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Waterproof and Water-Resistant Flooring

These two terms, waterproof and water-resistant flooring, have become extremely popular in the flooring industry in recent years. What many might not know is how they differ from each other and why it is important to understand those differences when shopping for your new floors. It can save you time and money in the long run by knowing exactly what the benefits are of each and what rooms they are best suited for.

Definitions – What is the difference?

First, it is important to know exactly what these terms mean. Both refer to materials that can prevent or repel water, however they are not interchangeable.

Waterproof: A permanent material that water will not penetrate, no matter how much time has gone by.

Water-Resistant: A flooring material that protects flooring substrate from water infiltration.



Your flooring will not deteriorate when exposed to water for an extended period of time. No need to worry about edges curling or the composition of the flooring breaking down. In addition, the colour will remain and will not fade.

Waterproof flooring can also prevent moisture in the air (Important if you live in an area prone to humidity or flooding).


It can be installed in any area of your home: Kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, and basements.

While many luxury vinyl’s and a few new engineered hardwood’s are waterproof, you should not assume all are. Look for the ones labeled as 100% waterproof. Finally, you will also want to keep in mind that while your flooring is waterproof your subfloor may not be, therefore you will want to avoid water from getting under the flooring to prevent damage to the subfloor.


Waterproof flooring will typically be more expensive, however it features many benefits water-resistant flooring does not. The cost can definitely be worth it and save you time and money in the long run. For instance, if water is absorbed into certain types of flooring, such as hardwood, the flooring will swell and eventually crack. Instead of ruining your flooring and having to replace it, it can be easier to install waterproof flooring from the beginning.


Source: Shaw Floors

Absorption Rate

Water does not get absorbed or go through a water-resistant flooring nearly as quickly as it would with a non-water resistant flooring. If you mop up spills fairly quickly, your floor will be able to handle occasional small spills and will last longer. If you clean up spills quickly, moisture will not have time to absorb into the floor and impact the material underneath. If you are considering installing a water-resistant flooring in the kitchen, be mindful or water collecting or pooling and causing potential damage.

The seams between planks, exposes the floor and leaves it vulnerable to any water that may enter through the seams. With some products a roll-on moisture barrier can be applied to help protect the subfloor. If you are installing laminate, make sure it has a water-resistant core as well as a protected top layer.


While you may love the look of hardwood, it is natural and will eventually absorb water that sits on it. This makes hardwood not the best option for some areas of your home. However, technology advancements have improved the quality and beauty of modern water-resistant flooring. It closely mimics the look of real hardwood, stone, and many other textures, shades and styles.


Water-resistant flooring such as laminate or vinyl tile will be less expensive than a waterproof engineered hardwood or luxury vinyl plank. It will also be an easier DIY option as it is easier to install.

Final Factors to Consider:

  • Where is the flooring being installed? Is there a high chance of water being on the floor?
  • Waterproof flooring can be installed anywhere. Whereas with a water-resistant flooring, you may want to avoid installing it in areas where water frequently collects.
  • What is your overall budget for the project? If you try to save money by going with a water-resistant flooring in an area where frequent spills occur, you could be spending more by having to replace or repair the flooring in the near future due to water damage.
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