How to Waterproof Wood for Bathroom

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bathroom woodWhen the wood you use in designing the floor of your bathroom or the vanity of your sink and dresser is constantly greeted with moisture, deterioration is imminent.

Since this is the sad reality on the ground, how then do you protect the wood from moisture? How do you retain this beautiful wooden floor finish without incurring the wrath of the waters and so the big question lingers – How to waterproof wood for a bathroom to avoid the damage being caused by moisture ever-present in your bathroom?

Well, the good news is; this article will answer that boiling question. All you need to do now is to continue reading.


How to Waterproof Wood for Bathroom

There are three fail-proof methods you can use to waterproof your wood in a bathroom world where water rules.

But you need to know this first: there’s a thin line between waterproof and water-resistant woods.

So when next you are assured that a certain piece of wood is water-resistant, it means it can resist water to a certain limit but at the end, it will finally bend to the resilient forces of water. On the other hand, a waterproofed wood means that the wood is forever protected from the forces of water.

That’s the angle I’ll be showing you in this article. You waterproof your wood forever with three methods below. Three fantastic options and once the choice for you to make. We’ve had much ado already on introductions, so let’s begin with the first method.

First Method: Waterproofing Wood with Oil

There are three oil options you can use to waterproof your wood. There is the linseed oil, walnut oil and the tung oil. Whichever oil you decide to use, the following procedures will help you waterproof your wooden bathroom decor and keep the waters at their bay.

  1. Mix the oil with either turpentine or apple cider vinegar to obtain a more powerful waterproofing oil. Ensure you stir thoroughly. This isn’t a must as you can still use the oil singly.
  2. Prepare the wood surface by using sandpaper to smoothen rough surfaces and edges. Rough surfaces will become visibly evident and appear distasteful when you are through with the oiling, that’s why this step is important.
  3. Dip a soft-bristle brush into the oil (whether it’s the mixture or single oil) and apply thoroughly around the wood leaving no surfaces and edges untouched.
  4. Allow the surface and edges of the wood a little time to absorb the oil this will enable you to identify untouched areas and then you can do the needful by reapplying on those areas.
  5. Let the wood to absorb the oil again and then clean off oil residues with a clean dry rag.
  6. Allow the wood time to dry. Oil mixtures dry faster than single oils. Drying time could take a couple of hours or even half a day if you using a single oil.
  7. After you’ve allowed the wood to dry, you can then reapply the oil again on the dried wood surface if you’ve got more to ensure it’s heavily finished and waterproofed.

Other Things to Note about using Oils

  • Although some oils come mixed with other chemicals, you can do the mixture yourself and freely experiment as you continue with the process after a long while.
  • If you are purchasing an already blended oil, then know it has three parts namely: the linseed or tung oil, mineral spirit, and polyurethane. The mineral spirit and polyurethane are added to the chief oil (Tung or Linseed) alongside the turpentine and stirred thoroughly before application.
  • You can obtain the linseed oil naturally and boil before application. You can always find ready-mades in DIY markets any day.
  • If you desire a thicker combination, keep the mineral spirit addition minimal.
  • Addition of polyurethane can increase or reduce the drying time. Add more if you want quicker drying time. Add less if you want extra time to work more before it begins to dry off.
  • After application and drying, give the wood some time to settle and absorb what it had just received. Hours won’t be enough. A couple days would do. Don’t ever use immediately after the finishing.
Oily rags are combustible so while you rag away oil residues for re-application, remember to wash the rags with soap and water.

Second Method:  Using Sealants for Wood Waterproofing

moisture-and-woodThis method entails using sealants to waterproof woods. The steps for application are almost the same as that of oils.

The only deviations here are that, you don’t necessarily have to mix the sealers with any other natural or synthetic chemicals. But you have to wipe the wood dry, sandpaper it and that does it for the preparations before application. You can apply the sealer afterwards by either spraying or using a brush. Allow to dry after the spraying or application with a brush is over. Then apply two more times to ensure your wood is well guarded against water.

Other Things to Note about Using Sealants

  • To obtain perfect results, apply sealants at room temperature, temperature above this can affect the potency of the sealant.
  • Do not stir or shake sealants. They are not like other liquids that require vigorous shaking to enable the content to circulate all-round the container.
  • They dry faster than oils, but you still have to allow the air to freely passage anywhere the application is being done.
  • After application and drying, give the wood ample time to absorb the protection it has received before you start using it. Any time from 3 days would be enough.

Third Method: Waterproofing Wood with Stain and Sealer

wood-stainThis happens to be the most efficient and classy method of waterproofing wood for bathroom. Why? Because you can choose to use stains alone or you can do powerful stain-sealant combo. These stains when applied are translucent. Lighter stains come with more oil. They are best used for interior woods like your bathroom which is the center of everything detailed here.

