Choosing the right flooring is a pivotal decision that impacts not only the aesthetics of your home but also its practicality. After all, you are about to spend quite a great deal and you rightfully expect the floor to last for many years. When opting for laminate flooring—renowned for its affordability and visual appeal as a wood effect alternative to real wood flooring—the question often arises: Is it waterproof? This question is particularly relevant for those considering laminate as a uniform flooring solution throughout their home, including in kitchens or bathrooms where water spills are common. In this article, we dissect the waterproof properties of laminate flooring to arm you with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision. Information on the internet as to this questions is quite sketchy, but you can put your trust in Wood and Beyond as seller of laminate flooring with over 15 years in the business.
What Is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is a multi-layer synthetic flooring product that simulates wood or stone with a photographic applique layer under a protective clear layer. Here’s a closer look at the layers:
This is the topmost layer made of hard, durable materials like melamine or acrylic. It’s designed to protect the flooring from scratches, stains, and fading.
Located just beneath the wear layer, the decorative layer is essentially a high-definition photograph that gives the laminate its appearance.
This is a clear protective film that further shields the decorative layer from scratches and stains.
This layer provides the main structure and stability to the laminate flooring. It’s usually made of high-density fibreboard (HDF) or medium-density fibreboard (MDF).
This is the bottom layer made of moisture-resistant paper or film to protect the core layer.
Some laminate floors may also include a moisture barrier layer, adding an extra level of protection against moisture infiltration.
The thickness of each layer can vary depending on the product’s quality. Generally, the wear layer is the thickest, followed by the decorative and overlay layers, then the core and backer layers.
The Waterproof Properties Of Laminate Flooring
Water-Resistant vs Waterproof
Many laminate floors are marketed as being water-resistant, not waterproof. Water-resistant means that the top surface can fend off moisture for a short period. If a spill is not cleaned up promptly, the liquid will eventually seep into the flooring, potentially causing damage. Furthermore, not all laminate flooring are click fit and to truly benefit from a waterproof flooring, click fit is best at creating a waterproof seal.
Why Laminate Is Not Waterproof
The HDF/MDF core is the primary reason why laminate flooring cannot be considered waterproof. When exposed to water, this wood-based product expands, leading to warping or buckling. Unlike hardwood floors, laminate floors cannot be sanded or refinished. Once damaged by water, they are, unfortunately, beyond repair and the floorboard(s) would need complete replacement.
Waterproof Alternatives to Laminate Flooring
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)
If you are seeking a truly waterproof option that also offers wood effect, consider Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) or vinyl flooring. These synthetic materials do not absorb water due to varied core composition, making them ideal for wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens.
- Wear Layer: Made of durable vinyl or polyurethane, this is the most important layer for water resistance.
- Decorative Layer: Gives the LVT its appearance.
- Backing Layer: Provides support and stability.
- Core Layer: Made of PVC or other synthetic material (WPC, SPC or Rigid Core), this layer gives the flooring its rigidity and water-resistant qualities. In comparison, laminate flooring uses a wood based core.
While laminate flooring has many merits—affordability, ease of installation, and a wide range of designs—it falls short in one critical area: it is not fully waterproof. If you’re in search of a flooring option that offers similar benefits to laminate but with full water resistance, then Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) may be the best choice. While LVT is indeed more expensive, fitting laminate flooring in wet areas will probably cost you more in the long run.
What is laminate flooring made of?
Laminate flooring is a synthetic product composed of multiple layers. It has a wear layer on the top for durability, followed by a decorative layer for aesthetics. An overlay layer offers added protection, and the core layer, usually made of HDF or MDF, provides structure. The bottom layer is a backer layer made from moisture-resistant material.
Is laminate flooring waterproof?
No, laminate flooring is generally not fully waterproof. It is often described as water-resistant, which means it can repel water for a limited time. However, if water is allowed to sit, it can penetrate the flooring and cause damage such as warping or buckling.
What makes laminate flooring vulnerable to water?
The core layer, made of HDF/MDF, is susceptible to water damage. When it comes in contact with water, it tends to expand, leading to warping or buckling. Once damaged, these floors cannot be repaired and require complete replacement.
Are there waterproof alternatives to laminate flooring?
Yes, Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) is a waterproof alternative. It is made from synthetic materials like PVC, which do not absorb water, making them suitable for wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms.
Why is Luxury Vinyl Tile a better choice for wet areas?
LVT is completely waterproof due to its synthetic core composition, unlike laminate flooring which has a wood-based core that makes it susceptible to water damage. Although LVT may cost more upfront, it could save you money in the long term by avoiding water damage repair or replacement.