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Waterproof Laminate Flooring Buying Guide

Good news, the affordable laminate floors you love now feature waterproof capabilities! But before you deck out your home in waterproof laminate flooring, it’s important to understand how this feature works. Keep reading to learn what you’re getting with waterproof laminate flooring and to find the best product for your application.

We get it – you love the idea of putting laminate flooring in your home. You can’t stop thinking about how gorgeous the dark espresso color looked in your sister-in-law’s living room, somehow scratch-free even with her dog’s clattering claws running all over it.

And when she told you how affordable it was, you couldn’t help but think: I want that in my house!

But your kids aren’t that pristine. Maybe you even have a track record of spilling. Juice boxes, milk cartons, dishwater – you’re tired of seeing the results of those disasters on your existing floors. Yet, you know that laminate is not known for its water-resistant properties, so what do you do?

Introducing Waterproof Laminate Flooring

Wait…your sister-in-law’s new laminate floor is waterproof?

You bet it is.

That’s right, waterproof and water-resistant laminate products are hitting the market, making this traditional wood-look floor even more irresistible. Now you can install this affordable flooring in more rooms of the home – like the kitchen or bathroom – with confidence that it will withstand the mess of the everyday chaos.

Read on to learn how waterproof and water-resistant laminate flooring works, what you can expect and how to find the best product for your application.

What is Waterproof Laminate Flooring?

why use laminate flooring

Laminate flooring is a type of synthetic floor that first made a splash on the flooring market in the 1970s as the first man-made alternative to natural wood. This floor quickly grew more popular as manufacturers created increasingly realistic looks that could easily pass for real hardwood.

It still stands as the go-to wood flooring alternative because people love how affordable laminate is. But there has always been a drawback. Laminate has never been prized for its ability to withstand water.

Until now! New waterproof features are proving to be a game-changer in laminate flooring.

Traditionally, laminate has been known to absorb water and swell easily. But special construction technology has improved laminate’s core layer substantially, and some manufacturers are now producing laminate flooring with waterproof features to make laminate an even more ideal flooring choice for the home.

So, how does this stuff work? Can you trust it? And how does it compare to other waterproof floors, like vinyl? Let’s dig deeper.

Waterproof and Water-Resistant Laminate Flooring: What You Need to Know

what you need to know

Some brands will use the term “waterproof” to describe their products while others will say “water resistant,” so what’s the difference?

Waterproof and water resistant are not the same thing when it comes to flooring.

Water resistance means that a certain element of the flooring is designed to withstand water better than normal. This typically means that you can have some water on the surface for a while before it soaks through. If you can’t get to a spill right away, water-resistant laminate floors will buy you some time.

Waterproof means that the water will never be able to penetrate the flooring, no matter how much time has passed.

These definitions may also vary among manufacturers. To be certain of the water resistance level in a product, be sure to thoroughly read the descriptions of the laminate floors you’re considering.

It’s also possible to increase your laminate floor’s water resistance during installation. Some manufacturers include instructions to finish the laminate floor installation with silicone sealant around the perimeter and under the baseboard for more water resistance.
Waterproof Laminate vs. Waterproof Vinyl
But waterproof and water-resistant laminate still come with caution, because these floors are not constructed the same as other waterproof floors, like vinyl.

Unlike vinyl, laminate flooring is water resistant from top to bottom, not bottom to top. This means that if you get water or a spill on your floor, waterproof or water-resistant floor systems will not allow liquids to seep through the interlocks, stopping the potential for mold or mildew to grow beneath your flooring. However, if you have moisture issues with your subfloor, you will still need a vapor barrier for waterproof laminate floors.

Luxury vinyl flooring, on the other hand, is water resistant from bottom to top. It is 100 percent waterproof, meaning it can be submerged in water and will not absorb any water. If you do have moisture issues with your subfloor, a waterproof vinyl floor product will be more effective than waterproof laminate.

With laminate, the moisture-resistant element is just one layer of this heavy-duty floor. Let’s deconstruct the rest to see what gives laminate its durability and beauty.

Waterproof Laminate Flooring Construction

Waterproof and water-resistant laminate flooring is comprised of multiple layers, including:
  • Wear Layer: The top layer protects the floor from scratches, wear and staining while providing the realistic look and feel of the floor. This is the protective shield to your floor, what keeps the dog from leaving marks with his clattering claws. Water-resistant top layers help keep water from seeping through and damaging the floor.
  • Image Layer: Just below the wear layer, the image layer holds the pattern or print of your floor. This gives your floor the beautiful wood or stone look that is sure to fool your friends.
  • Core Layer: Just below the print layer, the core layer gives the floor durability and stability. Typically made of compressed high-density fiberboard (aka HDF), this layer is where the water-resistant or waterproof qualities come into play. Fiberboards in water-resistant laminate floors may feature more resins, making it less susceptible to swelling in water.
  • Backing: This layer also helps provide stability for the floor and can help to keep water from penetrating the flooring from underneath.

