12 Best Wood for Bathroom Shelves (Ultimate Guide!)

Ever wondered which wood reigns supreme for bathroom shelves? Dive in, and let’s uncover the top contenders together!

Best wood for bathroom shelves

The bathroom shelf is a key decorative storage space used for hand towels, toilet paper, and hanging items.

After a woodworking project on making bookshelves, I wondered which wood I should use to make bathroom shelves.

So, I did some research, and here’s what I found.

Let’s find out the best wood to use for bathroom shelves,

Pine, Plywood, Koa, Cherry, Red oak, Padauk, Mahogany, Teak, Birch, Cedar, Cypress, and Maple are the best wood to use for bathroom shelves. Most wood will be perfect in the bathroom as long as it is constructed and finished properly.

But there are some important things you need to know before you can select the right type of wood to use.

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    The type of wood that you are going to use for bathroom shelves depends on your purpose.

    If you wish to display ornaments, you can focus on the color and the design of the wood or if you wish to store heavy things, such as baskets, plants, and lots of bottles, you need to more focus on the strength.

    However, there could be a few burning questions on your mind, like

    • What is the best wood for me according to my purpose?
    • Does it have waterproofing ability?
    • What are the pros and cons I get by using that?

    No worries! I get you covered, Just keep reading!

    Wood bathroom shelves
    Wood bathroom shelves

    First, talk and understand the waterproofing ability of wood by generally considering all types of wood.

    Waterproofing Ability Of Woods

    The bathroom is mostly getting wet, flooded, and foggy. So, it is important to consider how the effects of water react on wooden bathroom shelves.

    But as a woodworker, I have learned that no wood has 100% waterproof, because they are porous and can absorb water.

    Just some are better water resistant than others. But by applying a proper waterproofing finisher or sealer, you can make them waterproof.

    Having worked as a woodworker for more than 10 years, Below I have discussed in-depth the 12 best wood to use for bathroom shelves.

    Did you know fact about bathroom shelves
    Did you know fact about bathroom shelves

    So, let’s head into the main topic of the best wood for bathroom shelves.

    Best Wood For Bathroom Shelves

    So, let’s discuss the best wood for bathroom shelves with their waterproofing abilities with pros and cons.

    This will help you to decide which wood suits your bathroom the most.

    1. Pine

    Pine is the most famous and affordable softwood in the market. Pine is easy to paint, and stain, and mostly use to do things as easily as possible.

    Pine is an ideal choice for bathroom shelves only if you wish to display small non-heavy objects, such as ornaments and other decorative items.

    If you more focus on the price, design, and color of the shelf, you can probably go for pine without thinking twice.

    pine wood bathroom shelf
    Pinewood bathroom shelf

    Waterproofing Ability of Pine To Use For Bathroom Shelves

    The waterproofing ability of pine itself is not good enough since it is a softwood with less density and hardness.

    Water will easily penetrate through the wood pores of pinewood.

    But as a plus point, pinewood is easy to finish.

    By applying a stain or oil-based primer and water sealant you can make waterproof bathroom shelves using pine wood.

    2. Plywood

    Plywood is also an affordable softwood and if you’re more focused on the design and the color rather than its strength plywood is a good option.

    Like pine wood, never keep heavy items on top of your plywood bathroom shelf. 3/4″ thickness plywood ideal for bathroom shelf surface

    Most importantly, there are different grades of plywood in the market and the smoothness and the appearance of knots are varying according to their grades.

    So, you cannot settle after choosing plywood for a bathroom shelf unless selecting what grade is perfect for you.

    Because there are significant differences between each grade and furniture grade plywood is good for bathroom shelves.

    The strength of plywood is also relatively higher than Pine. Veneered plywood is a good option for dark wood color

    Never wish to keep heavy items on the plywood bathroom shelves, because they will easily bend or dent.

    You can use a plywood shelf up to 9” wide is perfect if you cut it to width.

    plywood bathroom shelf
    Plywood bathroom shelf

    Waterproofing Ability of Plywood To Use For Bathroom Shelves

    Plywood can be exposed to moisture and rot and decay pretty quickly under a high moisture environment.

    Better to apply waterproof glue because it won’t fail under high humidity, moisture, or boiling temperatures.

    It will prevent the delamination of plywood.