The application process isn’t anything different from the other two. Wipe the wood dry, sand to smoothen the surface and limit imperfections on the job and then apply with a brush. Allow to dry, remove residues with a clean dry rag and reapply up to two or three times afterwards for a thorough finish. This applies to both stains and stain-sealant combinations.

Why Stain-Sealant Combination is the Ultimate

Stain-sealant waterproofing combinations are the best when it comes to effective waterproofing and addition of styles to the job.

They come in a variety of colors. That you want to finish your wood for waterproofing doesn’t mean it should lose its aesthetic appeal.

These colors are products of color pigments with the inclusion of binders like oils, water or alkyls-based binders.

Stain-sealants hardly build up on the surface, they are absorbed into the wood as soon as they are applied, so it’s needless to wipe off residues because they would have evaporated before you do so. Akyl-based stains, however, leave residues on the wood surface.

Other Things to Note about Stains and Stain-Sealant Combinations  

  • If however, you intend using them for exterior woods, you need to find exterior grade stain for that purpose and you would have to keep up with waterproofing at least after every two-year interval.
  • Stain-sealant combos with color pigments and binders that are oil-based are best recommended for interior woods just like the one you would be using in your bathroom. But their alkyl-based counterparts in spite of the build-up they leave on the wood surface offer a more aesthetic appeal to interior woods.


Although they appear rustic and yes they truly are rustic and you can call them antiquated, no doubts, but they make the finest of furniture and cabinetry. These natural building materials called woods need protection from moisture. Wood and moisture can never harmonize, not now, maybe in the nearest future.

Your choice of the method here is dependent on the budget you’ve set aside for the project. If it’s a big project that involves the entire house you can go for the last method; stain-sealant, which offers more efficiency and saves time. Remember to take some thumb rule precautions like using gloves. You are dealing with chemicals and not just liquids.

Wash your hands after you are done with the entire process, including the tools you used. Don’t forget to keep out of reach of children.

Water shouldn’t be a reason why you can’t have that rustic goodness on the floor of your bathroom, the vanity of your sin or dresser or anywhere around your bathroom you intend using the woods. This is why you need to arm yourself with this information on how to waterproof wood for bathroom.

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131 thoughts on “How to Waterproof Wood for Bathroom

  1. William, I am designing a custom wood countertop insert for my kitchen. It will hold a bamboo cutting board, with a recessed scrap bin at one side. I really want to install a wall mounted cold water tap above it for washing vegetables etc (the scrap bin will have a drain) Do you have any other suggestions for treating the wood other than what you have outlined here? Thanks for the help!

    1. Hi Greg.

      There are also varnishes, but they’re mostly for exterior use. I think sealer is the best option to waterproof wood since it penetrates into pores, it’s much better than finishes that form kind of topcoat. What’s wrong with sealing or oiling wood?

  2. I bought an antique dresser and want to use it for bathroom vanity with a vessel sink on it. What would be the best way to waterproof it.

  3. Hi William

    Great article! Which method would you recommend for a bathroom window sill, made of oak? I have it sanded and ready to treat, but not sure now which one!


    1. Hello Rob.

      I think oil would be a good choice here since the window sill won’t have direct contact with water that often. Furthermore, an oil will enhance the natural color of oak.

  4. I have a beautiful hand painted wood dresser that I want to turn into a vanity. How can I protect it without sanding?

  5. We are making a vanity with a vessel sink from a live edge piece of wood. We have already stained it, can an oil be used over the stain or do we need a polyurethane?

    1. Hello Susan.

      Stained wood can be oiled, but it’s better to use polyurethane instead of oil since both stains and oils penetrate the surface of the wood so after the stain is applied oil isn’t that effective.

    1. Hi Sharon.

      It’s senseless since sealer has to penetrate the wood pores. Polyurethanes and varnishes block wood pores creating a topcoat layer. Furthermore, varnishes are just an alternative for sealers.

  6. Hello,
    I want to make some pine wood shelves to go above my bathroom sink. They will come in contact with water and general moisture once placed. I want to know what would be best waterproofing option for me? Can I strain them and then waterproof them with oil instead of a sealant?

    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hello Savaira.

      Strain? Did you mean stain? 🙂 Yes, you can stain them before waterproofing. I personally think that the sealer is better than oil for wood that is constantly in contact with moisture and water. But oil can be used too, keep in mind that oils need to be reapplied more in comparison to sealers.

    1. Hi Adrien.

      Varnishes are finishes designed especially for wood that’s in contact with water especially salt-water. I think it would be perfect for you.

  7. I have a 12’ Walnut slab as a bar top but am unsure how I should finish it so that it holds up to home bar abuse. Any recommendations?

