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Water-Resistant Wood Flooring 101

June 25, 2020

If you’re reading this, we’re guessing you’re on the hunt for water-resistant wood flooring. And if so, we applaud you! Hardwood floors are absolutely gorgeous, but water-resistance is a must if you have young children, pets, or just a talent for spilling things (guilty). 

But of course, wood flooring isn’t typically waterproof. When water is introduced to wood, it can warp and buckle, leaving a nasty-looking floor in its place. It’s truly heartbreaking. Luckily, there are some types of wood flooring that are water-resistant—as well as some new brand-name products that are virtually waterproof! 

That’s why below, we’re going to teach you everything you need to know about water-resistant wood flooring. We’ll show you which species of wood are most water resistant, compare solid vs. engineered wood, and talk about some brand-name wood products that are designed to be as waterproof as possible. 

We’ll even go into a few other materials that are durable and can withstand plenty of water. Yeah, we’ll just say it in advance—you are so welcome!

Water-Resistant Wood Species

First things first: let’s talk about water-resistant wood species. If you don’t know, “species” refers to the type of tree your wood flooring comes from. Things like oak, walnut, hickory… you get the picture.

Just remember: no floors are waterproof or water-resistant forever. This means that they can withstand splashes and spills, but you shouldn’t put your kiddie pool in the living room… like, ever. At the end of the day, you should always be careful with your floors and avoid leaving any standing water on them for any extended amount of time. 

In any case, these are a few of the most water-resistant wood floors around:

#1. White Oak: a wood made for boats… and floors!

White oak is a great flooring choice. In fact, it’s so durable and water-resistant, it’s actually used to make boats! Talk about impervious to water. White oak is also considered one of the most durable wood flooring options on the market. In fact, it’s often considered the industry standard when it comes to hardness. 

What makes white oak so water-resistant? It’s filled with something called tyloses. This material occurs naturally within white oak and blocks water movement within the wood. Red oak, on the other hand, doesn’t contain tyloses—which is why it’s not nearly as water-resistant. 

Aside from being a great water-resistant wood flooring material, white oak is also one of the top outdoor flooring options around.

#2. Teak: full of resin, oil, and shine 

When it comes to exotic types of wood flooring, we can’t not mention teak. There’s a reason teak is often found on boats and deck furniture—it’s a great water-resistant wood flooring option! 

Why? Because teak is packed with natural resins and oils. This gives teak its trademark shine, and it also makes it incredibly moisture-resistant. Once your teak is sealed properly, it can be almost impervious to water and humidity. 

However: because teak is an exotic hardwood, it can be a little expensive. But its durability and resistance to water make it a great option for homes with pets and kids, so we think it’s well worth the price tag. 

One important thing to note: illegal teak harvesting is a major factor contributing to rainforest deforestation. Make sure that you only purchase teak from a Forest Stewardship Council-certified source

#3. Brazilian Walnut (Ipe): super durable and surprisingly water-resistant

With a Janka hardness rating of 3680, Brazilian walnut (also known as Ipe) is one of the best hardwood floors when it comes to strength. If you’re looking for natural types of flooring that are as durable as it gets, you really can’t do better than Brazilian walnut. 

The Janka hardness scale measures how hard a wood species is

Along with its excellent durability, Brazilian walnut’s smooth and well-oiled surface makes it surprisingly water-resistant. Like… we’re talking super water-resistant. Ipe’s smooth surface also means it’s moldproof (bonus!). And fun fact: this also makes Brazilian walnut one of the best wood flooring options for dogs

Unfortunately, compared to the average cost of wood flooring, Brazilian walnut can be significantly more expensive. This is obviously something to consider, but again, we think the benefits far outweigh the price! 

Which is More Water-Resistant: Engineered or Solid Wood?

One big decision you’ll need to make while searching for water-resistant wood flooring types: do you want solid wood or engineered wood? 

What’s the difference between solid and engineered wood?

While solid wood is made of one solid chunk (no surprise there), engineered hardwood is made of a thin wood veneer over an HDF or plywood core. Once it’s installed, you can’t even tell the difference between the two. We dare you to try! 

Plus, engineered hardwood uses less solid wood, meaning it can be less pricey than its solid cousin. With domestic wood species like oak, there’s not much of a price difference. But when it comes to expensive exotic woods like teak and ipe, the cost to install engineered hardwood floors can be a lot lower.

Which is the more water-resistant wood flooring option?

Both solid and engineered wood are what we call “organic”—meaning they’re made out of natural materials. This means they’ll warp and bend if they get soaked. Even the best engineered wood flooring can’t withstand standing water, and we simply won’t stand for it!

However: engineered wood’s composite construction does make it less susceptible to rapid changes in moisture and temperature. Translation: while not water-resistant, engineered hardwood is much more suited for moisture-prone areas like kitchens, bathrooms, and basements than solid hardwood is.

Brand-Name, Water-Resistant Wood Flooring Products

Wine Spilled on Light Wood Floor

When it comes to water-resistant wood, the flooring industry has broken some serious ground in recent years. These days, many of the best hardwood floor brands are starting to offer their own lines of water-resistant wood flooring products. These are some of the most popular ones:

#1. Hydrotek by Carpet One

Carpet One’s waterproof hardwood offering, Hydrotek, is similar to traditional engineered wood.  But instead of having a plywood or fiberboard base, Hydrotek’s core layer is made of SPC: one of the best types of vinyl flooring in terms of durability. This stone-and-plastic base layer ensures that Hydrotek floors won’t warp or buckle if they get wet.

