Laminate was promoted in the 1970’s as the next big thing in flooring. Affordable, durable, and easy to clean, laminate floors seem too good to be true – and they are. It simply cannot survive under humidity at all.
But technology has developed rapidly in the last 50 years, and it is now possible to get waterproof laminate floors.
If you are interested in laminate but are worried about humidity, this is the floor you’ve been waiting for.
Read on as we discuss what differentiates waterproof laminate flooring from traditional laminate flooring or laminate flooring that has been waterproofed.
The Usual Laminate
You’ve heard all about hardwood hardwood floors and engineered, but what’s the deal with legal laminates?
Laminate floors are traditionally made of a mixed layer of wood that blends in with the mold layer and a plastic wear layer over it for protection and durability.
The result is something that’s very affordable, relatively durable to scratches and scuffs, and easy to clean.
But the floors are also very vulnerable to water damage.
Waterproofing Water Resistant Laminate
Many laminate flooring brands say they are waterproof. That’s great if you live in a typical household that drops a glass of juice a lot.
What many of these brands don’t tell you is that if you leave water or liquid on the floor for even a few minutes, your laminate will do some time bending while you’re left to figure out how to fix your new fun-home-esque floor.
When water gets between the laminate, the glossy top will not be caught. The reason why your floors will start to bubble like a casserole is because the core of the fiberboard will crumble when exposed to any liquid.
That’s definitely a big disadvantage, which is why many people deviate from using laminates in water-prone areas like kitchens, bathrooms, basements and laundry rooms.
But wait: If you’re a big fan of laminates and have been waiting to use them in every nook and cranny of your home, there’s still hope for you.
How To Waterproof Laminate Water Resistant
One option for making laminate a future feature of your kitchen is to talk to a professional about how to make your laminate waterproof. Since problems with lamination occur when water passes through the cracks, this solution usually involves putty between each plank.
If it sounds like a tedious and time-consuming process, it’s because it’s a tedious and time-consuming process. The company thought there had to be a better way to waterproof laminate… and now there is.
People wanted waterproof laminates, so flooring companies shipped them.
The new lines are designed to be watertight from “top to bottom”, meaning the top plastic wear layer is designed to prevent water from seeping into the more water-sensitive wood layers beneath. This is in contrast to vinyl flooring, which is designed to withstand water from the bottom up, preventing moisture from the sublayers affecting the floor placed on it.
This means waterproof laminate is great for kitchens, where spills may come from above, but not very well suited for basements, where moisture is likely to come from below. Although much can be achieved by installing a good moisture-resistant sublayer.
The resulting flooring still doesn’t come close to tile or vinyl in terms of waterproofing, but it is a significant improvement over what was previously available in laminate.
While some waterproof laminate lines can be purchased for $ 2.00 per square foot, expect these to be more “waterproof” than waterproof. For serious moisture protection, expect to pay between $ 3.00- $ 4.00 per square foot.
Waterproof Laminate Brand
- Audacity By Armstong
- Tarkett AquaFlor
There are a variety of brands that specialize in making flooring look wood without the hassle that comes with treating traditional wood, vinyl, or laminate.
AquaGuard truly sets the standard when it comes to waterproof laminates. It comes with a 15 year commercial / residential warranty and promises not to stain or bend even if liquid remains on the surface for up to 30 hours.
You can wet mop or steam this laminate mop without voiding your warranty. There are over 100 different style options available.
Laminate floors are also waterproof from below, thanks to a durable melamine balance back layer that sits beneath the wood-based fiber core, which has also been sealed for added water resistance. The top wear layer is made of AC-5 protective aluminum, which is very durable and waterproof.
AquaGuard is only available online via the Flooring and Decoration website
2. Audacity By Armstrong
While this line markets itself as waterproof rather than waterproof, it does a very good job. It also promises not to be damaged by normal spills and moisture from above, even if left in place for up to 72 hours (although, of course, they don’t recommend leaving any liquids that long).
