One day, as I was perusing my local floor shop, a gentleman burst through the doors scanning the building for the nearest salesperson.
As he scurried towards the service desk, the worried look on his face zeroed in on one of the salespeople, and he immediately changed course full-speed towards the employee.
The words practically fell out of his mouth, “My daughter just bought a house, and we need waterproof laminate for the kitchen!”
The whole room went silent. All eyes were on the employee.
It was my only chance. I knew I had to do something before ---
“Actually sir, let me show you some better waterproof options over here in our luxury vinyl selection as it may be the superior choice for your needs and your budget!”
I couldn’t believe it. In an instant, the man’s expression went from a frenzy of emotions to a relaxed, comfortable stillness.
A wave of relief fell over everyone around me as we started clapping and cheering, supporting the employee and that flawless maneuver they spent their life training for.
If I’ve lost you, here it is: Laminate isn’t waterproof. Period.
This is the number one misconception that could lead you straight to hot water (haha) when it comes to warranties and taking care of your laminate floors.
But hold on! I’m going to need you to bear with me because there is a ton of info out there, especially about laminate, and I want to straighten it out so we’re all on the same page.
By the end of this article, I will have gone over everything you need to know about preventing and fixing any laminate damage.
Table of Contents
- Nope, Laminate Flooring is Not Waterproof
- How “Scratch-Resistant” is Laminate Flooring?
- Busted Board? No Problem
- Expecting The Unexpected
Nope, Laminate Flooring is Not Waterproof
As I’ve said, it’s not waterproof. Laminate is often constructed with a cork core which does a great job at absorbing moisture.
A good follow up question would be, “If that’s the case, why even use cork in the first place?”
Cork is great at absorbing moisture, but it also acts as a cushion underfoot providing comfort as we walk across the floor.
Many manufacturers try to prevent the whole moisture problem by sealing the cork so it resists water. It can be effective at first, but if the cork is exposed to moisture long enough it can lead to water damage. Sealing the cork is not a forever solution.
For these reasons, many professionals point people in the direction of WPC or SPC (luxury vinyl products) when customers are searching for 100% waterproof products. Think of laminate as water-resistant from the top down.
The finished surface of laminate is incredibly scratch resistant and can resist water all day, but as soon as that moisture gets past the surface, you are risking water damage.
How “Scratch-Resistant” is Laminate Flooring?
Oh, I’m talkin’ really scratch-resistant. If you watch the demonstration in the video above, it’s clear to see just how scratch-resistant laminate can be. However, I wanted to go a step further and pull from some other trusted resources.
Here is a statement from the North American Laminate Flooring Association:
“Protected by a tough external layer and resin coating, a laminate floor is much stronger, and more scratch-resistant, impact-resistant and longer lasting than any hardwood, vinyl, or carpet. It’s virtually resistant to dogs, cats, kids, and even high heels.”
Yes, laminate is quite scratch-resistant but it is not indestructible.
What Can Damage Laminate Flooring?
Here are some of the things that could damage laminate:
- Water - See above for all the details on this one or check out our articles and videos on the topic!
- Build up of dirt and debris - If you don’t sweep or vacuum regularly, dirt and debris can build up and act as sandpaper to the surface of the laminate.
- Certain cleaning solutions - There are some cleaning solutions that are too harsh for the material to handle. It could wear away the surface finish on the laminate or straight up ruin everything.
How to Care for Laminate Flooring?
The next question should be, “Well Rob, how do I prevent all of this from happening!?”
Here’s how to take care of some damage control:
First and foremost, laminate is one of, if not the easiest type of flooring material to replace by yourself. The most popular method of installation involves a click-lock method where you can simply detach the boards from one another and click a new one in place!
Fixing Water Damage - Laminate continues to be the easiest flooring material to replace as mentioned above. If any minor spills occur, as long as you are quick to wipe them up you’ll be okay. Major spills are a different story as they are more likely to seep between the cracks of the floor and sit underneath the boards. That is where the real water damage occurs. So be prepared and make sure you have some spare boards on deck in the event of a replacement.
Dirt and Debris - Make sure you sweep and vacuum regularly! Use a vacuum without a
beater bar so that you don’t damage the surface of the floor. Using area rugs and mats at the entrances of each room are a great way to minimize the amount of muck, gunk, and sediment on your beautiful new laminate.
Certain Cleaning Solutions - Do not use bleach, ammonia or any other harsh chemicals as they may ruin the finish as well as the board itself. Use cleaning products that are recommended by your local retailer and the manufacturer. Don’t do any guesswork when picking what cleaner for the safety of you, your family and your floors.
Expecting The Unexpected
This section has two meanings:
- Be prepared to tackle any issue you might have with your floor by:
- Having spare material on hand to replace any damaged boards (installation is super easy)
- Be proactive with cleaning so that nothing builds up thus eventually ruining your boards. Consult the pros as to which cleaning material you should use.
- Be prepared for the misleading content out there. It is not a secret that there is a lot of misinformation out there. There are times where companies may exaggerate or neglect nuance for the sake of selling product. This is why you can find information that says, “Laminate is a great waterproof option!” when we now know that it isn’t. Essentially, be prepared by familiarizing yourself with the material you want as much as possible.