Hydrotek’s veneer layer is also treated with a UV aluminum oxide finish, which can prevent spills from soaking into the wood. Additionally, it can be purchased in red and white oak, pine, maple, walnut, and hickory. So much variety! It also comes with special finishes (like wire-brushed) if you want to use it for some trendy wood floor designs

#2. AquaGuard by Floor & Decor 

Created by Floor & Decor, AquaGuard is a bit of a cross between laminate and wood flooring (“what is laminate flooring”, you ask?)

It’s made up of multiple layers, including a plastic wear layer (similar to laminate) that protects and seals the surface. However, it features a wood core (similar to engineered hardwood) that’s double-sealed and backed with melamine for maximum water-resistance.

Bonus: it comes with a lifetime residential warranty. Ahh, peace of mind.

#3. RevWood Plus by Mohawk

RevWood Plus by Mohawk is designed for busy families. It’s made to be totally waterproof, so juice spills (or wine spills, no judgment) won’t stand a chance. 

Similar to AquaGuard, RevWood Plus is a revolutionary (great pun, right?) floor that mixes laminate and wood floor construction. It has a plastic wear layer (like laminate) with a wood base layer (like hardwood). Stop comparing laminate vs. hardwood floors—RevWood Plus gives you the best of both. 

#4. Floorte by Shaw

Shaw’s waterproof hardwood offering, Floorte, is constructed very much like Hydrotek. It’s composed of a real wood veneer (specially sealed against water) and a vinyl core. In this case, that core is made of WPC—wood plastic composite. This mix of wood pulp and plastic gives Floorte a soft, springy feel underfoot, fixing one of the traditional disadvantages of floating floors.

#5. COREtec by USFloors

What is COREtec? Like most of these other brand-name water-resistant wood floors, it’s a highly-sealed wood veneer (like engineered hardwood) over a durable, non-porous core that prevents swelling and buckling. In this case, the core layer is made of minerals—pretty cool, eh?

So what sets COREtec floors apart? They boast a cork base layer that provides a soft, quiet, lovely underfoot feel. If you’ve looked into the pros and cons of cork flooring or tried to find the best cork flooring options around, you’ll know just how awesome this stuff is. 

Water-Resistant Wood Flooring Alternatives 

Now, you didn’t think we’d let you walk away without a few hardwood floor alternatives, did you? We’ve got a few fake wood flooring options that make for exceptionally water-resistant floors. 

#1. Porcelain Tile: a durable and moisture-proof floor 

It’s time to talk about tile vs. wood flooring. Now, you might think that tile and wood floors are as different as could be. Not so!

These days, more and more flooring companies are producing different types of tile in something called a “wood-look” pattern. These tiles are made of porcelain (which is, of course, completely waterproof) but are textured, colored, and installed to look just like real wood.

Wood-look porcelain tile looks just like wood but is waterproof
Wood-look porcelain tile

Already stressing about how to replace your flooring with tile? We get it. Laying tile is a messy, difficult, and labor-intensive process. But we’ve got great news! These days, advances like snap-together tile flooring have made installation quick and easy. If you already know how to install hardwood floors (particularly floating floors), you’ll have no problem. 

Still debating between tile vs. laminate? We’d recommend tile for its ability to withstand tons of spilled shower or tub water. And now that tile comes as a click-together flooring product, it’s just as easy to install as laminate is.

#2. Concrete Flooring That Looks Like Wood: a modern marvel

Poured concrete has become an extremely popular floor over the years. And we totally get why—it gives homes a polished look, it’s totally waterproof, and it’s a great scratch-resistant flooring option. 

Poured concrete is installed by removing your old flooring until you reach the concrete subfloor (“what is subflooring”, you ask?). Then, with some fresh concrete and one of several different stamping, staining, or texturing techniques, you can get concrete flooring that looks like wood. How freaking cool is that? 

A coating of sealer is added to the top of the concrete, creating a super shiny and durable layer. You will need to get your floors polished annually, though, to prevent your floors from looking like the floor of a convenience store. Totally kidding, but really… get them polished!

Pro tip: If you’ve got little ones learning to walk, we’d recommend putting down some peel-and-stick carpet tiles for a little cushion. You can buy them at Home Depot! Plus, and learning how to install carpet tiles is as easy as peel-and-stick (duh). 

#3. Vinyl Plank Flooring: A water-resistant wood flooring look-alike 

Vinyl is one of the best water-resistant flooring options. It’s super waterproof because it’s made of synthetic materials (i.e. plastic), and it’s literally incapable of rotting like real wood does. It’s perfect for kitchens, mudroom flooring, and even sunroom flooring because it’s easy to maintain and won’t fade or warp with moisture or excessive UV exposure. Plus, it can look just like real wood!

Ready to Buy Some Water-Resistant Wood Flooring? 

We know… this was a ton of information on a bunch of different types of wood flooring. And it’s true—buying a hardwood floor can be overwhelming! 

But when it comes down to it, the best water-resistant floor is entirely up to you. Ugh, we know. So anticlimactic, but it’s true. Everyone’s flooring needs are different, and we’re confident that at least one of the options we’ve presented will be perfect for you.  

When you’re ready, we know it can be hard to find a trusted and reputable flooring retailer—so use this flooring stores near me search to find one nearby. In the meantime, check out our other posts below for info on everything from choosing between carpet vs. laminate to the basics of heating wood floors. Once again, you’re welcome.

About The Author

Elizabeth Landy

Elizabeth is a public relations expert and freelance writer. She is obsessed with reality TV, professional sports mascots, and Doug the Pug (don’t tell her two cats). When she’s not writing, she’s probably reading, riding her bike, or FaceTiming her college best friends.

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