How To Waterproof Laminate Floors? (3 Methods)

Laminate floors are exposed to water spills, leaks, pet urine, and drink spills. So, laminate floors must be waterproof to prevent damage. So, how to make laminate flooring waterproof?

To make laminate flooring waterproof, apply 2-3 coats of laminate sealer over the planks. Or, you can cover the laminate floor with a waterproof floor mat or carpet. The carpet will collect water and spills that fall on the laminate. 

The laminate floor sealer is a waterproof plastic-like film that dries hard over the floor and protects it from water damage and high foot traffic. A good choice as a laminate floor sealant is oil-based polyurethane. 

Laminate Floor Isn’t Waterproof

Laminate floors are not waterproof, but they are water-resistant. So, if the laminae floors are exposed to moisture for extended periods, the water will gradually soak into the laminate planks through the edges, locks, and sides. When this happens, the laminate will bubble and dampen. 

Laminate floors are one of the most water-resistant flooring options in the market today. The flooring, when installed correctly, can withstand spills and water for a few hours. This gives you enough time to wipe off the water from the laminate floor.

However, if you don’t wipe the water, it will soak into the laminate floors through the sides, edges, and locks between planks. This is because laminate floors aren’t completely waterproof. Bubbling, white or black spots on the wood floor, buckling, and a damp appearance are all signs of water damage on laminate floors.

Should You Waterproof Laminate?

Whether laminate flooring needs to be waterproof depends on where the floor is installed. The laminate floor needs to be waterproof in the kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry rooms because these home areas see a lot of spills and water. But, if the laminate floor is installed in the bedroom, it doesn’t have to be waterproof.

Laminate floors don’t have to be waterproof since the floor isn’t designed for places that will experience water spills and moisture. Though laminate floors can be installed in bathrooms and laundry rooms, the floor isn’t designed for such rooms because it is not waterproof.

Laminate floor by design is meant to be installed in living rooms, bedrooms, and so on. If you use the laminate floor in these rooms, the floor doesn’t need to be waterproof. This is because these rooms don’t deal with water.

And, even if you accidentally spill your drink on your laminate bedroom floor, the water-resistant feature of the laminate planks will give you enough time to wipe off the spill. However, you must waterproof laminate flooring for bathrooms.

How To Check if Laminate Floor is Waterproof?

How To Know If a Laminate Floor is Waterproof or Not?

To know if the laminate floors are waterproof, use the water test. First, pour a small cup of water on the floor. If the water soaks into the fiberboard, the laminate isn’t waterproof. You will also notice white water stains on the planks where you poured the water. These water stains will bubble up and turn damp.

However, if the water doesn’t soak into the laminate floors, the laminate floors are waterproof. This means the water will bead on the laminate planks and won’t penetrate the planks. 

Another way to know if your laminate floor is waterproof or not is to drag a blade over a hidden spot on the laminate floor. Then inspect the tip of the blade. If the blade has packed up a white film on the tip, the laminate floor is waterproof. The white film on the tip is the laminate floor sealant. 

The laminate floor isn’t waterproof if the blade packs wood or a brown film. That’s because the brown film is just the part of the laminate board, and this means there’s no sealant over the laminate. 

No Laminate Floor is Waterproof

Technically, there is no waterproof laminate floor. Even the laminate floors advertised as “waterproof” or “suitable for wet locations” are not completely waterproof. Though these laminate floors do well to repel moisture, the planks eventually allow water to get in. This is due to the fiberboard core’s dense nature and the planks’ seams.

Laminate floors are designed with a click and lock mechanism that helps the floor to stay strong on the subfloor. But, the lock also allows water to penetrate the wood gradually through the slots and holes.

Also, the fiberboard core of laminate wood is very dense since it is made from wood fibers or recycled wood. The dense nature of the core also means that water will soak in the wood if left long enough on the floor.

Laminate floors are designed with seams around the planks that absorb water with time. So, the water can also get into the floor through the expansion gaps left during the installation of the floor.

So even if the laminate floor is advertised as waterproof, it’s not. Instead, ensure to make the laminate floor waterproof after installing the planks.

How To Waterproof Laminate Flooring?

There are different ways to make a laminate floor waterproof, but this guide will reveal the top 3 methods, how they work, and how to use them.

Method 1: Use Laminate Flooring Sealant or Polyurethane

By Using Laminate Flooring Sealant or Polyurethane

The best way to waterproof laminate flooring is to put a few coats of a waterproof sealant on the laminate floor. When dry, the sealant will form a hard plastic-like film over the laminate floor that will repel moisture and make the laminate floor waterproof. 

The sealant will also make the laminate floors shiny. Except for laminate floor sealant, you can also use polyurethane. 

Here’s how to put a sealant over laminate floors:

  1. Wipe and clean the laminate floor to remove excess laminate glue and filth on the flooring.
  2. Prep the polyurethane by stirring it and ensuring there are no clumps.
  3. Apply the first coat of polyurethane over the laminate floor using a roller or a paint sprayer.
  4. Wait a few hours for the first polyurethane coat to dry, then sand lightly with a fine-grit sandpaper.
  5. Apply a second coat of polyurethane to the laminate floor.

Method 2: Cover The Laminate Floor with a Waterproof Floor Cover

By Covering The Laminate Floor with a Waterproof Floor Cover

Another way to make laminate floors waterproof is by covering it with a waterproof mat. All you need to do is place a waterproof carpet or floor mat over the laminate floor. 

The carpet will collect water spills that fall on the floor. Another advantage of this method is that you can wipe the water off the laminate floor. Also, you can remove the carpet if you want to replace it, wash it, or even install another type of floor.

Method 3: Apply Caulk To Cover The Expansion Gaps

Applying Caulk To Cover The Expansion Gaps

You can also make a laminate floor waterproof by covering the expansion gaps in the floor with caulk. While installing laminate floors, you must leave small gaps between the laminate planks and the walls and door frames. This is to give the laminate floor space to adjust to the floor.

The spaces left for the floor to adjust (known as expansion gaps), allow the moisture to get underneath the laminate floor. But if you cover these gaps with caulk or joint compound, the floor will become waterproof.

Here are other tips to waterproof laminate flooring:

  1. Install a waterproof underlay before installing the laminate planks.
  2. Apply silicone compound to seal the locks in the laminate floor.
  3. Use laminate floor glue to make the planks stick better to the subfloor.

Tips For Maintaining a Laminate Floor

Here are expert tips to help you maintain your laminate floor:

  1. Wipe and clean water spills immediately they occur.
  2. Vacuum the laminate floor often to prevent dust from getting between the planks and create spaces for water to get in.
  3. Put waterproof floor covers and mats over the laminate floor to prevent water damage.
  4. Always lay the laminate planks on a waterproof and firm underlayment.
  5. Don’t use bleach on the laminate floor.
  6. Always leave expansion gaps while installing the laminate floor.

Final Words

Laminate floors don’t have to be waterproof unless you want to install the laminate floor on surfaces that will see moisture constantly.

To waterproof laminate floors, use a sealant such as polyurethane, or apply a waterproof mat. You can also apply caulk to the expansion gaps between laminate floor planks.

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