Is Laminate Flooring Waterproof?

Is Laminate Flooring Waterproof?

Water has always been the worst nightmare for floorboards since time immemorial. Any wood based flooring is known to absorb water and swell, rot, mould and ultimately require repairing. Water resistant technology has evolved over time, but would it be too daring to hope for waterproof laminate flooring?

The answer is yes, there are 100% waterproof laminate floorboards. However the vast majority of laminate floorboards are only water resistant. This article will explain exactly what that means and help you decide whether the innovative waterproof laminate flooring is the right choice for you!

Construction of Laminate Flooring:

Laminate flooring was first introduced as a recycled wood floor covering made from scrap timber. Over many years, they have developed high scratch resistant surfaces and moisture resistant fibres. Laminate floors are made up of three layers:

  1. Wear Layer – The surface of all laminate floors (and almost all wood look floors) are coated in a thin lacquer of aluminium oxide. This provides the scratch resistant and water resistant surface.
  2. Print Layer – Advanced printing and embossing technology enables your laminate floor to look and feel just like real timber!
  3. Fibreboard – The material composition itself is also known as a high density fibreboard (HDF) which is made up of fused wood pulp.

Finally, laminate flooring is categorised under floating floors, which essentially means that they do not need glue or nails during installation. Instead, floating floors utilise an efficient click lock system which pieces each floorboard together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Laminate Flooring Diagram

AquaFloor Laminate – Australia’s First 100% Waterproof Laminate Flooring

Is laminate flooring waterproof? The answer is yes and no. Traditional laminate flooring options available are not waterproof. However, AquaFloor branded laminate flooring were recently introduced into the Australian market in early 2021, offering full waterproofing on top of heavy commercial grade (AC5) abrasion resistance which only a laminate floor can achieve.

You may have heard of terms like ‘100% waterproof surface‘ or ‘Extremely water resistant‘. Is that the same thing as waterproof? Unfortunately, water resistant and waterproof surface does not mean the floors are completely waterproof. Here’s the difference:

Waterproof vs Water Resistant

Waterproof – Waterproof laminate flooring is 100% impervious to any form of water. No amount of spills or moisture will ever harm your floors. This quality can be found amongst tiles, hybrid floors, vinyl floors and even newer ranges like the Aquafloor Laminate!

Water Resistance – These floors make up the vast majority and are able to partially resist water damage, usually measured in ‘hours of water resistance’ before they inevitably absorb water. Higher quality water resistant laminate flooring has longer hours of certifications against water.

Water damaged flooring stress with two people

Waterproof Alternatives vs AquaFloor Laminate

Now that we understand the difference between waterproof and water resistant, let’s explore some pros and cons of alternative options to waterproof laminate flooring.

AquaFloor Laminate vs Tiles

Porcelain tiles and Ceramic tiles are the trusty old solutions for kitchens and bathrooms. Some modern designs are beginning to adopt smooth tile flooring right through the house, minus bedrooms. How does the waterproof Laminate compare?

Pros:

  1. More Affordable – Laminate flooring is significantly more affordable than tiles in both material and installation.
  2. Warmer – Tiles not only feel more cold, but indeed are less insulating than laminate flooring. This makes it less desirable than wood flooring. (Note: low insulation can be a benefit for underfloor heating)

Cons:

  1. Durability – Laminate flooring is not as scratch and dent resistant as porcelain, ceramic and stone tiles.
  2. Fully Sealed – Even the waterproof AquaFloor Laminate range cannot overcome the hurdle of sealing the floors to stop water from leaking into the subfloor, which tiles have no problem handling.

Dining room with marble tile flooring

AquaFloor Laminate Flooring vs Hybrid Flooring

Hybrid flooring is an innovative product which is also 100% waterproof but looks and feels like real wood. Made up of a stone and plastic composite (SPC) or wood or plastic composite (WPC), hybrid flooring has rocked the market in recent years. How do they compare with the newer AquaFloor Laminate floors?

Pros:

  1. Durability – AquaFloor Laminate floors have a wear layer which is significantly more abrasion resistant than hybrid flooring which means they won’t scratch as easily. (AquaFloor offers AC4 and AC5 abrasion class)
  2. Installation Ease – Unlike hybrid floors, laminate ranges don’t require an extremely even subfloor. This can save you subfloor levelling costs.
  3. Dimensional Stability – AquaFloor waterproof laminate flooring wont swell or warp from temperature fluctuations compared to hybrid flooring.

Cons:

  1. Underlay – Hybrid flooring often comes with pre-attached acoustic underlay, whereas laminate ranges (including AquaFloor) do not offer. This means you’ll need to purchase acoustic underlayment separately if required.

If you would like to learn more, you can view our Hybrid Flooring Range.

Two people sitting or laying on hybrid flooring.

AquaFloor Laminate Flooring vs Luxury Vinyl Planks

Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP) are made fully of synthetic PVC and are great for most residential and commercial applications. Aside from being waterproof, vinyl flooring tends to be soft and slightly springy underfoot.