  8. Hi, I have wooden panelling on the lower half of my bathroom walls with tiles on top. I want to waterproof the wood around the bath so it could also be used as a shower, what products would you suggest to be most efficient at keeping the wood safe from rotting with time?

  9. Hi William,
    We really would like to put wood cladding in our bathroom and paint. But having trouble working out the best way to protect the wood. Please help!! Thanks ????

    1. Hi Jenni.

      Since you’re going to paint cladding first I recommend using varnish, namely TotalBoat. Don’t worry, it’s suitable for interior wood too. Varnish provides great protection from moisture and doesn’t need to penetrate the wood, unlike oils and sealers that would be useless over the paint.

  10. Hi, I’m putting a bathroom in a old farm house and there is a beam we want to leave exposed that would be in the shower, what method in this article is best, sealer or stain sealer?

    1. Hi Brenda.

      Besides sealing, a stain sealer will change the color of the beam since stains are designed to dye the wood. Choose a sealer if the only thing you need is to protect the beam from moisture.

    2. Hi thanks for all the very interesting and useful info….I’m looking to treat the wood I’m using under my counter top basin in a bathroom. It will get a lot of use and am preparing for water stains!! I’m guessing a varnish is the way forward?

      1. Hi Alison, yes wood varnish is the right path for you.
        This article may be useful to you. Like the bathroom, the kitchen is also subject to frequent wetting.
        Number one on the list will do a great job. It has a longer drying time but once it dries it is very durable.
        Of course, it is important to apply a nice thick layer and when necessary (every few years) to apply another coating.

  11. Hi William

    We are using sawn oak that has been seasoned for a couple of years already as a work top for our sink in the bathroom. It will need to be waterproof. We haven’t done anything yet than cut it and sand it. We have removed the bark but kept the wane edge. We would love to keep it looking very natural and rustic so would appreciate some advice on how to waterproof it properly. Thanks! Jemma

    1. Hi Jemma.

      I recommend using oil since it enriches the natural beauty of the wood unlike other finishes such as sealers.

  12. William, I have a new piece of finished furniture (dining buffet) that I want to use as a bathroom vanity with vessel sinks. It sounds like the Sunnyside oil is the best option. I don’t want the finish to look different than it does now. Can you tell me how the finish will change with this oil applied? How many coats would you recommend? Thank you!

    1. Hi Irene.

      Sunnyside will enrich the color, I can’t really say how much in your case. One coat will be enough.

  13. Thanks so much for this. I’m looking for something to protect the wooden stand that my bathroom sink sits on. Can you recommend any specific products of stain sealant please?

    1. Hi Lianne,

      Speaking of stain and sealer in one, I’ve only used Ready Seal which is only for exterior and sold only in gallons, sorry.

  14. Hi! I have read through all of the suggestions and still can’t decide which material to use. We bought a slab of unfinished Walnut for a counter top in the bathroom. If we use the tung oil, we should do at least 3-5 coats and let it cure for 30 days. This will make it waterproof, but will it make it shiny too? Do we then need to polyurethane over everything? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Morgan,

      The oil itself will protect the wood, you don’t need to apply polyurethane over the oil in most cases. Yes, the oil will add sheen to the wood, but how much, it depends on a certain product.

  15. William. My bathroom door is painted white and has started to show water bubbles effect it’s a wet room what’s the answer please Lena

  16. Hi Stewart,

    Thanks for sharing this article. I would like to build a vanity for my bathroom, a humid environment. Would I stain and seal each piece of wood before construction so they are totally waterproofed or build the cabinet first and then seal it?

    Thank you!


    1. Hi Michael,

      Obviously the first option will provide better protection but I don’t think that will have a great impact overall.

  17. Hi, I have an old piece of barn wood with large wormholes. Some big enough to that a pencil can go through. There are no worms – thank goodness. But the piece is unique and looks beautiful in its own way; like nature’s art. Do you think it will be ok inside the shower as a bench to hold a small tray with two soap dispensers? It will not be used for sitting. If yes, which method of waterproofing will you recommend, given that it will be getting wet. Thank you!

    1. Hi Ray,

      It would be nice to use that piece of wood. Wood with holes, fissures, and cracks looks awesome in some cases. Usually, I recommend using sealers on pieces that are often in contact with water. But in you case, I recommend using an oil to enrich the color of your wooden piece.

  18. Hi William
    I wanted to paint and stencil my bathroom floor but i need to seal it what can i use that is cheap yet affective and gives a satin finish as well as waterproofing it.
    Even tho i hardly get water on my floor i still wanted something to seal the paint so nothing comes off or fades away.
    Thank you

    1. Hi Usma,

      Oils and sealers hardly penetrate the paint. Instead, you need a finish that creates a protective layer over the wood. I recommend using Deft oil-based polyurethane which can be applied over the paint to protect it from damage and moisture.

