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The best wood to use when shelving your bathroom
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The best wood to use when shelving your bathroom

Posted by Rebecca Doody in DIY advice | 2 years ago 7 min read

If you’re looking to increase storage space in your bathroom, wooden shelves are a great option. The question is however, which wood is best? We take you through your options…

Having to choose the main materials for your bathroom renovations can be a daunting task. The quality of wood determines how well your bathroom will hold up, and choosing the wrong kind will cause more problems for you than it solves.

When it comes to selecting the right kind of wood to shelve your bathroom, you might find yourself considering more factors than you would have thought. This includes issues such as whether the shelf is made from solid wood and whether it matches a bathroom vanity or bathroom cabinets. Here are the top wood shelving options you can pick from, as an alternative to stainless steel shelving, or a metal shelf as a choice for bathroom decor.

Wood shelving in Sarah Beeny's bathroom

The best woods for bathroom shelving

Toilet paper, hand towels and other items are stored on bathroom shelving, which makes it a vital ornamental storage space. In light of this, you may wonder what is the best wood for this purpose. After much research, the best wood to use for bathroom shelving includes pine, plywood, koa, cherry, red oak, padauk, mahogany and teak. As long as the wood is properly constructed and finished, it will look great in the bathroom and can be used for extra storage.

Keep in mind that bathrooms can be damp, moisture-filled environments. As a result, it's crucial to think about how water affects wooden bathroom shelves. There are no solid wood or softwood types that are completely waterproof, due to the porous, water-absorbent properties. Some wood shelves are simply more water-resistant than others.

A stylish family bathroom


Plywood is a cost-effective softwood rather and is a fantastic choice if you're concerned with design and colour as opposed to the strength. As with pine wood, never place heavy items on top of your plywood bathroom shelves. Plywood with a thickness of 2 cm (3/4 inch) is suitable for bathroom shelving.

There are several grades of plywood available with varying degrees of smoothness. There are four different grades and each is different in quality. The grading system is used to specify aspects of the finished look of the plywood.

Once you've decided on plywood for bathroom shelving, you'll need to figure out what grade is best for you. Furniture-grade plywood is ideal for bathroom storage. It’s worth noting that plywood has a higher tensile strength than pine. Veneered plywood is an excellent choice of dark-coloured wood, too and is the best wood to use if you like this look.

Moisture can be absorbed by plywood. Treating it with moisture-resistant glue or clear sealer is preferable since it will not be affected in the presence of high humidity, moisture or boiling temperatures. It will keep the plywood shelving unit from delaminating.


Pine wood is also a cost-effective softwood, and it's a fantastic choice if you're concerned with design and colour. Never place heavy items on top of your bathroom shelves.

There are several grades of pine wood available on the market, with varying degrees of smoothness and the look of knots, depending on the grade. Once you've decided on pine for bathroom shelving, you'll need to figure out what grade is best for you. Because each grade has substantial distinctions, furniture-grade pine is ideal for bathroom storage. It’s worth noting that pine also has a higher tensile strength than pine.

Moisture can be absorbed by pine. Treating it with PVA glue is preferable since it will not be affected in the presence of high humidity, moisture or boiling temperatures as it will keep the wood from delaminating.

The Bath Co. Dalston bathroom mirror with shelf 750 x 800mm


Koa wood is one of the most durable hardwoods available. Bathroom shelves and bathroom cabinets constructed of koa wood will last a long time. This wood is well-known for its excellent shellac (varnished) qualities and for being lightweight.

The properties of koa wood can easily be noted as a bathroom shelf, too. For example, koa is odourless, simple to handle, wear-resistant, pressure-resistant, damage-resistant and degradation-resistant.—These qualities will be reflected in the construction of your bathroom shelving as well. In addition, koa wood shelves do not easily bend, dent or crack. The lovely medium-gold or reddish colour tint offers your bathroom a distinct look which other types of wood do not provide.

Koa wood, unfortunately, is not water-resistant. This is the only disadvantage and it may be noticeable when it is used for bathroom furniture. Koa can be damaged by water and to avoid this issue, it is preferable to use the appropriate stain or clear sealer for the shelf.


Cherry is a popular choice for bathroom shelving with a modern look. Cherry, like koa wood, is lightweight and easy to work with. It is a hardwood that will offer your shelves a lot of strength. Cherry is a wonderful option if you want to place an emphasis on strength as it is perfect for displaying heavy items. The shelf could be used to store towels. It has a very warm, deep ruby colour that darkens with age.

When you use cherry for your bathroom shelves, you get a lot of strength and a fantastic look in one. This is the main reason why it has grown in popularity.

Despite cherry wood not being completely waterproof, it has a higher water resistance than other wood types due to its high durability. However, for added protection, applying a sealer coat on cherry wood bathroom shelves is highly recommended. It also has a high resistance to shrinking and warping.

Red oak

Red oak is a robust wood that is easy to dye or paint and has a long lifespan. This wood is both affordable and simple to work with. The use of red oak in bathroom shelving can help you work more efficiently by making it easier to handle, cut and finish. Additionally, the shelving unit is very user-friendly with low weather resistance. Red oak is, without a doubt, one of the best high-end woods for bathroom shelves.

On the downside, the waterproofing and water-resistance qualities of red oak are extremely limited. White oak, on the other hand, has a higher water resistance than red oak. We’d advise that you use a topcoat when working with red oak for shelving.


Padauk is a reddish-orange-hued hardwood that can give your bathroom shelf a unique appeal. It is strong and abrasion-resistant, and it doesn’t quickly disintegrate. This makes it ideal if you need your bathroom shelf or bathroom cabinets to hold a big load for a long time.

Because of the low water resistance, we’d highly recommend that you sand and seal it, before using it to create your own shelves.


Though mahogany is a beautiful and sturdy solid wood, it is tough to work with as it isn’t lightweight. With its unique reddish-brown colour, mahogany bathroom shelving can give your space a classic look. Nonetheless, the strength and stability are fantastic due to the natural resistance. Mahogany is considered an expensive wood type due to its high quality. Bathroom shelves made of mahogany offer a rich appearance that no other wood can match.

Most importantly, mahogany is highly resistant to water and extremely durable—making it one of the greatest woods for bathroom shelving. When choosing wood, this is a huge benefit. However, it’s worth understanding that its high water resistance is also one of the reasons behind its high price, as most wood may not compete.


Teak shares many of the same characteristics as mahogany. It's a golden-brown hardwood with a long lifespan. A teak shelf wood offers a pleasing appearance, exceptional strength, shock resistance, great degradation resistance, acid resistance and dimensional stability.

Teak wood is naturally resistant to insects, allowing it to last longer and require less maintenance. This shelving choice is as expensive as mahogany due to its superior physical characteristics. This type of wood is long-lasting and the shelving will hold heavier items,

In comparison to other woods, teak has high water resistance. It is resilient to warping, rot, deterioration and cracking.

Tiled family bathroom


There are many types of wood to choose from for your bathrooms and furniture. With this in mind, you should be able to make an excellent choice thanks to the options stated previously. Now, isn’t that a weight off your shoulders?

Author, Rebecca Doody

Posted by Rebecca Doody in DIY advice | 2 years ago

Originally from Somerset, Rebecca is our resident copywriter who takes care of all things product related. Rebecca loves the modern interior style with both neutral and bold influences to create a statement look.

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