Hardwood Flooring in the Bathroom
When building or remodeling a bathroom, people have shied away from using hardwood flooring in those spaces. The mantra that designers and architects have stuck to is “wood and water don’t mix”. The inevitably humid environment in a bathroom as well as unavoidable spills and splashes have the power to warp wood flooring, rendering it unattractive and encouraging the growth of potentially destructive and dangerous molds. However, new finishes for hardwood flooring and creative designs are making wood floors in bathrooms a viable option. To start with, you have to choose an appropriate wood to use. Choose a hardwood floor rather than a softwood floor, as softwood tends to absorb ambient moisture more, making it more vulnerable to damage.
Particularly resilient and strong woods that could work in the bathroom are oak, maple, cherry, ash, walnut and hickory. Polyurethane finishes on the hardwood floors make the floors resistant to most average bathroom conditions and should work in all but the most unceasingly humid and wet conditions. This finish uses synthetic resin, plasticizers and other film-forming elements to form a watertight seal that remains intact, sans peeling, when the wood expands and contracts. Even with this finish, certain precautions need to be taken in the bathroom. For example, significant and even small spills should be cleaned up quickly.
Leaks from the tub and toilet need to be addressed immediately, something that should be handled regardless of the flooring you choose but particularly important with wood floors. Other minor additions in your bath could add protection for your hardwood floor and make maintenance easier for you. For example, placing mats with rubber bottoms around the wet areas, like the toilet and the tub or shower, will give a permanent moisture absorber that will save you the trouble of running around paranoid and wiping up every tiny splash. Another similar solution is installing a strip of stone or ceramic flooring around the wet areas and hardwood in the rest of the space. This will provide you with a completely water resistant area in vulnerable part of the bath while adding to the overall design of the bathroom and still giving you the warmth and comfort of hardwood flooring. Hardwood floors give a space warmth and style that is unmatched by any other material. The physical warmth that the floors provide is also an attractive feature, especially on winter mornings when the cold ceramic tiles make getting up that much harder. Their unequaled versatility, style and adaptability have made them a prime material for every other room in the home and now new finishes are making them a realistic choice for bathrooms as well. If you’re not convinced, however, or are unwilling to take on the minor maintenance issues that come with hardwood floors in the bathroom maybe you should consider ceramic tiles made to look like wood. You will still get the warm look of hardwood without even the potential for water related issues.