Pros:

  1. Abrasion Resistant – AquaFloor Laminate flooring is much stronger against scratches and dents compared to the softer luxury vinyl flooring.
  2. VOC Emissions – Vinyl floors are made of synthetic materials, some of which may emit respiratory irritants. Laminate ranges have less VOC emissions than vinyl floors.
  3. Dimensional Stability – AquaFloor Laminate flooring is much less susceptible to swelling or warping from changing temperatures compared to vinyl planks.
  4. Dearer – Whilst the material price of vinyl and laminate floors are similar per square metre, the installation costs of vinyl flooring is higher as it requires a glue-down installation.

Cons:

  1. Impact Cushioning – Vinyl flooring is softer than laminate flooring which means that in the event of a fall, you will be less likely to be injured. This makes it more suitable for aged care centres or hospitals.
  2. Cleaning – Luxury vinyl floors may have anti staining properties which make them easier to clean and maintain.

You can view our range of Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP) and learn more!

Vinyl plank flooring installed in a living room

AquaFloor Laminate Flooring vs HydroPro Engineered Timber

The innovative HydroPro Timber fuses lacquered hardwood onto a limestone based core instead of the usual plywood. This makes it even more structurally durable and fully waterproof from below, whilst the surface is protected from spills with 8 layers of lacquer. How do the two ranges compare?

Pros:

  1. Durability – Whilst both have a strong wear layer, a real timber surface is slightly less scratch and dent resistant than synthetically manufactured laminate flooring. This means the heavy commercial wear rated AquaFloor Laminate flooring takes the win here.
  2. Waterproofing – Both HydroPro Timber and AquaFloor Laminate are virtually impervious to any form of moisture or water. However, HydroPro Timber is still made up of real hardwood which means that if the lacquer is scraped off it will still absorb moisture. As such, AquaFloor Laminate is the winner, although it is very close.
  3. Affordability – HydroPro Timber is considerably more expensive than AquaFloor Laminate flooring since it has real timber. Hence, the AquaFloor Laminate wins again.

Cons:

  1. Appearance – Since all laminate floors are artificially manufactured through printing technology and fibreboards, the HydroPro Timber with real gorgeous hardwood and European oak veneer surfaces are more realistic than a replica.
  2. Property Value – Laminate floors do not increase the value of your property unlike real timber. HydroPro Timber is not only beautiful but will provide return on investment.

Interested in viewing and learning more about the Water-Resistant HydroPro Timber?

HydroPro Timber in spotted gum installed in a bedroom

Conclusion – Is Waterproof Laminate Flooring Any Good?

In conclusion, waterproof laminate flooring is fully moisture impervious and offers the most hard wearing surfaces out of all the hard flooring types. Just as waterproof hybrid floors became the most popular over the last five years, we predict the next generation technology waterproof laminate to become the number one in the market within the next five years. 

As such, waterproof laminate flooring is not just good, it’s great!

You can also view other non-waterproof laminate flooring options, for a more comprehensive range of colours and designs.


Frequently Asked Questions

Laminate flooring is made up of wood which absorbs water if left exposed for extended periods of time. This can lead to a plethora of problems including swelling, cupping, and rotting to name a few. However, most laminate floors are water resistant which means they require prolonged exposure to water or moisture. Normal mopping and small spillages should not result in these problems.

However, the innovative 100% waterproof laminate flooring ‘AquaFloor’ now allows you to avoid any risk of water damage.

Traditional laminate flooring is not suitable for the bathroom as they are not waterproof. Bathrooms are arguably the most exposed area of the house to water, and certainly demands a waterproof flooring like tiles.

New technologies like the 100% waterproof AquaFloor Laminate flooring on the other hand can only be laid in the bathroom if the floors are fully sealed. This is because water seeping through the floor covering into the subfloor can cause mould growth and rotting from below the surface.

Traditional laminate flooring is not advisable for kitchens, as even water resistant laminate flooring will not withstand leaks from below the floor. Whilst it is safer to go for waterproof flooring, water resistant laminate should withstand surface spills without a problem.

The AquaFloor Laminate is a 100% waterproof laminate flooring range which can be laid in kitchens without any adverse impacts. Hybrid floors and vinyl planks are also great options for a wood look.

The undisputed best flooring for wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms are porcelain tiles. If you are looking to install a waterproof but wood looking floor throughout the rest of the home, hybrid flooring or luxury vinyl planks are also great waterproof floor covering. Newer waterproof laminate flooring is also available, and they offer more wear resistant surfaces than hybrid and vinyl options.

Yes, you can definitely mop laminate flooring. Try to squeeze out excess water from the mop before cleaning, as most laminate floors are not waterproof. Also, avoid using high temperature steam mops. If you must, make sure you keep it moving so one area won’t expand too much from the high temperature.

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