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Is waterproof laminate flooring really waterproof?

With water-repelling and print-imaging technologies taking laminate flooring to the next level of sophistication, waterproof coverings sound like a dream. Capturing the appearance of hardwood, they are claimed to be the most resilient to wear and tear and 100% waterproof laminate flooring. So, can you finally have the beauty of realistic wood grains without stressing out about the urgency to wipe up a spill?

In short, yes. But the truth lies deeper than you think. Regardless of the top layer that many flooring manufacturers market as ‘waterproof,’ floor coverings are only water-resistant if the core layers are made of fibreboard (HDF). The warranties on such waterproof laminate flooring may caution against anything that isn’t a topical spill.

In other words, laminate flooring with water-repellent enhancements of the surface layer and the fibreboard core may be a stress-free alternative to standard laminate options. But it may not be 100% waterproof. It will work in busy households where spillages are common but not in wet or poorly ventilated areas such as basements or bathrooms.

Waterproof laminate flooring works like a charm for living rooms and other residential areas for everyday use

SPC flooring options that are suitable for all locations

Truly waterproof laminate flooring features a PVC or SPC core, a synthetic alternative to fibreboard. It doesn’t absorb moisture or swell, maintaining structural and dimensional stability. Such higher-quality flooring won’t be damaged when exposed to water for 24-48 hours or even longer and won’t warp or delaminate with temperature fluctuations. 

On the flip side, it has a higher price tag and a less varied colour palette than standard laminate flooring. But can you put a price on peace of mind? Besides, most SPC products include an IXPE underlayment for noise reduction, shock absorption and the prevention of mould or bacteria coming from the subfloor.

What may also prove the more costly waterproof laminate flooring is worth it is its durability. It is resistant to scratches, staining, fading and UV damage. This makes waterproof coverings suitable for heavy residential and commercial use, high-traffic zones and areas with routine spills or humidity issues. However, when their hard-wearing surface does get damaged, it can’t be refinished or painted over. Any faulty sections have to be replaced.

Traditional vs Waterproof laminate flooring: Which is better for your home?

Standard laminate options are NOT recommended for:

  • Kitchens

  • Mudrooms

  • Laundry rooms 

  • Bathrooms 

  • Basements 

If you’d like highly protective flooring for these rooms, opt for water-resistant or waterproof products. Plus, they will help you create flow and tie the spaces together, which is a tall order with non-waterproof laminate flooring that may take a water hit and is at higher risk of developing visual imperfections over time. You don’t have to consider different options for areas exposed to spills and moisture.

If you are concerned about controlling allergens and air quality in your home, waterproof laminate flooring is also recommended to avoid mould growth and rotting under the surface or at the subfloor level. Creating a healthier house from the floor up is a strategy that can’t be emphasised enough!

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