If you really like the look of authentic wood so much that you are going to use it to build your bathroom, then there are a few things that you need to know about it. Of course, wood is not the most moisture-resistant material out there, which can obviously cause problems when it comes to such a high traffic and high moisture area.
With that being said, if you are dead set on building your bathroom mainly out of wood, then it is doable, but you do of course need to take the proper precautions in order to prevent that moisture from causing long-term damage. Let’s get to it and teach you exactly how to waterproof wood for your bathroom.
Should You Use Wood in Your Bathroom?
OK, so seeing as using wood in bathrooms can be problematic due to the fact that moisture can eventually penetrate it and therefore cause it to degrade and rot, it is worth asking whether or not using what in your bathroom is even a feasible idea. So why would you use wood to build your bathroom when it is obviously not the best material to go with in terms of water resistance?
Well, the main reason as to why you might use wood for your bathroom is quite simple, and it’s because you like the look of it. Sure, a couple of hundred years ago, wood was the most common building material around, but since then we have discovered other materials that are far more resistant to damage and moisture. However, due to the fact that real and authentic lumber does look very nice and provides a fantastic aesthetic appeal, it is still often used as a building material of choice. Quite simply, real wood does indeed look very nice.
Now, authentic wood is of course not the best choice to go with when compared to something like plastic, porcelain, or ceramic, in terms of moisture resistance. However, there are ways to treat wood to make it waterproof so that it will stand up for many decades to come in your bathroom. Therefore, as long as you take the proper precautions and you treat the wood appropriately before you start using that bathroom, then it should be totally fine. Just remember that you do need to waterproof your wood properly before using it for this application.
What can also be said about using wood to build your bathroom is the fact that if you use the right kind of wood that has been sustainably sourced or even made out of recycled materials, then you can also help to save the environment. Plastic, porcelain, and all of those other bathroom materials aren’t very eco-friendly.
Moreover, if you use engineered wood, you could also end up saving a whole lot of money. Just keep in mind that it is of course not very moisture-resistant, so you will need to treat it properly before use in a bathroom.
3 Ways to Waterproof Wood for Bathroom
Before we start talking about the various methods of waterproofing wood for bathroom use, what is worth mentioning is the fact that you absolutely need to be using hardwood, not softwood. Hardwood is much denser, more damage resistant, and more moisture-resistant than softwood.
So in no circumstances should you be using softwood for bathroom use. Softwood is not ideal to use for high moisture situations.
1. Using Sealants
Hands down, the best way to protect the wood in your bathroom from moisture damage is to use a sealant. Of course, sealants do require a good bit of drying time. They might need to be reapplied every few years, and they do also need to be applied in a room that has great ventilation. But with that being said, if you are looking for maximum protection, this is the way to go.
Moreover, what you also need to know here is that there are three main types of sealants that you may use. Let’s just take a quick look at each of the three to let you know what you are getting into:
- The first type of sealant that you can use is varnish, which will provide the wood with a hard shell finish that is resistant to scratching, yellowing, and to moisture.
- The next option at your disposal here is to use lacquer. Lacquer is ideal for providing a very rich and natural-looking tone. Lacquer does put off some very strong fumes so you will need to work in a well-ventilated area. It may develop a yellowish tinge over time, but it is fairly water-resistant.
- If you are looking to achieve a specific finish, particularly a glossy finish, then a polyurethane sealant is the way to go. Polyurethane sealants also offer the highest level of durability and moisture resistance. Just make sure that you don’t go with water-based polyurethane sealant or else water can undo it.
How to Apply a Sealant to Wood
The good thing about applying a sealant to wood is the fact that it is very easy to do. All you have to do is first make sure that the wood is clean and free of all debris and then use something like a paintbrush to apply a thin layer of the sealant of choice.
Generally speaking, when it comes to bathroom use and for areas that are going to see a lot of moisture, it is a good idea to apply a second coat once the first one is dry.
2. Using Linseed and Tung Oil
One of the oldest and most common methods of protecting and sealing wood from damage is to use a variety of natural oils, such as linseed oil and Chinese tung tree oil. These types of oils are ideal for providing wood with moisture resistance and are especially good to use with darker colors of wood.
Now, these oils will provide a very natural-looking finish, and they do also offer a good bit of protection. That said, do keep in mind that these oils will not last nearly as long as actual professional sealants will, and therefore you will need to reapply these oils every couple of years in order to maintain moisture resistance.
How to Apply Tung or Linseed Oil to Wood
Right now, let’s go through a quick step-by-step tutorial on how to apply linseed oil to wood in order to waterproof it for bathroom use:
- Make sure that the wood is clean and free of any debris before you start applying anything.
- Use a stick to stir in the oil to make sure that you have one homogeneous mixture.
- Use a paintbrush and apply a relatively thin layer to the wood.
- Let the oil soak into the surface and then reapply the oil to any spots that look a little dry.
- Using an old rag, rub off any residual oil.
- Allow the wood to completely dry, which can take up to a full day.
- Using very fine grit sandpaper sand the surface of the wood.
- You can now repeat this process as many times as you wish until you achieve the desired finish.
3. Using Stain and Sealer Combos
OK, so using a wood sealant will provide you with the most protection, whereas using those natural oils we discussed above will provide the best look. However, if you want the easiest possible method and then using a combination stain and sealer is the way to go.
A combination of stain and sealer will provide wood with impact protection, scratch resistance, as well as moisture protection and will also create a very nice finish.
Applying a stain and sealant combo is really no different than applying the sealant itself or any different than painting wood. All you need to do is to make sure that the wood is totally clean and dry, and then apply a thin coat of the product in question, let it dry, and then apply a second coat for the best results.
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks
Lastly, here are a few things to keep in mind before you start working on this task:
- Always make sure that whatever sealing product you are using is rated as being 100% waterproof or else the wood will eventually allow moisture to get in.
- Never use any kind of softwood for bathroom-related applications.
- Remember that many of these chemical products release very strong fumes and therefore you want to work in a well-ventilated area and use air fans to provide yourself with good airflow.
Now that you know exactly how to protect the wood in your bathroom from moisture, you can get to two creating the bathroom of your dreams. Sometimes there is just nothing better looking than an authentic wooden bathroom.