Published on Saturday, August 22nd, 2020
Areas of the home that are damp, moist, or prone to standing water pose a challenge for flooring materials. Waterproof flooring options allows for homeowners to design rooms without sacrificing lifestyle, looks, or budget.
Waterproof flooring can come in handy when a home is often filled with company, pets, and kids. However, there are some key important facts about what makes flooring water resistant and the many different materials available.
Water is a magnificent force of nature. Therefore, a water damaged floor is a permanently damaged floor. On a non-water resistant floor, if water is left to pool on top, it will inevitably seep into the floor, compromising all the way to the core and then will expand and warp. The floor is then irreversibly damaged and mold and mildew can begin to grow.
When floors are water resistant, it means there is an added barrier that prevents water from seeping into the flooring for a certain amount of time. Therefore, immediate contact with water will not cause damage, but water will have to be wiped away eventually so it does not get past the barrier.
As a general rule, floor coverings made from inorganic materials, such as synthetic plastics, will be better than floor coverings containing organic materials. The term organic refers to any material that is carbon-based and was once living, which when used to describe flooring material, usually refers to plant material (solid hardwood, bamboo, engineered hardwood). When exposed to moisture, organic materials will begin to decompose and become an ideal host for bacteria and mold. Inorganic materials, on the other hand, containing synthetic plastics, are largely immune to the effects of moisture.
It’s important to note the ratio of organic and inorganic materials vary, and one exception of this rule is carpeting. Most carpeting is synthetic and fully inorganic, but because carpeting traps and holds moisture, it’s a very poor choice for damp locations.
The waterproof flooring options listed below provide excellent protection against moisture as they are all 100% waterproof. Use these flooring options with confidence in kitchens, bathrooms, and even basements.
Porcelain tile is a form of ceramic tile used in showers, bathtubs, pools, and other pure-water areas. This highly water-resistant material is created with fine clays and high firing temperatures, giving a water absorption rate of 0.5 percent or less (as defined by the American Society for Testing and Materials). It’s debatably the best material for chronically damp locations, provided the grout seams are maintained adequately. Cracked grout can provide an opportunity for moisture to seep down into the subfloor.
As with porcelain, ordinary ceramic tile is an excellent choice for areas with puddling or standing water. The difference between porcelain and solely ceramic tile is a higher absorption rate in non-porcelain ceramic tile, though this is not often an issue. Same as porcelain, the weak point with ceramic tile is cracks in the grout rather than the tile itself.
Coming in long plank strips, luxury vinyl flooring has a lock and fold style installation that provides a reasonably tight seal against water. The entire layer of the flooring itself is entirely waterproof, including the core, making this waterproof flooring option a better material for wet areas than plastic laminate. However, luxury vinyl planks do rank slightly behind sheet vinyl and ceramic tile because the seams between plants have been known to allow water to seep into the subfloor, especially if the installation isn’t perfect.
Sheet vinyl is a 100% waterproof solid surface. It typically has very, very few (if any) seams that allow water to seep into the subfloor.
Vinyl tile is also a 100% waterproof material, however, the many seams in the tile installation allow for opportunities for water to seep into the subfloor.
Properly sealed concrete is excellent against water. At one point this material was only used for utility areas, concrete is gaining popularity inside the home. Especially with new texturizing techniques that can mimic the look of stone, wood, or patterns.
While it is always smart to be mindful of cleaning up spills within a reasonable amount of time, a 100% waterproof floor can ensure less sweat over the little things and rest assured that all will be okay. There are many types of waterproof flooring options available, so be sure to do your research, take some samples home, and have a flooring expert help you find the right flooring for you.