Laminate is one of the most popular flooring options for many homeowners mainly because it is more affordable than hardwood flooring.
Laminate mimics the look of hardwood flooring which is why most people prefer this option when doing renovations or when they are to make a decision on kitchen flooring or the bathroom one.
However, laminate flooring has its problems including the fact that it is susceptible to water damage and you have to take extra care not to let spills sit for long. This issue is slowly going away though since waterproof laminate has already hit the markets making it even more irresistible to homeowners.
Today, you can install laminate flooring in almost every area of the house from bathroom, kitchen, laundry rooms to basements without constantly worrying about water damage.
What Is Waterproof Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring has always been in existent since the 70s and is a great alternative to hardwood flooring. Its popularity grew even more as manufacturers embarked on creating laminate versions that were as close to hardwood as possible and could easily be passed for real hardwood.
Today it is still the go-to wood flooring alternative because it is affordable, but its inability to withstand water has always held people back until now.
The waterproof features are proving to be a real game-changer. Unlike the traditional laminate that is known for absorbing water and finally swelling forcing you to replace the entire floor, waterproof laminate features an improved core layer that can withstand water without getting damaged.
Benefits of Waterproof Laminate Flooring
If you have always wanted to install hardwood flooring but can’t get past the price, laminate flooring would do.
While nothing beats the feel and look of hardwood flooring, it is not always within the budget of most homeowners and as such, many of them have to settle for alternatives like laminate just like when you would choose a Pergo flooring.
Hardwood flooring, while it looks good, requires a lot of maintenance and is susceptible to water damage. Waterproof laminate, however, has been designed in such a way that it can withstand moisture and spills in high humid areas like kitchens, bathrooms as well as laundry rooms.
Here are a few benefits of this flooring that you should be aware of to make an informed decision:
Unlike hardwood flooring, you don’t have to break the bank to have new flooring. Waterproof version of laminate is within most budgets and the fact that it mimics the look of hardwood flooring is a plus.
It is not only affordable to buy but to install as well. While hardwood flooring requires you to hire a professional to install, if you have the DIY experience, you can easily install laminate flooring in your home.
Since waterproof laminate is designed to be durable and withstand water, it is way more scratch and stain resistant than hardwood flooring. This is particularly good news if you want to install it in areas that are subjected to high moisture and if you happen to have kids or pets.
Looks Like Hardwood
One of the main reasons why laminate is a popular flooring option is that it has the look and feel of hardwood without having to spend a fortune.
In the past, laminate was not ideal for use in high moisture areas, but today we have waterproof option that can be installed in such areas and will still give you the look and feel of real hardwood without all the maintenance of hardwood.
Easy to Maintain
Compared to hardwood flooring, waterproof laminate is very easy to maintain. Wood generally requires polishing and refinishing every few years and not to mention that it’s easily scratched and can be damaged by water if left to sit for too long.
With waterproof flooring, you never have to worry about maintenance as the floor is scratched resistant and is not damaged by water.
A quick sweep with a broom or weekly vacuuming will keep your floor looking clean and new every day just as when you want to remove all the stains from your carpets before vacuuming.
Pros and Cons of Waterproof Laminate Flooring
Just like with any other waterproof NuCore floor options, waterproof laminate has its advantages and disadvantages that you should be aware of before you make a purchase.
Handles Moisture Better Than Traditional Laminate
Laminate has always been a hardwood flooring alternative for those who are on a budget.
Despite this, however, traditional laminate has always had one major drawback which is that it is susceptible to water damage and spills have to be wiped immediately when the occur.
Waterproof laminate, however, just as the name suggests, handles spills and moisture way better and can be installed in areas like bathroom, kitchen and laundry room without worrying about your floor getting damaged due to all that moisture.
Realist Stone and Wood Look
Waterproof laminate has been improved from the traditional laminate and the surface is designed in such a way that it can mimic the hardwood floor more realistically and has the feel of embossed wood or stone tiles.