    3. Koa

    Koa wood is one of the highest durable and hardest wood. Bathroom shelves that is made out of koa wood lasts long for a long period.

    It is popular because of its awesome shellac properties and lightweight.

    Koa wood has great qualities that can directly transfer to the bathroom shelves.

    Such as odorless, easy to handle, wear-resistant, pressure-resistant, can withstand damage, and resistant to degradation.

    They won’t bend, dent, or crack easily. Its beautiful medium gold or reddish color gives a unique look to your bathroom.

    koa wood bathroom shelf
    Koa wood bathroom shelf

    Waterproofing Ability of Koa wood To Use For Bathroom Shelves

    Unfortunately, Koa wood is not water-resistant. This is the only downside I saw after working with koa wood for a long time.

    But that highlights when we are making bathroom furniture with koa wood.

    Koa can be exposed to moisture. Therefore, better to apply the right waterproofing stain or sealant over Koa before use.

    4. Cherry

    Cherry has become so popular in modern bathroom shelves. Cherry is also lightweight and easy to handle like koa wood.

    It is a hardwood that gives a great amount of strength to your shelves.

    If you more focus on strength like keeping heavy materials on the bathroom shelves, cherry is a great option you can go with.

    It has a beautiful warm, rich, reddish color that gets darker over time.

    By using Cheery for bathroom shelves, you can get a high amount of strength and a great look at the same time.

    This is the reason why it has become more popular.

    cherry wood bathroom shelf
    Cherry wood bathroom shelf

    The waterproofing ability of Cherry To Use For Bathroom Shelves

    Even though Cherry wood is not completely waterproof, it has relatively some amount of water resistivity than other wood types because of its high durability, high density and hardness.

    But I recommend you to use a waterproofing sealer coat for better protection.

    It can resist shrinking and warping very well.

    5. Red Oak

    Red oak is hardwood with good durability and Oak is easy to stain. Wood is inexpensive and easy to handle.

    In bathroom shelves, the use of red oak help to improve your working efficiency with easy handling, cutting, and finishing abilities.

    Very user-friendly wood type of shelves but with poor weather resistivity.

    I highly recommend it.

    Red Oak is undoubtedly one of the best top-class wood for sheles. The following image shows Red Oak bathroom shelves.

    red oak bathroom shelf
    Red Oak bathroom shelf

    The waterproofing ability of Red Oak To Use For Bathroom Shelves

    The waterproofing/ water-resisting abilities of red oak are so poor.

    Completely opposite to white oak which has great water resistivity.

    Applying a waterproofing Topcoat is highly recommended before using for bathroom shelves.

    6. Padauk

    Padauk is a hardwood with a reddish-orange hue that can add a unique look to your bathroom shelf.

    It has good strength and high abrasion resistance and doesn’t degrade easily.

    Perfect for bathroom shelves to keep them for a long period with a heavy load. Costs the same as black walnut wood.

    padauk bathroom shelf
    Padauk bathroom shelves

    The waterproofing ability of Padauk To Use For Bathroom Shelves

    The water resistivity of Padauk is poor.

    Highly recommend sanding and applying a waterproofing top coat with sealer before production.

    7. Mahogany

    Mahogany is an attractive durable hardwood but difficult to handle. Not light in weight.

    Mahogany bathroom shelves adds a classical look to space with its unique reddish-brown color.

    Strength and stability are so good. Because of its high-level properties and beauty mahogany is known as an expensive wood type.

    The bathroom shelves which is made out of mahogany has a rich look than no other wood can replace.

    mahogany bathroom shelf
    Mahogany bathroom shelf

    The waterproofing ability of Mahogany To Use For Bathroom Shelves

    Mahogany has a great water-resistant ability over other woods.

    It stands extremely well against water, which directly affects durability. Mahogany is one of the best and strong woods for bathroom shelves.

    I can highly recommend mahogany for bathroom shelves any day. Its great water resistance is also one reason to become relatively expensive.

    Applying a waterproofing sealer over Mahogany makes it suitable to use even for extreme weather and moisture conditions.

    8. Teak

    Teak is also having the same several properties as mahogany. It is a golden-brown hardwood with great durability. 

