Can I use hardwood floors in my bathroom?

Can I Use Hardwood Floors in My Bathroom?

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Whole home remodel, after

A question we receive quite often is whether or not hardwood floors can–or should–be installed in a bathroom.  Many of our clients want to match the floors in their bathroom remodel to their hardwood in other areas of the house, but worry that the wet environment of a bathroom would damage their brand-new floors.  


While maintaining hardwood floors in a  bathroom can be tricky, it’s not impossible, and can even have its benefits.  Here are some pros and cons of installing hardwood floors in your bathroom, and a few tips for care and maintenance to make sure your new floors will shine for years to come.

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Whole home remodel, after

These days, many homeowners are taking a pass on tile and vinyl flooring in favor of hardwood.  Not only is hardwood a very attractive option for any room in the home, it can add significant value to the home if maintained properly.  However, solid hardwood has one major drawback: it’s porous, and therefore absorbs water and humidity. This forces the solid wood into a cycle of swelling and contracting, which can cause warping and cracking over time.  A high-quality sealant applied at installation can help to reduce this swelling, but eventually, any solid hardwood in a high-moisture environment will succumb to this problem. While solid hardwood might stand up well in a small, low-traffic bathroom like a half-bath, we don’t recommend using solid hardwoods in a high-traffic or humid environment, like a family bathroom with a tub or shower.


So what options do we have for those high-risk areas?  If you still have your heart set on wood floors, engineered hardwoods are the way to go.  Engineered hardwood flooring is made of a top layer of hardwood, joined to a base layer designed to increase stability and reduce moisture retention.  The result is a material that can be refinished, just like natural hardwood, but stands up well in wet and humid areas. These engineered floors come in a variety of premium hardwoods, including oak, maple, hickory, and dozens more.  This means you can find a similar match to the hardwoods in other areas of the house, right down to the finish.


But what can you do if you truly have your heart set on solid hardwoods?  Well, if you’re willing to take the risk, then proper care, maintenance, and a little risk prevention can extend the life of your bathroom hardwood floors.


Use a high-quality, moisture-repellent sealant at installation.  The harder it is for moisture to penetrate the sealant and reach the porous hardwood underneath, the longer your floors will last before beginning the cycle of swelling and contracting.  Also, check the warranty on your hardwoods to make sure they’re approved for humid areas.


Make sure your bathroom is well-ventilated.  If moisture can dissipate out of the room quickly, it will reduce the risk to your new floors.  Use bath mats around your sink, tub, and shower, and clean up spills immediately.

Finally, consider incorporating tile into the design.  Using tile around sinks, tubs, and showers will help prevent water from contacting your hardwoods, reducing the risk of water damage.


We hope we’ve been able to answer some of your questions and concerns regarding using hardwood floors in your bathroom remodel.  As always, feel free to contact us at 336-644-5600 with any questions about your upcoming or ongoing remodels. Good luck, and take care!


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