Laminate is a multi-layer flooring made of both natural and synthetic materials. From the bottom, those materials are:
A high-density fiberboard base layer
A photo-realistic image layer
A heavy-duty wear layer
This construction makes laminate both durable and affordable. And best of all, it does a stand-up job of mimicking hardwood. If you compare the appearance of high-quality laminate vs. hardwood flooring, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference.
The History of Laminate
Laminate has been around since the 1970s, when it became popular thanks to a boom in the US housing market. Since it was cheaper than hardwood (and quite durable), it ended up being used everywhere.
While it wasn’t one of the worst types of flooring, it did have a reputation for looking a bit cheap and plastic-y.
But that perception changedonce laminate was forced to compete with high-quality luxury vinyl. The best vinyl flooring options also offer beautiful, inexpensive, and durable alternatives to hardwood—but with the added benefit of being waterproof. To survive, laminate flooring had to improve as well.
Nowadays, laminate is commonly confused with engineered hardwood (and if you’re wondering “what is engineered hardwood?”, click that link). In other words, modern laminates look really good.
Plus—laminate can mimic any number of hardwood species and withstand a good amount of abuse.
AC Rating: How to Tell GoodLaminate From Bad Laminate
An AC rating is given to all laminate floors to measure how well they stand up to daily wear and tear. The rating is on a scale of 1–5, with 1 being the least durable.
Think of it this way: a laminate floor with an AC rating of 1 is only meant for use in closets and other very light-traffic areas. A floor with an AC rating of 5, on the other hand, can handle heavy commercial use.
An AC rating of 3 is probably okay to use if you don’t expect tons of foot traffic, but the best laminate flooring products generally score 4 or higher.
In General, Is Laminate Flooring Waterproof?
Now we get back to the big question: in general, is laminate flooring waterproof?
The answer: no.
While waterproof laminate flooring does exist, it is only a specialty product.
Most Laminate Flooring Is Ruined by Water…
If you pour water on a typical laminate floor, it might spontaneously combust. Kidding, kidding! The floor won’t explode or anything—but it won’t be happy, either.
Liquids don’t just ruin the wearlayer of a laminate plank. If they get into the core, the plank will swell and warp. In turn, this can the plank to pop out of place, crumble, and so on.
…But Fully Waterproof Laminates Do Exist
Again: some laminate floors are, in fact, fully waterproof.
The best waterproof laminate flooring makes use of special coatings, materials, and installation techniques to better survive spills, pet accidents, and in some cases, even standing water (for a time).
Ok, But Just How Waterproof is It?
We get it. There are a lot of conflicting claims out there about the actual waterproof qualities of waterproof laminate floors.
Here’s the real scoop. Some products marketed as waterproof laminate flooring will only survive casual exposure to liquids: spills, accidents, etc. These are really just water-resistant.
A few, however, can survive some level of standing water. And those are fully waterproof. We’ll be super clear about which are which in our brand breakdown below.
Waterproof Laminate vs. Water-Resistant Laminate
We’ve spent hours upon hours going through warranty information for different products, and found that many waterproof laminate flooring brands will dot their catalogs with the word “waterproof”—only to say the flooring is “water-resistant” in the accompanying warranty.
Again: we’ll be super clear about which is which.
Fun Fact: Many Floors Marketed as Waterproof Hardwood are ActuallyWaterproof Laminate Flooring!
We’ll try not to bore you with the technical details, but the best waterproof laminate flooring works on two levels: top and sides/bottom.
Fully Waterproof Laminate is Protected on All Sides
If you only apply waterproof coatings to the surface layer of a floor, it’s going to fail the moment water worms its way around that single defense.
That’s why the best waterproof laminate flooring is protected on all sides with specialty sealants. Waterproof vinyl flooring is super popular because it does this so well. Laminate manufacturers have caught on.
Remember: Unless Your Laminate is Protected on All Sides, It’s Only Water-Resistant
We know we’re hitting you over the head with this, but it’s for a reason. Even the best laminate flooring brands are only waterproof if they are protected on all sides (and sometimes within the fibers of a plank).
