Is Vinyl Plank Flooring Waterproof? (Explained!)

Nothing damages wooden floors quicker than water and this is why many homeowners want a waterproof floor. But is vinyl plank flooring waterproof?

Vinyl plank flooring is waterproof but this feature is more common with luxury vinyl planks. Luxury vinyl planks have a rigid core that is made of several layers of plasticizers, wood fibers, and resins that are pressed together and then sealed with waterproof sheets to make the luxury plank vinyl waterproof.

Other types of vinyl floors including sheet vinyl are not waterproof but water-resistant. This is because these vinyl floors are made to be thin and flexible meaning that the vinyl material will not repel water as well as luxury vinyl.

To fully understand this topic, it’s important to first know the differences between being water-resistant and being waterproof. So, let’s check that out.

Waterproof vs Water-Resistant Floorings

Waterproof vs Water-Resistant Floorings

When a material is said to be water-resistant, this means that the material can withstand moisture and spills to a certain degree usually about an hour.

However, when a material or vinyl floor is said to be waterproof, this means that the material can withstand moisture for extended periods without being penetrated.

The difference between water resistance and waterproof has been a source of confusion even among pros. The main difference between these terms is based on the level of moisture resistance.

On a waterproof vinyl floor, water will not penetrate the floor even if you leave the water on it for days. But, on a water-resistant floor, the water will penetrate after some time.

Now that that’s clear, is vinyl flooring really waterproof or water-resistant? Let’s find out.

Is Vinyl Flooring Really Waterproof?

Generally, vinyl flooring is water-resistant and not waterproof. But, certain types of vinyl flooring have waterproof qualities.

These types of vinyl floors are usually plank vinyl, especially luxury plank vinyl and they are waterproof because they have a rigid core. Sheet vinyl on the other hand has a flexible core due to the thin nature of the sheet meaning that sheet vinyl is usually water-resistant and not waterproof.

Is Vinyl Flooring Really Waterproof?

Basically, there are two types of vinyl floors: sheet vinyl and plank vinyl. The plank vinyl commonly referred to as luxury plank vinyl is usually thicker and harder than regular sheet vinyl.

This is because plank vinyl is made up of several layers of wood fibers, plasticizers, trace stabilizers, and vinyl resins that are all compressed and covered with plastic waterproof sheeting. This makes it impossible for water to penetrate plank vinyl making the vinyl floor waterproof.

Sheet vinyl on the other hand is made from light vinyl sheets that are designed to be flexible and easy to install. Sheet vinyl is not as thick or compact as plank vinyl or luxury vinyl which means that sheet vinyl can’t repel water as well as plank vinyl. Generally, sheet vinyl is usually water-resistant as the vinyl material will absorb moisture after some time.

However, you should know that not all types of vinyl planks are waterproof. Some planks especially those that are unsealed are not waterproof but water-resistant.

This is because these planks don’t have the waterproof plastic sheet that luxury planks have. You should also know that water-resistant vinyl tends to lose its water-resistance over time while waterproof vinyl remains waterproof.

What Happens When Vinyl Flooring Gets Wet?

What happens when vinyl flooring gets wet depends on the type of vinyl floor. For plank vinyl, when the plank gets wet, no major changes occur but for sheet vinyl, the water will penetrate the floor and can cause black water stains and lifting on the floor.

Vinyl planks due to the rigid core and compact nature of the plank will suffer no damage when the plank gets wet. The same is the case for luxury vinyl. Since the water can’t penetrate the planks, the moisture just stays on the top layer of the vinyl plank until you wipe it off or evaporates.

The only change you might notice when plank vinyl gets wet is that the wet spot will develop white water spots. But, not to worry because these white water spots will dry and disappear after some time.

For vinyl sheets, the case is different. When vinyl sheets get wet, the water will eventually penetrate the vinyl floor if you don’t wipe it off quickly. When this happens, you’ll start to notice black or dark-brown water stains on the vinyl sheet indicating that water has penetrated the vinyl flooring.

If the water stain is left unattended, the edges of the vinyl sheets will become raised and will gradually lose the bond to the subfloor. But what happens if water gets underneath a waterproof vinyl flooring? Let’s find out.

What Happens When Water Gets Underneath a Waterproof Vinyl Flooring?

When water gets underneath a waterproof vinyl floor, the floor will gradually lose its bond to the subfloor because the water will weaken the glue and adhesive under the waterproof vinyl floor.

If left unchecked, the locks between the waterproof vinyl planks will also be affected causing the vinyl floor to develop gaps. The waterproof planks will not absorb the water.