    Teak wood has beautiful Aesthetic appeal, high bending strength, shock resistance, excellent degradation resistance, acid resistance, and also good dimensional stability.

    Because of these top-class physical properties teak wood also as expensive as mahogany.

    When making bathroom shelf using teak wood, you have to be careful about its dust when sanding, which can be irritant.

    Teak wood has a natural resistance to termites and insects that help bathroom shelf to live long and for less maintenance.

    teak bathroom shelf
    Teak wood bathroom shelf

    The waterproofing ability of Teak To Use For Bathroom Shelves

    Teak has very good water resistance compared to other woods.

    It resists warping, decay, cracking, and rot. Perfect choice if you have enough budget to spend.

    Apply waterproofing sealer over the Teak to make it more waterproof than many other kinds of wood.

    9. Birch

    Birchwood, often revered for its beautiful grain pattern and light hues, stands as one of the top choices when considering materials for bathroom shelves.

    Its versatility, unique aesthetic appeal, and ease of workability make it a favorite among homeowners and woodworkers alike.

    Using Birch for Bathroom Shelves

    Imagine stepping into a bathroom and being greeted by the gentle, intricate patterns of birch wood shelves, delicately holding your toiletries and bathroom essentials.

    The unique grain of birch, combined with its ability to fit seamlessly into both modern and traditional interior designs, makes it a go-to for those looking to enhance the ambiance of their bathroom space.

    For example, a friend of mine recently renovated her bathroom. She wanted a touch of elegance without being too ostentatious.

    After some research and visits to local wood suppliers, she settled on birch wood.

    Once installed, the birch shelves beautifully contrasted with her darker tiles, giving the space an elevated look.

    She loved the result so much that she decided to incorporate birch accents in other parts of her home.

    Moreover, birch wood is also incredibly user-friendly.

    Whether you’re an experienced woodworker or someone just dabbling in DIY projects, birch’s cooperative nature allows for easy cutting, staining, and finishing.

    This ease of use combined with its affordability, especially when compared to other premium hardwoods, makes it a top contender for bathroom shelves solutions.

    birch bathroom shelf
    birch bathroom shelf

    Waterproofing Ability of Birch

    However, as enchanting as birch wood is, its natural qualities do present a challenge.

    Birch, like many kinds of wood, isn’t inherently resistant to water and moisture.

    But don’t let this deter you; there are solutions.

    Sealing Birch for Bathroom Use

    To maximize the lifespan of birch shelves in a bathroom setting, it’s imperative to seal the wood.

    Applying a waterproof finish or sealant not only shields the wood from potential water damage but also accentuates its natural beauty.

    I recall when I first used birch in a bathroom project.

    I was initially hesitant because of the wood’s vulnerability to moisture.

    But after consulting with a local woodworking expert, I learned about various sealants that could effectively waterproof birch.

    I settled on a clear polyurethane sealant.

    Once applied, it rendered the birch wood shelves resistant to the high humidity of the bathroom, and to my delight, the sealant even enhanced the wood’s natural grain pattern.

    Periodic Maintenance for Durability

    It’s also worth noting that, like any other bathroom fixture, birch shelves will require periodic maintenance.

    Reapplying the sealant or finish every couple of years will ensure the wood remains protected from moisture, ensuring your bathroom’s birch accents remain as dazzling as the day they were installed.

    10. Cedar

    Let’s set the scene. It’s a cold morning, and you’re stepping into a bathroom, infused with the gentle, calming scent of cedar.

    Doesn’t that sound like a spa-like experience? That’s the magic cedar brings.

    I remember a time when a colleague decided to spruce up his bathroom, wanting to give it a more “nature-inspired” look.

    Cedar was his wood of choice, and the result? Spectacular.

    His bathroom shelves, made of richly textured cedar, not only offered ample storage but also transformed the entire space into a rustic sanctuary.

    The transformation was so profound that it became a conversation starter for almost every guest.

    Besides its aromatic appeal, cedar also boasts a fantastic grain pattern. The reddish hues mixed with pale tones create a dynamic visual treat.

    Its natural charm blends seamlessly into a variety of decors, from rustic to contemporary, making it a versatile option.

    cedar bathroom shelf
    cedar bathroom shelf

    Waterproofing Ability of Cedar

    Cedar’s claim to fame doesn’t just stop at its aesthetic appeal. What sets it apart from many other woods is its inherent resistance to moisture.

