“Waterproof” is the latest buzz word in flooring. Most products that are advertised as waterproof are luxury vinyl planks or tiles. Since we’ve been in business for more than 30 years, we’ve seen many flooring trends come and go. When a new product is marketed as the latest and greatest solution to all flooring problems, we know to be skeptical. All kinds of floor coverings have their pros and cons for different applications, and waterproof flooring is no exception. Here are 4 common myths about waterproof flooring and the facts:
Myth: If my floor is waterproof, I won’t have any problems with leaks or floods.
Fact: The material itself is waterproof, but that only means that the flooring itself won’t get water damage. That doesn’t mean you won’t have any other water damage that involves repairing or replacing your flooring. In the case of a flood, water will go under the product at the perimeter and can cause rot and/or mold to the subfloor. You will still have to rip out the flooring to allow the subfloor to dry. The locking mechanisms on the flooring usually breaks when you rip up the flooring and can’t be reinstalled. Slow leaks can actually cause more damage with a waterproof floor compared to wood. If the leak goes under the flooring, you can’t tell from above that there is water damage happening underneath, so the leak may go on longer and cause more damage.
Myth: I need a waterproof floor in the kitchen for spills.
Fact: Kitchens will, of course, experience the occasional spill. Routine spills that are cleaned up promptly will not damage your hardwood floors. Limited water damage to hardwood flooring can usually be solved by replacing affected boards. There is no need to have waterproof flooring for normal wear and tear in a kitchen.
Myth: Waterproof floors are cheaper than wood.
Fact: Recent tariffs on China have increased the prices of flooring products made in China, and luxury vinyl and laminates products have been the hardest hit by price increases. Many wood products are less than many luxury vinyl products; prices very by manufacturer and style. Even if the material itself costs less than a wood product, other aspects of the installation affects the overall price of luxury vinyl installation. Since waterproof flooring is floated over the subfloor, the subfloor needs to be almost perfectly level to install the flooring. Otherwise, the locking mechanism will break from the movement. That means many floating floor installations involved additional leveling costs. Floating floors also require a transition piece between each room to hold the flooring into place, rather than just moving seamlessly from room to room with wood. Transition pieces can be $50 to more than $100 each, so each additional piece required affects the cost of the project.
Myth: Waterproof floors are also scratch-proof and will last longer than wood.
Fact: Though they are durable, vinyl plank floors do scratch and the scratches can only be remedied by replacing planks. Scratches can’t be touched up and the flooring can’t be refinished. Repairs on vinyl plank floors can be very difficult and costly. Wood floors can be recoated or even completely refinished to last a lifetime, and replacing damaged boards is a relatively simple repair. Luxury vinyl planks and other wood-look products can only be thrown away and replaced. Once they’re done, they’re done, much like laminates of past and sheet vinyl before it. Eventually you’ll be paying for a new floor.