How To Waterproof Laminate Floors? (3 Methods)

Laminate floors are exposed to water spills, leaks, and drink spills. They must have a waterproof coating over them to prevent damage. So, how to waterproof laminate floors?

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

The oil-based polyurethane is a plastic-like film that dries hard and protects a surface from water damage and high foot traffic.

Is The Floor Waterproof?

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

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

Should You Waterproof Laminate?

Whether laminate flooring needs to be waterproof depends on where the floor is installed. The 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 planks are installed in the bedroom, they don’t have to be waterproof.

Laminate planks don’t have to be waterproof since they aren’t designed for places that will experience water spills and moisture. Though they can be installed in bathrooms and laundry rooms, the floor isn’t designed for such rooms because it can’t withstand water for extended periods.

Laminate floor by design is meant to be installed in living rooms, bedrooms, and so on. If you use it in these rooms, you don’t have to waterproof it since it won’t get exposed to water.

And, even if you accidentally spill your drink over the planks, their water-resistant feature will give you enough time to wipe off the spill.

How To Know if The Floor is Waterproof?

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

To know if laminate planks are waterproof, use the water test. First, pour a small cup of water over them. 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 if you don’t wipe the water off.

However, if the water doesn’t soak into the planks, they are waterproof. This means the water will stay on the planks and won’t penetrate them.

Another way to know if the planks are waterproof or not is to drag a blade over them, then inspect the tip of the blade. If the blade has packed up a white film on the tip, the planks are waterproof. The white film on the tip is the 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 part of the boards, and this means there’s no sealant over them.

Are There Waterproof Types?

Technically, no type of laminate is waterproof. Even the ones advertised as “waterproof” or “suitable for wet locations” are not completely waterproof. Though they will 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 planks stay strong on the subfloor. But, the locks also allow water to penetrate the wood gradually through the slots and holes.

Also, the fiberboard core 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.

How To Waterproof Laminate Flooring?

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

Method 1: Use 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 waterproof sealant over it. When dry, the sealant will form a hard plastic-like film that will repel moisture and make the surface waterproof. The sealant will also make the plank shine. You can use polyurethane as a sealant.

Here’s how to apply it:

  1. Wipe and clean the surface to remove dust and dirt.
  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 fine-grit sandpaper.
  5. Apply a second coat and allow it to dry for 3 days before using the surface.

Method 2: Use a Waterproof Cover

By Covering The Laminate Floor with a Waterproof Floor Cover

All you need to do is place a waterproof carpet or mat over the laminate floor. The carpet will collect water spills that fall on the floor. Another advantage of this is that you can wipe the water easier. Also, you can remove the carpet if you want to replace it, wash it, or even install another type.

Method 3: Apply Caulk 

Applying Caulk To Cover The Expansion Gaps

If you cover the expansion gaps, there will be no space for water to get underneath the floor. To cover the expansion gaps, use caulk.

Here’s how to do it:

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

Tips For Maintaining a Laminate Floor

  1. Wipe and clean water spills immediately after they occur.
  2. Vacuum the floor often.
  3. Use waterproof covers and mats to prevent water damage.
  4. Always lay the planks on a waterproof and firm underlayment.
  5. Don’t use bleach to clean it.
  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 them 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 the boards.

Tony Adams
Tony Adams

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about,

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