The Best Waterproof Flooring Options
May 8, 2018
The Best Waterproof Flooring Options
The hottest new thing on the flooring market is waterproof flooring, and we’re here to show you the best waterproof flooring options on the market. Now you can get that gorgeous, homey wood look you’ve been craving in every room of the home. Get ready to dive headfirst into the world of waterproof flooring.
SPLASH! “OOPS!” “Honey, we should have purchased the waterproof flooring!”
Have you ever had a plush, high-pile carpet that seems to absorb everything that is dropped or spilled on it? Or seen the unsightly warping that happens to wood or laminate when they’re exposed to water?
For bathrooms, kitchens, pets and kids…there must be a better solution, right?
Can I get a drumroll for this next part, please?
(Now, please read this next part as if someone is calling a cool new superhero out to the stage)
Let Me Introduce You to… Waterproof Flooring!
Think about any large spills that might have happened in your house.
Like that one time when your child dropped the open gallon of milk and it spilled everywhere, or when your adorable puppy accidentally confused the corner next to the tv with the grass in the backyard. This is when waterproof flooring comes to the rescue.
Kids, pets, parties and other spill-inducing scenarios can be a nightmare. However, waterproof flooring is a solution that can help you rest at ease.
Related content >> Flooring for Flood Prone Areas
WPC Waterproof Vinyl Flooring
WPC vinyl is the hottest new thing to arrive in the vinyl market in years. We know what you are thinking – “what the heck is WPC?” Other than Wow Pretty Cool, there are a couple legitimate meanings for the acronym WPC. WPC can mean Wood Plastic Composite as well as Waterproof Core. The latter is easier to remember and important to our conversation.
Personally, this is one of my favorite wood flooring alternatives. It gives you that rich, sought-after, expensive wood look. WPC vinyl plank flooring has it all – high-quality visuals, extreme durability, a range of beautiful colors/textures, and some even come with attached underlayment.
Does it get any better than this?! Trust me, it doesn’t.
We spoke to Amy Rush-Imber, Editor in Chief of Floor Covering Weekly who shared:
“Luxury vinyl tile was already one of the fastest growing floor covering categories. When you add to its benefits waterproof features and ease of installation, WPC products are a homerun for the consumer.
We’ve already seen a new generation of products out in the marketplace with enhanced stability, durability and stain and indent resistance. And, there is a laser focus on bringing out realistic visuals.
This is just the beginning. I expect suppliers to continue to innovate in the coming years to help fuel the growth of this category.”
WPC is the best of the best in the vinyl flooring world and hugely popular amongst homeowners looking for the look of traditional hardwood without the maintenance. It is also one of the most popular flooring options for commercial spaces and businesses.
WPC Red Wine Challenge
Before we get into the details on WPC vinyl flooring, I want to show you just how legit these floors are. We wanted to put WPC vinyl’s ability to hold up to water damage and stains to the test and soaked that bad boy in red wine for 24 hours. We compared it to laminate and engineered hardwood to see how each floor would hold up.
Layers of WPC Waterproof Vinyl Flooring
WPC waterproof flooring is typically comprised of 4 layers.*
- Backing layer. This is the backbone of your plank.
- WPC core. This is the main attraction! WPC flooring contains a solid, waterproof WPC core. It won’t ripple, swell or peel no matter much liquid you subject it to.
- Printed vinyl layer. This is where you get your gorgeous photo imagery that makes the vinyl look (nearly) identical to natural materials like stone and wood. Often, WPC vinyl flooring is the highest quality vinyl on the market. This means you get the most realistic looks that people will swear are real wood/stone!
- Wear layer. Just like with traditional vinyl, the wear layer is like your bodyguard; it helps protect your floor from dents, scratches, etc. The thicker the wear layer, the buffer your bodybuilder. WPC indoor flooring is known for having a buff, beefy wear layers offering more protection. When you look at vinyl flooring, it’s just as (if not more) important to look at wear layer thickness as plank thickness.
*Can vary between manufacturers.
Pros of WPC Waterproof Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl flooring is pretty much the Superman of the flooring industry. Here’s a quick look at just a few of the qualities that make it so awesome.
- Ultra-durable. WPC is known for being the best of the best, showcasing the thickest, most durable luxury vinyl with the thickest wear layers for optimal scratch protection.
- 100% waterproof. And guaranteed by the manufacturers.
- Perfect for imperfect subfloors. Little known fact: because waterproof vinyl plank flooring is so thick and durable, it can hide an imperfect subfloor. I know, I know, you don’t care what the subfloor looks like. But do you care about dropping a bunch of extra money leveling it beforehand? With waterproof luxury vinyl plank and tile flooring, oftentimes, you won’t have to.
