Are you thinking of installing hardwood flooring in a bathroom?
There are many distinct reasons a homeowner would want to have a wooden flooring everywhere home — including the bathrooms.
Besides the inviting beautiful and natural look, hardwood floors can stand the test of time.
A bathroom is one of the most consistently humid areas in a home. With the (hopefully) daily use of the shower, sink, or bathtub, you will invariably find a lot of splashes and drips of water on the floor — especially if you have kids.
We know, however, that wood and moisture do not mix. So, is wood flooring in the bathroom a good idea?
Simply put: Yes, you can have a wood floor in the bathroom with the right type of wood and with proper care and maintenance. In this guide, we'll take you through more details.
What Is the Best Wood Flooring to Use in a Bathroom?
Engineered hardwood flooring is the best to install in a bathroom. It is dimensionally strong, stable, and is minimally affected by moisture and temperature.
It is made with a hardwood on top and several layers of plywood glued beneath so that the grains run in opposite directions. It is thus capable of holding up well in a bathroom that receives low traffic, especially from adults.
Solid hardwood will damage when exposed to high humidity or when in contact with spills of any liquid. Wood is highly porous and it absorbs moisture, and swells only to later shrink, causing the adjoining pieces to pull apart or twist.
Wood warping, cupping, or buckling eventually follows and the entire floor gets ripped off.
While any species of engineered hardwood can carry the day, some types are exceptionally good for the bathroom.
They include white oak, red cedar, maple, walnut, hickory, Brazilian cherry, and reclaimed hardwood floors among others.
In addition, the wood flooring in the bathroom should be properly sealed with a strong finish such as polyurethane. The finish offers strong protection against moisture damage and stains.
After every few months, the finish has to be reapplied for guaranteed protection of the underlying wood.
How Do You Protect Hardwood Floors in a Bathroom?
There is every reason to protect hardwood installed in a bathroom.
The following measures will help prevent early damage to your floor:
Wipe spills and splashes
Spills and splashes are a major concern. These include water droplets from the sink, an overflowing bathtub, or splashes from the shower. They are notoriously common when kids or a large family share a bathroom.
While the wood finish may protect the wood for some time, moisture may still penetrate through any small opening when spills and splashes are left. Therefore, you ought to wipe them immediately.
Placing bath mats in strategic areas like around the bathtub, sink, and entryways should help in dealing with splashing water.
Keep checking if the mats are saturated and air dry them. The mats should also have a rubber backing to prevent moisture from penetrating them.
This is a common problem when a bathroom floor is not properly leveled. A sloping floor makes water slide towards one direction.
Flooding can also happen when a water pipe or a tap leaks. Flooding has the potential to destroy even a perfectly sealed floor.
You should keep checking for leaks and conduct repairs urgently before flooding takes place.
The floor should also be installed properly on a level surface to avoid puddles of moisture tilting towards one side, which may eat up the finish slowly.
Avoid chemical staining
All sorts of different types of soaps, cleaners, and body products can be found in a bathroom. They are often formulated with ingredients that are slightly acidic.
Constant contact of such products with a hardwood floor may cause damage to the floor's finish.
Thorough cleaning on a regular basis should help prevent chemical staining and eating away at the finish.
Drive away humidity
The moisture in the space is highly capable of damaging a hardwood floor. During a hot shower, for instance, there is plenty of steam in the bathroom that is trying to find any escape route.
Over time, such steam can infiltrate the hardwood floor and cause damage to layers underneath. The floor boards will eventually start twisting, buckling, warping, and plumping.
A bathroom with wood flooring should have a good ventilation system, including exhaust fans to hasten the rate of humidity exit.
Prevent mold and mildew
The moist nature of a bathroom provides a conducive environment for the growth and thriving of mold or mildew.
These are fungal growths commonly found in warm humid places. They are known to cause respiratory allergies and are a safety hazard due to their slippery nature.
You should prevent and remove mold on hardwood floors by regular cleaning and driving away any moisture around, among other methods.
Regular maintenance begins by ensuring that the finish is intact. Keep testing it out after every two months by splashing few drops of water on it.
If the water beads up, it shows that the finish is intact. Conversely, if it gets absorbed, then you should reapply the finish as soon as possible.
Ensure all plumbing fixtures and appliances are running properly without any leakage. Check the toilet and ensure that there is no clogging. Seal all joints around the shower to ensure that no leaking is taking place.
Regular cleaning is also important. It helps remove molds and chemicals that may interfere with the finish. You can use a homemade wood floor cleaner such as vinegar or commercial hardwood floor cleaners such as Bona.
Do note that a wood floor warranty may become null and void if wood is installed in water-heavy environments such as a bathroom or flood-prone areas.
How Do You Waterproof Wood Floors in the Bathroom?
In preparation for liquid spills and splashes, waterproofing should be mandatory for a bathroom's wooden floor.
Without proper protection, wood will soak up water, gain dark spots, and start to warp and buckle. Using a strong polyurethane or resin coat on wood will offer an invisible layer that does not allow water to penetrate.
The finishing agent has to be reapplied at frequent and regular intervals, giving special attention to seams where moisture is highly likely to infiltrate from.
Here are the steps:
Purchase oil- or water-based sealant recommended for humid areas. Clear the surface by removing any debris and any pieces of furniture.
Check for stains and any damaged spots to fix them before you apply your sealer.
Using a hand power sander, start sanding your wood with a medium-grit sand paper to fine-grit.
Spend some time to ensure a smooth surface for better final results. Vacuum to remove all the dust. Sanding is the most dusty and time consuming stage.
Stir your sealer and use a wool mop to apply the first coat starting from the far opposite side of the doorway.
When done, let the floor dry completely for the next 12 hours or as indicated on the product. When you are certain that the initial coat is dry, apply the second coat of the sealer and let it dry.
A third layer of the urethane should offer a strong waterproofing to your wood.
While there are many advantages to installing wood flooring in a bathroom, there are also some things to bear in mind.
We can conclude that, with less traffic, proper care and maintenance, you can happily have a wood floor in the bathroom that matches the rest of your home.