Depending on the humidity and location in the house, sometimes water content can contribute to stains, warping, and other irreparable problems with laminate flooring. Because of this, it can be highly beneficial to know how to waterproof laminate flooring.
To waterproof laminate flooring without buying new waterproofed flooring, you can seal the locking mechanisms with floor sealing. Another option is to use silicone or caulk on areas where the floor is most susceptible to water damage. A final method is to cover the laminate with polyurethane.
In this article, you will learn how to make laminate flooring waterproof using various methods. You will also discover the differences between waterproof and water-resistant when it comes to flooring, whether sealing is a good option and things to keep in mind before deciding on the technique you use.
Contents (Jump to Topic)
- Is Laminate Flooring Water Resistant?
- Can You Seal Laminate Flooring to Make It Waterproof?
- How to Waterproof Laminate Flooring
- Should You Seal the Whole Floor or Just the Edges?
- Waterproof vs Water Resistant Laminate Flooring
- Can You Seal Laminate Flooring With Polyurethane?
- What to Consider Before Waterproofing Laminate Floors
- Laminate Floor Sealers
Is Laminate Flooring Water Resistant?
Laminate flooring is generally regarded as vulnerable to damage caused by water and other fluids, but in actuality, standard laminate floors do offer some water-resistant properties. So even though laminate flooring is not considered water-resistant, in some cases the flooring planks can resist water permeation but will not prevent the accessibility of water.
In plain terms, this means that a spill of a beverage or other liquid will not cause damage if it is cleaned up before too long. However, if you let the liquid sit and puddle on the laminate flooring, you may encounter some problems. The spill can slowly penetrate and seep into the locking system and cause the edges of the laminate to warp and buckle. Unlike traditional hardwood flooring, laminate flooring cannot be repaired if it buckles or absorbs water (although you may be able to replace only the affected area with new planks).
Because of this, it is a good idea to waterproof laminate in areas with high humidity or places like bathrooms and kitchens that are likely to involve water spills regularly. This can protect against water on top or seeping under laminate flooring and cause permanent and expensive damage to the floors.
Can You Seal Laminate Flooring to Make It Waterproof?
If you are wondering if you can seal the laminate floor to make it waterproof, or at the very least water-resistant, the answer is likely no if you want to seal the entire thing. For one, you should not have to seal the laminate floor for most purposes because the flooring itself is durable and hard for long-lasting beauty.
Second, the boards are designed to lock together to prevent water from seeping in between. The only area that is occasionally sealed for waterproofing is the locking mechanisms themselves, which is only done as a last resort during installation. On the other hand, sealing the perimeter, at least for non-floating laminate floors, is a common practice that can offer some benefits.
Laminate flooring is made of various materials, like an aluminum oxide top layer, that will not benefit from complete sealing. Doing so may even cause more harm than good. The surface layer on laminate flooring is a plastic-like, synthetic substance, and sealing it may cause the floor to become slippery or even peel the layers off of the topcoat of the flooring planks.
In addition, if you use a sealant against the flooring manufacturer’s recommendations, then applying it can void the warranty. Not only that, but it could damage the floor at the same time, thereby ruining your floor and making it impossible to be reimbursed.
How to Waterproof Laminate Flooring
So, if sealing the entire floor is not a dependable option, how can you waterproof laminate flooring in a high-moisture or high-humidity portion of your home? There are a few methods that you should keep in mind and they may be used in conjunction with each other in some situations.
1. Seal Locking Mechanisms
The areas where two laminate flooring planks meet each other can be vulnerable areas when it comes to water because the water can invade through the gap, regardless of how small it may seem. Because of this, sometimes it can be helpful to seal those areas that are more susceptible to water intrusion. You should only embark upon this method during the installation process and it will not be possible otherwise.
To complete this method, you can use PVA Type II glue that comes in a bottle. Double-check the flooring company’s recommendations and be aware that this process can void the warranty in some cases. You also want to select a glue that is easy to squeeze small amounts out of the bottle so that you only use the necessary portion. This prevents excessive adhesive that can dry, stain, and become a pain.
Using PVA Type II glue will let you seal the connection points of the locking mechanisms while you install and lock the planks together. Another option is to use a floor sealant designed for laminate use. Many flooring manufacturers recommend specific types that can seal or adhere to the locking mechanisms and prevent excessive water seepage.