  19. Hi William,

    As far as using the stain method, will shoe polish be an acceptable substitute? If so, how many coats should be applied and how much time should be given to drying and absorption after finish? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Charlie,

      Nope, at least I’ve never done that and never heard of that method. So I wouldn’t recommend that, sorry.

  20. Hello,
    Remolding a 4′ shower stall and thinking of using a 2″ thick piece of Mahogany 3′ long as a bench seat. Do you think I can waterproof this wood enough so make it work. If so what would you reccommend to do this.

    1. It is possible to waterproof this wood. There are several ways to waterproof wood: you can use an oil such as linseed oil, walnut oil, and tung oil. If you decide to take the oil route you can mix it with apple cider vinegar to obtain a more powerful waterproofing oil. If you don’t want to use oil, you can also use a waterproof wood sealer indoor or exterior. You can find this sealer at any hardware store. I would recommend this wood sealer.

  21. Hi,
    I’ve made a bath shelf and applied a sealant. As it is over water so often should I also apply a varnish please?

    1. Applying a varnish would definitely help protect the wood even more from water damage. It isn’t necessary if you already have a sealant on it though. I would recommend using a varnish if you want more protection and don’t want to reapply the sealant as often.

  22. Hi, I’ve took out a3’ shower stall and replaced with a 6 piece 5’ tub shower. I put paneling around the top and in front of shower. What is the best thing to put on the paneling? It has a rough texture and the bathroom is in the basement. Didn’t wanna spend too much but want it to look good. Don’t know that it matters but it’s gray.

  23. Hi, i’m having a bathroom vanity built, the top will be made from reclaimed scaffold boards, the tap will be standing on the wood as will the bowl basin, what is the best waterproofing option for the wood?

    1. I would use any waterproof sealer, varnish, or even polyurethane. I would recommend a sealer by Thompson’s or a spar varnish or something like that. If you decide to use polyurethane I would use something by Minwax.

  24. Hi William, I am installing a fiberglass shower in our cabin, the ceiling and walls above are cedar tongue and groove. What do you recommend sealing with? Thanks

    1. Any interior wood sealer would work as well as a varnish or polyurethane. If you are to use a sealer I would recommend one by Thompson’s or Behr. If you are to use a varnish I would recommend a spar varnish and if you are to use polyurethane, I would use something by Minwax like this.

  25. William,
    I am putting a knotty pine bead board ceiling in my bathroom. I don’t want to stain the wood, as I like the natural look, but want to make sure it is protected from all the moisture. Would a sealer be best and if so what brand would you recommend? I would also like for it to have a nice satin or semi-gloss sheen to it.

  26. Hi William,

    I have an older crib that I want to turn into a indoor planter. I’d use a gardener’s pot inside of it, but water can drip through holes in the pot. What’s the best way to protect the crib from the excess moisture of the plants? Thanks!

    1. I would use any wood sealer, varnish, or even polyurethane to help protect the wood from moisture.

  27. Hi William,

    I’m installing 3/4″ pine beadboard on my bathroom ceiling to include over the tiled shower. I’m aiming to keep the natural color of the wood. Would you recommend a sealer, and if so, do I cover each entire board, front, back and sides? Lastly, can you recommend a sealer for this job? Thank you! Dwane

  28. Hi William,
    I’m planning to make a really cool wooden bath shelf/tray that folds down from the wall. I plan to paint/stain/wax the wood to get a white finish (think limewax on pine) but not sure how to protect it from continuous water contact. Any ideas or products you would recommend?

    1. I don’t recommend linseed oil over paint because it doesn’t form a hard durable film for protection. It’s only good when it soaks directly into the wood so the fibers can absorb it for the best results. Out of your two options, lacquer would be better but there’s a risk that lacquer might wrinkle the paint. If you are looking to protect the paint, I would recommend a Minwax polycrylic finish or a Minwax polyurethane finish.

  29. I have an antique bathroom sink vanity . It is distressed and I don’t want to change it. What can I use to waterproof the top of the vanity without changing the surface or color?

  30. Hi William,

    I inherited a kitchen sink surrounded by wood when I moved into my current flat (it’s beech looking wood). The constant washing of dishes has turned the surface of the wood a lighter, greyer colour, made the surface rough and mildew (I guess that’s what it is) starts to cover it in places- especially in nooks and crannies. I assume this is all from water damage. What do you advise I do and use to address the issue?

    Thanks so much,


    1. You can replace the wood if you want and seal it to protect it from water damage. If you don’t want to replace the wood, you can always sand it done until the surface looks smooth and clean and then seal it to protect it. Some good sealers are polyurethane by Minwax, spar urethane by Minwax, or a waterproof sealer by Thompson’s. All of these are great sealers but you will probably get the best protection from the spar urethane. If you are still scared water might get into the crack between the wood you can always put silicone around the edges after you seal the wood to cover the cracks. If you decide to use silicone, I would suggest using this silicone by GE.

