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wood floor in bathroom with tub

Wood surfaces are a comfort and warm addition even to bathrooms. Here are some examples on how to proceed when planning your modern bathroom remodel.

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When you think about designing your bathroom, the last material that you’d want to use is wood, correct? Wood and wet floors aren’t a great combination, you might assume, especially in a room that may not have the best ventilation in your home.

I’m here to argue something completely unexpected. Wood, when chosen carefully, can be a wonderful option for a modern bathroom. It is not only a surprisingly elegant choice, but it’s a worthwhile investment as well. With the right wood, you’ll create a seamless, safe, and long-lasting backdrop for your interior design choices, but one that is especially aligned with contemporary sustainability standards and an outstandingly up-to-date look and feel.

In this article, we’ll explore all of the ways that wood can augment your bathroom, from shower tiles to siding, from floors to accent furniture.

Bathroom wood stats

Made from: Teak, Cedar, Douglas Fir, Pine
Production: Cut, sawn, and finished into planks, tiles, or wall siding
Common color spectrum: Light, natural shades
Stability: Depends on the wood. For specifics, always talk to your vendor about your preferred wood, and how you’re planning to install it.

From ship to sanctuary

If you want wood in your bathroom, start with the idea of a boat. Think about it – for thousands of years, boats were weather-safe and rot-resistant, and they were made with wood. This was the case not only for large, seaworthy vessels like ships, but for smaller boats meant for traversing rivers and lakes, like canoes, kayaks, and pontoons.

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So what woods are most popular in ship-building?

bathroom wood paneling tile

Teak, known for its low shrinkage in changing weather and its high resistance to rot, fungi and mildew, is one of the only hardwoods that has the right qualities for wet conditions. It’s still the most-used material for boat decking today, and has natural anti-slip properties. As well, teak doesn’t actually need to be covered up with a lot of varnish, but it also looks lovely when it is oiled, and still retains the same qualities.

Softwoods like cedar, pine, and Douglas fir are also wonderful options for a bathroom, especially as siding and ceilings. Cedar in particular works really well in rooms that manage a lot of steam, such as shower rooms, because its natural fragrances are released, and it also has a very low shrinkage factor, superior to all other coniferous woods in its resistance to warping, twisting and checking.

From hipster to historic

Modern bathrooms benefit from woods on all surfaces. In historic homes, try a softwood floor like pine wood or laminate planks* in the bathroom, extending your hallway into this space for a coordinated and streamlined look. Make sure you line your bathroom with 15-pound tar paper, however, under the flooring. Although the wood itself should not warp or crack, any drips through the planks may affect your underflooring, especially if it is made of older materials. A careful application of tar paper should prevent any damage.

(*For laminates in bathrooms, some are more sturdy than others, and sometimes warranties don’t cover use in high-moisture areas. Always have a clear conversation with your vendor about using laminates in these kinds of areas. It’s a good guideline for all wood products when it comes to high moisture.).

modern bathroom low flush toilet

For a contemporary interior design look for your shower or for a wet room, line it with teak tiles. Less slippery than regular tiles or concrete, teak tiles look sharp and it’s almost as if they were made for this purpose. You may have to peruse options in teak decking to find the right ones, but they are adaptable for this reason.

Wood cladding in bathrooms

Try cedar siding or a vaulted ceiling using cedar planks for a hipster habitat. A cedar interior can be beautiful, and it can make your bathroom feel like a sauna. Although water-resistant drywalls are often placed under wood siding, they aren’t always necessary when you’re using a high quality softwood, so check the manufacturers’ recommendations for more information if you’re looking to try it out. Cedar not only holds moisture well, but it also has a retro look to it, making it a great choice for a modern home. As well, siding can be installed horizontally, vertically or even diagonally, each providing a distinctly different look.

Finally, add wood accents in your bathroom to make it pop. I like mixing and matching different woods, from furniture to towel racks, for a more modern and eclectic look. Don’t be afraid of bringing in recycled wood furniture instead of standard cabinets and counters for a more up-to-date look.

Wood is a favorite surface

When it comes to modern living, wood is my personal favourite choice for the bathroom. It’s not just gorgeous and calming, but compared to other bathroom products, it’s very sustainable. Wood has the lowest impact on air and water quality of all building materials, and it creates a wonderful feeling of comfort. From top to bottom, wood works.

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Lisa Michelle

Lisa Michelle is an editor, lifestyle writer, and novelist. She’s also an avid traveler, lover of animals, and admitted Anglophile.