Waterproofing Laminate Flooring: The Ultimate Guide

A great advantage to having laminate flooring in your home is that your floors have a hardwood look. It’s affordable and easy to install. You can easily achieve an elegant look to your home with this simple type of flooring. However, one of the only downsides to this type of flooring is that it isn’t waterproof. This makes the foundation susceptible to water damage. If you live in a high moisture climate or if your room gets wet regularly, it may be necessary to waterproof your laminate floors to make them water-resistant.

It’s essential that you are on the lookout for and aware of the presence of moisture so you can avoid your floor becoming damaged. The best way to save yourself money, in the long run, is to be proactive as soon as possible! By proactively watching for leaks, moisture, and other water-related issues, you can prevent spending unnecessary money and time replacing your flooring. This article serves as your ultimate guide to waterproofing your laminate floors!

It’s essential to protect your laminate flooring, just like it’s essential for you to protect yourself, your home, your health, and your property.

How to Waterproof Laminate Flooring

So, how do you waterproof laminate flooring? There are a few options you have when it comes to waterproofing your laminate floor. If you haven’t laid your laminate flooring already, to begin with, you could buy waterproofed flooring. If you’re a homeowner who has regular laminate already installed, you may not want to rip it up and start again. 

Another solution is to seal the locking mechanisms, where the laminate planks meet as you install the flooring, with a laminate floor sealing. These are usually found at most home improvement stores. These sealants don’t usually glue the planks together, so if you ever need to lift the floor, you can. It’s essential that you buy a sealant that is specific to your laminate. 

A third option is to caulk any expansion gaps by walls and fixtures to prevent water damage in areas that are most vulnerable. Last, you can cover your laminate with polyurethane, which aside from installing waterproof flooring, is the most effective solution. It’s important to know that polyurethane will not adhere well to the top layer of resin on your laminate floor. You’ll have to apply the polyurethane with a mop and allow it to dry. Repeat the process for two coats at a minimum.

The Pros and Cons of Sealing Laminate Floors

Pros:

  • The right sealant can provide excellent spill protection.
  • When you seal laminate floor expansion spaces in your kitchen or bathroom, there’s less risk of subfloor damage in case of a large spill or leak.
  • A sealant is relatively inexpensive.
  • It’s easy to apply to your laminate floor!

Cons:

  • Some laminate floor brands aren’t designed to be sealed. It’s crucial that you confirm that the brand of flooring you install is compatible with sealant!
  • Laminate floors can be slippery or dangerous when a sealant is applied to the entire floor.
  • When a sealant is applied against a manufacturer’s recommendations, the flooring warranty may become void.

Edges vs. the Whole Floor

There are some recommendations to apply a coat of waxy polish or sealant to an entire laminate floor. While many laminate brands work with this type of sealant, some manufacturers recommend avoiding sealing laminate floors as a whole. Most brands of laminate flooring are made with a thin layer of plastic materials covering the layer with the wood grain pattern. This layer is often moisture-resistant, which makes it non-porous. There isn’t anything for the sealant to bond with and absorb into.

How much sealant, the type of sealant you use, and which portions of your flooring you should seal all depend on the floor location and the likelihood of spills or leaks. It’s recommended that you seal the perimeter of your laminate floor and areas where spills are likely to occur. For example, the areas around a sink are most likely to have moisture.

Waterproofed Flooring

If you are remodeling or designing a home, you can easily buy waterproofed flooring to place in your house. Waterproof laminate flooring isn’t too much more expensive than regular flooring. Often, manufacturers offer warranties as well.

Sealant

It’s crucial to buy a sealant specific to the type of laminate flooring you have installed. It will help allow your flooring to expand and contract with the weather. This will help to prevent the wood from splintering or cracking, especially if you live in a high-humidity climate.

Often, laminate companies have a recommendation or a sealant that they manufacture for you to use. Start with the laminate brand before looking into other options. When using a sealant, it can sometimes double the time it takes to install your flooring. Most types of waterproof sealants harden very quickly, so be sure to clean up any excess as soon as possible.

There are some specialty laminate sealers available. Sealant brands may also offer different colors to choose from. Often, these color type sealants are compatible with 100% silicone caulk. However, these sealants aren’t always compatible with silicone caulk. You should buy a sealant with a sheen that matches your floor’s finish.

Caulk Expansion Gaps

Often, there can be expansion gaps between walls and fixtures, especially in bathrooms. By caulking these areas, you can prevent water damage in areas that are most vulnerable to water infiltration. When a liquid is spilled, it can go down the cracks of the flooring, no matter its size. By using silicone caulk, you can prevent liquids from soaking into cracks and ruining your floors. Because silicone is flexible, your floors will be able to expand slightly without warping or chipping.

Polyurethane or Urethane Top Coat

Coating your floor with polyurethane can help protect your entire floor rather than just a few sections. This solution keeps your actual floorboards safe from damage. As mentioned before, you’ll want to apply this in layers using a mop, brush, or roller of some kind. Note that using a roller can create a lot of bubbles. Repeat the application process for at least two coats. How many layers you add can also depend on the brand of coating you choose. Note that some people who attempt this themselves have had polyurethane damage their laminate floors. Check with local experts or the manufacturer of your laminate flooring before you decide to use this solution. 

When applying your polyurethane or urethane sealant, you can use a natural bristle brush to apply sealant around the perimeter of the room. Ensure that you apply it to the area that is usually covered by the baseboard. Take care when applying sealant around fixtures, cabinets, plumbing fixtures, bases of toilets, sinks, and bathtub and shower enclosures.

laminate flooring sealer

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Tips on Sealing Laminate Flooring

The first thing you’ll want to do is to make sure that you remove any baseboards that are in place. When removing them, make sure to do so carefully so you can reinstall them. If your baseboards are painted, you may need to cut the pain and caulking with a utility knife. You want your sealant to protect the edge of the laminate next to the expansion spaces. You can use a straight prybar with a thin block of plywood to wedge to loosen the baseboard. You may want to mark the back of your baseboards so you can reinstall them in the proper place.

Once you’ve made your decision as to which sealant you’ll want to use, make sure to read the instructions for the laminate floor sealant before you begin. These instructions sometimes include notes for pre-cleaning your floor. You’ll want the surface of your floor to be completely dry before you apply a sealant. The instructions may also include the optimal temperature range to work in.

Water Issues to Look for and Be Aware

As mentioned before, if you live in a humid climate, you can easily have water damage on your laminate floors. If you have young children who are prone to spills or pets that can have frequent accidents, these can also cause water damage to your flooring. It’s essential to look for moisture and the accumulation of water on your floors so you can avoid your floor from becoming damaged.

Matt McWilliams
matt@mcwilliamsmedia.com

Hi there! My name is Matt and I write for Expert Home Report. I enjoy writing about everything related to home improvement, home tips and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either spending time with my family, doing a DIY project or learning a new skill.