Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
Renovations can create the bathroom that you have always dreamed of, but if your heart lies with the most modern of designs, is it possible to forgo the baseboards to keep the layout sleek?
You do not need baseboards in a bathroom if the finishing of the room is extremely well done. Baseboards are used to create a tight-fitting joint between the wall and the floor and are the best option, but if the room’s construction is nearly flawless, you can do without them.
For your average home renovation or construction job, having baseboards in the bathroom is the best way to ensure the room’s longevity. In the following article, we will explore why baseboards are important for your bathroom and in what situations you could potentially skip them.
What Do Baseboards Do?
Baseboards are a multi-functional finishing feature of your home. They fulfill the needs of many situations in your house, but especially in your moisture-filled bathroom. From defending against dents to preventing moisture seepage, let’s take a closure look at some of the baseboards’ functions.
Defend the Structure From Water Damage
Walls in your home are made of drywall. This is a structure made of plaster mixed with fibers that create a light but efficient wall piece. The mixture is, however, susceptible to damage from a lot of external influences, including water.
If water pools on the floor of your bathroom and then comes in contact with the drywall, it can extremely damage not only the visual finish of the wall but the structural integrity as well. Drywall can withstand small surface amounts of water but is not meant to uphold against extended exposure to moisture.
A baseboard serves as a guard for the drywall. It sits at the corner of the floor and the wall and provides a durable barrier against pooling moisture. Baseboards are also much easier and cheaper to replace than drywall, so even if the baseboards get damaged, you can refinish the buffer piece rather than repair the actual wall.
When drywall gets damaged, it’s not just the wet area that is compromised. The moisture quickly seeps further and can damage the wall for multiple feet upwards.
Conceal Uneven Walls
A wall should be built at a perfect 90-degree angle. However, mistakes do happen. Even if you think your walls are sitting at a flawless corner, they might be set at an obtuse or acute angle if you were to measure them.
Having a baseboard to buffer the edge between the floor and the wall will help to disguise the awkward angle that might occur between the two surfaces. A direct floor-to-wall connection with an inaccurate angle would be quite easy to spot, but the baseboard acts as a sort of margin line, an area that allows room for error.
Defend Your Walls From Dents and Stains
Baseboards act as a sort of bumper for your walls. They protect the drywall from the contact of vacuums, mops, dropped items, kicked toys, and floor-spilled stains. Repeated cleaning of your bathroom floors will likely see an accumulative knocking of the broom or vacuum against the walls.
Baseboards can protect your walls from these dents and the stains of any used cleaners or spilled products.
Defend the Construction of Your Home
By having a baseboard run along the edge of the floor and the wall, you’re providing a reliable finish to a potentially delicate area of your home. If the floor and the wall aren’t built at perfectly continuous 90º angles, then gaps will appear between the two surfaces.
A gap between your bathroom floor and wall creates a place for dirt and debris to hide out. Accumulation of these two things can create warping, discoloration, and other expensive damage to the room.
When you have a baseboard covering these same uneven cracks, the dirt and debris have nowhere to go, and you can easily sweep or vacuum up the stray dirt.
Compensate for the Flex of Hardwood
Hardwood floors are a timeless classic when it comes to designing your home. However, these naturalistic floors tend to flex and breathe, just like their living counterparts.
A hardwood floor can contract and expand, depending on the surroundings of the material. High heat and moisture content can cause the hardwood to swell, while cool, dry temperatures put the material on a constricting edge.
When hardwood floors swell and constrict, the edges of the floors move as well. If the floors of your bathroom fit seamlessly against the wall in the summer, they could shrink away from the corner in the winter.
A baseboard protects your finish from these ebbs and flows, ensuring a constant seal between the two surfaces, no matter the temperature.
Why Do You Need Baseboards in the Bathroom?
Baseboards are important in a bathroom in particular because of the moisture level of the room. As we’ve learned so far, the bathroom’s temperature, humidity, and climate can determine the materials’ condition. A bathroom will see a large amount of moisture in its lifetime so that baseboards can protect the walls from mold, mildew, and stains.
Do You Need to Caulk Baseboards in a Bathroom?
If you’re going to go through with baseboards in a bathroom, then caulking them is a necessary step. The caulking supplies an efficient layer of water-resistance and sealant around the edge of the room, giving the baseboards the best possible chance at protecting your walls from moisture damage.
Tip: Whereas baseboards protect drywall, caulking protects baseboards.
When Can You Skip Baseboards in the Bathroom?
If you don’t like the look of baseboards in the bathroom, then there are certain situations where you can skip them. While baseboards are typically recommended, if you want to avoid them you should create your bathroom walls and floor out of tile.
Tile floors and walls will need to be structured on a near-flawless 90º angle as well, but having the tile on both surfaces gives a little more leeway. The tile adds a few millimeters of buffer to either surface, enough that, when paired with a line of caulking, the corner receives all of the benefits above.
A thorough line of caulking where the wall meets the floor can do the following:
- Provide waterproofing for the room
- Protect internal structures from dirt and debris
- Allow for the flex of either feature
- Preserve the integrity of the tiles
- Create a uniform transition from floor to wall
If you are tiling the walls and the floor of your bathroom, you can potentially get away without a baseboard. But even those who full-tile washrooms opt for baseboards. They simply choose ones that match their decor.
For most tiles, especially those used widely on flooring, you can find matching baseboards that will fit seamlessly with your tiles. These baseboards fit perfectly with your design scheme, creating a flawless transition from floor to wall while also offering the protection of a traditional baseboard.
If you think that you don’t need a baseboard in your bathroom, consider the following:
- Do you have a completely tiled bathroom?
- Are your walls and floors at flawless right angles?
- Can you afford to refinish your bathroom constantly?
- Do you know how to touch up drywall yourself?
- Do baseboards truly affect your home negatively?
Answering no to two or more of the above questions should give you a good idea of skipping baseboards – most bathrooms benefit significantly from them, and unless you have a specific reason you don’t like them, they are worth the price.
- Remodelista: What You Need to Know About Baseboards: Remodeling 101
- Wikipedia: Drywall
- Stainmaster: Floor Trim 101: The Types of Finishing Touches For Your Floor
- Wikipedia: Margin (typography)
- Wikipedia: Hardwood
- How Stuff Works: What is the difference between a hardwood and a softwood?
- Science Direct: Caulking – an overview
Share this Post