  31. Thanks a million William, that was really helpful.

    Sorry to ask more questions- I am new to D.I.Y!

    I believe after sanding the area around the kitchen sink i’ll need to lift the colour of the wood before sealing it (It is quite dry/pale/washed-out looking) compared to other areas. I was thinking of using tung oil to bring the colour back. Then making it uber waterproof with a sealer. A few questions though:

    1. I know you generally either use tung oil or sealers but we wash so many dishes so frequently the area is always covered in water and collects in pools at times- hence the desire to go all out on water proofing! is this even possible? Will the sealer take if I have already used tung oil? Or is this just a ridiculous idea and I just need to use tung oil to restore the look of the wood and make it 100% water-proof?

    2. It sounds like it could take weeks after applying tung oil (in particular) but also the sealer before the wood is internally, fully dry. Is this right? If yes, in this time do I really need to keep the area 100% water-free? It’s literally the kitchen sink so used to wash dishes, prepare food, etc. I think I would struggle to find an alternative place to do all these things for such a long time.

    Thanks a lot,


    1. Yes, it is possible to seal over tung oil. Just make sure the tung oil is completely dry before applying the sealer for the best results and to make sure both products are effective. I would suggest trying to keep the wood around your kitchen sink as dry as possible for the best results but this whole process shouldn’t take that long.
      The only thing that takes long is drying. To protect the wood while you are washing dishes you can always cover it with plastic drop cloth and tape it to the side so no water can get through, and then take it off when you are done so the wood can continue to dry. Hopefully, this helps!

  32. Hi William,

    I am building a bathroom vanity using walnut plywood. What do you suggest to finish the wood without making it look glossy. Is Danish Oil sufficient to waterproof the vanity for this case?


  33. Thanks William, makes sense. And how long would you say it roughly take for the tung oil to dry before I can think about applying the sealant?



    1. Tung oil usually takes 15 to 30 days the dry or fully cure. Of course, to be safe I would recommend staying on the long wait time to get the best results. I would check on it to see how fast it is drying throughput the days.

  34. Hi William,

    1. We have a beech live edge slab we want to use as a bathroom vanity top( no shower/bath), what do you recommend to finish with that is low sheen and natural?

    2. We have rough sawn plank pine flooring, again what would you recommend as a finish? This is in a cottage type house so want a rustic natural look. I’d prefer a quick dry solution as we don’t have an alternative living space for a long period of drying time.

    Thank you and appreciate any guidance you can provide.

    1. Since you don’t have a shower or bath near where the vanity is going you don’t need an extreme sealer unless you want to extra protect the wood from water. I would suggest using polyurethane by Minwax or even spar urethane by Minwax for a little more protection. Just make sure you get whichever sealer in clear satin so it looks natural and isn’t shiny. For the flooring, I would suggest using this polyurethane by Rust-Oleum, it is fast-drying and scratch-resistant. Just make sure you don’t get gloss if you don’t want the floor to be shiny. If you want your floor more protected than just using polyurethane, I would suggest using a sealer by Thompson’s in whatever shade you want or even clear or transparent.

  35. Hi William, We are installing IPE as the shower floor in our bathroom. Yup… we’re going for it. Essentialy the IPE will be our shower drain. So direct water on a daily basis. Thoughts on approach for sealing this? Any other advise.

  36. Hi
    Thanks for your helpful article on sealing wood. Please advise!
    I have a French Polished piece of furniture and have tried boat varnish but it didn’t dry hard and left marks when someone left a heavy object on top. That seems to be the case wit polyurethane too, which also didn’t go over the edges of the boat varnish, even though sanded down, and left a silver ‘scratch’. What can I use on French polish for a heavy-wear bathroom sink unit?

    1. Hi Sue,
      French lacquer or shellac has many advantages, but it also has some disadvantages.
      For this task, it is necessary to use another type of varnish:
      First, you need to remove the French varnish – dissolve with alcohol, turpentine, or special solvents like this one.
      The shellac is not so hard and even if you cover it with another varnish, its base will be soft, so it is better to remove the shellac next to the wood. Then you can apply 3 coats of varnish, like this one by Minwax, it is designed for all types of furniture and flooring, once it dries there will be a strong layer that can withstand stress, water, and household detergents. However, do not overdo it with water, it should not be constantly wet.

