What’s the number one flooring request homeowners have when upgrading their homes? If you guessed hardwood, you’re correct.
Real estate agents across the US state that as they show buyers potential homes, they overwhelmingly want hardwood.
But as much as homeowners love hardwood, in some areas, it might not make sense. Traditionally, you’d never install hardwood in a basement, a laundry room, or a bathroom. Moisture and wood simply don’t mix.
With technology changing, upgraded polyurethane, and sealers promising more than ever before, is that still the case? If you’re creating the master bath of your dreams, for example, can you now install wood floors in your bathroom?
Look no further than manufacturers themselves for the answer. While they’ve been making huge strides towards tougher, more durable finishes, most will still caution you when using their flooring in wet spaces.
A good oil-based polyurethane sealer can do wonders for making your flooring more functional. It can seal cracks between the floor boards and make it harder for moisture to seep in. But you’ll never find a hardwood manufacturer adding “waterproof” to their features and benefits. Most will say “water-resistant” and only if you carefully follow manufacturer’s guidelines.
You have hardwood flooring throughout your home. It’s only natural you want to continue the look into your bathroom. You can, with a few things to consider:
- Manufacturers will most likely challenge warranty claims on hardwood installed in a bathroom. Depending on the product you choose, it may even have warnings against it in the fine print.
- If you do install hardwood in a bathroom, you can expect increased care and maintenance to go along with it. At least once a year, plan on reapplying a sealer designed for wet environments.
- If you do have a splash or spill, wipe it up immediately. Take extra caution around areas where splashes or spills are a part of your normal routine.
Hardwood may not be the perfect choice for a family bathroom where kids love to play in the tub, or a space where saunas and moisture is the norm. But in a guest bath, an open concept master bath, or a powder room off the living space, hardwood may be the perfect choice.
Engineered wood flooring? Maybe not
Surprisingly, engineered hardwood flooring takes a backseat to more traditional hardwood for bathroom installation. Here’s why.
Engineered hardwood is created for ease of use. You’ll find it in planks for easy installation, made up of tougher layers to provide you with strength in more high traffic areas.
The problem with engineered wood flooring is the finishing work. You bring it into your home in plank format, lay it in place, and it’s finished. The problem is the boards slide together, without any sealing properties other than how they slide together. In certain areas of your home, that tight connection may be okay. But in a bathroom, the environment changes.
You close the door, humidity builds, and changes can occur in the way the planks come together. They shrink and expand, if only a little. That’s just enough to allow moisture to seep down underneath. It’s the perfect place for water to get down to the foundation and over time, rot out.
Hardwood is a better choice
When deciding between the two, natural hardwood will react in your bathroom spaces better than engineered wood. But pay attention to how it’s laid into place.
Instead of buying finished hardwood in plank format, choose to have unfinished wood, and stain it and seal it after it’s in place. This will allow the sealer to move between the boards, helping to seal every square inch of your flooring against spills and moisture.
As a bonus, polyurethane will also add a texture to your hardwood floors, giving it a slip-resistant feel. That can be an upgrade to a bathroom, where moisture is ever-present.
Again, care and maintenance will be a big part of your life. You should always wipe up excess moisture immediately, and apply more sealant on the boards frequently.
But wait, you have other choices
Luckily, you don’t have to stick with engineered or natural wood to get the hardwood look you love. Thanks to today’s technology, you have other choices waiting for you.
How about luxury vinyl tile? This isn’t the vinyl flooring you grew up with in your parent’s house. Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is now one of the fastest growing floors in the flooring industry because of its looks and maintenance-free living.
LVT is waterproof – yep, you read that right. It can stand up to all the water your family dishes out.
And it looks good in the process. So good, that even experts have to take a closer look to determine its authenticity. What’s more, you can find it in a large array of colors, patterns, and textures. You can find one that matches or blends perfectly with your surroundings.
Not quite sure about installing vinyl in your home? That’s okay. We have another option for you: how about stone tile?
The magic of technology has impacted this market as well. You’ll find wood-look tiles cut and shaped to resemble hardwood planks. Yet when you install tile, you’ll get one of the toughest products on the marketplace. What’s more, we enjoy the fact that tile is the perfect flooring choice to sit over radiant heating. How about having a toasty warm floor as you get ready for the day? You’re going to love it.
Final thoughts on wood floors in the bathroom
If you’ve been dreaming about a house filled with hardwood flooring, keep dreaming. It’s possible.
Now it’s up to you to decide what way is best for you.
Should you install hardwood throughout, being careful to seal it properly on a regular basis?
Should you move towards an enhanced product, like luxury vinyl tile?
Should you use one of the latest trends, natural stone tile? Its realistic hardwood look will make you give it another look.
Good luck with your project. And enjoy your new floors! Whatever you choose, you’re going to love the look.