Easy to Install
Unlike hardwood flooring that requires you to hire a professional to install, laminate planks are easy to cut making installation easy. If you are looking for a DIY project, then this can be it since the flooring is designed to be installed as a floating floor which means that it doesn’t require to be secured to the ground.
Easy to Clean and Maintain
As mentioned earlier, it takes a lot to maintain hardwood flooring like polishing and refinishing. Waterproof laminate requires very little maintenance.
Compared to vinyl, waterproof laminate has a strong layer that protects the floor from scratches, wear as well as staining.
Waterproof laminate is an affordable alternative to hardwood flooring. It is also cheaper to maintain than wood.
While this flooring ranks higher than traditional laminate, it still has its disadvantages.
Not as Water Resistant as Waterproof Vinyl
While laminate flooring, in general, has come a long way in terms of its water-resistant capabilities, it still can’t compare to waterproof vinyl. In such a case, it still can be damaged by standing water.
Unlike vinyl flooring, laminate’s water resistance tends to work from top to bottom unlike vinyl’s that works from bottom to up. This means that if your subfloor has moisture issues, you will still be required to use a vapor barrier.
Not Recommended for Basements and Bathrooms
While waterproof laminate can withstand spills, bathrooms and basements or any other area that is prone to standing water will damage your floor. In such a case, you will want to install a more water-resistant floor like vinyl.
You can, however, still install laminate flooring in these areas but ensure that you have an underlayment and vapor barrier and use the glue-down installation method rather than the floating one and ensure that you clean messes as soon as they occur.
Bad Sound Absorption
A slight mistake in the installation of laminate flooring and you will have a hollow empty sound for the rest of your life every time someone walks on the floor.
To avoid this, you can hire a professional to do the installation or add an underlayment.
Waterproof Laminate Flooring Construction
Waterproof laminate is designed with multiple layers that make it ideal for installation in high moisture areas.
This is the top layer and it is the one that protects the floor from scratching, wear and staining and it provides a realistic hardwood look and feel. If you have small kids and pets, this layer ensures that no marks are left on the floor and it also prevents water from seeping through and damaging the floor in the process.
This layer comes below the wear layer and it is what holds the pattern or the print of the floor. This layer gives your floor the beautiful stone or hardwood look such that people can’t tell the difference.
The core layer comes below the image layer and it is what gives the floor stability as well as durability. This layer is made of compressed high-density fiberboard and gives the floor its water-resistant and waterproof qualities.
Fiberboards usually have resins that make the floor less susceptible to swelling after being exposed to water.
The backing layer is meant to provide stability to the floor and helps prevent water from seeping from underneath.
Brands of Waterproof Laminate
For a long time, one of the drawbacks of traditional laminate was its inability to withstand water which is why laminate manufacturers went a step further and started producing waterproof version.
There are several brands that are available in the market today that still retain the hardwood flooring look without forcing you to break the bank.
If you’re looking for a floor that is 100% waterproof and recyclable, stain and UV rays resistant, then look no further than the Parcolys brand.
The brand comes with a 20-year warranty for residential applications and is very easy to clean requiring just water and soap. The manufacturing company is based in Belgium and is one of the biggest producers of residential and commercial waterproof laminate across Europe.
The only downside with this brand is the fact that the company is based in Europe. If you happen to be in Europe and can manage to transport enough flooring for your home renovation, then you are good to go. However, for most people in the US, the only way to get this brand is if there are US showrooms of which there are none.
This is an option that is ideal for those who are ready for the next big thing since it is 100% PVC flooring. It has the same qualities as the Parcolys brand, but with a few added advantages.
Dumaplast brand normally has an underpad that is built into the product, it is soundproof, eco-friendly and 100% waterproof.
This makes the installation easy and ensures stress-free maintenance in high moisture areas like bathrooms, basements, kitchens and bathrooms. Like Parcolys however, the brand is also only available in Europe.
Aquastep was originally a subset of Parcolys but today it is a brand on its own that offers extra strong and waterproof plastic laminate flooring.