  37. Hi William
    We are restoring an old pine plank wood floor in our bathroom and were wondering what finish we should use? The planks have tar in them which will be sanded off. They are very old pine (maybe over a 100 years old.) We are especially concerned about protection from water as there is a big cast iron bath in the middle of the bathroom plus a relatively low level shower. Plus we need something to protect against slippage. Thank you for your suggestions. Gwennor

    1. Hello, wooden floor of 100 years this is impressive!
      Congratulations on your decision to keep it and protect it.
      After removing the old coating, some flaws (cracks, scratches, holes …) will probably appear. It is good to fill them with filler, for this purpose this article can be useful for you.
      After preparing the surface (without holes in front of which water can enter) you can apply floor varnish.
      On the raw wood you first apply a sealant (transparent or colored) like this one by Bona, and then for maximum strength, you can use a transparent varnish for high traffic like this one by Bona.
      The floor varnish is extremely strong (this will avoid unwanted damage to the coating), is resistant to water and floor cleaners, and is not slippery.
      However, do not use the floor as the bottom of a pool 🙂
      If you take good care of your wooden floor, it will make you happy for at least another 100 years!

      1. Hi William, I have an addition to this question. We too are trying to restore the old wood floor in our house. We also believe it to pine. You answered everything we need to know about this (much appreciated, you are so great about answering all of these questions), except our situation goes one step further. Our situation is that with pets. We live with my mother in law and she has an unhealthy amount of pets, plus we brought our 2 dogs, which added to her 2 dogs, 4 cats and 1 pigeon (that’s right, i said a pigeon, aka sky rat, aka sharp pooper aka what the…..). Any way, is there a way to prepare the floor from pet waste? Also, would that be different from what we would use in the living room? Thank you in advance for your patience and kindness as will as for your shared knowledge.
        Thanks again,

        1. Hi Misty, you obviously have a small zoo in your home 🙂
          This varnish will do a great job, is extremely resistant to high traffic and has increased resistance to water.
          Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying, apply good coats and you will have a strong coating.

  38. Hello William!
    I want to make wooden pots so I will have to protect it from both water and soil. Will the above mentioned methods be enough to do the job or do I have to do something additional?
    please help!

    1. Hello Abhishant, in your case there is a conflict of interest.
      On the one hand, a strong water-resistant coating and everything contained in the soil, for this purpose, marine-grade varnishes below the water line or epoxy resins are used.
      On the other hand, the coating must be environmentally friendly and the plants inside.
      The tips described in the article will help you, and a water-based sealant may be the right option for you.
      Apply a thick layer and renew it every few years (when the first signs appear). Maybe this article will be useful.
      Another option is (if possible) to use the wood for the outer/decorative shell and to store the soil to use a suitable container that can be built into the wood.

  39. Hi William,
    I have inherited an late 19th C, early 20th century Swedish kitchen chair. I would like to use it in the corner of a large bathroom. We have mechanical fan above the glassed in shower cubicle and a window that can open next to the bathtub. It is safe to keep this chair in a bathroom? Is it suitable for oiling? Does beeswax count as oiling? TIA, Annette

    1. Hi Annette,
      Antique chair in a large bathroom! That sounds beautiful!
      In your case, the chair will not be in direct contact with water and will not be exposed to high humidity so that the chair can stand in the bathroom.
      Probably at the moment, the chair has some coating so oil is not a suitable option. The principle of action of the oil is to absorb into the wood and thus protect it (the old coating will prevent the absorption of oil).
      The wax is more suitable because it stays on the surface.
      Wax like this by Howard is suitable, protects from water, restores old furniture and gives them a better appearance.
      The wax is applied periodically as it gradually thins and disappears. You will notice a difference in appearance.
      Take good care of your Swedish kitchen chair and it will make you happy for many years to come!

  40. Hey William,

    We are making a cabinet for a bathroom that is made of both solid wood and plywood. We wanted to stain it espresso. After reading your great article I wanted to find a stain/sealer combo but I am really struggling to find an interior one. I’ve mostly come across exterior ones. Is this too excessive for the project? What stain/sealer would you recommend? Thank you!

    1. Hi Rachael, pleased to hear you liked the article 🙂
      Yes, most sealants are for outdoor use, it is better to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and not to use for the interior (they have a heavier chemical composition which is not a problem in the open). Some sealants are safer and suitable for indoor and outdoor use. For your case, I would rather you use a stain for the interior.
      This particular stain by General Finishes can do a good job for you, it has a good finish and is easy to apply.
      Once you have chosen the right color, test on a board of the same wood to be sure of the end result, the thicker the layer, the darker the color.
      After applying the color you can apply additional protection with a transparent coating like this one by General Finishes.
      Apply 3 coats to get a nice thick layer. Drying time and long but the end result will be good.

  41. Hi William,
    I’ve had to purchase a “ready to paint” bath panel which I want to paint with colour matched paint to the vanity. The vanity is an eggshell finish so what would you recommend I use to seal the bath panel to ensure I have a similar finish

  42. Hi William,

    I plan on turning my laundry into a bathroom, now my problem is the shower will be within the window and worried the wooden frame of the window will rot in time when it gets wet. Is there a way to protect the wood with another layer of waterproofing? The frame already has paint on it too.

