How to Waterproof Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is susceptible to liquid damage.

Oversaturation can cause it to stain, buckle, swell, and break down if not treated immediately.

In this article, we will show you how to waterproof laminate flooring in the most effective ways possible:

1. Use a Polyurethane Coating

Polyurethane is an organic resin polymer that exists in various forms.

Although primarily used in bedding, home furniture, and carpet underlay, it’s also available in liquid form. 

Does Polyurethane Waterproof Wood

Polyurethane coating, also known as Polyurethane topcoat, protects the floor against water damage and also gives it a nice, glossy finish.

It’s available in water-based and oil-based formulas. 

Here’s how to use polyurethane coating to waterproof your laminate floor: 

  1. Sweep the floor and clean it with a 10:1 ratio of water and white vinegar. 
  2. As soon as the floor dries, immerse your roll or pad in the polyurethane solution. If you don’t have a roll or pad, use a clean, never-used-before mop. 
  3. Roll or mop the polyurethane solution to the floor, starting at the corner further from the doorway. Use light, back-and-forth sweeps of three to four feet. 
  4. Let the polyurethane dry for 24 to 48 hours. You can start using the surface within three to four days, but it can take up to 21 to 30 days to fully cure.  

2. Seal ‘The Lock’

The lock I’m referring to is the bit between the planks that lock laminate flooring together.

Sealing the locking mechanisms together secures the vulnerable areas that water can seep through. 

seal the lock

The easiest and most effective way to seal the flooring’s locking mechanism is with PVA Type II.

For best results, use a urethane-based PVA product that comes in a bottle so you can control the amount of glue that comes out. 

Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Apply the laminate glue in between the lock gaps of the laminate flooring. If there’s no gap from the lock, create one with a hooked metal tool and then apply the glue. 
  2. Wipe off any residue that squeezed out onto the surface with a slightly damp cloth.

3. Caulk the Contraction & Expansion Gaps

Contraction gaps are joints that regulate the location of cracking when shrinkage occurs.

Expansion gaps are much the same, except they’re provided to accommodate the movement during the expansion and shrinkage of the laminate floor so as to avoid structure disfiguration. 

seal the expansion joints

These gaps cover around 1/4 inch of the entire perimeter of the floor.

Although not much, the gaps are big enough for moisture and liquid to seep through the flooring.

You can avoid this by caulking the contraction and expansion gaps. 

Here’s how:

  1. Remove the baseboards to access the flooring’s contraction gaps and expansion gaps. 
  2. Hold the caulk gun at a 45-degree angle and fill the gap with one layer of caulk. 
  3. Let the first layer dry for 30 minutes before applying the second layer. 
  4. Repeat until the caulk is slightly below the surface height of the flooring. 
  5. Let the caulk dry completely before reinstalling the baseboards.

4. Install Waterproof Laminate Flooring

If you’ve yet to install laminate flooring, save yourself the headache of waterproofing by purchasing already waterproofed laminate flooring. 

install waterproof laminate flooring

Regular laminate flooring is moisture-resistant but not fully waterproof, making it susceptible to water damage.

Waterproof laminate flooring, on the other hand, is 100% waterproof.

This makes it the ideal choice for kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas with high moisture exposure. 

How to Install Waterproof Laminate Flooring

If you’re used to DIY home projects, installing waterproof laminate flooring is an easy and fairly straightforward process. 

Once you’ve prepared the area (i.e., removed the existing flooring, leveled the floor, and cleaned the surface), you’re ready to install the laminate flooring.

Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Lay the first board 6 mm away from each wall in the left-hand corner of the room. If required, use 6 mm spacers to ensure the gap is of even size. 
  2. Lift the end of the board and slot the next board in place, making sure both boards are at an angle as you do so. 
  3. Press the joint down on the floor so proper waterproofing is made. 
  4. Repeat this process until you reach the right-hand wall. 
  5. Place the second row of boards at an angle against the first board. Fold the board down to ensure that it’s positioned in the interlocking strip of the row before it. 

How Does Water Damage Laminate Flooring?

Laminate is generally more durable than hardwood floors and vinyl floors, but it easily gives way when exposed to moisture. 

When liquid soaks into the laminate flooring layers, it causes the laminate to swell and warp.

It may even cause mold growth if not treated appropriately.

On top of that, it may also weaken the glue that holds the flooring together, causing it to split and fall apart. 

The biggest signs of water damage in laminate flooring include: 

  • Discoloration
  • Cupping
  • Warping, separation, and/or swelling 
  • Cracking or splitting
  • Unexplained mold growth

With that said, laminate flooring is more durable than you think.

It doesn’t break down the second it gets wet, so don’t panic if you accidentally spill a bit of water on the floor.

Just make sure to wipe the area as soon as possible so the water doesn’t seep into the gaps in the flooring. 

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