Water-resistant floors, on the other hand, only have surface-level protection. That’s why prefinished hardwood flooring—even with a factory-fresh water-resistant finish—isn’t fully waterproof. Water can just get below the plank and soak in from there!
How to You Install Waterproof Laminate Flooring?
Most waterproof laminate is sold as snap-together flooring. These planks click together like puzzle pieces, making a seamless surface. That way, water has a harder time penetrating between planks.
That doesn’t mean you’re limited to just basic patterns, though. Waterproof laminate can stand in for hardwood in most wood floor designs, like herringbone or mixed-width patterns.
Advantages of Waterproof Laminate Flooring
Ok! Now that we know all about the ins and outs of how waterproof laminate flooring works, let’s talk about the material’s pros and cons.
Waterproof Laminate Is Generally More Durable
Most laminate brands only waterproof their high-end products. It’s rare to find a waterproof laminate product with an AC rating lower than 4 (and if you do, we’d seriously question its waterproofing).
So what does this mean? Virtually all waterproof laminate is considered dent- and scratch-resistant flooring. Its durability, water resistance, and overall high quality make it perfect for difficult applications like mudroom flooring.
Waterproof Laminate Can Go Anywhere Indoors
Since waterproof laminate is so hardy, you can put it just about anywhere inside your home.
It should even be fine to use some high-end brands for sunroom flooring, which is normally tricky because of rapid environmental changes. Check the warranty to be safe, though.
It’s Easy to Care For and Maintain
You shouldbe able to clean most waterproof laminate flooring with a regular mop if you choose. Though we’d still check the care instructions to be on the safe side.
It’s Relatively Comfortable to Walk On
Laminate flooring is made with a fiberboard base that gives it an almost springy feel underfoot (despite its super-hard wear layer). If you know anything about WPC flooring, the two materials feel vaguely similar.
Now, laminate probably isn’t the most comfortable flooring—if you compare carpet vs. laminate, for example, you’ll probably choose carpet as the comfier floor. That said, laminate is about equal to many types of wood flooring when it comes to underfoot feel, and you can always add an underlayment to increase comfort.
And Of Course, Waterproof Laminate is Waterproof!
This one might be self-explanatory, but it’s still worth mentioning. Waterproof laminate flooring is just that—waterproof! And that might be the biggest advantage there is.
There are some cons of waterproof laminate, but to be entirely fair, they’re not particularly significant. Here are some of the most common issues.
Wood-Look Styles and Color Options Dominate (& There are Very Few Tile-Look Options)
Okay, there’s a case to be made that this is a good thing—most people looking for laminate want wood floor colors and textures, anyway—but it’s pretty hard to find waterproof laminate flooring that doesn’t look like wood (i.e. products that mimic different types of tile and stone).
Waterproof Laminate Warranties Often Have a Lot of Restrictions
This is important: a lot of waterproof laminate flooring options have restrictive warranties—even some of the high-end products like RevWood.
Most likely, brands are trying to cover their ahem, “backsides”, in the event that too much water hits their product—which can be a situation-by-situation issue. For example, a floor in a high-humidity environment may be more susceptible to standing water than one in a dryer environment.
The point: read a laminate product’s warranty before you buy it (noticing a theme, yet?).
Some Waterproof Laminate Floors Don’t Look as Authentic as Ordinary Laminate
Again, this goes back to low-end products, but you’ll notice that some laminate products have weirdly glossy finishes that look, well, fake.
As it turns out, the technology used to waterproof laminate flooring (or almost anything, really) has actually been around for a long time. The problem was that it made these floors look like plastic.
The best waterproof laminate flooring should look authentic, but watch out for low-quality options. This can be tough when you order floors online, which is why we recommend visiting a local flooring store or ordering samples to verify that the floor you want has a nice, authentic-looking finish.
You Can’t Put Waterproof Laminate Outdoors
Laminate rarely (if ever) qualifies as an outdoor flooring option, and that goes for the waterproof variety as well. While the floors are very resistant to water damage, swinging temperatures, humidity levels, and even pressure changes can all wreak havoc on floors that are meant for indoor use.