You can mop the floor wet, but avoid steam cleaning as this will void the warranty. The floor is also not closed in case of major flooding, such as broken pipes or continuous leaks.
Audacity uses a rigid, non-absorbent core covered by a multilayer sealer applied to the edges to prevent water from seeping in. Therefore, they can offer a lifetime housing guarantee and a 15 year commercial warranty.
There are five collections to choose from, each with different styles and colors on offer. It is available from most floor retailers or online direct from the manufacturer.
3. Tarkett AquaFlor
If you’re looking to spend a little money, Tarkett AquaFlor is a good choice. It is slightly cheaper than its competitors and can be purchased for $ 2.00 and $ 2.50 per square foot.
It offers similar protection against spills from above, promising not to be damaged, even if residual water is left idle for up to 24 hours. It achieves this with a corner-drop locking system that connects the boards tightly enough that moisture can’t enter.
Cleaning with a slightly damp cloth is allowed, but wet mopping and steam cleaning are discouraged, although it is not explicitly stated that this will void the warranty. This product comes with a 10-year commercial warranty and a lifetime domestic warranty.
AquarFlor is only available from Menards. With this affordable range, you make a sacrifice on choice, as style and color options are relatively few. But it’s a great option if you can find something that works for you.
Are Waterproof Laminates Good?
Although, as a general rule of thumb, laminate flooring is not waterproof and should not be used anywhere that is likely to be exposed to moisture, there are several lines of waterproof laminate flooring available.
Expect to pay a little more for these lines, between $ 3.00- $ 4.00 per square foot. These floors range from watertight to watertight, with some claiming to be 100 percent waterproof. This top edge line offers good protection against water from above, such as spills. It is less resistant to moisture from below, as in the case of basements.
Are Waterproof Laminate Floors Really Waterproof?
Laminate floors that claim to be watertight are watertight from above but not from below.
This is because a waterproof protective layer has been added to the top of the planks and joints, to prevent water from above seeping into the subsoil of the floor. But the bottom layer is not waterproof and therefore still sensitive to water coming from below.
For this reason, do not install waterproof laminate floors in areas that can be exposed to moisture from below, such as basements, unless proper waterproof coating has been installed.
Which Laminate Floor Brand Is Best?
If you’re looking for waterproof laminate flooring, we recommend the AquaGuard, which is nearly 100 percent water-resistant as you can get with laminate floors. It combines premium synthetic resin with a honeycomb structure to create something that is not only waterproof, but also wear and scratch resistant.
Can You Mop Laminate Floors?
While you can’t use steam cleaners or wet mops with traditional laminate floors, they can be used with waterproof laminate floors. However, you should check the details of your warranty, as cleaning this way can still void the warranty.
How Do You Protect Laminate From Water?
The main problem in terms of humidity and laminate floors is water seeping into the cracks between the floors and all the way down to the underlay, where it can cause a lot of damage. The best way to prevent this is with a silicone caulking gun, which can be used to fill in any gaps. This shouldn’t be necessary with waterproof laminate floors, but may still be needed for extra protection and peace of mind.
How Long Do Waterproof Laminate Floors Last?
When properly installed and maintained, you can expect a waterproof laminate floor to have a lifespan of 15 to 25 years.
Do Laminate Floors Add Value To Your Home?
Even if you buy quality waterproof laminate flooring, don’t expect it to add value to your home. It has a relatively short lifespan and cannot be refreshed or reappeared. It also lacks “prestige” as far as flooring goes, and doesn’t have the same desire of solid wood or tiled floors.
For anyone looking for the affordability and convenience of laminates but was reluctant at first due to lack of water resistance, there is finally a product available on the market.
Shop around for a viable option, and see how waterproof your choice is. Just because it says waterproof in a major advertisement doesn’t mean it’s completely waterproof in fine print. Make sure you don’t install or clean in a way that void your warranty.