Wood vs Tile Baseboards – Which is Better for Bathrooms?


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Clean toilet bowl with open seat

Choosing the best baseboard can be quite a doozy due to the factors you should consider and the numerous available options in the market today. However, in this article, we will be discussing two of the most commonly used: wood and tile baseboards. 

These two main baseboard options lie about six variations and determine which one offers the best results in aesthetics and functionality. Primarily if you use it in the bathroom, it goes without saying that moisture will be a significant factor. As such, all fixtures that you’ll incorporate into this area of the house must tolerate exposure to water. 

Now, which between the wood and tile baseboard will be best suitable for the bathroom? Let us find out. 

An Overview of Wood and Tile Baseboards

Before we can determine which baseboard is the best for the bathroom, we first need to understand the ins and outs of each baseboard type.

Wood Baseboards

Baseboards with various profiles standing on hardwood surface

Wooden baseboards are among the most commonly used in home construction, and it is often seen in living rooms and bedrooms but is also used in bathrooms in some instances. One of the most significant advantages of utilizing wood baseboard is that it is easily repaired and replaceable. In addition, you can also paint wood baseboards to ensure it retains their aesthetic qualities. 

Using wood baseboards can lend to an aesthetically-pleasing interior décor due to its ‘earthly’ vibe. Additionally, wood baseboards can give a warm and soothing ambiance to any room it is incorporated in. 

Several wood materials to choose from, each offering its unique style. Wood baseboards feature one of the following materials: 

  • Cherry
  • Maple
  • Poplar
  • Red Oak
  • Walnut
  • Pine 
  • Softwood

As you would expect, a wooden baseboard can be somewhat expensive. You can skirt over the price if you go the DIY route and make your baseboards, though. 

The cheapest variations are the poplar and pine wood baseboards, while the oak, maple, and walnut baseboards are the most durable. Cherry provides rich color, albeit the most expensive option, if you want to spice up your home’s interior. 

We also recommend going with the solid wood baseboard as these are guaranteed to last for quite a long time and are impeccably durable. Also, solid wood baseboard variants are best suited for use in the bathroom, thanks to the overall durability it delivers. 

Tile Baseboards

modern style bathroom. 3d visualization

Regarding being compatible within a bathroom setting, the tile baseboard pretty much checks all the qualifications. In addition, tile baseboards can effectively seal the gaps between the floor and wall and, with numerous designs to choose from, can look pretty nice as well. 

Similar to wood baseboards, there are several types of tile baseboards to choose from as well which includes:

  • Ceramic
  • Porcelain
  • Marble
  • Granite
  • Glass

Each material type brings something different to the table in terms of appearance. Additionally, tiles are perfectly water-resistant and do not have any drawbacks associated with their wooden counterpart. 

Again, tile baseboards can be pretty expensive, depending on the type of material you choose. If you are looking for the cheapest option, ceramic tiles are the most commonly used due to their affordable price range. On the other hand, if you are aiming for a top-class tile baseboard, marble is currently the most expensive and most stylish option in the market. 

Another advantage of tile baseboards in a bathroom setting, besides their water-resistant construction, is their excellent scratch resistance. Additionally, the polished sheen finish of tiles makes it far easier to clean. 

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Baseboard

Before heading to your local hardware store to get your hands on baseboards, you should know what factors to look for when choosing the best possible option available. This knowledge should help narrow down your choice to a handful that fits your needs. 

Where Exactly You Will Install It?

It is vital to determine the area where you will install the baseboard. For example, will you install it in the living room, bathroom, or hallway, or will you install it in the kitchen or bathroom? These questions are crucial as kitchens and bathrooms are often exposed to moisture. As such, a water-resistant baseboard should be at the top of your ‘must have’ features list. 

For a fully water-resistant baseboard, the tile type is the best choice. However, you can also use wood baseboards in bathrooms as long as you apply a good paint coating and varnish to increase water resistance. Be aware, though, that the varying temperature changes, steam, and humidity can warp wood over time. Therefore, if you decide on using wood baseboard in the bathroom, we recommend you re-stain it at least once a year. 

Is Aesthetic a Major Factor for You?

This will be another significant factor that will push you towards a specific type of baseboard. While wood and tile baseboards can complement traditional and modern interior décor, distinctive tile designs tend to fit the contemporary mold much better than wood. 

That said, a lower baseboard will always provide a more traditional look, and a taller style will have a more modern charm, regardless of whether you used a wooden or tile baseboard. 

What is Your Budget?

Next, you also need to consider how much budget you have set for this particular project. On a relatively tight budget, wood baseboards (Poplar and Pine) are cheaper than the most affordable tile baseboard variation (ceramic). However, if you plan to install bathroom baseboards, we highly recommend going with tiles as these will be more practical in the long run. 

Wood baseboards will require an extra coating to give them that additional water-resistant property, while tile baseboards are water-resistant out of the box. You will also need to re-stain wood baseboards to protect them from water damage, and these will add to the ongoing cost of maintaining wooden baseboards in the bathroom. 

Wood and Tile Baseboards in the Bathroom (Pros & Cons)

To further help you determine which baseboard type to choose, we compiled a list of all the pros and cons attributed to each. 

Corner of the room with walls, baseboards and natural wood floor

Pros of Wood Baseboard:

  • If you used solid wood baseboard and applied paint and varnish, it pretty much achieves tile baseboard levels of water resistance while also having its unique wood aesthetic. 
  • Wood baseboards are slightly more affordable than the cheapest tile baseboard. 
  • Versatility is where the wood baseboard truly shines, as it is pretty much compatible in all areas of the house. 

Cons of Wood Baseboard:

  • Wood is susceptible to warping. Especially when constantly exposed to moisture and steam. 
  • Wood baseboards are also susceptible to wear and tear problems such as color fading. While this issue is repairable, expect to spend cash whenever this problem arises. 

Pros of Tile Baseboard:

  • Tile baseboards are water-resistant and do not need any additional coatings or finish. As such, it is the most popular option for bathrooms. 
  • Tile baseboards are not only water-resistant; they are also scratch-resistant and stain-resistant. 
  • Due to the polished and non-porous surface of tiles, cleaning is effortless. 

Cons of Tile Baseboard:

  • Tile baseboards are not versatile and are primarily used in the bathroom. 
  • This baseboard type is also expensive, especially natural stone tile such as marble. 

Conclusion

If your bathroom finishing is well-made, chances are you won’t even need a baseboard. However, if you wish to ensure that the joints of the wall and floor are protected, having a baseboard will help keep your mind at ease. As for the best baseboard type for bathrooms, that honor goes to the tile variety. Still, it is possible to use wood baseboard in the bathroom, but prepare to add additional steps in installation and maintenance. 

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