July 27, 2021
If you’ve been looking into waterproof laminate flooring (or just the best laminate flooring in general), there’s a good chance you’ve stumbled across the AquaGuard flooring brand.
But what is AquaGuard laminate flooring, exactly? Who makes it? And is it worth buying for your home?
As it turns out, this brand actually makes a few different flooring products—but its laminate is one of the more popular options on the market for a reason.
That’s why in this review, we’re covering everything you need to know about AquaGuard laminate—so you can decide if it’s the right product for you!
We’ll go over the different collections of AquaGuard flooring, its special features, its pros and cons, some FAQs, and finally, how the company’s laminate surfaces compare to its other products. And because we’ve used info from real AquaGuard flooring reviews to create this article, you’re getting info from people who actually own the product.
So: is AquaGuard flooring right for you? Find out below!
Or, if you want to skip right to our final verdict, click here!
What is AquaGuard Flooring: The Overview
AquaGuard flooring is a water-resistant line of real and fake wood flooring products.
For the most part, AquaGuard’s offerings are affordable, durable, and well-reviewed. The big draw, however, is that each AquaGuard line is at least water-resistant.
AquaGuard Is Exclusive to Floor & Decor
Aside from the occasional reseller, AquaGuard flooring is exclusively sold by Floor & Decor.
Normally, we’d advise caution when looking into big box store products. Brands like CoreLuxe flooring and SmartCore flooring are great examples of mediocre big-box-store-exclusive products that seem great at first glance, but don’t live up to the hype.
These products tend to be sold alongside top brands like Pergo (read our Pergo reviews if you’re curious) at discounted prices, but their quality tends to be lacking. Just look at TrafficMaster flooring (a Home Depot exclusive laminate) to see what we mean.
AquaGuard laminate, however, seems to break the mold.
Who Actually Manufacturers AquaGuard Flooring?
Floor & Decor owns AquaGuard flooring but outsources its actual production. So who actually makes AquaGuard laminate? And where?
That’s a great question with no clear answer. Floor & Decor keeps this information tightly under wraps. Generally, this is an indication that a product is made overseas, likely in East Asia. Either way, it’s a good bet that AquaGuard flooring is not made in the USA.
There Are 3 Types of AquaGuard Flooring
There are 3 types of flooring sold under the AquaGuard brand, including 2 hardwood floor alternatives:
- AquaGuard Laminate
- AquaGuard Engineered Hardwood
- AquaGuard Engineered Bamboo
We’re Focusing on AquaGuard Laminate (the Most Popular Product)
Of the 3 lines, AquaGuard laminate is definitely the most popular. A casual Google search for AquaGuard flooring is dominated by the laminate line.
Also: whereas AquaGuard engineered bamboo and hardwood are offered in between 15 and 20 styles each, AquaGuard laminate boasts nearly 90 total options.
You’ll find a huge range of wood floor colors and styles in AquaGuard’s catalogs, from light wood floor looks to dark shades that mimic ebony flooring.
For simplicity, anytime we refer to AquaGuard flooring, you can assume we’re talking about the laminate line (unless otherwise stated).
First: What is Laminate Flooring Made Of?
What is laminate flooring? You may know this already, but we need to cover the basics first (since AquaGuard laminate isn’t exactly your run-of-the-mill laminate floor).
So: in general, laminate is thought of as a composite substitute for different types of wood flooring.
Its base layer is made of high-density fiberboard, while a photo-realistic design layer allows it to mimic virtually any hardwood species (or other material, for that matter). Both layers are shielded by a protective wear layer, and the finished product is designed to be indistinguishable from prefinished hardwood flooring.
Is Laminate the Same as Engineered Hardwood?
Since AquaGuard offers laminate and engineered hardwood options, we also want to explain the difference between these two types of flooring.
The key difference: engineered hardwood is real wood. Laminate is not.
To that end, the differences between laminate vs. hardwood floors mostly come down to this: laminate is harder (thanks to its synthetic wear layer), but it’s not actual wood—which means it can’t be refinished or repaired like real wood can. This means laminate’s longevity is entirely tied to its wear layer. Once that’s worn through, the floor is done.
On the other hand, laminate generally costs only a fraction of what wood flooring costs. So again: there are two sides to the coin.
