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Waterproof vinyl vs. Water-resistant laminate flooring

Water resistance is an unmissable feature to look for when weighing your flooring options – particularly in areas with frequent moisture exposure or seasonal temperature mayhem. Fortunately, advanced technology takes water-repellent flooring to new levels and ranges of visually appealing coverings. Let’s face it: what was once just an innovative and trendsetting product is a must-have today for a worry-proof lifestyle and ease of cleaning.

If you live in New Zealand, some of your neighbours are likely to have water-resistant laminate or waterproof flooring because these provide a sense of reliability and effortless care. And they are making a wise choice – anyone who had issues with flooring that wasn’t waterproof will tell you that.

But we know this decision is often associated with confusion about which is better. Read on to learn to distinguish between water protection levels and identify your perfect fit.

 Waterproof vinyl and water-resistant laminate are the two most popular flooring options for residential areas at risk of seeing spills

Should you go for waterproof vinyl or water-resistant laminate?

While both are currently in vogue and come in a plank or tile format, they have different compositions and water-repellent characteristics. Vinyl and laminate may be alike visually, resembling wood or other natural materials, and have similar price ranges for the modern-day busy home. But beyond their appearance, there are some core differences in handling moisture.

Water-resistant laminate: Higher-end look on a budget

Today’s laminate technology excels in creating hard-wearing protective outer layers for dependable water resistance and photorealistic 3D embossing, rendering the look of hardwood, ceramic or stone. However, with HDF as its core, it has its limits of standing up to water – typically, within a 24-hour range. That means water-resistant laminate may not work for all spaces attacked by moisture, but it’s a viable option for:

  • Areas with daily spills that will see immediate attention

  • Places where mud, water or snow are tracked in

  • Multi-family households

At this point of technological sophistication, you’ll find it increasingly harder to tell water-resistant laminate apart from $10,000 real wood planks. So, you can revel in an upscale-looking and low-maintenance option as an alternative to traditional floor coverings – and get some moisture concerns off your mind.

Waterproof vinyl: Best for demanding environments

Vinyl planks are 100% synthetic. Unlike water-resistant laminate, they have a solid core that won’t absorb liquid, expand or lose dimensional stability, no matter the amount of water coming in contact with the floor. Waterproof vinyl can be fully immersed and sustain no damage in a flood. This makes it suitable for:

  • Wet locations

  • Basements

  • Utility rooms

  • Areas that may see more liquids coming than expected

That said, the quality of waterproof vinyl is variable. It may be prone to dents, scratches, punctures and UV damage.

Vinyl planks or tiles have a layered structure, with the topmost layer being printed using imagery of different textures and patterns. So, they can resemble wood, stone, metal or textiles, but there’s a big difference to the touch. You will never mistake vinyl for wood at your fingertips.

The winner for your home?

Depending on your location, lifestyle or specific concerns related to water damage, you should consider the flooring type with optimal protective properties. Both waterproof vinyl and water-resistant laminate can vary in appearance – from artificial-looking surfaces to gorgeous textures – and their prices differ based on plank quality or additional features.

But if your home is not at risk of being washed away by a devastating flood, AquaREPEL laminate will likely meet all your wood-like appearance, water shielding and budget needs.

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