The good thing about Aquastep is that it is strong enough to be used in high moisture areas like bathrooms, garages and kitchens. The company even offers a guarantee that it will not buckle, develop gaps or warping when installed.
Unlike Parcoly and Dumaplast, Aquastep is currently available for purchase in the US. The downside is that the company is based outside the US, so it would be more difficult to communicate if issues were to arise with your flooring.
Regular vs Waterproof Laminate Flooring
When it comes to flooring most people have always preferred hardwood flooring because it gives any room a luxurious feel and look.
However, hardwood flooring is expensive to buy and install as well, which is why homeowners have settled for hardwood alternatives like laminate flooring. Laminate is easy to install, afford, mimics the look of hardwood and makes for a good DIY project.
Regular laminate is made of layers of mixed wood with the plastic top layer and due to this, it comes with its fair share of pros and cons. Besides being very affordable, regular laminate has always had one drawback which is that it is not waterproof.
As such, the flooring can’t be installed in high humid areas of the house like kitchens, bathrooms, basements and laundry rooms. Even with an underlayment, regular laminate is still susceptible to water damage and spills have to be wiped immediately they occur.
Waterproof laminate, on the other hand, is an improvement of traditional laminate and just as the name suggests the floor has been in such a way that it can withstand water and moisture.
Because of this, laminate flooring is ideal for installation in areas like the kitchen, bathroom and even the garage. The floor is also highly improved to ensure that it is scratch and stain-resistant and it is still as affordable as regular laminate.
Waterproof Laminate vs Waterproof Vinyl
While waterproof laminate is an improvement of traditional laminate, the floor is still inferior when compared to waterproof vinyl. Unlike waterproof vinyl, waterproof laminate is designed in such a way that its water-resistant is from top to bottom rather than bottom to top.
This means that in case of spills, liquids will not seep through the interlocks causing mold and mildew growth. However, if the subfloor has moisture issues, you will need to use a vapor barrier to prevent the floor from swelling.
Waterproof vinyl is water-resistant from bottom to top and is 100% waterproof which means that it can be submerged in water and will not absorb any water. If you have moisture issues with the subfloor, a waterproof vinyl flooring will not easily be damaged.
How to Waterproof Water Resistant Laminate
One of the main ways of ensuring that your laminate is strong enough to withstand spills and standing water is to waterproof it.
Since most laminate problems occur when water seeps through the cracks, waterproofing water-resistant laminate involves caulking between every board. It is a time consuming and tedious process but at the end of the day it is worth it.
How to Install Waterproof Laminate Flooring
Today, there are so many laminate flooring options available, from vinyl laminate planks, stick-on laminate to waterproof version and each has its installation process.
With waterproof laminate, the planks are not meant to be submerged in water only to resist it which means that the flooring can’t be installed in areas like bathrooms or basements where there is likely to be a lot of standing water.
When installing the floor, it is therefore important that you ensure that the subfloor is completely dry or use a vapor barrier if your subfloor has moisture issues.
Step 1 – Measure Up
Before you begin the installation, you must take all the measurements for the perfect fit.
When you are done, add five to ten percent for wastage to whatever measurement you come up with. You then need to allow the flooring to acclimate to room temperature for at least 48 hours before your installation.
Step 2 – Install the Underlay
Clean the subfloor and allow it to dry and then cover it with an underlay. This is an important step as it ensures that the rooms stay warm and the flooring is protected from moisture.
The underlay will also help minimize noise. Lay the underlay over the floor and cut to appropriate sizes fitting the parts together making sure that the layers don’t overlap. For added protection, you can add another moisture barrier below the underlay.
Step 3 – Fit the First Row
To ensure that the floor looks superb in the end, lay the planks parallel to the longest wall laying the first plank with the groove side facing the wall itself.
Place a few half-inch spacers against the wall, maybe 12 inches apart and push the first board up against it. The floor will react to temperature fluctuations once and the spacers are supposed to allow room for expansion and contraction to prevent buckling and warping.
