Before the introduction of Vinyl Plank, Laminate was the go-to option for a durable, low maintenance floating floor. Laminate flooring is very very hard, so it stands up well to heavy traffic; and its click-together format conveniently allows for installation over top of concrete subfloors, making it a great option for condos and basements.
Laminate vs. Vinyl Plank
But when Vinyl Plank was released, it had one benefit that Laminate couldn’t compete with, and that benefit was big: impermeability. Vinyl Plank is a Vinyl product, which is a kind of plastic. Unlike wood-based products, Vinyl Plank does not expand and contract, meaning that Vinyl Plank floors cannot suffer water damage. Laminate on the other hand, even though it has a lot of synthetic materials, is a wood-based product. Its core is either HDF or some other wood byproduct and therefore, it will expand and contract just like hardwood. Water damage occurs when the core absorbs too much moisture and the top layer bubbles and delaminates, which severely damages the floor.
In the last couple years, however, Laminate manufacturers have been working to remedy this kryptonite, and they have succeeded… to an extent. They have successfully created a water-resistant laminate, (not to be confused with waterproof, which would mean complete imperviousness to water damage). These new lines of Laminate will hold up against all kinds of surface spills and thus can be installed in high moisture areas like kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and entryways. They are even warrantied against water damage caused by spills, provided that certain conditions are met. Come into our showroom and chat with us in order to learn more about specific products and their warranties.
Air-Tight Joints & Waterproof Finishes
Since Laminate’s HDF core is its kryptonite, manufacturers are making innovations to prevent water from accessing the core in the first place. One way they are doing this is by tightening up the joints between the planks. Certain lines of Quick-Step use a ‘roll and pressed’ bevel that create an extremely tight joint. The joint is then sealed with a waterproof finish making it completely air-tight. This same seal is applied to the Laminate’s surface, so that there is no chance of surface penetration. Together the air tight joints and the waterproof coating ensure that puddles of water do not leak down into the planks. As long as these puddles are wiped up relatively quickly, there is no danger of water damage to the Laminate.
Spills, Not Floods
Floods are still a threat to water resistant Laminate. A flood occurs when an appliance leaks, or a sink or bathtub overflows, or a heavy rainfall sneaks through your roof and on to your floor. The amount of water accumulated by floods will cause serious damage to water resistant laminate. The water will leak into the perimeter of the room, get underneath the floor and eventually up into the core of the product, likely causing it to delaminate.
Most of the time however, the kind of water damage that threatens your Laminate flooring comes in the form of spills, not floods. Spills are an everyday occurrence. For example, someone drops a glass of water, or leaves their snowy boots at the front entryway to melt. As long as these spills are cleaned up relatively quickly, (within 24 hrs max), water resistant laminates will be fine. Because the joints have an airtight seal, and the Laminate is coated with a special waterproof finish, the water will stay pooled on top of the floor and away from the HDF core.
If you have any more questions about water resistant laminate, send us an email or give us a call. Better yet, if you live in Calgary and you’re in the flooring market, stop by our showroom at 525 58th Aveue SE. The Floorscapes team has as much experience as we do passion: combined, we have over 150 years in the world of Calgary flooring. We offer our knowledge, our expertise and our aesthetic sensibility in order to help you create a space that you will love.
Written by guest author Eric Osborne.