    Your feedback would be appreciated. Thank you.

  43. Hello William,
    Your post is very informative. I am purchasing a folding shower seat either made with walnut wood or finish(not sure). The seller says that it does not need to be sealed. How do i protect it from mold and mildew. after reading through your blog, I found boiled linseed oil at home depot. Will this do and keep the shower bench from rot, mold and mildew and water-proofed. What other steps I can take to ensure that the bench last s longer without any issues down the road. Advice is appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Hello Nina.
      First, it is good to know if the seat has any coverage and what it is.
      The wood is probably heat-treated so that it does not absorb moisture, but you can still do the following for longer life:
      If there is a coating such as a varnish or a sealant, you can apply sealant again to insulate the water.
      If the wood is untreated then you can apply linseed oil.
      To keep the bench for a long time, it is good to repeat the coating when necessary (discoloration, surface damage, etc.). Another important thing is that the wood is not constantly in water. I mean when no one is bathing, the bench is not immersed in water. For example, constantly retain water around the legs of the bench.
      When there is good waterproofing and no abuse of water, the bench will live long.

  44. Hi William-we are making thick mahogany shelves for our large walk-in shower. They will be hung from the ceiling.They will be in high humidity but not direct water. What is the best finish to use? Thanks!

    1. Hello Mary.
      This seal by Rainguard is suitable for both outdoor and indoor use.
      It will give you very good protection for a long time.
      Do not forget to dilute according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
      Apply several coats to obtain a thick coating. In the event that the coating is damaged by a scratch or impact, apply a new coating, it is important that the coating is complete.

  45. hello William,
    Your article and comments are helpful and insightful. We have an oak worktop in the kitchen with the sink fitted into it, and the tap projects through the wood. I have finished with Osmo oil, which claims to be for worktops, but after only a short time the wood under the tap starts to go black and I have to sand down and start again. Is there anything more durable to resist the constant drip of water when wet hands operate the tap? Your advice would be much appreciated.

    1. Hi Ken.
      First, it is good to check if the seal between the tap and the wood is strong and if it is watertight. This can also cause the described problem. It is good that the tap hole is also treated with oil or sanitary silicone.
      This oil by Osmo works well in general. Just remember oils should be refreshed more often, for example once a year.
      You can apply thicker around the problem areas.

  46. I am making a jumbo pegboard shelf for my bathroom what would you recommend to seal the insides of the holes for the pegs and the edges? What brands too? Thanks for the help.

    1. Hi Arielle.
      First, it is good that the edges are not too sharp, the sharper the edge the harder it is to keep the coating on it.
      In case the pegs will move often, the better option is to treat them with boiled linseed oil like this one by Sunnyside.
      The oil penetrates into the wood and thus protects it, there is no danger of the coating peeling off when moving the pegs.
      You can use it directly or try some of the tips in the article.
      Don’t forget to renew the coating at the first signs of wear.
      Another option is to apply a sealant like this one by Rainguard.
      This is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. It will give you good protection for a long time. However, if the pegs are changed frequently, the coating is likely to peel off.
      Choose according to your preferences and needs.

  47. Hi William
    I am making a tongue and groove bath panel set. I would like a driftwood sort of colour, what would you recommend that is also waterproof as the wood, would be direct on the floor which does get wet.

  48. Hi William
    We have fitted a countertop basin to an old pine dresser in our bathroom and have decided to tile the top as it’s already becoming water marked but how should we protect the surrounding wood which we’ve already waxed a couple of times
    Thanks very much

    1. Hi Mandy, I can offer you two options:
      The first is to continue to maintain the wooden parts with wax, you will have to apply once a year or when you see the first signs of wear.
      This wax by Howard has good protection from water and protects the wood as a whole.
      The wax is applied more often but also easier and the wax itself is easy to store.
      Another option is to remove the wax with turpentine or another coating remover and apply a wood sealant like this one by Rainguard.
      You will have more work to do to remove the wax and apply the sealant, but you will apply a new coating much less often once every 2-5 years.

  49. Hi William I am in the process of doing a Shiplap wall in my bathroom I want to make sure no moisture or mold get into it i also put along top of shower , not sure what to use for the gaps and ends of wood .. I want to stain it and waterproof it not sure what is best to use .. thanks

    1. Hi Kim.
      You can use this paint to color and protect your wall. The paint withstands harsh weather conditions so it will protect well in the bathroom.
      It is a good idea to cover the boards on all sides before installing them to make sure that the wood is sealed.
      For the edges of the wall, you can use sanitary silicone in a suitable color, it will protect from water and fill the gaps, it is also elastic and will withstand the expansion and contraction of the wood.
      Be careful when working with silicone, it is easily smeared and can become a big mess if you try to wipe it!

