Bathroom Hardwood Flooring – What Wood Floors Work in a Bathroom?

Can You Put a Hardwood Floor in a Bathroom?

You can install hardwood flooring in a bathroom, but you have to take some extra precautions. Furthermore, it is highly recommended that you install engineered wood flooring rather than solid hardwood. Consider a water-repellent primer for extra security.

Last Updated: May 4, 2023, by: Jamie Sandford

A wood floor bathroom is a luxury most homeowners would enjoy if they weren’t concerned about water damage, warping, staining and all the other potential dangers.

bathroom with hardwood flooring

This guide to installing a hardwood floor in bathroom settings provides information and clear guidance about the pros, cons, do and don’ts, so you can be confident in your decision.


Yes you can. Bathroom hardwood flooring installation is common. Choosing the right flooring and following the best practices for care and maintenance will ensure a good experience with a wood floor bathroom.

Saying it’s OK leads to several questions about a wooden floor in the bathroom, such as:

Is hardwood flooring a good choice for a bathroom?

Do hardwood floors mix with high humidity, splashes and drips?

This floor buying guide brings you both the good and the bad of installing hardwood flooring in a bathroom.


There are two types of wood flooring – solid hardwood and engineered hardwood.

Solid hardwood planks are 100% real wood – no plywood bases or veneer top layers.

People ask, is it a bad idea to put hardwood floors in a bathroom? Yes…Do not consider solid wood flooring for most bathrooms. It might be fine in a small guest lavatory or half-bath, but should not be used where a shower or bathtub will be in frequent use.

Does wood go bad in a bathroom? It certainly can – and often does. Here’s why.

Solid hardwood flooring will absorb moisture whether it is from high humidity or water spilled onto it. The wood will swell as a result. When it dries, the wood will shrink.

Cycles of swelling and shrinking will eventually lead to damage. The wood may curl, warp, crack, cup or crown. Adjoining pieces will pull apart from one another.

In short, moisture will destroy a solid hardwood floor sooner or later – probably sooner in bathrooms that get heavy use.

Learn more about hardwood flooring water damage.


If you’re not familiar with engineered hardwood flooring, here’s a brief description. The top layer of engineered flooring, known as the wear layer, is made from the same hardwood species used in solid hardwood flooring.

Beneath the top layer are several more layers of plywood stacked and glued so that the grains of the layers run in opposite directions. The result is a wood flooring product that is far more stable, with something home flooring pros call dimensional strength. It won’t swell with moisture nearly as much as solid hardwood flooring, so it doesn’t have the associated problems.


If you’re sold on a wood floor bathroom, and there’s no good reason not to be, then choose a wood species with tighter grain – one that is less porous and susceptible to water absorption and damage.

What are the best hardwood floor in bathroom remodel projects?

Home flooring pros recommend maple, cherry, walnut and hickory for most settings. If you want something exotic, consider teak or Brazilian cherry, though their prices are on the upper end of the spectrum.

What about oak, the most popular hardwood flooring species? Oak, white oak preferred over red oak, can be used if it is sealed well on all sides with polyurethane or similar product prior to installation.

And consider cedar. It has natural oils that do two things – resist moisture and also inhibit the growth of mold and mildew. So, it’s another good wood flooring for bathroom choice.

And don’t overlook bamboo, which also has natural moisture-fighting properties.

What about pine? Hardwoods are better. Pine and other softwoods are not good choices for the bathroom.

Take note, however, that whatever wood type you choose, it needs more TLC than tile, sheet vinyl and LVT/LVP vinyl. More later on alternative bathroom flooring with a wood look.

Related Reading: Oak Floors | Hickory Floors | Maple Floors | Walnut Floors


Yes. Glad you asked. It sounds impossible, but a few manufacturers now make engineered hardwood flooring with a waterproof guarantee.

This waterproof wood flooring for the bathroom won’t be OK if flooding occurs and the floor is submerged. But it will resist absorbing liquids from splashes, drips, minor pipe and plumbing leaks for a day or two – definitely long enough for you to dry the floor before damage occurs.

Who makes waterproof engineered wood flooring for bathroom use? Here are the top brands of waterproof wood floors for the bathroom:


The first way is to choose water-resistant or waterproof wood flooring. That’s covered above.

The second thing to do is take care to protect the floor from prolonged exposure to water.

Prep: Before installation, make sure the subfloor is level. This will prevent low spots where puddles can form. It won’t hurt to seal the ends and edges of every plank before it is clicked or nailed into place.

Plumbing and fixtures: Keep an eye on pipe fittings at the sink and toilet and beneath sinks to watch for leaks. Make repairs asap if a leak occurs.

Preach & Practice TLC: Get kids and other household members onboard with these do’s and don’ts.

Use bath mats that absorb water outside the shower or tub. Cotton blends or all cotton are good choices. All-synthetic materials shed water onto the floor.