- Realistic wood and stone looks. Seriously, vinyl is changing. Rapidly. The top-end vinyl floors are able to more realistically mimic natural materials better than ever before. WPC vinyl is the best of the best, which means the looks are usually incredibly convincing and beautiful.
- More resilient than ceramic tile. It’s true, you could just get a wood or stone look tile and it would also be waterproof. But tile is hard. Standing on a tile floor all day isn’t great for your joints or feet. Vinyl is more resilient and much more comfortable.
- Low maintenance. All you need is the occasional vacuum and damp mop to keep your WPC looking fabulous.
- Kiss the phthalates goodbye. So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye. Most of our WPC is phthalate-free.
Related content >> Vinyl Flooring Trends
Cons of WPC Waterproof Vinyl Flooring
I’ve gotta say, WPC flooring is pretty much the creme of the crop. But, there is one area that sometimes hangs people up.
- Price. This is probably the only downside to WPC vinyl flooring. It comes with a lot of bells and whistles and the price can reflect that. Although, as more and more companies develop their own WPC lines, we are starting to see WPC flooring prices drop and become more affordable. Also, it’s still less expensive than solid hardwood with way less maintenance.
Related content >> Vinyl Planks Basics
Waterproof Ceramic & Porcelain Tile Flooring
Ceramic and porcelain tile flooring are more commonly used in bathrooms, compared to other flooring options. Chances are that if you’ve ever been in a bathroom, you have seen tile in there!
This is mostly due to how tile is constructed – tile’s top surface is made of a durable glaze that will not let any liquids seep through. This makes it ideal for waterproofing your bathroom.
Tile is also very easy to clean and is one of the oldest flooring options (who doesn’t love easy, tried, and true?!)
Tile is available in many different and attractive looks. Not only do these come in mosaic and decorative styles, but some of the more popular options mimic stone and wood – offering a convincing alternative to the real deal expensive stuff.
Pros of Tile Flooring
Ceramic and porcelain tiles are great for waterproofing. These are virtually impenetrable and will not let liquids soak in, allowing for easy maintenance and worry-free cleaning.
- Ultra-durable. Tile is known for being one of the most durable flooring options on the market.
- 100% waterproof. Glazed tiles are naturally fully waterproof with no extra work necessary.
- Gorgeous imagery. Have you seen contemporary floor tiles lately?! Not only do they still beautifully mimic the look of natural stone, now, they come in trendy, show-stopping wood looks as well. In fact, wood-look tile is one of the most popular contemporary flooring options.
- Zero maintenance. All you need is the occasional vacuum and damp mop to keep your tile looking fabulous.
- Any room; any space. I have tile in my entire home from my bedroom to my kitchen. It’s durable enough for commercial spaces as well.
Cons of Tile Flooring
- Cold underfoot. This can be great in warm environments, but it can be a total bummer to step onto ice cold floors in the winter. Tile does not retain heat as well as other flooring options and typically requires radiant heat in order to stay warm underfoot.
- Hard on your feet. Unlike WPC, tile is not resilient and offers zero give. Standing on tile for long periods of time may make your feet hurt and you may need to invest in some anti-fatigue mats for areas where you do a lot of standing.
- Challenging to install. Tile is not super DIY-friendly when it comes to installation. We recommend going with a professional here. Additionally, if a tile breaks or becomes damaged, you will need the help of a professional to replace it.
Related content >> Tile Flooring Trends
Waterproof Laminate Flooring
There is a common confusion between laminate and vinyl flooring. Vinyl has a natural resistance to water and moisture, whereas laminate is typically more susceptible to damage when moisture is present.
While WPC vinyl flooring has been the leading waterproof flooring option, manufacturers are now releasing waterproof laminate options in order to compete.
I’m sure you’ve either witnessed or experienced the effect water can have on traditional laminate flooring. In fact, in our testing, laminate was the least waterproof flooring option. Typically, it swells and stains, making it not only unsightly, but really, unusable.
Technically, most “waterproof” laminate is more of a water-resistant laminate flooring than fully waterproof. However, new technologies have opened the way for some new waterproof laminate flooring options.
If you ask me, the best waterproof laminate flooring comes from TimberCore. The wood visuals are beautiful and realistic, giving you the closest thing to waterproof wood flooring.
Additionally, you can technically waterproof a laminate floor during install but that adds up time and money. You’d be better off buying a product that is already proven to be waterproof than to mess with a tricky nightmarish installation. Who wants to spend hours caulking seams when you can buy something waterproof out of the box?!
Related content >> Laminate Flooring Trends
Pros of Waterproof Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring is the most popular wood-look flooring option on the market. Waterproof laminate flooring is, well, even better than the original! Let’s take a look at what makes waterproof laminate flooring great.