Most Waterproof Laminate Flooring Can’t Survive Standing Water
It’s probably not fair to list this as a “con” because the reality is, standing water ruins just about anything. But, many waterproof laminate flooring brands state that their floors are actually water-resistant in their warranties.
Should you be worried, though? Probably not. So long as you’re not literally flooding your floor, most waterproof laminates should have no problem surviving ordinary accidents.
What Are the Best Waterproof Laminate Flooring Brands?
The Standard in Waterproof Laminate Flooring | $2.00–$3.50/sq. ft.
RevWood is Mohawk’s direct response to the vinyl plank explosion. Its texturing and high-quality looks make it one of the very best faux-wood floors out there.
In fact, it’s so good at mimicking hardwood that experts often mistake it for engineered hardwood (compare it side-by-side with the best engineered wood flooring brands to see for yourself).
Mohawk even markets it as a waterproof hardwood rather than a waterproof laminate—it’s just that pretty!
RevWood’s Waterproof Laminate Offerings
RevWood offers one water-resistant line and two waterproof lines:
Plus and Select are both equipped with WetProtect (Mohawk’s proprietary sealant) and UniClic, a user-friendly click-together installation system.
RevWood Waterproof Laminate’s Durability
RevWood has an AC4 rating, which means it’s good for moderate commercial use and heavy residential use.
RevWood Waterproof Laminate’s Warranty
RevWood Plus has a limited lifetime residential warranty that (vaguely) notes that it will “resist moisture damage under normal use” for the life of the product. RevWood Select’s warranty is the exact same, except its water protection only lasts for 10 years.
Both warranties note that RevWood’s warranty is voided by standing water, but otherwise, it’s pretty standard across the board. Translation: regular spills won’t hurt RevWood but a foot of standing water (understandably) will.
Which RevWood Waterproof Laminate Product Offers the Best Value?
If you want supreme water resistance, RevWood Plus is the way to go. Otherwise, the difference between the Plus and Select lines is small enough that Select may offer a better overall value (since it’s a bit cheaper).
The Inventor of Laminate Flooring | $2.50–$3.25/sq. ft.
Pergo is actually the company that invented laminate flooring, and they make it really well. The company is now owned by Mohawk, so their products share technology with RevWood—the UniClic and WetProtect systems, for example.
Pergo’s Waterproof Laminate Offerings
Pergo offers one water-resistant line and three waterproof laminate flooring lines:
Pergo Outlast+SpillProtect (waterproof; sold exclusively at Home Depot)
Pergo TimberCraft+WetProtect (waterproof; sold exclusively at Lowes)
Pergo Portfolio+WetProtect (waterproof)
Pergo XP (water-resistant)
Together, the waterproof lines make up close to 100 total style options.
Oh, and what’s the difference between WetProtect and SpillProtect? The former doesn’t come with an attached underlayment.
Pergo Waterproof Laminate’s Durability
Like RevWood, all Pergo products have an AC4 rating and strong water resistance (thanks to the shared technologies). Pergo reviews largely agree, though we did notice that some first-party reviews on Pergo’s site appear to favor the premium TimberCraft line.
Pergo Waterproof Laminate’s Warranty
Pergo offers a 10-year commercial and limited lifetime residential warranty for both lines of their waterproof laminate. Both also mention that standing water voids the warranty.
One thing worth noting: be sure to install Pergo correctly because improper installation A) voids the warranty, and B) seems to be the source for most of Pergo’s negative reviews.
Which Pergo Waterproof Laminate Product Offers the Best Value?
Pergo Portfolio+WetProtect offers slightly more style options at a reduced price point. Since the Portfolio and TimberCraft warranties are so similar, we’re inclined to believe the difference in quality is probably minimal.
#3: Repel by Shaw
Very Durable With a Strong Warranty | $5.40–$5.90/sq. ft.
Pergo and RevWood only say that their floors will resist these damages. That said, Shaw Repel is more than a dollar more per square foot. Pros and cons, right?
