Originally posted 22nd October 2021
Last updated 31st May 2023
Can you have real wood flooring in bathrooms?
Can you have real wood flooring in a bathroom? Due to the high moisture, exposure...
Can you have real wood flooring in a bathroom? Due to the high moisture, exposure to water and varying temperature, real wood flooring is not advised for a bathroom.
However, due to its aesthetics, solid wood flooring is a desired flooring choice to enhance comfort and relaxation, so many homeowners are trying to replicate the spa aesthetic in their homes. Here, we explore all the considerations around wood flooring and the best alternatives for your bathroom.
Real wood flooring in your bathroom
If you’re looking to add an air of authenticity and sophistication to your bathroom, then using real wood flooring can seem like a highly attractive option. As well as its organic feel, natural flexibility and subtle tones and textures, real wood brings a sense of the traditional, especially in dark wood finishes or herringbone designs.
This can work extremely well when complemented by antique-style fittings and ironmongery, copper baths or Victorian-inspired decor. However, a real wood floor also carries many drawbacks, and it is not recommended for bathrooms.
The problems with real wood floors in bathrooms
The first and most obvious problem with a real wood floor in the bathroom is that it is not completely waterproof. While treatments such as lacquers or oils can help a great deal, real wood always tends to be much less water resistant than vinyl or LVT flooring, especially given the amount of exposure to water you can expect. Even if you are particularly careful with spillages, real wood does not tolerate humidity well, and you may have to contend with boards expanding, warping, coming loose or even rotting over time.
Can you waterproof wood flooring for bathrooms?
One of the many questions is whether wood flooring can be waterproofed for use in bathrooms? Not entirely. Flooring can be water-resistant for a short term solution, but eventually, the coating will wear off, especially in high traffic areas. The efforts to protect a real wood floor in a bathroom – regular oiling, lacquering and cleaning – can make it a very high-maintenance feature. You should also bear in mind that good-quality real wood can be expensive to replace if damaged, causing further disruption to your sanctuary of calm cleanliness.
The good news is that there are many highly workable alternatives to real wood in bathrooms that will maintain both the look and feel of traditional boards while offering the water-resistance and durability that you need.
Engineered wood bathroom flooring
Engineered wood flooring is similar to real wood – and we don’t recommend it for bathrooms either, for the same reasons.
Manufactured using alternating layers of plywood and real wood, it delivers the appearance and quality feel of real wood flooring, but without the same level of maintenance or hefty price tag. Engineered wood feels natural, luxurious and smooth underfoot, and can appear just as authentic as real wood, especially if using vintage tones and patterns.
Its design and composition makes engineered wood easier to install and maintain, but it’s worth noting that engineered wood floors can vary greatly in durability depending on the price. Also, while being more tolerant to dampness than 100% real wood, it is still subject to warping, expanding and other types of damage.
It’s always advisable to talk over your needs and aims with an expert to ensure you’re looking at the right flooring. In general, while it is more hard-wearing than solid wood, it would still require a great deal of maintenance and we don’t recommend engineered wood for bathrooms.
Is laminate flooring suitable for bathrooms?
Similarly to engineered wood, laminate flooring can seem like another attractive alternative to real wood, with its natural-looking grain textures, warm timber colours and smooth feel. Also composed of layers, it has a core of high density fibre (HDF), giving it more rigidity and resistance to warping.
However, even though laminate flooring is a great, cheaper alternative to real wood or engineered wood in just about any room in the home, we still wouldn’t recommend it for a bathroom, as HDF tends to expand in wet and high humidity environments.
Still pondering the various benefits or drawbacks of laminate, engineered or real wood flooring in the rooms around your home? Read through our guide comparing the differences between Engineered vs Laminate vs Solid Wood.
What are the best alternatives to real wood flooring in bathrooms?
When it comes to bathrooms, water-resistance and tolerance to damp and humidity are the key points to consider. This will inevitably mean using man-made materials, but the rich range of textures, tones, grains and patterns available bear a close relationship to their real wood cousins. Consequently, the overall effect you are able to achieve will still bring an air of luxury and sophistication to your bathroom, and your floor will maintain its good looks for many years to come.
LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile) or Click Vinyl
LVT is often the first choice for people looking to bring a sense of style to their bathroom. Composed of a highly-durable composite with a tough vinyl layer on its upper surface, LVT combines the luscious, mature, natural appearance of wood with the hard-wearing practicality of high density fibre. Because of the flexible nature of the materials, the choices of wood tones, textures and finishes mean there’s likely to be the perfect flooring to accompany any style of bathroom furniture and decor.
LVT flooring for bathrooms is usually highly water-resistant, and in some cases 100% waterproof, so you’ll never have to deal with expensive, time-consuming wood treatments or warping boards. Manufactured in click or glue-down format, it’s incredibly easy to lay and relatively inexpensive to buy, with costs ranging from mid to high depending on the quality.
Our own ‘Aqua Plank’ range is 100% waterproof, and therefore an ideal solution for kitchens as well as bathrooms. The higher-quality luxury vinyl tiles, such as the Farmhouse Oak herringbone click vinyl, give a rich, authentic-looking result in a quick, practical and effective manner. LVT or Click Vinyl tiles usually range in price between £20.99 to £31.20 per square metre.
Vinyl is usually the go-to choice for bathrooms thanks to its complete water-resistance and very reasonable cost. With most options coming with a cushioned layer, it can feel fantastically soft and warm underfoot, while still maintaining the appearance of a sophisticated wooden floor.
Vinyl flooring, such as our Trojan smoked vinyl, offers excellent value for money while still providing an eminently comparable experience when it comes to your floor. The wide, rich variety of patterns, textures and tones available – from antique wood effect to a freshly-sanded look, in all kinds of colours and patterns, as well as an array of ceramic tile effect choices – mean your bathroom floor will look stunning. And as it’s easy to clean, stain resistant and waterproof, it’ll stay that way for a long time.
Usually working out as exceptional value for money, Standard Vinyl roll flooring or Cushioned Vinyl options typically range in price from £9.61 to £20.98 per square metre.
You can order free samples of any flooring from our website to test how the various vinyl styles will look with your decor, and we’ll post them to you first class delivery. And don’t forget our price promise – we’ll never be beaten by a competitor and will beat any quotes on like-for-like products.
Ready to choose your bathroom flooring?
Take a look through all the tones, styles, widths, thicknesses and other options in our luxury vinyl tiles and vinyl flooring for bathrooms, and look out for special offers on lines that could suit your home. With our room area calculator, you’ll be able to get an idea of how much it’ll cost, too.