This was me a few days ago: completely freaked out after spilling a glass of water on my beautiful mock wood floors. As I was cleaning up, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Is vinyl plank flooring waterproof?”
Vinyl plank flooring has surged in popularity in recent years, offering an affordable and stylish alternative to traditional hardwood or tile floors. However, its waterproof claims have also generated a fair amount of skepticism. Are they genuinely resistant to water, or is it all just marketing hype?
In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of vinyl plank flooring to uncover the truth about its waterproof capabilities. So, if you’re in the market for new flooring or simply curious about this increasingly popular choice, read on to discover whether vinyl plank flooring can indeed stand up to the test of water, spills, and daily life in your home.
Table of Contents
What is Vinyl Plank Flooring?
Vinyl plank flooring represents a notable departure from traditional vinyl flooring. Unlike its thin, flexible counterpart that typically arrives in sheets, luxury vinyl plank flooring offers a substantially sturdier and thicker alternative. This hardwood-resembling flooring variant consists of elongated planks that interlock seamlessly through a tongue-and-groove connection system commonly referred to as “click-lock.”
Within the realm of luxury vinyl flooring it is typically categorized into two distinct types: Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) and Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP). As the names suggest, LVT emulates the appearance of tile flooring, while LVP faithfully replicates the look of wood.
The terminology can sometimes be used interchangeably in the flooring industry, so it’s important not to be misled by references to “vinyl plank flooring.” This term denotes the format of long planks but can effectively mimic various materials, including tile or stone. In terms of visual appeal, pricing, and construction, vinyl flooring bears similarities to certain types of laminate flooring. However, it is crafted from polymer materials, as opposed to laminate’s composition of wood byproducts.
Click here to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of vinyl plank flooring.
Is Vinyl Plank Flooring Waterproof?
The short answer to this question is yes, vinyl plank flooring is waterproof. But before you start making water slides on your floors, you need to understand the difference between waterproof, water-resistant, and floodproof. Although these terms are often used synonymously, any flooring expert will tell you otherwise.
And here is why.
Water-resistance vs. waterproof vinyl plank flooring
Waterproof vinyl plank flooring lives up to its name – it’s designed to be completely impervious to water. This means it can withstand spills, splashes, and even the occasional puddles and flooding without getting damaged. It’s an ideal choice for moisture-prone areas like bathrooms, kitchens, or basements. Waterproof vinyl typically has a watertight core, preventing water from seeping into the material.
On the other hand, water-resistant vinyl plank flooring is, as the name suggests, resistant to water but not entirely immune to it. While it can handle minor spills and moisture exposure, it’s not suitable for areas prone to significant water exposure or standing water. Water-resistant vinyl is a good choice for spaces like bedrooms or living rooms where water accidents are less likely.
In essence, the choice between waterproof and water-resistant vinyl plank flooring boils down to your specific needs. If you want peace of mind in the face of potential water-related disasters, go for waterproof. If you’re confident your space won’t encounter extreme water issues, water-resistant vinyl should do the trick, offering the same durability and style options but at a potentially lower cost.
One additional detail to keep in mind is that protecting your floors and subfloor also depends on the underlayment you use. A waterproof underlayment will prevent the water from reaching the subfloor and damaging it.
- AIR GAP TECHNOLOGY: Our DRICORE Subfloor panels are equipped with Air Gap Technology that helps protect against moisture and small water leaks providing better indoor air quality. The home flooring and basement subfloor panel is designed with a high-density plastic membrane , best for basement flooring, laminate, LVT, engineered hardwood, carpet and tile.
What about floodproof vinyl plank flooring?
Floodproof flooring is a different matter altogether. If a large amount of water is spilled and left to sit on the floor, it will eventually seep through the cracks between the floor and reach the subfloor. Usually, the subfloors are not waterproof or water-resistant. So, you can expect significant damages if such situations were to occur.
Regardless of how waterproof your vinyl plank floors are, you might need to replace them if your house goes through significant flooding where your floors are submerged for days. You should also check your subfloor for damages before installing new floors.
You can also consider the option of taking apart the planks, allowing the subfloor to dry thoroughly, and then putting the planks back in place. But that depends on the severity of the water damage.
All that said, vinyl plank flooring is definitely not floodproof, even though it is highly water-resistant and, in some cases, completely waterproof.
How Is Waterproof Vinyl Plank Flooring Constructed?
Now, you might ask yourself, “What makes waterproof vinyl plank flooring waterproof.” Vinyl is essentially plastic, which gives it a natural immunity to water. But the basic waterproofing qualities come from its core.
If you’re looking for truly waterproof vinyl, you will need to look for an SPC or WPC product (SPC and WPC are types of rigid core). Many of these products come with an attached underlayment to give them extra insulation and protection from moisture damage.
