Installation Tips for Hardwoods in the Bath

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Working with hardwood in the bathroom, a moisture-filled environment that will expose materials to chemicals, cleansers and humidity, is often avoided by remodelers.

April 01, 2000

Working with hardwood in the bathroom, a moisture-filled environment that will expose materials to chemicals, cleansers and humidity, is often avoided by remodelers. But advances in product technology have made hardwood installations easier. Catalyzed sealers are baked on to prefinished woods, preventing moisture penetration. Quick-curing on-site finishes can also withstand moisture while still allowing the wood to expand and contract naturally. In addition, improved environmental controls in the home have reduced the fluctuations normally encountered with bathroom humidity. Keep the following tips from the Hardwood Council in mind when working with wood in a bathroom remodel:

 

 

 

 

  • Choose the right species. The best hardwoods for humid conditions include oak, cherry, walnut, maple, ash and hickory. These woods are more moisture-stable, stronger, harder, durable and shock-resistant than other species of hardwoods.
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  • Know your materials. Prefinished woods include shop-quality finishes that are attractive and moisture-resistant. Although these materials often cost more, they also take less time and skill to prepare and install. Woods that require on-site finishing are often preferred because of their lower costs and the higher degree of control that they offer.
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  • Research your wood finish. Modern finishes offer increased water resistance that previous shellacs and varnishes could not. The ideal finish will form a watertight seal that won’t peel or crack when the wood expands and contracts. These convertible finishes include moisture-cure urethanes and acid-curing Swedish finishes as well as laquers.
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