Laminate’s Wear Layer is Measured By an AC Rating
Given what we just mentioned, the most important thing to look for in laminate flooring is its AC rating. This score basically determines how much abuse the floor can take before it disintegrates.
An AC1 rating is just about useless, while the best laminate flooring usually has an AC4 or AC5 rating. Most options hover somewhere in the middle, of course.
AquaGuard Laminate Comes In Two Lines
There are two different lines of AquaGuard laminate:
- (Standard) AquaGuard Laminate
- AquaGuard Performance
AquaGuard flooring reviews are largely positive for both lines and both have a limited lifetime residential warranty. Also worth mentioning: all AquaGuard laminate is 12mm thick, a feature shared with many of the best laminate flooring brands.
Regular AquaGuard Laminate Is Meant for Residential and Light Commercial Use
Despite being the “standard” line, regular AquaGuard laminate has an extremely robust AC5 rating and costs between $2.28 and $3.99/ sq. ft. There are 72 total options, mostly spanning popular wood looks.
Standard AquaGuard laminate is also fit for light commercial use and is backed by a limited 15-year commercial warranty, which is above average for laminate.
AquaGuard Performance Laminate Can Handle Heavy Commercial Use
AquaGuard Performance has fewer choices with only 15 different styles and its price range is only slightly higher, from $2.99 to $4.29/sq. ft.
But: the Performance line also has an AC5 rating, plus an extra five years attached to its commercial warranty (for a total of 20 years).
And Both AquaGuard Laminate Lines are Offered in 4 Different Collections (Based on Finish Texture)
Both lines of AquaGuard flooring come in 4 different collections based on finish texture. However, we should note that the Performance line only has a handful of styles available in each category. These collections are:
The standard Textured collection looks and feels like natural hardwood, though close inspection might reveal that this is a composite floor.
The Authentic Texture collection goes just a little bit further than the standard choice in terms of matching the look and feel of the best hardwood floors. Oddly enough, there’s not much of a price bump between the Authentic Texture and (standard) Textured collections.
AquaGuard laminate also has a Handscraped option. As the name sounds, these floors look like they have been finished by hand.
Finally, there are 7 total options in the High Gloss collection, mostly in warm, dark brown tones. Again, Floor & Decor isn’t trying to be flashy with these collection names (well, maybe they are with this collection) so they’re pretty much self-explanatory.
All AquaGuard Flooring Is At Least Water Resistant
Floor & Decor says its standard AquaGuard flooring is water-resistant, yet it offers a 30-hour standing water warranty. For context: that is way better than most policies offered by supposedly waterproof laminate flooring brands.
AquaGuard Performance, on the other hand, is said to be completely waterproof. The warranty only mentions that installers need to make sure the floor is installed correctly for the waterproofing to work.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can use AquaGuard flooring to line a shower, but it should definitely hold up against casual spills or rooms where you can expect a bit of wet here and there (e.g. bathrooms, kitchens, etc.)
What Makes AquaGuard Laminate Waterproof?
Standard AquaGuard laminate features a melamine coating on the sides and bottom of every plank. Melamine is a type of plastic, and it protects the vulnerable fiberboard base layer (which can swell and warp if it gets wet). Plank backs also receive special coatings to protect them against moisture creeping up from the subfloor.
The top layer of standard AquaGuard laminate also features an AC5-rated aluminum oxide coating to protect it from water and scratches—which again, is rated to prevent damage from standing water for up to 30 hours.
AquaGuard Performance laminate, on the other hand, adds a “sound reducing anti-microbial pre-attached underlayment.”
So: they must use something else to guarantee the 20-year commercial warranty (5 years longer than standard) but they don’t exactly spell it out. Normally, we’d be a little worried about this, but everything we’ve seen in AquaGuard flooring reviews suggests the claims hold up.
Does AquaGuard Laminate Have Any Other Special Features?
Surprisingly, yes. Most big box stores deal in mediocre flooring options (something we’ll be revisiting later on) but Floor & Decor seems to have nailed AquaGuard flooring. Here’s what sets it apart:
AquaGuard Has an AC5 Rating (Which Is Pretty Rare)
AC5 ratings are pretty rare, and they’re virtually non-existent at this price range.
