What is the Best Waterproof Flooring?
If you're investing in a new floor, you're probably looking for something that will keep on looking great no matter what life throws at it. Or maybe you're looking for a multipurpose option that you can lay in multiple rooms. Either way, you might be considering something that offers water protection, and may have noticed that some floors are described as "waterproof" while others are called "water-resistant". Although it might sound as if one's as good as the other, these terms aren't actually interchangeable—let's explore the differences.
Waterproof vs. Water-Resistant Flooring While the difference between waterproof and water-resistant flooring may sound small, it can be significant. On the surface, both can look very similar—to the point where it's difficult to tell them apart. The real difference is that water-resistant floors feature a surface that can handle everyday bathtub splashing or kitchen spills, but that won't withstand a serious soaking. If water, juice, or other liquids aren't cleaned up quickly enough, the moisture can work its way into the flooring.
By contrast, waterproof flooring features a dense, composite core that won't be damaged by more prolonged exposure to water—some brands offer protection for up to 72 hours. Our AquaSeal range features innovative locking technology that also helps to prevent liquids from seeping between planks. This means that in rooms where water exposure might pose a risk—such as kitchens, full bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, or mudrooms—it's waterproof flooring that provides superior protection. And these floors are available in style options to suit your preference no matter your style or decor.
Types of Waterproof Flooring
The most common type is waterproof vinyl flooring, but there are additional possibilities as well, including hydrocork, tile, and a hybrid resilient flooring option that pairs a waterproof plank with an innovative locking mechanism. No matter what you decide, you'll get beautiful, long-lasting performance.
The most popular type of waterproof flooring, vinyl planks feature a dense composite core that's then covered with a durable, waterproof layer. There are a few different kinds of vinyl flooring, including Rigid Vinyl Plank and Luxury Vinyl Plank, so you might have to shop around to find the one that's best for you. These planks are often designed to replicate the luxurious hues and graining of oak, hickory, cherry, and other hardwoods, or you can choose the cool textures and look of stone, such as travertine, marble, and slate.
Porcelain tile combines the rustic allure of hardwoods, such as acacia, oak, and Brazilian Cherry, or the sophisticated appeal of stone, with the versatile, durable, and waterproof benefits of tile. This option works best over a stable surface of either concrete or wood and involves grout and mortar installation, so you may wish to consider professional installers for a tiling project. Tile can make an attractive choice if you're looking for title bathroom flooring ideas.
Featuring a cork composite core and a surface designed to echo the warm tones and authentic graining of oak, pine, or Brazilian Cherry wood, Hydrocork incorporates the latest waterproof technology to deliver an environmentally friendly choice. Importantly, not all cork flooring features the added water protection of Hydrocork, so be sure to double-check!
This flooring combines the visual appeal of wood with the performance of laminate and vinyl. Not only are the planks waterproof, but they feature a locking mechanism that prevents liquids from seeping in between, delivering unparalleled spill protection. Their protective wear layer helps them resist scuffs and scratches, while the decorative layer beneath echoes the warm, natural tones of woods such as oak and maple. Hybrid resilient floors are sourced from Forest Stewardship Council-certified forests and are 100% free of PVC, for a choice that you can feel good about.
What to Look for in Waterproof Flooring
So you've decided that waterproof floors are what you want. But what else do you need to consider before you decide which type to go for? How do you pick the best waterproof flooring for your home? Here are some key factors that may help you to narrow down your options:
Underlayment is an extra layer of material that sits between your structural subfloor and your new flooring. Typically made from thin plywood, recycled plastic, or even soft foam, it can help to provide a smoother platform as it covers any gaps and imperfections in the subfloor. It can also reduce noise and improve insulation, and create a more cushioned feel underfoot. Not all floors require underlayment—for tile, it depends your type of subfloor—but it is generally recommended for vinyl and hybrid flooring.
One of your deciding factors may be ease of installation. There are different options for the various types of waterproof flooring, and this may determine whether you choose to use professional installation or go DIY. Some of the most common methods include:
Easy-click installation or floating installation, which uses a tongue-and-groove system that allows you to simply click the planks together.
Grout-and-mortar installation is used for porcelain tile floors. For this, you apply mortar to the underlayment or subfloor, then lay the tile before securing it in place with grout. This is a time-consuming and complex installation better handled by experienced DIYers or professionals.
Glue-down installation involves applying adhesive to your underlayment or subfloor and then sticking your planks on top. Again, this requires a certain amount of expertise, so is best left to experienced DIYers or professional installers.
Peel-and-stick installation is similar to glue-down, except that the adhesive is pre-applied to the flooring, so you need only remove the covering before laying it down. This makes it a more DIY-friendly process.
For sheer ease of maintenance, we recommend waterproof vinyl plank flooring, hybrid resilient flooring and tile. Day-to-day, all these floors need is a simple sweep or a once-over with a felt-brush vacuum. The planks or tiles can occasionally be wet-mopped and even steam-mopped for a deeper clean when necessary. So if you want to spend more time enjoying your space and less time cleaning it, this could help you make up your mind.
Whichever type of waterproof flooring you choose, you'll know that you're getting one of the most high-performing floors on the market. These floors are built to last—often for 25 years or more. With proper installation and maintenance—all of which LL Flooring can help you with— you'll be enjoying them for years to come.