Hardwood Floors in the Bathroom
Is it safe to add hardwood floors in the bathrooms? Well, let's take a look. First of all, the biggest threat to hardwood is water and moisture; too much of it and you can expect cupping, crowning or even buckling of the wood. It is primarily the reason why extra care should be taken if you decide to install hardwood floors in the basement.
Some tips to consider before installing hardwood floors in the bathroom:
If your household is primarily adults who are extra careful when drying off (they dry off in the tub or shower), and are willing to dry the floor should any water get on it, then you may not have a problem. Kids, bathtubs and wood floors are a bad idea though.
Additionally, because the bathroom is usually contained, moisture can build up in the steam very quickly. Ventilation, whether this is via a fan or open windows and doors is very important.
Just like installing hardwood in the kitchen, you will also want to pay extra attention to areas that are most likely to get wet. Laying a large washable area rug in front of the bathtub or shower will help to keep water and moisture off the floor.
Will adding extra coats of finish help protect the bathroom floors from moisture?
Extra coats of finish won't make a difference when it comes to moisture and may actually hurt your floor more. While some may feel that a finish will act as a sealant, in reality, it will allow for very tiny seams to open and shut as the humidity in the air causes the wood to expand and contract.
What about bathrooms without tubs or showers? Is it okay to install a wood floor in a powder room?
Without a tub or shower, the powder room will become more like a kitchen as far as flooring goes. Just make sure you protect the area directly in front of the sink with a small area rug and you should be okay. Also, applying a moisture cured urethane to the floor will help protect the floor further.
Personally, I wouldn't install hardwood in the bathroom. The potential for problems is too great and considering that water will destroy a wood floor quickly, the other design options for bathrooms is a much better idea. But hey, that is me.
The look of hardwood in the bathroom without it being real wood....
There are some vinyl manufacturers that have done a very good job with replicating the look of hardwood without it being the real thing. For example Konetco produces a waterproof floating flooring system, which would make it the perfect alternative solution to flooring in the bathroom. The biggest downside to this type of flooring is that just like laminate, the patterns won't look as natural in larger bathrooms as there won't be as much diversity in the planks that are installed.
Then again, the fact that Metroflor is water resistant makes it the perfect alternative to having that "wood floor" look in areas that hardwood would be most likely to get damaged.
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