Why does an AC5 rating matter so much? Well, its durability allows it to compete with the most durable wood flooring and even the best vinyl flooring (we’re thinking high-quality rigid core luxury vinyl flooring here) in terms of resilience.
Simply put, AquaGuard is strong stuff and it definitely belongs up there with the other best laminate flooring brands. Not to belabor the point, but laminate with an AC5 rating has supreme scratch resistance. Even the best wood flooring for dogs can’t really compete.
It Has a Limited Lifetime Residential Warranty…
We briefly touched on this before, but we should note that both lines of AquaGuard laminate have a limited lifetime residential warranty. It won’t necessarily cover general wear and tear but the policy isn’t overly restrictive either.
…And Either a 15 or 20-Year Commercial Warranty
What’s really impressive about AquaGuard flooring is that the shortest commercial warranty it offers (15 years) is actually longer than the industry average.
How Do You Install AquaGuard Laminate?
AquaGuard flooring is meant to be installed in a click-lock floating style. That is, you snap planks of laminate together via interlocking grooves over the subflooring (or an underlayment).
The company’s horribly named “easy no-glue angle tap tight lock installation system” works like this: you position one plank at an upward angle so that it falls into the groove of an adjacent plank, let it rest above the subfloor, and then tap it into place.
You can also glue planks into position the same way you might glue down vinyl plank flooring, but the planks are meant to snap together for a reason—it creates a seamless surface to keep water out.
The Advantages of AquaGuard Laminate Flooring
If you haven’t picked up on this yet, there’s a lot to like about AquaGuard laminate.
After scouring AquaGuard flooring reviews and warranty policies, we’ve determined that these are the floor’s best features:
AquaGuard’s Water Resistance Is Very Good
Seriously. Standard AquaGuard laminate says it’s only water-resistant, but most third-party AquaGuard flooring reviews don’t hesitate to call it waterproof. And of course, AquaGuard Performance is actually marketed as completely waterproof.
Naturally, either option can be used as mudroom flooring.
Does this really matter, though? Absolutely: waterproof flooring is highly coveted because it’s so practical. That’s why so many people debating between tile vs. laminate go with tile—it’s entirely waterproof. Plus, special types of tile (we’re thinking snap-together tile flooring) can be almost as easy to install.
Look—at some point, someone (or a pet) is going to spill something on the floor. If it’s waterproof, the spill basically becomes a non-issue. Translation: waterproofing (or very good water resistance) offers peace of mind.
All AquaGuard Laminate Has an AC5 Rating…
We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again (because it’s such a big deal): both lines of AquaGuard laminate have an AC5 rating, meaning they’re incredibly resistant to scratches.
…And AquaGuard Flooring Reviews Say the Scratch and Dent-Resistance Is Great
On that note, if you’re looking for dent and scratch-resistant flooring: this is it. It’s still a good idea to take care of your AquaGuard flooring (if only to extend its lifespan), but it should handle plenty of abuse.
AquaGuard Flooring Has a Solid Warranty (Residential and Commercial)
It’s fair to say that both versions of AquaGuard have good warranties. The only caveat is that AquaGuard flooring reviews are adamant about making sure it’s installed properly for the warranty to take hold.
There’s a Good Range of Styles Available
With nearly 90 total options, you have a lot of AquaGuard to choose from.
From ash flooring to pine flooring (and even exotic options like dark umber), AquaGuard offers a lot of looks. It’s a great way to experience the look of expensive woods like teak (the pros and cons of teak flooring include a hefty price tag but a beautiful grain and hue) without the cost.
There are also plenty of mixed and wide-plank wood flooring looks available, and even a few styles that mimic popular wood floor patterns like herringbone.
AquaGuard Flooring Is Reasonably Priced
AquaGuard flooring costs between $2 and $4 on average, which is comparable to well-known brands like RevWood (and cheaper than Shaw laminate flooring).
Oh, and it’s a heckuva lot cheaper than buying a hardwood floor (i.e. the “real” thing).
The Disadvantages of AquaGuard Laminate Flooring
For all its advantages, AquaGuard flooring isn’t flawless. There are a few disadvantages worth noting as well.
Floor & Decor Doesn’t Post Customer Reviews
We’re going to circle back to this, but it’s weird that Floor & Decor doesn’t allow customers to post reviews on their website.
