Waterproof Laminate Flooring

As I watch TV these days, I continue to see commercials for a new type of flooring that is 100% waterproof. The advertisements claim that with this new technology homeowners don’t ever have to worry about water damage ruining their floors again.

Hallelujah! Those engineers have really outdone themselves this time, right!?

Well, not exactly. While these commercials aren’t lying, they’re not being completely truthful either. If you plan to invest in “waterproof flooring” in the future, there are a few things that you should know beforehand.


Basics of Waterproof Flooring

Certain areas of your home are more susceptible to water damage than others. Areas like kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms are vulnerable since water hook ups are present. To avoid future headaches certain types of flooring are better suited for these areas than others.

For example: Flooring like tile, linoleum and sheet vinyl are a great fit because they are water resistant. On the other hand, hardwood flooring and laminate are not because they do not react well to water damage. Even a small leak can ruin these types of flooring and lead to expensive repairs.

So what about this new flooring? Wouldn’t it be a no brainer to install in those areas over anything else?


What is Waterproof Vinyl Flooring?

The new “waterproof flooring” I keep referring to is known as vinyl plank flooring. It takes all the advantages of sheet vinyl, laminate and hardwood, and combines them in hybrid form.

  • The vinyl element of the floor allows it to be water and scratch resistant. (Notice I said resistant…)
  • The laminate, or floating element of it allows it to expand and contract throughout the seasons.
  • Lastly, the hardwood element gives it that visually pleasing look that homeowners crave.

You may be saying to yourself at this point, “Wow Brian, this stuff sounds pretty great, what’s the catch?”

To be fair to vinyl plank flooring, it is a great product in my opinion. The trouble arises when advertisers claim it, or any other type of flooring, is waterproof.

The hull of a boat is waterproof…

A pool liner is waterproof…

Flooring is not waterproof…


The Truth of Waterproof Vinyl Plank Flooring

While the individual planks may be waterproof, the building material around and underneath it is not. As a result, if significant water damage occurs, the flooring still has to be removed and replaced in order to dry materials like sill plates, drywall and subfloor.

This renders the fact that the flooring is “waterproof” essentially useless.


Basement Waterproof Flooring Example

We helped a customer with a flooded basement that had “waterproof laminate flooring” installed.  Initially the customer thought we wouldn’t have to remove the flooring because it was waterproof…

Unfortunately, we had to inform her, that although your floor is “waterproof”, the basement structure is not and the flooring would need to come up in order to dry her basement back to its original moisture content.

Now, we did consider removing the flooring carefully to possibly re-install it after the basement was dried, but when we attempted to unlace the pieces they began to tear the click clock system.  The flooring wasn’t meant to be taken apart and put back together.


Conclusion: Waterproof Laminate Flooring

The moral of the story is know what you are buying.

If you’ve done your research, then vinyl plank flooring is a great option for any home.

However, if you haven’t done your research beware. After significant water damage you may learn that your new flooring isn’t as “waterproof” as advertised.

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