    Cedar’s Natural Resistance

    Unlike many of its counterparts, cedar possesses an innate ability to repel water.

    This is largely due to the natural oils present within the wood.

    These oils act as barriers, making cedar resistant to rot and decay caused by moisture.

    A few years back, when I was exploring wood options for a poolside deck, cedar was the most recommended.

    The wood’s ability to withstand damp conditions without warping or developing mold was a significant selling point.

    Now, imagine bringing that resilience into your bathroom!

    Enhancing Cedar’s Waterproof Properties

    While cedar naturally resists moisture, giving it a little extra protection never hurts.

    A light application of sealant can further amplify its water-repelling properties, ensuring even greater longevity.

    However, when choosing a sealant, opt for something transparent to preserve cedar’s beautiful, natural look.

    It’s worth noting that, over time, cedar’s rich color may fade slightly, especially if it’s exposed to direct sunlight.

    If you’ve placed your bathroom shelves near a window, occasionally re-staining the cedar can restore its original beauty.

    11. Cypress

    Cypress has always been like that intriguing character in a story; resilient, evergreen, and with an undeniable charm.

    But beyond its alluring presence in swamps and gardens, this wood has been a choice pick for many interior design projects.

    Dive in with me, and let’s explore the beauty and strength of cypress.

    Using Cypress for Bathroom Shelves

    Last summer, I visited my cousin Jane’s beach house.

    As I walked into her newly renovated bathroom, the first thing that caught my eye was a stunning set of shelves.

    They were elegant, with a unique grain pattern that danced in the light. “That’s cypress,” she beamed, sensing my admiration.

    Cypress is indeed an excellent choice for bathroom shelves.

    Its naturally light, creamy color interspersed with occasional darker streaks offers an aesthetic that’s both rustic and refined.

    Its smooth surface means your bathroom essentials glide effortlessly without snagging or scratching.

    Imagine your bathroom space adorned with cypress shelves, creating a spa-like atmosphere.

    The wood’s inherent qualities complement varied design themes, whether you’re aiming for a coastal vibe or a more contemporary setting.

    It’s no wonder homeowners are increasingly opting for cypress to bring in warmth and character.

    cypress bathroom shelf
    cypress bathroom shelf

    Waterproofing Ability of Cypress

    Now, let’s delve deeper and unearth the secret behind cypress’s popularity for wet spaces.

    Cypress’s Natural Defense

    Cypress trees have always been associated with water, growing comfortably in swampy, southern terrains.

    It’s this very environment that has equipped cypress wood with natural water-resistant properties. I remember a local artisan once sharing, “In a place where water’s everywhere, cypress learned to defend itself.”

    Enhancing Cypress’s Water Resistance

    While cypress inherently offers decent water resistance, it’s always a good idea to give it a protective boost, especially when placed in a bathroom setting.

    On a woodworking forum I frequent, a member named Lucas shared his cypress bathroom vanity project.

    While the wood performed admirably, he decided to coat it with a water-based polyurethane.

    This not only amplified its resistance to moisture but also gave it a delightful sheen.

    If you’re considering using cypress in your bathroom, it’s worth investing in a good sealant to ensure longevity.

    12. Maple

    When one hears the term “Maple,” what often comes to mind?

    For some, it might be the sweet syrup drizzled on pancakes, but for many, it’s the robust and versatile wood that has been a staple in furniture making for centuries.

    Maple, with its unassuming grain and durability, has been an unsung hero in wood crafting, and today, we dive deep into its wonders.

    Using Maple for Bathroom Shelves

    Picture this: a bright, airy bathroom bathed in natural light, with sleek shelves showcasing minimalistic design.

    If you’re a fan of modern aesthetics with a hint of classic, then maple bathroom shelves might just be your pick.

    My friend Sarah, an avid DIY enthusiast, once shared a story about her weekend project.

    She was looking to give her bathroom a makeover and opted for maple wood for her shelves.

    The outcome was nothing short of magical. The fine, subtle grain of the maple complemented the room’s ambiance, providing a sleek yet warm backdrop for her assortment of toiletries and décor items.

    She would often joke, “I might’ve overdone it with the décor, but the maple shelves could handle it all!”

