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Warming Trend. Woodworking ideas for your home.


Adding wood takes the chill out of tile and chrome

Lined with bright tile, accented with shiny hardware, bathrooms are easily one of a home's coolest rooms. Perhaps a little too cool. But there's no reason why a bathroom can't take on the warmth of some well-placed wood. In the project shown here, the alcove for a bathtub was framed with wide planks of red oak. After they were cut to size and shape, the two sides and the arched top were simply nailed to the existing wall framing. The panel in front of the tub consists of a basic frame and panel dressed up with decorative molding. Once assembled, it was attached to the tub with clear silicone adhesive, no nails needed. Thanks to this generous application of wood, the bathroom was transformed from merely serviceable to beautifully classic.

But can wood really be this close to water? The old thinking had it that wood couldn't stand up to bathroom humidity and splashing, but with the toughness and durability of Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane, there's nothing to worry about. After the oak's colour was deepened with an application of Minwax® Gel Stain Chestnut, it was installed with construction adhesive and finish nails. The nail heads were set below the surface and the holes filled with Minwax® Stainable Wood Filler, which were then spot-stained with more Gel Stain. The wood then received two coats of Helmsman® Semi-Gloss for lasting protection. However you think about wood for bathrooms, there's hardly any limit to what's possible: Wood floor? Definitely. Trim? Absolutely. To cure bathroom chills, wood clearly works wonders.

Project Pointers

When a woodworking project requires uncommon materials, finding them can sometimes be challenging. For this project, it was all about getting oak boards and trim. The trim may be stocked by your local lumberyard or home center, but the wide boards could require more searching. Start with a hardwood supplier, if there's one that's not too far away. If they don't have what you need, they can probably order it.

An alternative to solid boards would be oak-veneer plywood. To give it the look of solid wood, you can cover the edges with oak-veneer tape, which can be applied with a standard clothes iron.

Whatever wood you use, be sure to apply Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane to the back as well as to the front. In the moist environment of a bathroom, sealing the back adds protection against water damage and warping.