

Hardwood may be an especially great choice for a guest bathroom that is not used that often of a powder room that only has a sink and toilet, not a floor to ceiling shower that is used daily.

Choose a really durable type of wood

In the world of hardwood, there are a wide variety of options, including softer types like pine and fir, as well as harder varieties like cherry, hickory and ash.

If you have your heart set on wood flooring in your bathrooms, go for a hard type—the softwoods are less dense and more likely to soak up water.

Make sure your floors are even

If your bathroom floors are not completely level, any water that collects on them will run down to the low spots and pool there; if this spot is behind a toilet or other hard-to-see area, you are risking damaging the wood fairly quickly.

Most hardwood floors are installed by nailing the wood planks to the subfloor; this means there is not a traditional moisture barrier underneath the beautiful wood.

To prevent possible pooling of water, make sure your floors are completely level prior to installing the hardwood, and speak with your contractor about using an adhesive rather than nails to attach it to the sub-floor.

Enjoy your new bathroom flooring!

Hardwood floor in the bathroom is not a 100% worry-free option—there will be some work that goes along with it. But thanks to improved seals that are applied regularly, proper installation and ongoing vigilance, it is quite possible to achieve your dream of having hardwood in your entire home—including your bathrooms.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask away!