It’s weird because virtually every other big box brand does this. For example, you can find thousands of LifeProof vinyl flooring reviews on Home Depot’s website, even though some of them are probably a little more honest than Home Depot might like.
AquaGuard Flooring Is (Basically) Only Available Online
If you want to buy AquaGuard flooring, you have to purchase it online. However, you can buy samples in-store (or online)—or, you can simply view the samples in the store.
While it’s a little annoying that you can’t just take a sample home for free, they only cost $3 and Floor & Decor will credit you up to $30 for a purchase of $150 or more.
Of course, this has more to do with Floor & Decor than AquaGuard itself.
You May Want to Hire a Pro Installer for AquaGuard Flooring
To save yourself some hassle, it may be worth hiring a professional contractor to make sure that your AquaGuard flooring is installed properly. Improper installation is liable to void your warranty.
This is a little meh on Floor & Decor’s part because AquaGuard laminate is largely marketed as do-it-yourself flooring, which should be some of the easiest flooring to install.
Even though the entire catalog is composed of click-together flooring and intended to be floated (what is a floating floor?) by virtually anyone with the ability to attach planks together, the risk of a voided warranty may be enough to scare buyers into hiring contractors.
Additionally, the grooves in AquaGuard’s snap-together flooring planks are such that certain buyers may find the wood floor designs they’re able to mimic (like parquet flooring, for instance) somewhat limiting.
AquaGuard Flooring Reviews Say It’s a Little Stiff
Finally, AquaGuard flooring reviews do mention that the surface is a little hard underfoot. Of course, this is a common complaint about laminate in general, and it’s easily rectified by a good underlayment (which is required anyway).
If comfort is really important to you, though, maybe compare carpet vs. laminate for specific rooms where it’s absolutely key.
AquaGuard Laminate FAQs
Okay, we’re nearing the light at the end of the tunnel! Let’s just cover a few more things before we wrap up.
Is AquaGuard Laminate Waterproof or Water-Resistant? Does It Matter?
Both! Standard AquaGuard laminate is technically water-resistant, while AquaGuard Performance laminate is waterproof.
But unless you’re planning on dumping gallons of water on your floor (why?), the question doesn’t really matter. Both options should be fine to install if you want a wood floor bathroom or kitchen look. Just make sure to dry any spills within a reasonable amount of time if you opt for the standard line.
Again: each can last in standing water.
And if you just absolutely need the best in waterproof flooring with a wood look, consider wood-look tile or waterproof vinyl flooring like Proximity Mills instead.
Does AquaGuard Laminate Require an Underlayment?
Yes. This completes AquaGuard flooring’s water resistance or waterproofing by sealing out moisture that can rise up from subflooring (and what is subflooring?)
Bonus: you can get super-cool, high-tech magnetic underlayments that turn your floors into magnetic flooring (that also seal out moisture) if your heart so desires.
Can I Install AquaGuard Flooring on Walls?
Technically speaking, it’s possible to install AquaGuard laminate on a wall. You’ll probably have to use adhesive or nails, and it’s important to note that the AquaGuard flooring isn’t really designed for this.
Can It Be Steam Mopped?
Floor & Decor notes that residential steam mops can be used on AquaGuard laminate.
Do I Need Transitions for AquaGuard Laminate?
Floor & Decor doesn’t release this information, but third-party sources say AquaGuard can be installed in a 4,300sq. ft. area before transition pieces are needed.
Can AquaGuard Flooring Be Installed In High-Traffic Areas?
One of the disadvantages of floating floors is that high traffic can wear them down pretty quickly. However, AquaGuard seems to be made with this in mind and should handle high traffic environments well.
Does AquaGuard Emit VOCs?
All AquaGuard laminate flooring has a GreenGuard Gold certification, which means it meets the requirements to be considered low-VOC flooring. As a result, AquaGuard is one of the more environmentally-friendly flooring choices out there.
However, it’s important to note that even non-toxic laminate flooring like AquaGuard isn’t the most eco-friendly flooring choice available. If green floors are really important to you, hemp flooring or sustainable wood flooring may be better options than laminate.
What Sizes Does It Come In?
All AquaGuard laminate is 12mm thick, while plank widths vary from 3” to 8” and beyond.
Is Aquaguard Flooring Made in China?
