Wood Wainscoting in the Bathroom

Seal all sides with a durable finish, and it's practical. October 4, 2005

I have a client that wants solid wood raised panel wainscoting installed in an upstairs bath. The client is not picky on the species as long as it is light in color. Is there a certain species that anyone would suggest to minimize problems due to the moisture cycles? Or should I steer clear of the job? The bath is equipped with an exhaust fan that exhausts through the roof with only four feet run of duct, but that assumes that it is turned on whenever someone takes a shower. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor F:
I don’t think the species matters much as it won’t be immersed in water. I would go for it if I were you. Use conversion varnish or something that resists moisture well. If anything goes wrong it will be a finish failure, and if you used the appropriate finish, it will be the homeowner’s problem, not yours.

From contributor S:
I would get at least one coat on all round before fitting, otherwise the back will absorb moisture and the wainscot will bow outwards.

From contributor J:
On top of that advice I would also suggest making sure your wood moisture content before finishing is perfect and then seal everything - and I mean every square inch and make sure the endgrain is totally sealed up and all cuts or scribed parts are sealed up again as well. It’s the only way to do it right. Also don't forget about the joints between the solid raised panels and the stile and rails - they need to be sealed off as well.