Waterproof does not equal Flood-proof
Waterproof flooring has become extremely popular for use in rooms where moisture is common such as: kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and basements. When spills, leaks or condensation form on the surface of this type of flooring, they will puddle up on the surface and can be readily removed with a cloth or mop.
Waterproof flooring is designed with materials that are impervious to water. That means water will not absorb into the top, bottom, or sides of the plank, panel, or tile. However, this does not mean it can withstand sitting in water forever. Nor does this mean that it will prevent water from getting between the seams and into your subfloor.
That’s why flooring manufacturers do not warrant their floors for floods, overflowing dishwashers, washing machines, leaking water heaters, sewage backups, and the like. While a floor may be waterproof, it is not floodproof.
As a consequence, it may seem inaccurate to call a floor waterproof. However, this definition has become an accepted standard of the flooring industry. In a similar fashion, many watches are advertised as waterproof - yet in truth they are only water-resistant. The typical Chronograph Quartz Military watch can only handle 30 meters, yet they are marketed as waterproof. In comparison, the best deep sea diving watches can handle up to 1,200 meters. There’s always a limit to how much water pressure and shock they can handle before they leak and become wet.
In sum: when you examine most of the flooring products labeled as waterproof, you'll find that there are limitations to the application of the term and exclusions to their warranty. They may be waterproof, but are not floodproof.
Waterproof flooring can be used anywhere in a house, especially in areas like kitchens, bathrooms, mud rooms, and basements. One of our favorites is Amorim WISE waterproof cork flooring. It’s sustainable, non-toxic and available in 18 wood looks and 10 cork looks.
Softer to stand on than other waterproof floors, Amorim WISE cork floors are great for kitchens, while looking formal enough to carry into a living room or family room in open-plan homes.
Other types of waterproof flooring include luxury vinyl tile and plank (LVT and LVP), and wood plastic composite (WPC) and stone plastic composite (SPC) vinyl floors. Because our mission is to sell products for the home that are sustainable and non-toxic, we don’t sell vinyl flooring. It off-gasses in your home and there’s no safe way to manufacture or recycle it.
What is water-resistant flooring?
Water-resistant flooring is not damaged by water or other liquids on its top surface, and its seams are tight enough to resist liquids if they are wiped up promptly. However, when water comes at it from the sides or underneath, or sits on a seam too long, then its locking mechanism, core, and base materials could absorb moisture and swell up. It may not come back to its original shape when it dries and might need to be replaced.
Water-resistant floors are great for their beauty, comfort, and ease of installation for do-it-yourselfers. They can be installed in rooms on or above grade where there’s not much danger of excessive moisture, like living rooms, bedrooms, and hallways. They are also fine whenever the inhabitants are mature and know how to clean up messes quickly.
Our favorite water-resistant floating click floors are Forbo Marmoleum Click Cinch Loc; Wicanders Cork GO and Essence Cork Panels; and Nova Cork’s Naturals, New Dimensions Plank, Comprido Collection, Basics Collection, and Kahrs Life Collection.
While most laminate floors are water-resistant, we don’t sell them due to emissions of hazardous air pollutants. Plus their appearance, sound and foot feel are not up to Green Building Supply standards.
When choosing the right flooring for your home or office, always look beyond the label—read the warranty, ask questions about how it will hold up to spills, pet urine and overflowing appliances. Then make an honest assessment of the real traffic patterns and environmental exposures your floor will go through over the course of its lifetime.
Why it Matters.
Traditional flooring has been used for decades and has withstood the test of time. The introduction of “waterproof flooring” has become a catchy sales slogan. While it provides some additional benefits, many people do not need a floor that is truly waterproof. If you normally clean up spills right away, most floors will perform fine. If you have kids, dogs, or tenants, however, waterproof floors offer an added layer of protection.