- Realistic wood looks. Laminate looks these days are so convincing that most homeowners can’t tell the difference between laminate and solid hardwood. Waterproof laminate flooring is typically ultra high-quality in terms of both construction and looks.
- Resale value. Laminate has a great reputation. Couple that with its realistic wood looks and prospecting homeowners are happy to purchase a house stocked with laminate flooring, particularly waterproof laminate flooring.
- Quick and easy installation. Waterproof laminate flooring typically comes in interlocking planks, which are perfectly easy for even the novice DIY-er to install in a weekend.
- Low maintenance. All you need is the occasional vacuum and damp mop to keep your laminate looking fabulous.
- Perfect for imperfect subfloors. Similar to most WPC vinyl, many waterproof laminate flooring options are built sturdily enough to be installed over imperfect subfloors. Just one more reason installing laminate flooring is super easy.
Cons of Laminate Flooring
While laminate has a great reputation, it’s still pretty new to the waterproof flooring world, which brings its own share of limitations.
- Price. Traditionally, laminate flooring is one of the most inexpensive flooring options. However, over you get into waterproof laminate flooring, you’ll find that most options are more expensive than comparable WPC vinyl flooring.
- Selection. Because waterproof laminate flooring is so new, there’s not a ton of options to choose from just yet. Selection can be quite limited.
- Longevity. I gotta be real here…I just don’t think waterproof laminate flooring is going to be the next big thing. WPC vinyl flooring is booming and I think laminate got to the party a little too late to find a competing place on the waterproof flooring market.
Related content >> Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring
It would be easy to say that waterproof carpet was magic. But it’s not magic, it’s science.
Shaw is leading the industry in residential waterproof carpet. With their patent RX2 technology and Lifeguard backing, nothing penetrates their waterproof carpet.
Perhaps more important than me saying that is telling you what it means.
So what is RX2? Well, it’s a stain and soil repellent that protects carpet fibers from dirt and spills. This resistant system has total fiber coverage and offers complete protection of the whole carpet fiber.
What’s truly magical is the fact that spills that reach the base of the carpet get wicked back to the surface, which is why that summertime sangria can be easily blotted up.
So what’s Lifeguard? It’s the backing the seals the deal when it comes to waterproof carpet. This backing is made from 100% thermoplastic commercial grade backing. No liquid will penetrate that.
Don’t believe me? Believe this swimming pool made out of Shaw’s waterproof carpet.
Related content >> What is Waterproof Carpet: Magic or Science?
Pros of Waterproof Carpet
By now, you probably have a good idea about all the benefits of having waterproof carpet. But let’s summarize:
- No mold and mildew worries. Relax, this carpet has got you covered.
- 100% waterproof. Your subfloor and your carpet are protected by this technology.
- Bye, bye stains. Soiling and staining is a thing of the past.
Cons of Waterproof Carpet
I know this carpet is a scientific marvel, but there are a few drawbacks:
- Waterproof vs. water-resistant. Make sure you’re getting the carpet you want! There are many carpets that claim to be water-resistant, but only a select few (right now) that are 100% waterproof.
- The cost factor. Waterproof carpet does have a few more dollar signs attached to it than other carpet types, but for not having to stare at a stain for 20 years, I think it’s worth it.
Waterproof Rubber Flooring
Rubber as a flooring option may sound like something out of Willy Wonka’s factory, but it is actually a quickly growing trend. You can purchase rubber flooring in many shapes, sizes, colors and styles – giving you endless options to choose from.
The majority of rubber floors are made from recycled car tires. If you think about it, tires are designed to give you more traction on the road, especially when the road is wet from rain. Rubber is naturally resistant to water and provides traction in wet conditions.
This makes a rubber floor a great waterproof flooring option, as it will not absorb water or other liquids. Rubber floor tiles are a popular waterproof basement flooring option in areas where a lot of flooding happens. You can pull up, move and reinstall these tiles once the basement is dry again, which is quite convenient.
Additionally, rubber flooring is an awesome waterproof flooring for pets, often used in dog kennels and doggy daycares.
Pros of Rubber Flooring
Rubber flooring is unlike any traditional home flooring. It’s kind of in a league all of its own. Here are a few things that make it extra special.
- Resilience. Since rubber is traditionally used as gym flooring, it is specifically designed to have some give and bounce back. Rubber is one of the most comfortable flooring options for your feet and joints.
- Mold and mildew resistance. Naturally mold and mildew-resistant, rubber is a great choice for water-prone areas. Not only does the rubber hold up under wet conditions, but it also will not retain that moisture and grow unpleasant funghi.
