How to Treat Wood for a Shower?


Do you like the look of wooden shower walls, ceiling, subfloor, sink, washbasin, or bathtub in your bathroom?

If so, you’re lucky – it turns out that wood can be used for these items after all.

However, before you decide to use wood for your bathroom, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

The most important of all is protecting the wood from moisture by getting it sealed and waterproofed.

So, how to do that?

Here in this article, I will share with you a few solid tips and methods that can help waterproof your wood in the bathroom where water is a culprit – but it can’t be avoided.

Waterproofing Wood for Shower

Waterproofing wood windows, beams, walls, floor inserts, or wherever you plan to use the wood in the shower is crucial to preserve wood’s strength and natural beauty.

Adequately sealing the wood prevents water absorption, which can otherwise cause rot and decay.

So, without any further ado, let’s get started with the waterproofing methods:

1. Choosing the Right Wood Species

When it comes to waterproofing bathroom subfloors and other surfaces, remember that certain wood species are more resistant to water and moisture than others.

So choosing these wood types means you will have an easier time waterproofing and protecting them.

Some of the best water-resistant wood species for showers and bathroom use are western red cedar, chestnut, larch, Douglas fir, teak, and white oak.

If you use plywood instead of solid wood, make sure you go with marine-grade plywood, which is specially treated to resist water damage.

2. Applying a Water-Repellent Sealant

This method uses a waterproofing wood sealer such as spar-urethane that can be sprayed or brushed onto the cleaned, sanded wood surface.

  • If you want perfect results, apply sealants at room temperature. Otherwise, the potency of the sealant may be affected by heat.
  • Additionally, there is no need to stir or shake a sealant like other liquids – this will cause it to dry too quickly.
  • Allow air circulation during and after application for best results; give the wood some time to absorb and offer the needed protection before using it (3 days should suffice).

Be sure to apply at least three coats, giving each coat time to dry before applying the next.

And also, ensure you reapply the sealant every year or two to protect the wood properly.

3. Using a Water-Resistant Oil Coating on Wood

Another good way to waterproof wood for your bathroom and shower areas is by using wood oil.

The three oils you can use to treat your wood are linseed oil, walnut oil, and tung oil.

For all these oils, following these procedures will help keep water away from your wooden bathroom decor and furniture.

Step 1- You’ll want to start by sanding down the wood surface to smooth out any rough edges.

This step is important because otherwise, the rough surfaces will become visible once you’re done oiling, and they won’t look very attractive.

Step 2- Prepare your preferred oil by blending and making it stronger. To make a stronger waterproofing oil, mix the oil with either turpentine or apple cider vinegar.

Stir until the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Some oils in the market are already blended and mixed with other chemical additives.

So, this step isn’t essential if you’re planning to use a thicker blended oil without diluting.

Step 3- Take a soft-bristle brush and cover the wood surface area evenly until oil is absorbed, making sure to get into all of the nooks and crannies.

During the process, do not forget to clean off the excess oil residues with a clean rag.

Step 4- Allow the surface and edges of the wood to absorb the oil for a little while so you can identify which areas haven’t been touched.

Then, you can apply more oil to those areas as needed.

Step 5- Let the wood sit for a couple of days after applying the product and before using it. This way, the wood will have time to settle and absorb what it receives.

4. Waterproofing Wood with Stain/Paint and Sealer

This one is my favorite method as it does the best long-lasting job of waterproofing the wood indoors or outdoors.

Especially for bathrooms where the beauty of wood does matter, this method will make the wood look more elegant and attractive.

You can choose waterproofing paint, stain, or a powerful stain-sealant combo for this method.

Among the best waterproofing techniques are combination stain-sealants.

They provide an extra layer of protection against water damage and can also enhance the appearance of your shower.

Plus, these stains are usually translucent so that they won’t obscure your view.

Just keep in mind that lighter stains generally contain more oil. So, don’t be alarmed if the wood looks shiny after its application.

The application process is the same as any other stain or sealant.

  • Simply wipe the wood dry, sand it down to create a smooth surface, and then apply with a brush.
  • Allow it to dry, remove residues with a clean rag, and reapply up to two or three times afterward for best results.

Remember that most stain sealants are quickly absorbed into the wood and don’t require wiping.

The only exception is the alkyl-based stains that leave some residues on the wood surface but will offer a more aesthetic appeal and charming beauty to interior woods.

If you are using paint for waterproofing the wood, remember to use a primer before that helps adhere the paint better.

Choosing the Best Waterproof Wood Paint

Before picking any product, check if you want one that will work on multiple surfaces. If that’s the case, choose one that is versatile.

However, if you know you’ll only be painting wood, then get a specific wood paint.

The durability of a product is also essential to know before you make your final purchase.

It helps determine how well the finish will protect your bathroom surfaces without wearing off too quickly.

Just in case you are planning to use the product on other exterior wood surfaces as well, ensure that it’s resistant to scratching, scuffing, mold, mildew, and fading due to water damage and the sun’s UV radiation.

Some of the best waterproofing paints for wood include:

  1. TotalBoat-409322
  2. Wolman 360349
  3. FolkArt Outdoor Paint
  4. Diamond Brite Paint
  5. Zinsser & Co Watertite Paint
  6. Rust-Oleum Marine Topside Paint
  7. KILZ 10211 Exterior Siding Fence and Barn Paint

The Bottom Line

There’s no need to shy away from using wood in your bathroom just because water is present; with the suitable waterproofing method, you can have rustic elements throughout the room.

The method you choose should be based on your budget for the project; if it’s a large-scale project involving your whole house, opt for stain-sealant as it is more efficient and time effective.

But for a smaller project like waterproofing your shower, any three methods will do; it all comes down to preference.

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