Waterproof Vinyl Plank Flooring Layers
Waterproof vinyl plank flooring boasts four essential layers, contributing to its exceptional performance. These layers include:
This top layer of the planks protects the other layers from scuffs and scratches. The thickness of the wear layer correlates to the protection you will get from the daily wear and tear. So, you should aim for vinyl planks with thicker wear layers.
And what do the experts recommend for wear layer thickness?
You should at least aim for a wear layer thickness of 0.3 mm or 12 mil. If you expect heavy foot traffic or installing it in a commercial space, go for 0.5 mm or 20 mil for maximum protection.
Printed vinyl layer
The printed layer is what gives the plank vinyl the look of hardwood. It sits between the wear layer and the core layers. It is made using different printing techniques to create realistic visuals.
The rigid core gives vinyl its sturdiness and protects it from buckling under extreme loads. If you see the term rigid core flooring when you’re out shopping, just know that it is built to last. The rigid core also gives vinyl an essential quality: waterproofing.
There are two main options with rigid cores:
- WPC vinyl core, and
- SPC vinyl core.
We will get into the details of these two varieties later in this article. Besides adding to the vinyl’s durability and waterproofing qualities, the rigid core also helps conceal subfloor imperfections—making the installation even easier.
The backing layer is typically made of cork or foam. This layer not only imparts a pleasing softness underfoot but also acts as a sound buffer. Plus, it’s a cost-effective solution, sparing you the expense of purchasing a separate underlayment.
Types of waterproof vinyl plank flooring (By core)
What is a WPC vinyl core?
WPC flooring, a.k.a. wood plastic composite flooring, refers to vinyl plank flooring with a rigid core that combines wood pulp and polymer composites. Vinyl planks with WPC cores are typically from 0.22 to 0.31 inches or 5.5 to 8 mm thick.
The combination of plasticizers expanded with air and wood makes it completely impervious to water and moisture. This resilient polymer composite also gives the vinyl a comfortable underfoot and sound insulation. It is also excellent for DIY projects as it cuts effortlessly.
However, WPC floors can be a bit more on the costlier side. But its pros definitely make it worth paying the extra penny.
What is an SPC vinyl core?
SPC flooring, a.k.a. stone plastic composite flooring, uses a blend of powdered limestone, polyvinyl chloride, and stabilizers that act as the rigid core of waterproof vinyl plank flooring. SPC core is thin, dense, dimensionally stable, and quite strong. Vinyl plank floors with SPC core have an average thickness of 0.12 to 0.27 inches or 3.2 to 7 mm.
Also known as a solid polymer core, SPC is 100% waterproof. No amount of moisture or humidity can swell up this incredibly rough polymer composite. It often comes with an attached pad for superior comfort and performance.
From a pricing point of view, SPC will cost you less than WPC. However, since SPC is denser and thinner, it is less comfortable for standing and walking.
Types of Waterproof Vinyl Plank Flooring (By Installation)
Floating vinyl plank flooring
If you’re feeling handy and ready to take on a DIY project, this installation method is a fantastic choice. You won’t require any adhesive to bond the vinyl floor to your existing surface. All you have to do is lay down the planks and let them effortlessly click together.
The real beauty of this option? You don’t have to stress about having a perfectly level floor as your starting point.
Floating installation might compromise the overall water resistance in terms of waterproofing. Water might seep through the edges more easily as floating floors shift with movement as you walk around.
However, you might want to consider adding an underlayment for added benefits like sound absorption and enhanced comfort. This extra touch can make your new flooring feel even better underfoot while also reducing noise in your space. So, while not strictly necessary, it’s a thoughtful addition that can elevate your DIY flooring project to the next level of comfort and convenience.
Glue-down vinyl plank flooring
Glue-down vinyl plank flooring can enhance your installation’s durability and stability. Although deemed troublesome and time-consuming, this step can make a world of difference, especially when covering larger areas like spacious living rooms or basements.
Adding adhesive creates a stronger bond between the planks and your subfloor, ensuring your flooring stays in place even under heavy foot traffic. It’s a smart safety measure recommended by experts to prevent any potential shifting over time.
Glue-down vinyl plank flooring offers superior protection against water damage as it stays fixed in place, unlike floating installations. This is why many homeowners prefer glue-down installation in humid or spill-prone areas.
Some flooring contractors might suggest applying adhesive even with click-lock vinyl flooring. However, gluing down floating floors might void the manufacturer’s warranties and give you more issues further down the line. So, it’s not recommended that you glue down floating vinyl planks unless it’s deemed absolutely necessary, such as for a staircase where you might need extra stability.
In conclusion, the question, “Is vinyl plank flooring waterproof?” can be confidently answered with a resounding “yes.” This versatile flooring option has proven its mettle, providing a winning combination of style, durability, and moisture resistance.
Whether you’re looking to enhance your bathroom, kitchen, or any room in your home, vinyl plank flooring stands as a reliable choice, offering both peace of mind and a touch of elegance. So, when it comes to waterproof flooring, rest assured that vinyl plank is a solid and stylish contender.
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