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In a post-and-beam house (built from Douglas Fir), I will have a bathtub right next to a couple of the posts.

Should I be worried about the effect of water on the longevity of the wood?

The other posts in the house are bare (unfinished). Is it necessary to put a protective finish on these wet-area posts?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

I think you should seal the wood for two main reasons:

  1. the posts are in a bathroom, where they'll be subject to high humidity (possibly condensation) and temperature changes. That's a recipe for warping and splitting in any wood. Even with the thick posts used in a post-and-beam house, you'll still see some ill effects eventually.
  2. Doug fir is rot-resistant, but not rot-proof. If you do get condensation in that bathroom, you'll shorten the life of those beams if you don't protect them.

A third (cosmetic) reason is that untreated wood is going to lose color over time, becoming gray. I would recommend you think about treating all the exposed posts and beams, not just in that bathroom.

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+1...and in a bathroom, exposure to soap splashes can cause staining. – SqlACID Oct 26 '10 at 0:30

you didn't mention if the posts were unfinished, stained, urethaned, or painted. The finish on the posts will make a huge difference in a moist or wet environment. need more info to help you with a good recommendation. However, without question, a bead of silicone at the base is gonna be a good idea. either use a paintable silicone or color match the silicone.

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I have updated the the question. – Jay Bazuzi Oct 24 '10 at 14:57

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