Why Use Waterproof Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring is already the go-to wood-look flooring option, and the up-and-coming waterproof products are sure to make a splash in the flooring market. Here’s why homeowners and business owners can benefit from choosing waterproof laminate flooring:

Pros of Waterproof Laminate Flooring
  • Better with moisture than traditional laminate: Waterproof floors feature a moisture-resistant core so they hold up better to water than traditional laminate or hardwood floors. This means they can be installed in basements, bathrooms, kitchens and any room throughout the home.
  • Realistic wood and stone looks: Waterproof laminate floor planks often have some surface detail to further mimic a natural hardwood look and can have the look and feel of a hand-scraped hardwood, embossed wood, distressed hardwood, or come in textured or smooth.
  • Easy to install, clean and maintain: Waterproof laminate flooring is designed to be installed as a floating floor, meaning that it is not secured to the ground underneath, but rather “floats” by the means of an interlocking design. This process is easy and typically done by our customers of all DIY levels.
  • More scratch resistant than vinyl: Waterproof laminate flooring has a strong wear layer that protects the floor from scratches, wear and staining, all the things pets love to test out on our floors.
  • Cost effective: Waterproof and water-resistant laminate floors are an inexpensive alternative to hardwood floors. Lower price and lower maintenance? Yes, please!

Cons of Waterproof Laminate Flooring
I know you’re really rooting for this floor now, but what good would we be if didn’t give you the downside? Every floor has its concerns. Here are the less appealing factors of laminate flooring:
  • Not as water-resistant as waterproof vinyl flooring: While laminate flooring has come a long way in its water-resistant capabilities, it still cannot tolerate standing pools of water. Unlike vinyl, laminate’s water resistance works from top to bottom rather than bottom to top. If you have moisture issues with your subfloor, you’ll still need a vapor barrier.
  • Not recommended for full bathrooms or basements: Since these areas are prone to leaks and flooding, you’ll want a more water-resistant floor. You can make your laminate floor more water resistant by installing an underlayment and vapor barrier as well as using the glue-down installation method. Be cautious to clean up messes as soon as possible.
  • Sound: If installed poorly, laminate floors can create a hollow, empty sound. Every product comes with thorough installation instructions, and if you’re really worried, you can always hire an expert. Plus, a good underlayment can make for a quieter laminate floor.

Best Waterproof Laminate Floors

Mohawk Antique Craft Mannington Palace Timbercore Shaw Gold Coast Estate Pinnacle Port
Brand Mohawk Antique Craft Mannington Palace Timbercore Shaw Gold Coast Estate Pinnacle Port
Installation UniClic Patented Technology Floating Interlocking Floating EZ Drop Lock Mechanism Floating
Best For All Pet Protection Unique Pattern and Style 100% Water Resistant Casing Wear, Stain, Fade Warranty High Variation Visuals USA Made, Price
Waterproof / Water Resistance Waterproof Water Resistant Waterproof Water Resistant Waterproof Water Resistant
Price $$$ $$ $$$$ $$ $$$ $$
Overall Thickness 10mm 12mm 12mm 12mm 13.5mm 12mm
Wear Layer Rating AC 4 AC 4 AC 5 AC 4 AC 4 AC 4
Foot Traffic Residential, light commercial All residential, light commercial Commercial Residential, light commercial Residential, light commercial Residential, light commercial
Warranty All pet, limited residential, 5yr lt commercial 25 year, 72-hour spill 25 year home, 10 year commercial 30 year, lifetime structural Lifetime residential, 25 yr commercial 30 year, lifetime structural

Waterproof Laminate Flooring FAQs

From pricing and cleaning to protecting your floor, here are our answers to our most frequently asked waterproof laminate flooring questions.

How much does waterproof laminate flooring cost?
Water-resistant features come with a higher price tag than traditional laminate flooring. Waterproof laminate flooring cost varies by manufacturer, ranging from about $3.58 – $4.86 per square foot. Pricing also depends on whether the product has an underlay attached, registered embossing or higher quality images.

With that being said, I’ve pulled the basics of laminate flooring prices. I’m estimating the laminate flooring cost based on 1000 square feet.

Laminate Type Average Cost by Sqft Low Average High
Laminate $2.40 $1,150 $2,400 $3,270
Water Resistant Laminate $3.99 $3,580 $3,990 $4,400
Waterproof Laminate $4.38 $3,900 $4,380 $4,860

Do I need to buy an underlayment for waterproof laminate flooring?
Most waterproof laminate floors have a backing already attached, so you don’t need to buy an underlayment. However, if you want additional cushion or sound barriers, you can purchase an underlayment and install it under your flooring.

Is laminate flooring water resistant?
Where can waterproof laminate flooring be installed? Waterproof laminate flooring can be installed anywhere inside the home. If you are installing laminate in water-prone areas, like kitchens, bathrooms or basements, be cautious to clean up any water or spills right away.

How do I clean waterproof laminate flooring?
To clean your waterproof laminate floors, simply sweep or vacuum up any dust, dirt or debris. Use a damp cloth to blot up spills and avoid wet-mopping or using liquid cleaning materials on your laminate floor. Be sure to clean up any spills immediately to prevent damage to your flooring.

Is installing waterproof laminate flooring DIY?
Yes! One of the biggest perks to buying laminate flooring is you can totally install it yourself if you’re the DIY-type. Most laminate is installed as a “floating floor” which means you don’t need any glue, tape, etc. – you just lay it right on top of your existing floor, making it super DIY friendly.

Check out our video below for our DIY laminate flooring installation steps:

Waterproof Laminate Reviews

Want to find the best waterproof laminate flooring brands? Here is what our customers are loving:

Which Waterproof Laminate Floor Will You Choose?

That wood-look floor you’ve been dreaming about is now achievable in any room of the house with waterproof laminate flooring. Scratch resistant, durable and now more resistant to water, laminate is an ideal choice for homes with messy pets or humans. You can rest assured knowing you’re investing in a long-lasting floor that will retain its beauty for years to come.

Want to see your new floor in your home? Order free samples of any of our laminate flooring products today! Get familiar with the look and feel of your floor to ensure you’re making the best decision.