Choosing the wrong type can prevent proper contraction and expansion during temperature and humidity changes, which can harm the entire floor and any materials utilized in the flooring project. If you choose this strategy, it is important to clean up any excess or spilled glue or sealer immediately because it can dry and become much harder to remove.
2. Silicone Damage Prevention
Silicone is a flexible material that can be used sparingly to prevent damage by blocking the most vulnerable access points for moisture to seep into your laminate flooring. Sometimes there are gaps in addition to the expansion gap around the perimeter. This occurs because of uneven subfloors, inaccurate sizing, and other reasons. Some of these issues can form months or years after the laminate flooring was installed and that is the only time when silicone damage prevention waterproofing should be utilized.
In addition, there may be some areas that are prone to moisture, like near bathrooms and in kitchens. While sometimes laminate may not be the best choice for these areas, if you use laminate flooring in water-prone areas, then silicone applied to certain areas can prevent significant damage.
It is critical that you choose a silicone sealer product made specifically for your type of floor. You should also choose a clear-drying product, even if the locations are out of sight. The product needs to be water-preventative while remaining flexible so that the flooring has room to expand and contract. Some laminate flooring makers will provide or recommend a specific type of silicone to use. While most are used in a tube with a caulking gun, there are some spray foam options. Just make sure that you have complete control and do not use too much in small crevices or damage-prone areas.
When you fill areas, you want to completely fill the gap, but not so much that the silicone comes up to level with the topside surface of the flooring. It should remain slightly below the surface. Make sure to clean away any excessive silicone immediately, even if it is safe for the laminate. Cut the smallest possible hole in the tube of silicone and squeeze it out while running over the seam or gap. Then, go back over it with a wet or gloved finger or putty knife. This allows you to smooth it out and remove any extra silicone on the surface.
3. Caulk Expansion Gaps
Expansion gaps should always be included when installing laminate flooring and will likely be about ¼ inch around the entire perimeter of the floor. This area is necessary for floating floors and allows them to expand and contract without becoming damaged, warped, or bowed. However, the expansion gaps do offer an access point for moisture and liquid to damage the flooring. Because of that, part of waterproofing a laminate floor is to caulk those expansion gaps thoroughly.
Like with damage prevention in other areas of the laminate flooring, you can use silicone because it is flexible but adequately prevents moisture accumulation. However, some types of caulk or specialty laminate sealer may work better for a few reasons. You will want to double-check that the caulking product you choose will be flexible enough while simultaneously preventing water intrusion. The good thing about caulk, though, is that it can also protect against smoke and dust in addition to moisture better than silicone can. Plus, it is much easier to paint over areas filled with caulk than it is to paint silicone.
To fill the expansion gaps, you will need to remove the baseboards (or just don’t install them yet) and use a caulk gun to form layers of caulk, filling in the entire gap. Once the first layer dries, apply the next. Do this until the caulk forms up slightly below the surface height of the flooring itself and then install the baseboards back.
4. Polyurethane Coating
The final waterproofing option is to use polyurethane coating. Polyurethane creates a glossy finish when applied on laminate floors that many homeowners find attractive and desirable and protects against water damage. However, many polyurethane products do not adhere well to laminate floors because of the resin coat.
Because of this, there is a certain way that you have to apply the coating. Furthermore, this usually requires you to seal or coat more of the flooring than is typically recommended, so consider any manufacturer recommendations and warnings.
This method has to be utilized along with the silicone, glue, or caulking methods because it does not protect the expansion gaps or crevices between planks or locking mechanisms. Also, even though polyurethane does not stick very well because of the resin coating, you should never try to sand down laminate flooring because it will destroy the style and color of the flooring planks. Finally, make sure to check the product with flooring manufacturer suggestions because sometimes polyurethane can void the warranty or permanently damage the laminate flooring.
To properly apply polyurethane, you will have to use a mop. This may sound awkward, but the mop allows you to apply the polyurethane in layers. You can also use a paint roller or brush, but a mop does well for larger areas. Usually, polyurethane will take two coats to protect against water penetration and look uniform but may take 3 coats. Make sure to let the previous coat completely dry before applying the next.
Should You Seal the Whole Floor or Just the Edges?
