When designing your bathroom, every little detail counts! Thinking through the implications of your every choice beforehand will help save you time, money, and frustration.
When it comes down to flooring, tile is traditionally used for bathrooms and powder rooms. But can you put hardwood in a powder room instead?
You probably didn’t grow up seeing many bathrooms with hardwood floors. Tile or laminate is often used because these materials provide water-tight advantages that keep an already damp room from running the risk of mildew or mold growth.
However, hardwood flooring can be appealing in many ways, making its use for bathrooms tempting, but can you put hardwood in a powder room?
Hardwood flooring is appropriate to use in powder rooms to provide a cohesive look to the connecting rooms. Water exposure with the flooring is less of a concern due to powder rooms not having a bath or shower.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at all of the pros and cons of using hardwood in a powder room. Hopefully, helping you make an informed decision that you’ll be satisfied with for years to come!
Table of Contents
If you’re looking for the ultimate guide on powder rooms, make sure to take a look at my dedicated article What Is A Powder Room!
Pros of Hardwood in a Powder Room
Even though hardwood is not a common choice for bathrooms, it can still offer some key advantages for a very important room in your house.
#1 Aesthetically Pleasing
No one can deny that wood is highly aesthetically pleasing! It offers a sense of lived-in elegance and a sort of rich, sought-after age that has made it an extremely popular flooring for other areas of the home.
One of the key aesthetic benefits of wood is the warmth that it offers. Bathrooms can run the risk of feeling cold and sometimes aloof stylistically.
Often, bathrooms are full of harsh lines and cold materials like tile, stone, and marble. The inclusion of wood floors can cut down on the severe style of a cold bathroom and add much-needed warmth.
Part of the beauty of hardwood flooring lies in the versatility and range it offers. With many shades and tones and even patterns to choose from, wood flooring can almost feel like a piece of artwork safe to walk on.
It’s one of the reasons that so many are often drawn to the more elegant style that older homes often utilize. Chevron and herringbone hardwood flooring patterns are popular in wealthy European homes, both historic and modern.
Choosing elevating patterns and colors can help give your bathroom an elegant, warm style that you usually can’t get in the same way through the use of tile flooring.
Hardwood flooring is as durable as it gets. That’s why you see so many historic homes still boasting their original, beautiful hardwood floors.
A well-installed hardwood floor should last at least 25 years, if not more, making a hardwood floor a great choice for longevity.
Even if hardwood gets scratched or worn, it can always be sanded and refinished, making it as good as new for a fraction of the cost of new flooring.
However, depending on your style preferences, distressing on a hardwood floor only adds to its charm and warmth.
Cons of Hardwood in a Powder Room
As lovely and inviting as wood flooring can be in any room of the house, it can come with drawbacks that should be considered.
#1 Not Moisture Resistant
Even though you can seal hardwood in ways that can help prevent water damage, your wood flooring will never be completely impervious to those common bathroom water puddle situations.
The reason for this is that wood is a porous material, absorbing not only water that sits on its surface but also potential humidity from the air around it. This absorption of water can cause wood to swell and crack over time, causing buckling and damage that disrupts the integrity of your flooring.
Even if your flooring is not compromised by hardwood swelling, there is still a chance that the choice of wood flooring will inhibit the growth of mold and mildew.
Because bathrooms are very humid rooms, mold and mildew are nearly inevitable on multiple surfaces.
Hardwood, however, is more susceptible to mold and mildew growth than other surfaces because of its porosity. Often, you won’t see anything wrong on the surface, but growth will overtake the underside of the floorboards.
Especially for those with mold or mildew allergies or sensitivities, hardwood could make your bathroom not only an unsanitary place but an unsafe one.
Tip: One way of avoiding this issue is to go with a luxury vinyl plank (LVP) that looks like hardwood but handles moisture better.
Second probably only to the laundry room; your bathroom is a space that sees a lot of chemical use. Hand soaps, toothpaste, cosmetics, rubbing alcohol—you name it, and we use it in our bathrooms.
Once again, because of the porosity of the wood, it can stain easily.
Not only can simple standing water cause a stain on your floorboards, but so can harsher compounds like the chemicals in products you use every day.
#3 Plumbing Accidents
Your bathroom is also a room that is vulnerable to plumbing issues like pipe leakage, an overflowing toilet, or fixture malfunction.
In bathrooms, it’s only a matter of time before some kind of water damage occurs.
Hardwood flooring is not as durable against water damage as other common kinds of bathroom flooring materials, meaning that you take the chance that it will have to be replaced in the occurrence of a water damage accident.
How to Make Your Final Decision
Although hardwood floors have historically not been the first or best choice for bathroom flooring, there are many things you can do to make it a more practical choice for your home.
Firstly, it’s far safer to use hardwood in a powder room than a full bathroom because there are no chances of splashes from a tub or shower. The overall humidity is much less, and the chance for standing water is considerably less as well.
There will still be the likely chance of spills, but proper sealing and choosing hardwood rated for humid areas can help. Maintaining your plumbing as well as ventilation methods also increases the likelihood that you can use hardwood floors in your powder room without regret.
Another simple fix is the addition of a floor mat under the sink and by the toilet to help mitigate your floor’s exposure to water. Maybe most simple of all, if you see water spilled on your hardwood floors, simply wipe it up! A little maintenance effort will go a long way.
At the end of the day, you have the freedom to make design choices in your home based on your preferences. Can you put hardwood in a powder room?
Yes, and using the safeguards above lessens the chance of damage while still enjoying the warmth and longevity that hardwood flooring can contribute to your bathroom space.