Anyway, we should also note that Shaw Floors is the second-largest flooring company on Earth. So, you can probably expect their products to maintain a certain level of quality.
Shaw Repel’s Waterproof Laminate Offerings
Shaw Repel offers a surprisingly slim selection of styles (fewer than 20 altogether). But these styles do hit all the staples, like oak and maple looks. There are even a few darker looks like walnut, but nothing as dark as ebony flooring.
Here’s something ironic though: Shaw makes almost 200 non-water-resistant laminate options. So if you’re looking for flooring ideas and want to use Shaw laminate flooring, you might have to go with an option that’s not in the Repel collection.
Shaw Repel’s Durability
Shaw doesn’t actually say its Repel line is waterproof, but since its warranty makes many of the same guarantees that RevWood and Pergo make (and then some), we think Repel is good enough to include here as well.
While other brands say their floors will resist stains and so on, Shaw Repel’s warranty guarantees it. Again: it’s unclear if the stronger wording means there’s a difference, but given the lifetime warranty, we’re inclined to think there might be.
That said, Shaw doesn’t specify the AC rating of their laminate products, which is unusual. Considering the warranty, though, it’s probably safe to assume that Repel is reasonably durable.
Shaw Repel’s Warranty
Aside from the features we already mentioned, Shaw Repel’s warranty is pretty solid. The one thing that’s a little concerning: Shaw recommends that the floor be installed in rooms where the humidity is between 35% and 65% throughout the year. However, that’s within the average of American households.
Which Shaw Repel Product Offers the Best Value?
Shaw Repel is the company’s only waterproof laminate flooring line, though there is some variety in its pricing.
#4: Restoration by Mannington
Sustainable, Low-VOC, but Only Water-Resistant | $3.40–$3.70/sq. ft.
Right off the bat, Mannington highlights that its laminate products are made from 70% recycled content with low-VOC materials (read about low-VOC flooring here). Good, right?
Its pricing is also similar to Pergo and RevWood, butthere’s one key exception: the residential warranty only lasts 25 years (as opposed to “for life”).
Mannington’s Waterproof Laminate Offerings
Mannington’s Restoration Collection is the company’s only laminate line. There are more than 60 style choices, all of which are wood-look.
The wide range includes lighter looks that mimic pine flooring in addition to darker or more amber styles that are closer to teak flooring. You can even find a few parquet styles!
Mannington Waterproof Laminate’s Durability
Mannington’s Restoration Collection uses a technology that’s similar to RevWood and Pergo’s WetProtect called SpillShieldPlus. Reviews say SpillShield’s not as good as WetProtect, but it should still prevent damage from everyday spills.
Oh, and Mannington’s Restoration Collection also boasts a robust AC4 rating.
Mannington Waterproof Laminate’s Warranty
Unlike the other floors on this list that offer lifetime residential warranties, the Restoration Collection’s residential warranty only lasts 25 years. The commercial version: 5. That’s oddlyshort, and somewhat alarming.
When companies offer warranties that only last for a short period (comparatively), it means they don’t expect the product to hold up for that long.
Still, Mannington Mills says you can mop the floor without issue so long as the water is “promptly removed.” This makes us think that it’s at least somewhat comparable to RevWood, Pergo, and Repel in terms of waterproofing.
Which Mannington Waterproof Laminate Product Offers the Best Value?
Again, the Restoration Collection is the only laminate product Mannington sells.
#5: AquaGuard by Floor & Decor
Approved for Standing Water (aka Super Waterproof) | $2.50–$4.00/sq. ft.
AquaGuard is a Floor & Decor exclusive that, if the reviews are to be believed, is surprisingly great.
Why “surprisingly”? Floor & Decor is a big box store, which doesn’t always bode well for product quality. Key example: NuCore flooring. This is Floor & Decor’s flagship vinyl plank product—and let’s just say it’s budget-friendly for a reason.
AquaGuard’s Waterproof Laminate Offerings
AquaGuard only offers a single collection, but there are 85 total styles available, including popular wood looks.