In general, you do not want to seal the entire laminate flooring. While polyurethane waterproofing is often used for the entire area, most flooring manufacturers warn against applying sealant, even polyurethane coating, to the entire floor. This is because the plastic materials and other substances on the outer surfaces of the flooring are already designed to be water-resistant and non-porous and the sealant is unlikely to bond tightly to the top layer.
Because of this, in most cases, you will only want to focus on the waterproofing methods that your specific flooring requires, like portions prone to water damage from spills or moisture of any kind. In addition, waterproofing the perimeter and any gaps around the floor where water could seep in can help you extend the life of the flooring and prevent future problems.
Waterproof vs Water Resistant Laminate Flooring
Waterproof is different from water-resistant and the distinction is important, especially if you are looking for flooring solutions for bathrooms and other high-moisture, high-humidity areas. Water-resistant typically refers to laminate flooring that can withstand spills as long as they are cleaned promptly. Many claims to resist damage from liquid pooling for as much as 24 hours. This is what most waterproof and water-resistant flooring options mean.
You may be wondering if there is true waterproof laminate flooring available. The answer is kind of. Some products claim to be waterproof that may have installation methods and material uses that make them more resistant than the typical water-resistant flooring options. However, laminate is always susceptible to water damage and because of that, there is no laminate flooring that can prevent 100% of damage from water at all times. Therefore, there is no true waterproof laminate, but some come much closer than others and waterproof vinyl flooring will typically be more waterproof than any laminate flooring you can find.
Can You Seal Laminate Flooring With Polyurethane?
The short answer is yes; you can seal a laminate floor with polyurethane. However, it is often not suggested and can do more harm than good in some situations. Polyurethane is commonly used for real hardwood floors to prevent moisture build-up, protect against cracks, and highlight the natural grain. However, it does not stick well to laminate flooring because the resin and other materials utilized to form the topcoat.
Some people do choose to use polyurethane for laminate flooring that must be waterproof as much as possible when there aren’t any other alternatives readily available. This can be beneficial, but other options work better, like protecting against moisture in the vulnerable areas or buying new flooring that is water-resistant to replace the existing materials.
What to Consider Before Waterproofing Laminate Floors
Before you decide to waterproof your laminate floors, there are some things to keep in mind. This will help you determine whether it is the best idea and which method will work best.
First, you may want to consider new flooring in some situations. There are “waterproof” and water-resistant laminate floors as well as other types of floors that may be best to use in water-prone areas depending on your budget and plans.
Second, you will want to check warranty information for the flooring that you want to waterproof and any possible products that could void the warranty. The manufacturer may have approved products for sealing or waterproofing the expansion gaps or other areas and if that is the case, you may want to consider those suggestions first.
Another thing to consider is that waterproofing does not necessarily mean it is 100 percent waterproof. You should still clean up any spills or moisture puddles before they seep into the flooring and cause damage. Also, keeping the floor clean will make it last longer and appear more attractive over time. When cleaning with water, with mopping, for example, you also want to make sure not to use too much moisture that can oversaturate the flooring planks.
Laminate Floor SealersWhen it comes to laminate flooring sealers, there are two main types: silicone caulking and polyurethane coating. In addition, there are also specialty caulks and sealers that use other materials like acrylic but that generally fall under one or the other of these two main categories.
When choosing a product, you will want to make sure that it has a sheen and tone that will match the finish of the flooring planks. If you have flat or matte-styled flooring, then choose sealant with a flat sheen. If you use high-gloss sealant with a flat floor color, then it will be obvious and can look tacky.
It is important to follow the instructions when using a sealer, whatever type you choose. Some will have different drying periods, require different tools, or recommend different preferences that you need to consider for proper application. Also, some may only be used for certain types of laminate or with specific types of products.
One of the popular products for waterproofing and protecting areas of a laminate floor is Pergo SimpleSolutions Laminate Floor Sealant. A cool thing about Pergo sealant is that it matches specific flooring colors and will remain uniform when used with their flooring products. It is also an acrylic-based sealant that can work with silicone and is utilized in expansion gaps, crevices, and water-prone areas, making it a single product that can be used for the whole project.
Laminate floors can be vulnerable to water damage. Still, there are possible ways to prevent excessive moisture intrusion, particularly in areas high in moisture and humidity or around the perimeter expansion gaps. Using these methods can help you prevent damage and extend the life of your laminate flooring as long as you use the techniques properly and keep manufacturer recommendations, the application process, and other factors in mind.