Is Wood Flooring Good for Bathrooms?

Jan 27, 2024

Is wood flooring good for bathrooms? It’s a great question if you love the look and warmth of natural wood and hope to install it in your dream bathroom remodel.

While we all know wood and water don’t intuitively seem the happiest couple, resplendent grain patterns and cozy tones will transform any bathroom’s appeal. So we’ll cut to the chase – yes, provided the right wood is properly sealed and maintained, wood flooring not only survives but excels in bathrooms. Period.

You can absolutely enjoy stunning wood floors underfoot in your steamy, sudsy bathroom retreat with peace of mind. You just need to select dense, water-resistant species; install with care; finish; and maintain for lasting success…

Key Takeaways:

  • Hard, dense woods with natural water-resistance like teak, ipe, and cumaru excel in bathrooms.
  • Domestic wood species like white oak and walnut can also thrive with sufficient sealing and refinishing.
  • Engineered wood floors are great bathroom options as their layered construction resists moisture better than solid wood.
  • Proper acclimation, installation, and protective finishes are key to wood floor success in damp bathroom environments.
  • Regular cleaning and recoating preserve water-resistance and beauty for years.

If chosen and cared for properly, wood floors not only survive in bathrooms – they transform them into breathtaking spaces you’ll adore for decades. Keep reading to learn what it takes to enjoy wood flooring successfully in bathrooms!

What to Look for in Bathroom Wood Flooring?

Water, water everywhere…between churning shower steam, splashing sinks, dripping kids, and occasional leaks or spills, bathrooms confront wood floors with a unique level of moisture exposure. Humidity levels also swing more wildly here than in other rooms.

That’s why you can’t just transplant any random wood floor into a bathroom and expect it to thrive. Certain traits indicate which species can withstand bathroom conditions with aplomb:

Dimensional Stability

Woods that resist expanding, contracting, or warping despite humidity fluctuations remain flatter and leave fewer gaps between boards. This enhances both visual appeal and moisture resistance long-term.

Density & Hardness

Denser woods with higher Janka hardness ratings better endure daily foot traffic and dropped objects. They also tend to be more water-resistant. Look for ratings over 1,000.

Natural Oils

Oily woods like teak naturally repel liquid better, with its oils actually protecting against occasional water submersion. Woods with drier compositions soak up more moisture by comparison.


Woods that can be milled into longer, wider boards look spectacular in bathrooms and minimize seams where water could penetrate. Workable woods also adapt better to installation challenges.


Let’s face it – exotic hardwoods cost significantly more than domestic oak or pine. Factor your bathroom flooring budget into wood species selection. Get the look you love at a price you can afford.

Is Wood Flooring in Bathroom a Good Idea?

Yes—a wood floor makes a fantastic bathroom flooring choice with the correct precautions. Choose dense species like teak, ipe, or oak with natural water-resistance. Install using moisture mitigation strategies like floating systems and waterproof underlayments. Finish and frequently recoat with waterproof urethanes. With proper prep and protection, wood flooring in bathrooms is a good idea and provides tremendous visual appeal.

Best Wood Species for Bathroom Floors

  1. Teak
  2. Ipe
  3. White Oak
  4. Bamboo
  5. Cumaru
  6. Engineered Wood
  7. Acacia
  8. Tigerwood
  9. Hickory
  10. Bamboo

*Bonus: Pine – While softer, pine adds budget-friendly rustic charm if properly finished and maintained. Read our best wood for bathroom floors article to learn more in detail.

Proper Installation For Wood Floors in Bathrooms

Installing wood floors in bathrooms demands greater attention to detail and moisture mitigation strategies than main living spaces. Don’t skip these key steps when fitting your bathroom’s beautiful new wood flooring:

Carefully Acclimate the Wood

Prior to installation, store wood flooring in the installation room for 72+ hours. This allows the planks to adapt to average humidity and temperature conditions rather than endure shock later. Careful acclimation minimizes major expansion/contraction issues down the road.