Step 4 – Install the Flooring
Continue laying the plank row after row ensuring that you match the tongue sides to the grooves of the plank in the next row.
With waterproof laminate, you will be required to tap each plank gently into place using a tapping block. Make sure the boards fit together comfortably and that no gaps are showing.
To ensure that the strength of the floor is not compromised, shorten the first plank of every row to stagger its positioning offsetting the rows by six to eight inches such that the joints are not too evenly lined.
Step 5 – Fitting the Last Row
At this point, the floor should look almost complete. The last planks, however, need to be trimmed so that they can fit properly. Measure the spaces and mark the boards with a pencil, then cut accordingly and then fit into the spaces to fill the gaps.
Step 6 – Final Touches
This is the final stage and it involves tying up loose ends. Begin by installing the thresholds between the door paces and flooring ends. Install beading or scotia around the edges to cover the expansion gaps you left against the walls.
How to Clean Waterproof Laminate Flooring
Step 1 – Sweep up dust and debris
Laminate floors are generally prone scratches and as such ensure that you use a soft bristle brush or a dust mop to remove dust and debris. You could also use a vacuum with an attachment that doesn’t beater brush or clean with a good microfiber mop.
Step 2 – Clean spills immediately
While waterproof laminate can withstand water, ensure that spills don’t sit for long as this can end up damaging the floor just like hardwood floor mopping should be done immediately.
Step 3 – Avoid cleaning products
Cleaning products when used on laminate flooring tend to leave streaks and residue that can damage the protective sealant that is usually found on laminate flooring.
If you have to use a cleaning product, apply just a small amount on the mop rather than directly on the floor and ensure that you avoid polishes as well as wax on the floor.
Also, avoid using a steam cleaner to clean your laminate floor or any mini cleaner with steam for that matter as the steam ends up seeping through the floorboards.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
When it comes to any laminate flooring more spending does mean more quality. The last thing you want is to compromise on quality and end up installing flooring that you will only replace after a few years.
In such a case, avoid cheap brands even when you want to spend as little as possible.
Do’s and Don’ts to Do with Waterproof Laminate Flooring
- Do wipe spills immediately they occur.
- Do use furniture pads to avoid scratching the floor.
- Don’t use polish or wax.
- Don’t use cleaning products as they leave streaks and residue.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why you should use waterproof laminate flooring?
As the name suggests, waterproof laminate is an improvement of traditional laminate and it is designed in such a way that it can withstand moisture which means that unlike traditional laminate it can be installed in high humidity areas like the kitchen, garage, laundry room and the likes.
Is waterproof laminate flooring really waterproof?
This floor can withstand moisture but it is not completely waterproof since it can’t be installed in areas that are likely to have standing water like the basement and bathroom. You are supposed to wipe spills immediately they occur.
How much does waterproof laminate flooring cost?
Compared to traditional laminate, waterproof option is more expensive costing about $3.58 to $4.86 per square foot. The price, however, is dependent on whether the laminate comes with an underlay, high-quality images or registered embossing.
Do I need underlayment for waterproof laminate flooring?
Most waterproof floors come with backing already attached hence you don’t need an underlayment. However, if you need additional cushioning you can buy an underlayment and install it under.
Where can waterproof laminate flooring be installed?
Waterproof laminate can be installed anywhere in the house. If you are installing it in water-prone areas like the bathroom, kitchen and basement, ensure that you wipe the water right away.
Can installation of a waterproof laminate be a DIY process?
Yes. Unlike hardwood flooring, you can easily install waterproof laminate on your own since the planks are easy to cut.
Laminate flooring has been around for decades and it continues to improve. Today, waterproof laminate has made its way in the market and is a great hardwood alternative. It is not only affordable, durable and easy to install but unlike traditional laminate, it can be installed in high moisture areas like the bathroom, kitchen, basement and laundry rooms.
Photos from: pajche / depositphotos.com, borman.mail.ru / depositphotos.com, franckito / depositphotos.com, dragonstock / depositphotos.com and Elnur_ / depositphotos.com.