What Happens When Water Gets Underneath a Waterproof Vinyl Flooring?

Waterproof vinyl flooring is usually designed to resist water from the top or bottom of the floor. So, if water gets underneath your vinyl flooring, the water will not damage the planks since the planks are waterproof.

The vinyl planks will still be in good condition but this doesn’t mean that the entire floor will be in good condition too. Though the waterproof vinyl planks will not get damaged, the water underneath can cause problems on the vinyl floor.

The first problem you’ll notice with the floor is that the planks will become loose. For waterproof vinyl planks that are glued to the subfloor, the water underneath will weaken the adhesive in the glue causing the planks to lose their bond to the subfloor.

When this happens, the locks on the vinyl floor will become stressed as you walk on or move items over the floor. Eventually, the locks too can become loose causing the planks to separate and cause gaps in your vinyl floor.

For waterproof floating vinyl planks that are not glued to the floor, the presence of water underneath the floor can cause the vinyl planks to become raised. When you walk over such a floor, you’ll feel the floor bouncing. Eventually, the locks between the planks can also give way causing muddy gaps to appear on your floor.

Do You Need To Waterproof Vinyl Flooring?

On floors that don’t get wet often like bedroom and living room floors, you don’t have to waterproof the vinyl floor. However, on floors that will see constant moisture and spills like bathroom floors, basements, and laundry rooms, you need to waterproof the vinyl flooring. Or, use a waterproof vinyl floor to protect the floor and vinyl material from water damage and rotting.

Whether you need to waterproof your vinyl flooring or not largely depends on where you want to install the floor. In places like the bedroom, you don’t need to make the vinyl floor waterproof because bedroom floors are rarely exposed to water. Even if you spill a drink on bedroom floors, you still have enough time to wipe off the spill since vinyl floors are generally water-resistant.

However, on high moisture floors, you need to make the vinyl floor waterproof if it’s not waterproof already. Also, on outdoor floors, you need to make the vinyl waterproof as the floor will be exposed to harsh weather and rainfall. You can make a vinyl floor waterproof by installing waterproof carpets on the vinyl floor and by sealing the seams of the vinyl floor with a sealant.

Types of Vinyl Flooring That Are Waterproof

Here are common types of waterproof vinyl floors:

Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring

Luxury vinyl plank flooring is known to be waterproof due to the compact and multilayered structure of the floor. The luxury planks have about 6 layers of different materials and in the middle is a rigid high-density core that will not absorb water.

Luxury planks are also commonly designed with a waterproof protective top layer that prevents water from penetrating the vinyl floor. You can use this type of vinyl flooring in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.

Composite Vinyl Flooring

Composite vinyl flooring is another waterproof vinyl floor. This vinyl floor isn’t 100% vinyl as it usually contains particles like plastic in it.

The core of the composite vinyl floor contains wood fibers, stone plastic, and other substances that make the vinyl floor waterproof. This type of vinyl floor can be used on outdoor subfloors since it is super tough, weather-resistant, and waterproof.

Luxury Tile Vinyl Flooring

This floor is very similar to the luxury plank floor. The main difference is that luxury plank vinyl is made to mirror the appearance of a traditional hardwood floor while the luxury tile floor looks like a tiled floor. The luxury tile vinyl flooring is also waterproof.

Types of Vinyl Flooring That Aren’t Waterproof

Sheet Vinyl Flooring

Sheet vinyl flooring is not waterproof. This vinyl floor is designed with flexible vinyl sheets to make the floor flexible and easy to install. Sheet vinyl is also referred to as roll-on vinyl because you can easily roll the sheet on the subfloor like a carpet.

The core of sheet vinyl is also not as rigid as other types of vinyl floors meaning that water will eventually penetrate a sheet vinyl floor. Though sheet vinyl is not waterproof, it is still very water-resistant and can be used on indoor floors.

Unsealed Vinyl Flooring

Unsealed vinyl flooring is usually plank vinyl. The reason this type of vinyl floor is not waterproof is that the vinyl planks are left unsealed meaning that water can penetrate through the floor after some time. You shouldn’t use this vinyl floor on outdoor floors or high moisture areas.

Final Words

In summary, vinyl floors are not all waterproof. But, they are all water-resistant meaning that all vinyl floors withstand moisture to a certain degree.

However, if you’ll like to have a waterproof vinyl floor, you should go for vinyl planks. Vinyl planks especially luxury vinyl planks have a rigid core and a waterproof top layer that prevents water from soaking in the vinyl floor. Also, ensure to check the water-resistant features of the vinyl floor before purchasing it.

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