AquaGuard Waterproof Laminate’s Durability
Behold: the coveted AC5 rating. AquaGuard is the first and only product on this list that has an AC5 rating. More importantly: AquaGuard has a 30-hour window for dealing with water spills and accidents.
So, why is it the fifth choice on our list? Well, despite that 30-hour window, AquaGuard’s warranty very clearly states, “This product is water-resistant.” Despite the, again 30-hour window, Floor & Decor says that standing water will ruin the flooring, most likely via mold or mildew.
AquaGuard Waterproof Laminate’s Warranty
AquaGuard’s strong warranty makes up for the confusing rhetoric on its water-protection: limited lifetime for residential use; 15 years for commercial applications (which is pretty high for laminate).
Just be sure that the floor is installed correctly or the warranty may be voided.
Note: to access AquaGuard’s warranty, select any product on their site and scroll down to the “Install & Product Documents” section.
Which AquaGuard Waterproof Laminate Product Offers the Best Value?
While AquaGaurd’s products do vary in price, there’s only one collection to choose from.
Other Top Waterproof Laminate Flooring Brands
To round out our list, here are a few more products. These products aren’t necessarily lesser, but we’re not sure any qualify as the best waterproof laminate flooring.
#6: AquaFlor by Tarkett
Budget Water-Resistant Laminate | $1.00–$3.25/sq. ft.
Tarkett was a popular brand in Europe before it entered the American flooring market, where it’s still securing a foothold. AquaFlor, the company’s lone laminate brand, offers 24-hour protection from spills and splashes in the same general manner as Floor & Decor’s AquaGuard—but mixed reviews about the floor’s quality keep it out of the top tier.
#7: AquaSeal by LL Flooring
Decent Laminate Made by a Troubled Brand | $1.00–$4.00/sq. ft.
AquaSeal might be higher on this list if its manufacturer, LL Flooring, didn’t have a history of lawsuits. Oh, and the mixed reviews don’t help either.
Most of AquaSeal’s offerings meet the definition of “budget” flooring, but the lifetime residential warranty and 10-year commercial warranty suggest the floor is at least decent. It also has an AC4 rating.
Still, a casual glance at LL Flooring’s website reveals more than a few negative reviews, many of which seem to focus on the durability of the floor.
#8: NatureTek by Quick-Step
Another Mohawk-Owned Option | $1.40–$3.80/sq. ft.
NatureTek offers two (oddly-familiar) collections of laminate: NatureTek Select and NatureTek Plus. Sounds familiar, right? That’s because Quick-Step is owned by Mohawk.
The NatureTek line appears to be very similar to RevWood, but there’s no mention of whether these products use the UniClic or WetProtect technologies that make the latter so popular.
Quick Aside: Waterproof Laminate vs. Waterproof Vinyl
Moving on from the pros and cons of waterproof laminate flooring, there’s one thing we have to add: a comparison between luxury vinyl plank vs. laminate.
Before waterproof laminate, there was a strong case to be made that vinyl plank (a type of PVC flooring) was the superior floor. Why? The best vinyl plank flooring brands offer high-quality, long-lasting products that were equally affordable, but waterproof.
Still, waterproof laminate flooring offers a similar degree of performance in the same price range.
Waterproof Laminate Flooring FAQs
Still have questions about choosing and maintaining the best waterproof laminate flooring? Let’s go over some common FAQs to see if we can answer them.
Can Waterproof Laminate Flooring Be Mopped?
Again: we’re going back to the “remember to double-check your warranty info and care instructions” recommendation. But yes, in general, you should be able to.
How Long Does Waterproof Laminate Last?
Quality waterproof laminate flooring should last around 25 years, but a lot of factors can go into this (upkeep, brand, product, etc.).
However, many high-end brands offer lifetime residential warranties. So: it’s possible that these products could last much longer.
That said, if you want something that’s going to last for generations, maybe think about buying hardwood floors instead. Some of the most durable wood flooring options aren’t that much different from laminate in terms of hardness, and they can be refinished indefinitely.