Ah, the big red elephant in the room: Is AquaGuard flooring made in China?
Good question! Floor & Decor seems to hide this information on its website.
Since most companies flaunt any products made in the United States, it’s probably safe to assume that AquaGuard is made outside the country. Whether it’s China or somewhere else, or if this even matters, is another matter entirely.
Can It Be Installed Outside?
AquaGuard is not an outdoor flooring option. However, you can use it for sunroom flooring provided that the room is temperature- and humidity-controlled.
Floor & Decor Hides Reviews: Are Other AquaGuard Flooring Reviews Good?
AquaGuard flooring reviews from most third parties are pretty solid. The most common complaints seem to stem from improper installation, which is totally avoidable.
Should You Consider NuCore Flooring’s Mixed Reviews Here? Probably Not.
AquaGuard laminate isn’t the only in-house product Floor & Decor makes: they also sell NuCore flooring, a type of vinyl plank. Is NuCore some of the best vinyl plank flooring out there? Not really.
Third-party reviews of NuCore are rare and pretty mixed at best, though the floor is probably better than super low-end LVP products like Stainmaster luxury vinyl.
While it’s marketed as top-notch EVP flooring, NuCore seems to suffer from many of the common disadvantages of vinyl plank flooring, including a not-super-durable pure-vinyl core (it’s not SPC or WPC flooring) and vulnerability to scratching and denting.
Does that apply here, though? We don’t think so. AquaGuard has a decent web presence, with most reviews saying the floor lives up to its claims. Plus, NuCore and AquaGuard aren’t even the same type of floor (vinyl plank vs. laminate).
AquaGuard Also Makes Engineered Wood and Bamboo
Though we’re focusing on AquaGuard laminate, we should at least mention their engineered wood and bamboo products.
AquaGuard Engineered Wood
What is engineered hardwood? We touched on this a bit, but the best engineered wood flooring takes high-strength plywood and tops it with a thin veneer of actual hardwood (one of the reasons people confuse engineered hardwood vs. laminate so often).
The result: a super high-performance version of wood that’s even more dimensionally stable and warp-resistant than solid hardwood.
Most water-resistant wood flooring or waterproof hardwood flooring products you see on the market tend to be engineered hardwood. That veneer we mentioned above is coated with special sealants, while the core is protected through additional chemical treatments that repel water.
As far as engineered wood disadvantages are concerned, the best engineered hardwood floor brands tend to be a little on the pricey side (the average cost to install engineered hardwood floors is also a bit higher than laminate) and the floor can only be repaired so many times before the veneer is sanded through.
Surprisingly, AquaGuard engineered hardwood costs about the same as its laminate. Reviews are fairly scarce, though, and there are only about 15 looks available. With such a small sample size and web presence, it’s hard to make a definitive judgment. However, one thing to note is that AquaGuard hardwood is very thin at only 6 to 7mm.
AquaGuard Engineered Bamboo
The best bamboo flooring is a great substitute for real hardwood. Comparing bamboo flooring vs. laminate, you’ll find that bamboo is mostly natural and much closer to the real thing (hardwood). You can also refinish bamboo flooring if the veneer is thick enough.
Otherwise, the pros and cons of engineered bamboo are largely the same as they are for engineered hardwood. And on that note, AquaGuard bamboo is pretty similar to its engineered hardwood counterpart. However, one key difference is that AquaGuard bamboo ranges between 7 and 9mm thick, which is a little better.
Beyond that, it’s hard to find much on it outside of Floor & Decor’s website, so again, you have to trust the store’s word.
So: Is AquaGuard Laminate Good? Surprisingly…Yes!
Despite being a big box store brand, AquaGuard flooring actually seems to be pretty solid (literally and figuratively). Is it the best laminate flooring out there, though?
Maybe, maybe not. Similarly priced laminate doesn’t have AquaGuard flooring’s water resistance, and the product offers everything (and more) that many higher-priced brands like Shaw do.
But we still generally recommend checking out your local flooring stores for the best flooring products. As good as AquaGuard may be, local stores tend to carry better deals than the big box chains so you might find an even better option!
Of course, if you’re still looking for flooring ideas, then please feel absolutely free to check out the articles below. Either way, we hope this AquaGuard flooring review was helpful, and good luck finding your perfect floor!
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