Best waterproof flooring options – Don’t get wet!
Waterproof flooring is a special case kind of flooring. As you begin looking at the available waterproof flooring options know that it won’t be your cheapest option. The cheapest materials simply won’t both look like good flooring, and be able to stand up to the moisture involved.
There is a vast difference between water resistant, and water proof. Most floors, with the obvious exception of carpet, can be made water resistant. This can be accomplished with a good topcoat that provides a waterproof barrier. Merely having this barrier does not make a floor waterproof, and many floors will be quickly ruined if moisture gets through or around this barrier.
Avoid these flooring options at all costs..
Carpet, get the thought out of your head, simply the worst choice in waterproof flooring. Carpet will mold, rot, and be a hazard if constantly exposed to moisture. Beyond that even if you get the carpet seemingly dry the padding will retain water. There is no more less waterproof option than carpet. Stainproof carpeting is no better, keep carpet away from moisture as much as possible.
Laminate, this is only slightly less a disaster than carpet. Laminate slightly resists moisture by having a top layer of melamine. A laminate floor that is glued together can resist the occasional spill, but it is not in any way waterproof. Should water get through this thin layer regular laminate will be quickly ruined as water ruins the core of the laminate. When water gets to the core the wood pulp will bubble, the boards will warp, and very quickly the floor will need to be replaced. Avoid placing laminate flooring in areas that need a waterproof flooring solution.
The Options to Consider
All of the options below have one thing in common, properly done they are basically waterproof. Waterproof doesn’t mean they magically make water go away. Waterproof means that even if they are beneath water for a time the flooring will not need to be replaced. This allows them to not be destroyed by spills, broken pipe, leaky fittings, or leaky pets.
Luxury Vinyl ($2-$7): Luxury vinyl is one of the best choices for waterproof flooring. Completely constructed from impervious vinyl you could submerge this material and once it dried off your floor would be fine. Luxury vinyl is a better choice due to the thickness of the vinyl, and the fact that it is often constructed as a replacement for other material. Luxury vinyl is found in two main form factors, planking and tile.
Planking: Plank vinyl is created to mimic hardwood. The material is imprinted to look like wood, and the top layer is often embossed to give it a ”grain” like wood. This is the best option for those who like the look of hardwood but need a waterproof option.
Tile: Tile Vinyl is usually constructed to mimic stone or ceramic tile. Again this gives you the flexibility to have the look of a softer and more pourous stone without the worry if they can stand up to the moisture you are worried about.
Epoxy Paint ($4.50-$7.50): If your floor can be painted from wall to wall epoxy paint can give you a waterproof surface. Epoxy resin creates a waterproof, non-pourous coating that once dried is impermeable to water. At the higher end of the cost listed is true epoxy surfaces. In true epoxy surfaces two different materials are mixed that create an incredibly hard surface that is impervious to water. This epoxy surface can be died or colored to fit your design ideal.
Sealed Concrete ($3-$7): If you are looking for a floor that is more durable, but still waterproof sealed concrete can be your best option. Concrete sealants penetrate the surface of the concrete and through a chemical change in the concrete make it impermeable. This doesn’t make it completely waterproof but it is one of the better options. The concrete is still vulnerable to moisture from beneath or beside the slab. If you are looking for a more stylish form of concrete there is staining, imprinting, and painting that will make it fit different areas. These options all add to the base cost though.
Waterproof Laminate Flooring ($5-$8): This form of laminate is different, and more expensive, than your standard laminate flooring. Normal laminate flooring is composed of a core of wood fibers. This core disintigrates in any sort of water. Waterproof laminate has a core that is composed of rubber instead of wood. This means that if it gets wet, the water won’t destroy the laminate.
Tile ($10-$21): Porcelain or Ceramic tile is relatively waterproof. Some stone tile is also waterproof, but this should be checked closely. When considering the waterproof qualities of any sort of tile the adhesive used to keep the tile in place must also be considered. Tile is not a solid surface which makes the grout an important consideration. Use a grout that will stand up to immersion to have a truly waterproof tile floor.
The thing to remember is that no matter how waterproof your flooring is, you have a subfloor that you must be concerned with. Your flooring option will be fine when immersed, but should this water get to your subfloor the results could be catastrophic. To prevent this either use an impermeable vapor barrier that will protect the wood beneath or use a subfloor system intended for high moisture areas.