How to Choose Hardwood Flooring for Bathroom

When there comes the time to start thinking about flooring for your bathroom, you might feel pressured into buying something that you are less than crazy about; such as porcelain or vinyl. Also you want to add something which has elegance, beauty, style and class. While these work really well in a bathroom because of the moisture, it’s not your only options available. Wood flooring, for instance, also works well. But, it’s dependent on many of the factors. For example this article details the pros and cons. And while you are at it, consider these do’s and don’ts as well.

First, you need to make sure that you have a vapor barrier on the subfloor. Second, you need to make sure that it’s a really hard hardwood – a lot of the exotic species tend to be better suited for bathrooms than domesticated softer woods like pine. Next, you need to think about the installation. If done correctly it will contract and shrink accordingly and won’t warp or crack – so you have to make sure that you get a pro to install it for sure. Below, we will be going over these factors a little more.

What Is A Vapor Barrier?

A vapor barrier is actually a very simple concept. It tends to be a thinner layer of material made from poly sheeting, that is placed between the subfloor and the floor you plan on installing. At, you can actually plan the layout and virtually see it as to how it will look in your bathroom. A thorough subfloor planning prevents moisture from damaging the home which makes the poly sheeting an ideal option for bathrooms. These tend to be used more for laminate flooring. For hardwood or engineered, it’s a good idea to acclimate the engineered wood to space. Take it out of its packaging and lay it in the room for 4-7 days to get it acclimated to the humidity and moisture in the air in that space.

The Best Hardwood Flooring Materials

Each hardwood flooring material has its own rating called a Janka Hardness Test. This type of hardwood flooring is put through all sorts of tests that result in a Janka Ranking regarding the actual surface of the wood flooring, from dents and indentations to scratches. It’s done using a .444 inch steel ball. There are actual graphs you can find online, but here are a few examples of types of wood flooring for you to think about.

Red oak – 1290: This is a really popular choice for domestic hardwood flooring. It’s known for having a lot of deep and heavy grains and it varies in color variations from reddish pinks to creams browns.

Maple – 1450: It’s no surprise that maple gets used a lot considering it has a 1450 ranking. This wood mostly grows in Canada and Northern American. It tends to have a very creamy yet pale color to it.

Hickory – 1820: Hickory is not only used in hickory hardwood flooring but also log homes because of how strong it is. It tends to have a very unusual yet neat graining pattern to it and can be found with creamy whites to pale yellows and even medium browns into the patterns. These are primarily used with 5 inch planks and bigger.

Amendoim – 1912: This cool little wood is actually more commonly known as Brazilian Oak. It’s one of the most popular wood materials in the exotic hardwood section. It tends to have a creamy golden color to it, but you can also find browns and reds too.

Brazilian Cherry – 2820: This is a super hard wood. It’s also commonly known as Jatoba. Color patterns go from reds to browns to blondes. Because Brazilian Cherry can vary by color and patterned grains it’s a good idea to lay out all of your wood beforehand and plan where you are going to put what plank.

Bamboo – Rating Varies

Bamboo is quickly becoming a really popular type of bathroom flooring or flooring in general. The ranking will depend on how the wood is made and who makes it. Chinese brands, for example, are all about milling this wood quickly so they tend to put less care in it, therefore the rating is going to be lower. A higher quality material will have a higher ranking. Make sure you check out online flooring stores such as and their quality rating before buying.


The installation is key here. Not only do you want to acclimate the wood to space as mentioned earlier, but the installation, if done correctly, can be put in your bathroom. The key factor here is using an expansion gap. That is, placing a ¼ inch gap between the edge of the outside boards and the actual baseboard. This is especially important in a bathroom where you will need to let the wood breath as it contracts and expands. If not, you can guarantee you will begin to see cracking, warping and other issues with your wood flooring when placed in a bathroom. Read through so that you can have a better understanding of installation of the hardwood. Also, make sure you read more about expansion gaps before the flooring purchase.


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