What You Need to Know Before Buying Waterproof Floors
Waterproof options have flooded the flooring market, and consumers are confused. They are advertised as “waterproof,” and they are for the most part, but there are a few other things to consider.
Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP)
LVP was the first product introduced under the waterproof category. It has been used commercially for a while. It slowly worked its way into the residential sector. It is made out of PVC with a picture printed on top, and coated with a urethane ware layer to protect it.
LVP is generally 1-4 millimeters thick. In most cases it is best to glue it down. It needs to be installed on a level well-prepped floor.
Wood Plastic Composite (WPC)
To reduce the need for floor prep, WPC came out. It is thicker, more rigid, and floats over your floor. It has 4 main layers: underlayment, WPC rigid board, a vinyl design layer, and a protective layer.
Vinyl Design Layer and Protective Layer: This part is virtually the same as LVP. It’s vinyl that’s been printed on, embossed, and given a protective layer that is glued to the WPC board.
WPC Rigid Board: The WPC board is where these products differ from regular LVP. They make the board with wood pulp, plastic, and binders to make a rigid board. This is where the locking mechanism will be cut into.
Underlayment: The underlayment can either be cork or foam and will either be attached to the boards or come in rolls. Its main purpose is to keep the floor from slipping around. It also gives the floor a little cushion.
WPC is a great option if you want LVP but for applicable reasons can’t glue it down.
The most recent type of waterproof flooring is SPC. SPC is very similar to WPC except they use stone dust instead of wood pulp. This eliminates the need to acclimate the floor. These products are even more rigid than the WPC products.
Imperfections in the floor underneath will transpose through the vinyl. There are LVPs made to float. Our advice is to glue whenever possible. Floated products are prone to gapping as it is very temperamental in direct sun and with drastic temperature change. Another point to keep in mind with these LVP products is they will compress over time under heavy furniture.
The wood pulp in the WPC still makes this product vulnerable to direct sunlight and temperature change. Another issue with these floors is deflection. Though the floor doesn’t have to be perfectly level for this to go down, any major imperfections can lead to deflection which can pop the locking mechanism.
The best underlayment is the foam. These floors are being sold as completely waterproof, so you would expect it to last in a flood. However, if the cork gets wet it will swell, and even fall off the bottom. This leads to your floor buckling. Products that use cork are perfectly fine in most cases, but don't be disappointed if you have a washer leak and the floor doesn't hold up.
These floors are great for heavily active families. They are reasonably priced and easy to install. They are products that can be put into bathrooms and kitchens to allow for seamless room transitions. They are durable, water resistant, and will last against most wear and tear. They are not indestructible or flood proof, and they will not replace the beauty of a true hardwood or tile floor.