Reclaimed Wood in the Bathroom
Reclaimed wood has never been more popular, making its way from basement bars all the way up to elegant master bathrooms. Used on flooring, vanities, accent walls, mirror frames and even tub surrounds, this material adds warmth and rich texture. It’s also a wonderful contrast to the usual bathroom materials, such as glass, granite, marble and tile, which can leave a space feeling cold. “Reclaimed wood can be a once-in-a-lifetime gift,” says Nathan Daves, of Restoring Texas. But using it in a room full of potential splashes and steam takes some extra consideration. “At the end of the day, water is the evil kryptonite for wood,” Daves says.
Daves also warns that not all reclaimed wood is created equal. A broken-up pallet will not withstand moisture at all like old-growth pine lumber harvested from a pre-1940s barn, for example. Other good choices for moisture resistance are reclaimed teak and old-growth cypress. Whichever wood you use and wherever you decide to use it, check out this list of ideas and advice to see if reclaimed wood will suit your bathroom.
1. Talk to your contractor about the realities of protecting the wood. No matter whether you treat the wood or not, protecting it from direct contact with water is a good idea. “If water is allowed to sit on the wood, it will eventually find its way in,” says Daves, who recommends sealing reclaimed wood used in a bathroom with an oil-based polyurethane. “Anything that coats the wood will eventually be infiltrated and begin breaking down, but woods with high rot resistance will last longer,” he says. Using wood as an accent wall where it won’t be splashed by water is smart. Here, a high backsplash protects it from direct contact with water.
2. Realize that the material will swell and contract. In this Hollywood actor’s bungalow, salvaged wood mixed with crisp white and vintage accents give the room a modern eclectic look. The designer, Laura Schwartz-Muller, even had a simple matching tub shelf crafted to match. Schwartz-Muller understood the importance of treating the reclaimed wood as “a living, breathing thing,” as she describes it, one that will grow and contract. Thus, she used flexible silicone caulking and left a ⅛-inch gap between the sides of the tub and the walls, and beneath the tub top. She sealed the wood with three coats of fully cured polyurethane to protect it from moisture.
3. Use reclaimed wood for contrast. It’s a wonderful way to add warmth to a modern bathroom. The rough-hewn quality of these reclaimed white oak timbers makes them standouts in this otherwise clean-lined space. There is extra maintenance involved, so you have to decide if the look is worth it to you. When these owners opted not to add a glass top to the counter, they were aware that they would need to do a little light sanding and add a new satin-finish polyurethane coat on their countertop every few years.
4. Add a different countertop atop a reclaimed wood base. If you’re turned off by the extra maintenance required by a wood counter, this is a good alternative. In this elegant bath, an open vanity base constructed from old barn wood adds a striking material to the textural palette. The designers at Beinfield Architecture treated it with a clear wood sealer. Using a fan when you’re steaming up the bathroom is another way to help keep moisture away from your reclaimed wood.
5. Add more than one reclaimed wood accent. Here the vanity counter and mirror create three long horizontal lines of dark rustic reclaimed wood. In fact, reclaimed wood is an element these homeowners used throughout their farmhouse, and it ties the rooms to one another.
To see a few more tips, check out this Houzz article, or give us a call and we can help you!