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Waterproof Vinyl Flooring Buying Guide

Looking for waterproof flooring? Look no further! Waterproof vinyl flooring is the latest in luxury vinyl and one of the most durable flooring around. What is waterproof vinyl flooring, though? Don’t worry, I’ll break it down for you and you’ll be on your way to wood-look luxury. Let’s get started.

I’m a dangerous resident.

I cook, bake, paint, do indoor workouts, and own a cat. All these things take a toll on home floors. Whether it’s me knocking over the brush washing station, or my cat breaking a wine bottle by flying on the counter, my floors get put through a lot.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a floor that’s durable, waterproof, and beautiful instead of the icky apartment tile I live with.

While I can keep dreaming, you don’t have to. Waterproof vinyl flooring is yours to buy.

Naturally, you probably have some questions. That’s what I’m here for. I’ve done the research and conveniently located all the information you need in one place for reference.

I’m just the nicest, right?

But enough about me. Let’s get going on your luxury vinyl flooring journey.

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What is Waterproof Vinyl Flooring?

blond wood-look vinyl planks in a bathroom setting

Waterproof vinyl flooring is luxury engineered vinyl that is 100% waterproof. Designed with a waterproof, durable core, waterproof vinyl flooring is the highest quality vinyl flooring out there

Depending on the composition of waterproof vinyl flooring, it will be called WPC or SPC. WPC stands for wood plastic composite, and is made from a mixture of plastic and wood flour. SPC is a stone plastic composite, and it’s composed of plastic and – you guessed it – stone!

WPC has been around for a few years, but SPC is pretty new to the flooring scene. Both options are completely waterproof. So let’s get into how that works.

Waterproof vinyl flooring typically features a four-layer construction that includes a waterproof core. This core is what sets this luxury vinyl apart from the rest.

Layers of Waterproof Vinyl Flooring

layers of waterproof vinyl flooring

As mentioned before, this flooring typically has four layers of construction: a backing, the core, the luxury vinyl top layer, and the wear layer. Let’s take a look at all four parts:

The Backing Layer

cork backing of waterproof vinyl plank

Many waterproof vinyl flooring options feature a backing layer or an attached underlayment in cork or foam. This serves two purposes: first, you won’t have to buy additional underlayment, and second, it provides softness and sound absorption to your floor.

If you’ve ever walked on a floor without underlayment, you know it tends to have a hollow sound when stepped on. The attached backing prevents this. As a bonus, now you don’t have to spend extra money buying underlayment and installing it before installing your new vinyl.

The Waterproof Core

This is the most important layer of waterproof vinyl! The waterproof core is high density and won’t swell or contract no matter what liquid it’s exposed to.

WPC vinyl cores are thick, resilient, and dense. These cores are manufactured with a foaming agent to give WPC flooring a softer feel underfoot.

SPC vinyl cores are are thin, rigid, and even more dense than WPC cores (they’re made of stone, after all). There won’t be any give when you walk on SPC flooring.

No matter how the core behaves, it is 100% waterproof. Don’t believe me? Check out our test here:

The Printed Vinyl Layer

water droplets on waterproof vinyl plank

This is where you get your gorgeous photo imagery that makes the vinyl look (nearly) identical to natural materials like stone and wood. Often, waterproof 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!

The Wear Layer

interlocking vinyl planks

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, you feel me?

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.

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Waterproof Vinyl Flooring and Thickness

FlooringInc Mohawk Variations Waterproof Vinyl Planks

When we talk about thickness options, there’s two types of thickness you have to keep in mind: the plank thickness, and the wear layer thickness. These are often the biggest deciding factors when it comes to buying luxury vinyl flooring.

Plank Thickness

It used to be that a thicker plank was a denser plank. All of that changed with the introduction of SPC vinyl flooring. Now SPC flooring is the most dense and durable option, and it’s really thin, too. So why choose WPC anymore if SPC is so great?

It’s all about how you want your flooring to feel. Think of WPC vinyl as the soft, plush carpet in your bedroom, while SPC is the sturdy, dense carpet you find in commercial spaces. WPC vinyl prioritizes comfort and gives your space a homey feel. Alternatively, SPC vinyl is designed with durability in mind.

No matter what you pick, your waterproof vinyl is going to feel sturdy and substantial beneath your feet, all while covering up for a less-than-stellar subfloor. It’s going to withstand the test of time without any problem.

All of our waterproof vinyl flooring is definitely dense and durable enough for entire home use. If you’re trying to determine the best quality, you’ll want to look more at the wear layer than plank thickness.

That being said, here are the available waterproof vinyl thickness options:

Wear Layer Thickness

The wear layer is the top surface of your waterproof vinyl flooring. The wear layer is like the bodyguard for your floor. If your options were a scrawny little thing, or a big, bulky, tough and ready-for-battle bodyguard, obviously you’d want the latter.

While no bodyguard (wear layer) is perfect, there is a wide range and great options for every use and price point. Pretty simply put, thicker = better. The thicker the wear layer (or, the higher the MIL number), the more resistant your floor will be to scratching and scarring. Which wear layer do you need? Well, let’s take a look at our options.

Types of Waterproof Vinyl Flooring

Okay, I really want to get into the fun stuff: looks and style! This is probably going to be a pretty important factor when it comes to choosing which waterproof vinyl flooring you want. We got some pretty great WPC vinyl options for you. Let’s take a look:

Related Content >> 2019 Vinyl Flooring Trends

Waterproof Vinyl Plank Flooring

TritonCORE wood-look vinyl planks

Oh hey there, if you’re looking for a wood-look vinyl flooring option, you’re probably looking for engineered vinyl planks, also known as EVP.