      Finally, after installing the wall, you can seal with wood sealant.
      This one by Rain Guard has very good water resistance and is suitable for indoor use. It also protects against mold and mildew.

    1. Hello Rod.
      You can use tung oil or stain sealant. I’m not sure you can combine them and from my experience, I don’t think they will connect well with each other.

  50. I stained a bathroom vanity and then used Varathane on it. After doing so I realized that will not produce a waterproof surface. What can I do now to make this surface waterproof? Do I have to and off the finish before using a sealer or other product to make it waterproof.

    1. Hi Joyce.
      If your Varathane is water-based you can use a wood sealant like this one by Rain Guard has very good water protection and is suitable for both interior and exterior.
      Before application, you can sand lightly with P220 for better adhesion. If it is oil-based you can use this varnish by Minwax which will adhere well to the oil base (the old coating must be well dried and sanded with P220 before applying the new coating), it is suitable for interior and has water protection.

    1. Hi Saurabh,
      I don’t think nitrocellulose paint is the best choice. Once dry, it has good resistance and will provide protection but is more sensitive to moisture. In addition, when applied it is good to be in a dry environment without moisture (otherwise unwanted stains appear). A better choice would be polyurethane or acrylic.

  51. I was planning to use sascho symphony to seal the logs in my bathroom. It is a water based product. Will this work and if so, how many coats should I apply?

    1. Hi Randy,
      I’m not familiar with this product, but most water-based products have good water resistance (you can check the manufacturer’s recommendations). Usually, 2-3 coats are enough or until you notice a thick layer of coating over the wood.

  52. What would you recommend for a child sensory/water table made from pine that would be exposed to water, things with food coloring, etc to prevent water damage and staining from the food coloring?

    1. Hi Kristin.
      Before applying any coating it is good the table has a good smoothness without roughness and small holes. The dyes can easily get into the small holes and stay there.
      I think the wood sealant will do a good job, has excellent water protection, and has a long life.
      This sealant is suitable for both outdoor and indoor use and has excellent water resistance.

  53. I have a vanity made out of coachwood, at the moment the cabinet maker used organoil , I have applied at least 4 coats and the slightest drop of water leaves a mark, could you recommend anything better to use please.

    1. Hello Pam, I would suggest using a product like this one by Rust-Oleum.
      Even though this finish is for exterior wood it will work great for your problem.
      Changing brands and oil can change the finish of your cabinet so if you are happy with your current finish you can apply lacquer which will have a clear coat of protective layer.

  54. William thank you for the excellent article. I’m turning an antique desk into a vanity with a vessel sink. The desk has a Birdeye maple veneer top that has some cracking which I don’t mind. I would like to protect the veneer against heavy water exposure. Would you suggest an epoxy?

    1. Hello Daniela, I would suggest using the third method Waterproofing Wood with Stain and Sealer in the link:, you can use the Ready Seal product which is recommended in this article.

      Just make sure you wipe the wood dry, sand to smoothen the surface and limit imperfections on the job, and then apply with a brush. Allow to dry, remove residues with a clean dry rag and reapply up to two or three times afterward for a thorough finish.
      This applies to both stains and stain-sealant combinations for complete protection as it will be exposed to water.

      Alternatively, you can also use epoxy if you want to protect the veneer from heavy water exposure. It is a bit of hassle but if done correctly you can have wonders.
      While applying epoxy, you will have a short amount of time to work with your epoxy paint before it begins to harden. You need to ensure that you choose a brand of good quality so that you can be certain of a flawless finish on your wooden surface like this one by Rust-Oleum.

      You also have to remember that curing epoxy generates fumes that are toxic and any work with epoxy should be done in a well-ventilated room.

  55. We’re doing a loft conversion and an exposed overhead wooden beam will be directly within the showering area in the en-suite. What’s the best way to protect a structural beam from the water and steam? Many thanks

  56. I currently have 2 large floating vanity shelves. They are oak. They were custom made and came ready to be installed. I want to if possible, sand them down as they have yellowed and I want a much more “chalked” paler look. Can you advise me on what to use to achieve this???

  57. Hi William I am putting in a pine toung and groove ascent wall in my bathroom. Will not be in direct contact with water but moisture from the shower. Can I use tung oil to protect the wood?

  58. Hi there,

    I’m renovating my bathroom and want to make a natural wood panel look for the drop in tub skirt. What would you recommend we seal it with so it doesn’t accumulate drip stains over time? (Some one has told me to use yacht varnish)
    Also would you be able to recommend a type of wood that would work best for


  59. Hi I am doing a van conversion and using tongue and groove pine ceiling in the van. I would like to run the ceiling across the whole van and was wondering how to seal it so it works for the roof of the shower as well.


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