Laminate flooring, in an attempt to gain back market share from the upstart waterproof vinyl category, has changed their marketing from water resistant to waterproof. People are always asking if they can do anything to their old laminate floor to make it more waterproof.
The short answer is no. You can help make it less susceptible to water issues but waterproofing a laminate floor is impossible due to the fact the core of these products is fiberboard. The manufacturer adds resins to the fiber board to make them water resistant, but if water gets to the core and is allowed to linger, it will cause permanent damage to the product.
Let’s look into the dos and don’ts of making your floor more water resistant and help eliminate some myths about what you can and can’t do
Things you cannot do:
One of the items you will find online is you can apply a topcoat of polyurethane to your laminate floor to protect it from moisture. Anytime you apply a coat of urethane to any surface the first thing that needs to be done is the surface needs to be sanded.
Laminate is a piece of paper with a picture of whatever your floor is trying to look like, mostly wood plank. This is covered by a layer of melamine plastic. If you touch this surface with sandpaper, it will be ruined and your floor will never look the same.
So, if you do not sand the floor, the melamine protective layer is nonporous meaning whatever you use on it will not stick. It may look good for a few days, but as you use the floor the urethane will begin to peel off and you will have a mess on your hands.
The other thing some people say you can do is seal all the joints between the boards so that water cannot penetrate and get to the core. The manufacturers have done all they can to make the seams between the boards as water resistant as possible. Many offer a 24-hour water-resistant moisture warranties that cover spills that may penetrate the floor.
Sealing the floor joints can be done, but the time and energy in first applying a sealant to the seam and then cleaning off the excess would be astronomical. Maybe if you are doing just a bathroom you would be fine, but a whole house or large kitchen would be a major undertaking. The other issue with this is over time, because of cleaning and movement in a floating floor, this seal is bound to be broken and moisture will again be able to penetrate and get to the core.
Can this be done during installation to help seal the seams? Again, no. Because the click joint systems on these products is so tight there is no room for a silicone sealant to go. It will either keep the locking system from locking properly or all your sealant will squeeze out. It may offer a little protection, but it is not going to save your floor from moisture related issues.
Things you can do:
One thing you can do to help make your floor more water resistant is to caulk the gaps between the floor and wall with a flexible, waterproof sealant. This will help prevent water that may get to the edge from getting to the core and cause problems. It will take a fair amount of sealant, but can save a floor if something such as a toilet overflow occurs.
Like all other types of flooring, laminate flooring needs regular cleaning and maintenance. To clean your water-resistant laminate flooring, wipe it down with a damp microfiber pad. You can be relatively aggressive cleaning laminate floors. Just avoid abrasive cleaners and cleaning pads. Due to the melamine wear layer, even acetone can be used to get up stubborn stains.
However, the less moisture, the better. Do not apply the cleaner directly to the floor. Apply to the microfiber or soft absorbent cloth and wipe down the floor until dry, sort of like cleaning a window. Some manufacturers recommend using their cleaning products for the best results.
Need help choosing the right waterproof flooring near you? Look no further than Rugworks. Whether you live in a 20th-century Victorian mansion or a modern home, we will have the right flooring that blends with your decor. To make an appointment, call us at (707) 584-7847.