Hardwood floors are beautiful, versatile, and long-lasting. They’re often found in nearly every room of the home as well, with the sole exception often being the bathroom. Most people believe that wood floors aren’t for use in the bathroom, and many decades ago, this used to be true.
With new innovations in floor finishes, better understanding of hardwood vs. softwood features, and moisture management appliances like bathroom fans, it’s now possible to enjoy the look of hardwood floors in every room of the home, including the bathroom.
Common Concerns of Using Wood Floors in the Bathroom
There are many common concerns when it comes to using hardwood floor in a bathroom. What they all boil down to, is the fact that bathrooms tend to be wet, humid areas and many wood floors don’t handle this type of environment well.
Wood, by itself, is a porous material that can absorb water, which in turn can cause it to swell, warp, discolor, and harbor things like mold and mildew. For centuries, most hardwood that was used for flooring was made of solid wood planks with no protective finish or coating. The wood was allowed to patina naturally, changing color from wear, sunlight, and humidity. If put in a wet environment, the wood would often develop problems such as warping and rotting.
Over time, wood floors were given protective finishes that helped resist moisture infiltration. This treatment helps them last longer and gives them a better finish and appearance. As the use of prefinished hardwood floors has emerged, wood is able to better withstand use in a wet area such as the bathroom, but many people still hold onto the belief that this would ruin the floor. Thankfully, this is not necessarily true, and several types of wood flooring can now be used in the bathroom, including solid hardwood floors.
Managing Hardwood Floor Moisture in the Bathroom
The best way to help protect your wood floors in the bathroom is to help manage the moisture in the area. This means helping to keep spills and humidity to a minimum, so there’s less chance that it will affect the floor.
Using a bathroom fan that can remove steam and humidity from the bathroom when it’s in use is a good first step. Humidity can cause the floor to warp over time, as well as develop a darker color. By removing moisture from the air, you help keep these issues to a minimum.
Containing water from the tub or shower is also a good way to help protect a wood floor. Open showers and splash guards are becoming popular in some areas, as are wet rooms, but these types of features don’t mix with a wood floor. Instead, the best way to help protect the floor is with a shower door that can help contain spray. A bath mat placed outside the tub or shower can also help to absorb spills and overspray.
Mopping up any puddles that may form immediately can also help prevent issues that can be caused by standing water. In addition, when installing the floor, make sure that it’s completely level first; slopes in the floor can allow water to run into low levels and puddle there. By ensuring the floor is level, you can help avoid this issue, and better protect your wood floor.
The Right Hardwood Floor For Your Bathroom
There are a lot of different species of wood that can be used in flooring. This includes both softwoods like fir and pine and hardwoods like maple. Softwoods tend to be more susceptible to moisture problems than hardwoods, so if you want a wood floor in your bathroom, you should consider a hardwood.
Not all hardwoods are equal in terms of density, hardness, and how well they resist moisture. Some hardwoods tend to do this job better than others, with teak, white oak, cherry, maple, walnut, and hickory being the best choices. You’ll also want to choose a floor that has been given a factory finish, rather than using unfinished wood. Factory finished wood floors have a better, more even finish, which will help protect the wood and will give you more time to wipe up spills without damaging the floor.
In addition, reclaimed wood floors also make excellent choices for use in the bathroom. Reclaimed floors often already have a rich patina from years of use. This means that any additional patina or darkening that the floor may take on in a high humidity area will be less noticeable than on a newer floor. In addition, many reclaimed wood floors are made from old growth wood, which tends to be stronger and more durable than new cut wood, so the floor may be more stable and less prone to issues such as warping.
Beautify Your Bathroom with Wood Flooring
Not every type of wood floor can be used in the bathroom, but there are many woods that can hold up well in high moisture spaces. Make sure that you are taking steps to manage the moisture in your bathroom to protect the floor, and always use bath mats near tubs and showers to help avoid puddles. By taking these steps, you can enjoy a wood floor in your bathroom for many years to come.