- Easy maintenance. Rubber flooring is super easy to clean and maintain. The occasional vacuum and damp mop with a gentle cleaning solution will do the trick.
- Slip resistance. Rubber becomes even more slip resistant when wet, making it a nice safety precaution for those areas that see a lot of water.
Cons of Rubber Flooring
Rubber is pretty niche when it comes to the flooring world. While great in many areas, there are a few reasons why we wouldn’t recommend installing rubber throughout the entire home.
- Heavy for installation. Depending on what type of rubber you buy, the installation can be a bit tricky. Large rolls, for instance, can be difficult to maneuver without assistance.
- The rubber smell. It’s true; initially, rubber does smell like, well, rubber. Once you give it a good cleaning and let it air out in the space for 1-2 weeks, this smell dissipates considerably. However, if you get right up and smell it, it will always smell like rubber.
- Non-traditional look. Rubber is super popular in home gyms and even as an industrial-looking basement flooring option. But, as far as total home flooring? It’s not necessarily the look most people would go for.
Related content >> Rubber Flooring: Tiles Vs. Rolls
Recommended Spaces for Waterproof Flooring
The best part about waterproof flooring is that you can put it just about anywhere! Here are a few places we recommend looking into waterproof flooring.
Waterproof Kitchen Flooring
Boiling water, spilled sauces, all those rogue ice cubes from the ice maker in your fridge that never seem to quite make it into the cup. Waterproof flooring in the kitchen is almost a no-brainer.
The kitchen requires a durable floor that’s easy to clean and maintain. It gets some of the most traffic in the house.
Ever noticed when you’re cooking for a big group of people and somehow they all cluster into the kitchen? It is probably the most annoying thing if you’re the cook. Or the floor.
That poor kitchen floor certainly sees the brunt of the challenges as far as flooring goes. Here are a few ultra-durable waterproof flooring options we recommend that are up to the task.
- Waterproof WPC vinyl kitchen flooring. For top-notch durability and looks, it doesn’t really get better than WPC flooring.
- Waterproof tile kitchen flooring. Ceramic and porcelain tile are a staple in the kitchen. Known for its tough durability and natural waterproof capabilities, tile has been used in kitchens for decades.
- Waterproof laminate kitchen flooring. For an ultra-realistic wood-look, waterproof laminate will certainly be a winner.
Waterproof Bathroom Flooring
Between the shower, bathtub, toilet and sink, there is a lot of water happening in the bathroom. It’s one of the most common rooms to experience flooding, and it’s definitely a place you want to choose your floor wisely.
Remember those 1970s carpeted bathrooms? It always seemed to weird to me.
Carpet typically retains water, storing up unpleasant mold and mildew and collecting new stains like your grandmother collects stamps.
These days, however, with all the new waterproof flooring options, your options for bathroom flooring are practically limitless.
- Waterproof WPC vinyl bathroom flooring. Just like in the kitchen, WPC flooring is super popular in bathrooms, as well.
- Waterproof tile bathroom flooring. Tile is the tried and true bathroom flooring option. It is the only waterproof flooring option recommended as a full bathroom and shower flooring.
- Waterproof laminate bathroom flooring. New waterproof laminate flooring for bathrooms will give you a stylish wood look that has all your guests asking where you got it.
- Waterproof carpet bathroom flooring. I know, I know, I just teased about the 1970s carpet. It’s still not my recommended look, but, if you want the warm, comfy feel of carpet in the bathroom, now you can have it without worrying about ruining your carpet with water damage.
Waterproof Basement Flooring
Basements are a whole different animal. Everyone uses them for something a little different, and they often have a very different look compared to the rest of the home.
The tricky thing about basements is they are prone to flooding. Being below ground, that is the first place water will travel so it’s important to have a durable, waterproof basement flooring at your defense.
- Waterproof WPC vinyl basement flooring. For a more traditional, home-look basement.
- Waterproof laminate basement flooring. A waterproof laminate basement floor will also provide that traditional home look, helping your basement serve as an extra room, rather than an afterthought.
- Waterproof carpet basement flooring. For a cozy place for the whole family to hang out, waterproof carpet and carpet tiles will warm up often-cold basements and provide a great place to hang out and watch a movie. Bonus: if you go with waterproof carpet tiles, you can easily replace a single tile if it becomes damaged, rather than ripping up your entire floor.
- Waterproof rubber basement flooring. For a home gym or more industrial look, waterproof rubber flooring is an excellent alternative for basement flooring.
While it is always smart to be mindful of cleaning up spills within a reasonable amount of time, purchasing a waterproof floor can ensure you sweat less over the little things and rest assured that all will be okay.
There are many types of waterproof floor options on the market. Be sure to do some research, order some samples, and choose the right flooring for you.