Don’t leave the mats on the floor when finished – a wet mat on top of wood flooring will stain or damage it.

Dry up any spills whenever they happen.

Use the exhaust fan during showers and steamy baths.

Dry off a sweating toilet tank. That’s weird, right? Actually not. Cold water in the tank can cause condensation to form on the outside of the tank when the air is humid. That moisture sometimes drips onto the floor. That could eventually cause a stain or water damage.


It’s pretty easy to do, and when you use caution and follow these maintenance tips, your floor will remain beautiful and durable.

Sweep the floors as needed.

Use a cloth damp with warm water to clean up sticky messes like toothpaste or hair products.

Most wood flooring manufacturers give a thumbs-up to damp mopping the floors, as long as the mop is spun out or wrung out. Damp wet is OK. Dripping wet isn’t.

A few of the waterproof wood floor brands give you the OK to steam mop their floors. The benefit of steam mopping is sanitizing the floor without using harsh chemical cleansers. Just be sure that your brand allows steam cleaning and it won’t void your warranty.


The key is to use a polyurethane sealer or other waterproof sealer on every side of every piece.

This ensures that if water gets between the planks, it won’t soak into the wood and cause damage.

Related Reading: Water Based Polyurethane Vs Oil Based | Applying Polyurethane to Wood Floors

Should I use sealer on the floor after it is installed?

That’s OK to do as long as you used sealer on the planks before too. This is because sealing a wood floor after it is installed won’t keep out moisture. This is because a natural wood floor expands and contracts with changes in humidity and temperature.

When this happens, the sealer covering the cracks will be broken, which will allow water to get between plank seams, into the subfloor, and damage will inevitably follow.


The best approach is to cut all your pieces first, and dry fit them into place. When you’ve got all the pieces cut for the entire floor, then seal all the edges, paying special attention to cut edges where bare wood is the most susceptible to water.


If you’re still concerned about installing a hardwood floor in the bathroom, then consider stone tile, ceramic or porcelain tiles.

Tile has been used “forever” in bathrooms, and it is your best defense against water issues.

However, wood adds visual and physical warmth; tile is cold. Wood offers better footing than tile, which can be seriously slippery.

And wood planks, especially a floating wood floor with click-locking installation, is an easier DIY bathroom flooring than floors secured with nails. Besides, using nails to secure the flooring can cause it to crack and splinter with normal expansion and contraction.


Luxury vinyl is an affordable alternative flooring for bathroom use. Much of it is certified waterproof, so the risk of water damage is greatly reduced. Choose a brand like Pergo DuraCraft, Mohawk SolidTech Plus, Cali, SmartCore, LifeProof vinyl (Home Depot brand) or StainMaster (Lowes brand) that is backed by a guarantee or warranty that covers normal water spills.

Here’s an idea. Use real wood floors outside the bathroom and matching LVT or LVP flooring inside the bathroom.

You have to be careful to choose luxury vinyl of similar tone and style with planks the same width, if possible. Transition strips, metal or natural wood, at the bathroom doorway are necessary to prevent slightly dissimilar flooring from “clashing.”

Tip: Bring home flooring samples to compare with your current hardwood flooring. And if you haven’t chosen either material yet, then you have more options for matching wood to vinyl in your bathroom remodel.


If you’ve been considering solid hardwood flooring, then you probably know that the installed price ranges from $6-$15, depending on which type you choose.

The installed engineered hardwood price is about the same — $6-$12 for most products, slightly more for some exotic wood species. If you love hardwood flooring and want to carry it all the way into the bathroom, then engineered hardwood flooring is a great choice.

And if you install your own flooring, you can save around $3.00 to $5.00 per square foot on the labor costs.


  • HGTV – Always one of the top places to find home improvement ideas, HGTV has a section that helps to inspire you with new ideas for your bathroom flooring that includes pictures and expert advice.
  • This Old House – Have a small bathroom? This Old House can help you come up with remodeling ideas to make that bathroom look larger, brighter and more inviting.
  • Home Flooring Pros – Take a look at our selection of bathroom floor tile ideas

Would you, or did you put hardwood flooring in your bathroom? Share your experience with our readers below.

About the Author: Jamie Sandford

Jamie Sandford, Owner and Editor of Home Flooring ProsJamie Sandford is the Owner and Chief Editor of Home Flooring Pros (find out more). After 12 years’ experience in screen and stage set construction, followed by a further 15 years working in the home renovation/remodeling business, he now writes and curates online home improvement advice.

“Buying and installing home flooring should be a fairly straightforward process, but often it isn’t. After more than 15 years experience in home flooring and remodeling, I started Home Flooring Pros in 2013 to help homeowners navigate the often-over complicated process of choosing, buying and installing a home floor. The aim is to save you time and money by helping you to make better floor buying decisions.”

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