Will Laminate Flooring Add Value to Your Home?
This is a subjective question through and through. Some buyers love the idea of laminate floors because they’re durable and easier to maintain; others prefer the real thing.
Generally speaking, we’d probably say that laminate is more valuable than other “budget” floors. If you’re comparing laminate vs. linoleum (or laminate vs. sheet vinyl), laminate probably offers more resale value.
Can I Install Laminate Flooring Over Existing Floors?
This is another one of those “check the warranty first” questions, but in general, you should be able to install waterproof laminate flooring over existing floors. It really depends on the product, though.
Of course, the standard option would be to install it over the subflooring (and what is subflooring?) rather than an existing surface.
How Do I Get Stains Out of Laminate Floors?
If you have true waterproof laminate flooring, stains shouldn’t be a problem. However, if they do occur, we would recommend looking to your product’s warranty and/or care instructions.
We would not recommend trying to remove stains from laminate the same way you might bleach wooden floors. Bleach is a potent chemical that will ruin a laminate floor’s protective layer. And the sad truth is that getting stains out of laminate is really not all that possible.
How Long Can Water Be on Waterproof Laminate Flooring?
It completely depends on the product. True waterproof laminate flooring will give you a this-floor-will-survive-standing-water-for-X-amount-of-hours number, but most laminate floors should be dried ASAP.
If you need something that can survive standing water indefinitely, like for a shower or pool, you might want to compare the perks of buying tile vs. laminate. Tile’s definitely the better option for wetter applications.
What Happens if Regular Laminate Flooring Gets Wet?
Even the best hardwood floors can’t stand up to liquids, and laminate is no different. Ordinary laminate flooring is absolutely ruined by water. Basically, liquids penetrate the finish or wear layers of the floor, seeping into the core layers where those fibers expand. Eventually, this will lead to warping and cracks.
How Do You Install Laminate Floors?
As we mentioned above, waterproof laminates are almost always installed as click- or snap-together floors. This installation style creates a surface seal, making it harder for water to seep between planks.
If that sounds odd to you, don’t worry—click-together or “floating” setups are some of the most common installation styles these days. And as an added bonus, floating floors make for some of the easiest flooring to install—either for professionals or do-it-yourself flooring aficionados.
This is a tricky question. Composite products aren’t generally considered the mosteco-friendly flooring. But as we mentioned before, laminate is greener than vinyl plank. If you want super green flooring, though, something like sustainable wood flooring or hemp flooring might be the better option.
In theory, yes—but in actuality, no. Or rather, not unless you have an entire flooring factory at your disposal.
While it can be a little more expensive than ordinary laminate, there’s no question that waterproof laminate flooring offers a huge upside. You can put it anywhere in your home and there’s little reason to worry. Plus, more and more of the best laminate flooring brands are starting to make it, which is always a good sign.
Our big advice here: check warranties before you purchase. Remember: there’s a big difference between water-resistant laminate and waterproof laminate, and it’s important to know which is which. When in doubt, see what the product you’re interested in is guaranteed to cover.
We know that can be a hassle, though, which is why we also recommend shopping somewhere people actually know the products—i.e. an actual well-reviewed flooring store rather than a big box store.
Take any subject and there’s a good chance Christian has written about it. From marketing and international relations to wildlife (hobby!) and sports, Christian writes, edits, or helps publish just about everything that’s resigned to written form. His love for home design and remodeling began with his first job working for his uncle’s property management business.
July 29, 2021 How much does it cost to install laminate flooring? Is it as affordable as you’ve always heard? And how does it compare to the cost to install other types of flooring? We certainly understand your questions! Buying floors is a big decision, and there’s a lot to take into consideration. Plus, with […]
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 […]
July 15, 2021 If you’ve researched any kind of flooring, you’ve probably seen ads for Home Depot’s TrafficMaster flooring. It’s basically everywhere. But what actually is TrafficMaster? Who actually makes it? And most importantly, is it worth buying? Well, that’s what we’re here to explain—with a special focus on TrafficMaster laminate flooring, the brand’s most […]