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Wood for Bathroom Counter

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Forum topic by Manitario posted 102 days ago 560 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Manitario

2260 posts in 1482 days


102 days ago

Hey all, I’m in the planning stages of remodelling my bathroom; I’m looking at doing a wood countertop for the vanity, however I have some concerns about this. The bathroom is probably the most punishing environment for wood with changes in humidity; exposure to water from the sink etc. I could use a self levelling “bar top” epoxy finish, this would be the easiest and probably the most durable, but I’m not a fan of the shiny plastic look. Anyone here have a wood bathroom vanity surface that has stood up to years of use? What finish would you recommend?
thanks!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil


13 replies so far

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

1374 posts in 320 days


#1 posted 102 days ago

I had a teak platform on the back of my boat that I sanded and oiled (with teak oil) every two years. Given the oil content and constant submersion it held up very well. I would assume the same would be true in a bathroom environment minus the UV ray and engine exhaust exposure.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3622 posts in 1763 days


#2 posted 101 days ago

I would think the problem for a vanity top is similar to a kitchen counter top, but in some ways, they receive more abuse. Granted, you are not likely to put something hot on a bathroom vanity top…............but maybe a curling iron or hair dryer might do it. Once you have a burn mark, you have a real issue. The other thing is….......how about nail polish, or nail polish remover (which might as well be acetone). On my vanity top, considerable amounts of water, spilled hair spray, occasionally deodorant…......have all happened.

Also, there is something to be said for light colors on a vanity top due to water stains, and ambient light considerations.

And sooner or later, guests…........or their children…......will use that vanity top.

Personally, I wouldn’t consider anything but a highly resistant protective finish, which puts you in the realm of epoxy…........or better if that is possible.

Want something natural? Use granite. Interesting patterns, wide selection of colors, very resistant to abuse.

Also, look into colored concrete, glass coverings, and custom made resin type materials.

I think wood will inevitably disappoint you over time, unless it has…..........a bar top finish. Could you get a satin effect with the epoxy finishes?

I have built things out of wood, when I was younger, that were exposed to the bathroom environment, and they never wore well.

This is a great topic, and I would like to see more answers. I being very practical, and being the devil’s advocate…......but wood is really a difficult problem for a kitchen or vanity top.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Manitario's profile

Manitario

2260 posts in 1482 days


#3 posted 101 days ago

yeah, I agree with you Jim; I’ve been mulling this over the past few days and I think that a wood counter in the bathroom may not be the way to go, unless I’m willing to put a thick coat of epoxy on it. I know people use wood kitchen counters but the bathroom is especially punishing for wood. I like your idea about concrete; I’ve seen some nice looking concrete countertops…definitely a lot more durable than wood!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Jake's profile

Jake

250 posts in 230 days


#4 posted 101 days ago

Well if it is the water you are worried about then teak is your best bet with a wax/oil mix finish it will have very high water resistance just due to the finish, combine that with Teak’s natural high oil content and you should be fine.

In the case of mechanical abuse Teak is pretty durable as well, but also it is expensive. I personally prefer wood, but I contemplated a concrete top as well – of course concrete can chip just as well and even better in edges. So it will be a trade off either way, you just have to think about what you are willing to trade.

-- Measure twice, cut once, cut again for good measure.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3622 posts in 1763 days


#5 posted 101 days ago

In answer to Jake…......

I would say again, water is not the problem. It is everything else. If was only water, then you could do wood. Is the bathroom a utility, or a place of beauty….. durability be damned?

That is your decision, Manitario.

The great thing here is…......you get to make your own decision….....and there isn’t much in life that isn’t a compromise of some sort. But compromises bring their baggage, and you have to decide what you want to carry.

For me, a bathroom is 90% utility, and 10 % art. So my bathroom is pretty damn practical, but not cheap, and has some beauty. A lot of wood, but not where the chemicals fly.

Jake, yah, I like teak, and have seen a lot of it on boats, but not on the bathroom vanities….......(-:

But then again, Manitario, it could be a challenge….........but I still bet it would be an issue. If you make it work, there would be a lot of people who would want to know about it, including me…...(-:

Need more ideas in here for the mix…...............or Jake needs to come in here and put me down…....(-:

Like I said, an interesting topic…..........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View wbrisett's profile

wbrisett

133 posts in 948 days


#6 posted 101 days ago

I used oak for two of mine cabinets. I’ve had them for three years now and both look great still. I used McCloskey’s Man O’War Spar varnish on both and they both have held up quite well. On the other hand I used another brand for some trim because I wanted it to dry faster. I regret that decision because all of the varnish now needs to be redone since the humidity and water has damaged it.

When we clean the top of the oak, we simply use murphy soap and it comes right back to a nice luster.

View ACHiPo's profile

ACHiPo

9 posts in 137 days


#7 posted 100 days ago

I had a similar dilemma for a powder room vanity top. I ultimately went with hammered copper—spendy, but very nice and it’s already getting a nice patina after just a couple months.

View Manitario's profile

Manitario

2260 posts in 1482 days


#8 posted 100 days ago

thanks guys for the advice; I think I’m going to go with a cultured concrete or granite; the difficulties of a wood top overwhelm the advantages of the look of a wood surface. I figure that I’ll have enough woodworking to do in the other parts of the bathroom reno to keep me busy.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Jake's profile

Jake

250 posts in 230 days


#9 posted 100 days ago

Jim, I have no intention of putting you down, I am very sure that you have more experience than I do. :) I personally prefere wood and I like Teak a lot – mainly because it is so damn expensive I haven’t been able to use it as much as I’d want.

As we both concluded it is more of a personal preference deal. Either way you go Mantario I will be very interested in seeing the porcess. And of course as you said you will probably have a lot of woodworking to do as it stands anyhow.

-- Measure twice, cut once, cut again for good measure.

View ACHiPo's profile

ACHiPo

9 posts in 137 days


#10 posted 100 days ago

It’s hard to beat granite or cultured stone for looks and durability. In our case we couldn’t find any that didn’t clash with our vessel sink, so needed something like wood or copper.

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

1374 posts in 320 days


#11 posted 100 days ago

I’ve thought about concrete, but for the kitchen. My parents had concrete in their old place and despite the fact the guy doing it was learning on their dime, it turned out fairly nice. It’s also kind of a woodworking project in that you have to make the forms, albeit in such a way that closer resembles construction rather than fine woodworking. You do have to maintain a finished surface on the interior to at least what you hope the outside of your finished countertop is to look like.

View Vincent Nocito's profile

Vincent Nocito

409 posts in 1963 days


#12 posted 99 days ago

I have done two vanity tops using oak. See project http://lumberjocks.com/projects/14975 for an example. I used about 5 coats of satin polyurethane on the top and underside of the vanity top. Make sure you do both side to prevent moisture imbalance. I used a drop in sink so it is important to also seal the sink opening and caulk to prevent water from getting under the bowl. The project posted was built in 2007. Last year, i gave the top a light sanding and re-coated with two new coat of poly.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3622 posts in 1763 days


#13 posted 99 days ago

Jake

I am sure I don’t have more experience than you….....just bad experience with wood in the bathroom…......(-:

Answers like yours are what I was looking for. Apparently, with the proper finish, even satin, it is possible to use wood for a vanity top. I would still worry about the chemicals, but at least it appears doable after all. I am always trying to use wood for things, because it is something I can work with. Don’t want to get into welding, for instance.

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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