    Maple’s light color can bring a fresh, clean look to bathrooms.

    Its understated elegance gives designers and homeowners the freedom to experiment with various styles, whether they’re going for a modern, rustic, or even eclectic vibe.

    maple bathroom shelf
    maple bathroom shelf

    Waterproofing Ability of Maple

    Now, while maple shines with its aesthetic versatility, how does it fare when it comes to moisture resistance?

    Maple’s Innate Durability

    At its core, maple is a hardwood, known for its strength and durability. While not as naturally resistant to moisture as cedar, maple holds its own quite well in humid environments. I recall a carpenter once telling me about the longevity of maple furniture. He said, “Maple might not boast about its resistance, but give it the right care, and it’ll stand tall and proud for years, even in damp spaces.”

    Protecting Maple from Moisture

    To get the best out of maple in moisture-prone areas like bathrooms, a bit of preparation goes a long way.

    Applying a good-quality waterproof sealant can significantly enhance maple’s resistance to water, preventing it from warping or rotting.

    A colleague once shared an anecdote about his vintage maple cabinet. Located close to his bathroom’s shower area, he noticed slight signs of wear over the years.

    Instead of replacing the piece, he decided to give it a protective coating.

    Not only did the sealant shield the wood from further moisture damage, but it also rejuvenated the cabinet’s appearance.

    When using sealants, it’s essential to choose one that complements maple’s natural hue, allowing the wood’s subtle grain to shine through.

    That’s it folks! Hope you learned all about the best woods for bathroom shelves with their pros and cons.

    How do I waterproof my bathroom wood?

    You can waterproof bathroom wood by applying a waterproofing sealer like polyurethane, varnish, linseed oil, and lacquer over the wood.

    those waterproofing sealers and finishes cover up and seal the wood pores and block moisture and water particles from going inside the wood.

    Applying a waterproofing sealer makes the wood 100% waterproof. But you should maintain the wood well by reapplying the sealer at least once per two years.

    Waterproofing sealers prevents the wood from rotting, warping, and decaying.

    Also read, TOP 6 Wood Choices for Elegant Vanity Tops!

    Let’s answer some frequently asked questions as well.

    Why is waterproofing wood essential for bathroom shelves?

    Waterproofing ensures that your bathroom shelves retain their strength and aesthetic appeal, minimizing the risk of warping, swelling, or decaying due to moisture exposure.

    Is wood OK in the bathroom? 

    Absolutely fine. If you love to feel natural aesthetic appeal with classical unique look wood is the best choice for a bathroom.

    What is the best wood for floating shelves?

    The wood types that we discussed above Pine, Plywood, Koa, Cherry, Red oak, Padauk, Mahogany, and Teak are perfect for floating shelves as well.

    What is the best paint to use on wood shelves in a bathroom?

    Semi-gloss or High gloss, because gloss repels moisture well.

    What kind of wood can you put on bathroom walls?

    Cedar, Teak, Mahogany, and Red Oak are the best woods to put on bathroom walls.
    Make sure to apply a waterproofing sealer before using them since no wood has a natural waterproofing ability.

    How often should I reseal my wooden bathroom shelves?

    Depending on usage and humidity levels, it’s advisable to inspect and potentially reseal wooden bathroom shelves every 1-2 years to maintain their durability and appearance.

    What kind of sealant is best for bathroom wood shelves?

    A water-based polyurethane sealant is recommended for bathroom wood shelves, offering a clear finish that protects against moisture while highlighting the wood’s natural beauty.

    Did I cover everything you wanted to know about – The best wood to use for bathroom shelves?

    In this article, I’ve deeply discussed the best 12 types of the best wood to use for bathroom shelves with the waterproofing abilities of each wood in detail.

    The best wood to use for bathroom shelves is Pine, Plywood, Koa, Cherry, Red oak, Padauk, Mahogany, and Teak. Apply waterproofing sealer before making bathroom shelves for high durability.

    Apart from those types, white oak, and walnut is also good for bathroom shelves after applying a suitable topcoat.

    Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions as well.

    Hope you’ve learned all you wanted to know about the best wood for bathroom shelves.

    Now, select the one that suits you the most and give it a try to make a DIY bathroom shelf.

    Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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