We got those.

Waterproof vinyl plank flooring is probably the most popular type of WPC vinyl out there. If you’re looking for something that mimics hardwood floors perfectly, you’re probably looking for engineered vinyl plank flooring.

Waterproof vinyl plank flooring comes in a variety of sizes: 5”, 7” and even XL planks. You can easily get the look you’re going for with EVP.


Waterproof Vinyl Tile Flooring

waterproof vinyl stone-look tiles in a kitchen setting

Your other option is tile, we got that too!

Most tile options are made to mimic stone, but we have a few wood-looks as well. However, if you’re looking for a variety of stone-looks, vinyl tile is the one to choose.

Vinyl tile flooring also comes in different sizes: 12” and 18” tiles.


Styles of Waterproof Vinyl

If you’ve read our 2019 Vinyl Flooring Trends piece, you’re probably on the hunt for something trendy or classic. Vinyl flooring has both.

Wood-Look Vinyl

waterproof vinyl plank flooring in a kitchen setting

This is probably the most popular look when it comes to vinyl flooring. Everyone wants the look of wood, without having to deal with the finicky nature of real wood.

Best yet, we have wood-look flooring that hits all the modern trends. Do you want gray floors? We got that. Do you want distressed floors? We got that too. Dark wood or light wood? I think you know the answer.

Wood-look vinyl comes in all the colors and finishes as real hardwood floors. If there’s a look you want, you’ll definitely find it.


Stone-Look Vinyl

Waterproof LVT flooring in a laundry room.

You know what they say about assuming. I’m not gonna assume everybody is in love with the wood-look. Some people are more into stone looks. Especially in bathrooms and kitchens.

Concrete, travertine, and slate are very popular when it comes to stone-look vinyl tiles. Guess what? We totally have those looks too. From a light beige travertine to a dark gray slate, we got your stone-looks covered.

Since stone-looks are supposed to, you know, look like stone, you’ll mostly find these looks in vinyl tile form. This ensures that all your friends will be fooled when they walk on your new “travertine” kitchen floors.


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Installation Type

Okay, you made your decision and you want to buy. Now you’re probably wondering, can I install this myself? How easy is it?

I’m gonna tell you the truth.

It’s very easy.

Really, it is! All of our waterproof vinyl flooring is installed using an interlocking method. No glue, nails, or any adhesives. It’s literally that easy.

Why Buy Waterproof Vinyl Flooring?

mannington adura max wpc vinyl

  • It’s 100% waterproof. I mean, this is the trademark of WPC vinyl. The only other floor that can claim to be 100% waterproof is glazed man-made tile.
  • Perfect for imperfect subfloors. Little known fact: because waterproof vinyl 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 WPC vinyl, 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 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.
  • Zero maintenance. All you need is the occasional vacuum and damp mop to keep your WPC looking fabulous.

Related Content >> The Best Waterproof Flooring Options


Q) How waterproof is WPC vinyl flooring?

This is an easy answer, it’s 100%. If it has a waterproof core, it is 100% waterproof.

Q) Do I need to buy an underlay for WPC vinyl?

No! Most waterproof vinyl floors have a backing already attached, so you don’t need to buy underlay. However, if you want additional cushion or sound barriers, you can purchase underlay and install it under your flooring.

Q) How do I clean waterproof vinyl flooring?

We recommend a damp mop and a pH balanced cleaner. When vacuuming, it’s preferred to remove or turn off the beater bar to prevent accidental scratching.

Q) Is WPC vinyl flooring scratched by pets?

If you have a pet, the thicker the wear layer the better. Over time, scratches may occur. We recommend keeping nails trimmed as needed.

Q) Where can waterproof vinyl flooring be installed?

It can be installed anywhere inside the home. Waterproof vinyl has been used in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and anywhere else. We just don’t recommend installing it outside.


About Kayla Haas


Kayla Haas is a Phoenix-based writer, flooring expert, and reading enthusiast. Most of her writing specializes in artificial grass, carpet, and vinyl flooring. Her favorite part of writing is the research. If you’re looking for obscure facts or little-known history about flooring, she’s the person to talk to as she stores them away in hopes of impressing people at parties.

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[…] Related Content >> Waterproof Vinyl Flooring Buying Guide […]

Joy Butler
April 17, 2018 9:36 pm

I really appreciate your awesome post about waterproof vinyl buying guide! For the last 2 weeks, I’ve been helping my sister who’s renovating their bathroom. She’s asking me if it would be a cool decision to go on waterproof vinyl flooring, so I forwarded this link to her. She thanked me for that so let me thank you as well!

Ari Ziskin
April 26, 2018 10:01 am
Reply to  Joy Butler

Hi Joy,

Glad to hear it! If she needs any more help, we’d be happy to send her over some more information or free product samples.

Elsa Anderson
June 6, 2018 4:47 am

It’s good to know that there is such thing as a vinyl waterproof flooring and that it comprises a four-layer construction to ensure its durability and maintain its waterproof abilities. This sure is perfect timing because my husband and I have been worried about our kids slipping on the floor because they keep running around the house from our outdoor pool. I’ll share this information with him to possibly change our flooring to this fashionable and slip-free design.

Flooring Inc