Check Moisture Levels

Use a moisture meter to test subfloor and wood flooring moisture content before installation. Levels must fall within 4-5 percentage points of each other as flooring and subfloor expand/contract at different rates with moisture fluctuations otherwise. Delay install until moisture normalizes if needed.

Use Moisture Barriers

Install an underlayment moisture barrier atop bathroom subfloors prior to fitting new wood flooring. This adds extra protection against moisture seeping through cracks or penetrations in the floor below. Look for underlayments with vapor transmission ratings below 5 lbs per 1,000 square feet daily.

Choose Wide Boards

Opt for the widest hardwood floorboards possible in bathrooms rather than strips. This minimizes the number of seams where moisture might penetrate between boards. Solid planks 6 inches+ look spectacular while enhancing water resistance.

Allow Room to “Float”

Glue-down installation methods don’t accommodate wood expansion/contraction whereas floating floor systems do. Enable enough perimeter clearance for new bathroom floors to float freely rather than binding them tightly wall-to-wall.

Apply Moisture-Resistant Finishes

Finish wood bathroom floors with penetrating oils or moisture-cured waterborne urethanes – never standard water-based polyurethane. These sophisticated finishes safeguard wood floors against splashes, spills, steam, and cleaning products without hiding the grain. Recoat every 1-2 years.

With proper prep and installation strategies tailored for bathrooms, wood floors thrive in these high-moisture zones quite well. Next let’s go over the finishing touches on care and maintenance.

Installation For Wood Floors in Bathrooms

How Do You Maintain Wood Flooring In A Bathroom?

Installing wood flooring is just the beginning. Ongoing maintenance preserves their beauty and water-resistance for years so you can continue enjoying those warm, natural wood tones in your bathroom. Follow these care tips:

Clean Gently

Use damp (never wet) mops with mild cleaners pH balanced for wood floors. Over-wetting wood causes moisture damage over time. Blot spills quickly and thoroughly with a dry towel.

Replenish Finishes

Recoat prefinished wood floors every 18-24 months to restore moisture protection as urethane finishes naturally wear down. Site-finished oiled floors may need re-oiling annually depending on traffic. This keeps wood from soaking up excess moisture.

Manage Humidity

Use exhaust fans, keep bathroom doors open after bathing, and monitor ambient moisture levels through the changing seasons. Adding ventilation reduces humidity fluctuations that stress wood flooring.

Respond to Leaks/Spills

Despite your best efforts, plumbing issues or accidents happen. Immediately soak up liquid with towels if wood gets flooded. Call water damage restoration pros for extraction if needed to dry out boards before warping or

mold develops. Address leaks promptly as well. Catching moisture issues early makes wood floor salvage more likely.

Consider Adding Rugs

Use waterproof bathroom rugs around toilets, tubs, and sinks to catch overspray and dripping water before it reaches wood floors. Just be sure rugs have nonslip backings and permeable materials that allow airflow to evaporate moisture. Remove and completely dry out weekly.

Inspect Annually

Check for tiny gaps opening between boards, cupping, bubbling, or discoloration annually. Refinish localized spots as needed. Address signs of moisture damage promptly before they spread. Having a wood flooring pro perform maintenance makes sure your floors always look their best.

The Verdict: Wood Adds Beauty to Bathrooms

While no flooring stands up to moisture like stone or ceramic tile, woods like teak, ipe, and oak live beautifully in bathrooms when chosen with care and maintained properly.

The keys are selecting dense, workable woods with natural water-resistance, acclimating and installing them carefully, finishing with moisture-cured urethanes, and refinishing on schedule.

Treated properly, wood infuses bathrooms with gorgeous natural texture, warmth, and timeless style white retaining its integrity for decades. Work with qualified flooring specialists to ensure your wood bathroom floors get the prep and protection they need starting on day one.

If you’ve dreamed of unwinding in a spa-like bathroom oasis surrounded by beautiful wood floors, don’t resign yourself to dull ceramic tile by default! Woods lend unmatched visual richness. Just take steps to manage moisture properly.

With the right wood species choice, installation methods, protective finishes, and routine care, wood flooring not only survives in bathrooms – it thrives for years of enjoyment.