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Waterproof vs. Water Resistant Flooring: What’s the Difference?

water resistant flooring options

When you’re deciding what type of flooring to get, you need to consider several options. Waterproof flooring has many advantages, but so does water-resistant flooring options. Knowing what these differences are and what will be best for the area you’re installing it can save you time and money.

Waterproof vs Water Resistant: What’s the Difference?

First, you need to know what waterproof vs water resistant means. Both terms refer to a material that can prevent or repel water, which is great for bathrooms or kitchens. However, they’re not interchangeable terms.

Waterproof refers to a permanent material, which means water won’t penetrate the flooring, no matter how much time goes by. For example, waterproof flooring can be installed in any room, but it’s more expensive than water-resistant flooring. A water resistant floor refers to how flooring material protects flooring substrate from water infiltration.

Waterproof Flooring

Long-Term Cost

waterproof vs water resistant
Jasper Waterproof Engineered Hardwood Celestial Collection in Leo / SKU: 15270022

Waterproof flooring is more expensive, but it has benefits that water-resistant flooring does not. While waterproof costs more than water-resistant flooring options initially, the cost can be worth it depending on where you’re installing them. If water absorbs into certain types of flooring, such as hardwood, the flooring material could swell and eventually crack, ruining the floor. When this damage occurs, you’ll need to replace the flooring. This is why it may be easier to install waterproof floors from the start. You can purchase waterproof hardwood, but this type of flooring will be more expensive.


Rigid core vinyl flooring is a durable waterproof option, as it won’t deteriorate if it’s exposed to water for an extended period. Additionally, the color of the floor will remain and won’t fade. You won’t need to worry about click-lock vinyl flooring curling up at the edges or the composition of the flooring breaking down to the waterproof properties of the flooring material.

A waterproof floor can prevent moisture in the air due to climate or flooding from infiltrating the flooring material. None of these events will damage the floor, which is important to consider if you live in an area prone to humidity or flooding.


spc vinyl flooring
Vesdura Vinyl Planks – 5.5mm SPC Click Lock – Vigorous Collection in Hurler / SKU: 15235047

Waterproof flooring can be installed in any room of your home. It’s great in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and basement. However, it is not recommended for any outdoor installation. Waterproof indoor floorings are not typically resistant against sun damage or any other weather elements.

While many luxury vinyl or engineered hardwood floors are waterproof, you shouldn’t assume they all are. The ones labeled as 100 percent waterproof are what you want to look for. You should also keep in mind that while your flooring can be waterproof, the subfloor underneath may not be. As a result, you’ll need to keep water from getting under the flooring to prevent subflooring damage.

Water-Resistant Flooring

water resistant floor

When it comes to waterproof vs water resistant, waterproof flooring has many benefits – but it’s not always necessary to use it in every room.

Initial Cost

Water resistant flooring like laminate or vinyl tile are typically less expensive to purchase than waterproof engineered hardwood or luxury vinyl planks. These flooring materials are also easy to install, so you likely won’t need to hire installation experts.

Absorbtion Rate

Lamton Laminate - 12mm AC5 Water Resistant - Defiant Collection
Canyon Oak / 12mm / AC 5
SKU: 15271567

One point to keep in mind about water resistant flooring is the time you can allow water to sit on top of the floor. As long as you mop up water on the floor somewhat quickly, it won’t have time to absorb into the floor and impact the material underneath. Water doesn’t go through water resistant flooring as quickly as it does with something like wood flooring. Since water resistant flooring can handle small spills on occasion, this flooring option will last longer.

While you can install water resistant flooring in a kitchen, you want to be attentive to water collecting on the flooring itself. If you are considering laminate, make sure it has a water resistant core in addition to a protected top layer. The seams between the planks can leave it vulnerable to any water that may enter through the seams. A roll-on moisture barrier can be applied when installing the flooring. This moisture barrier can help keep the subfloor protected from extra moisture and ensure the bonding adhesive is strong.


While hardwood floors is more natural than water-resistant floors, hardwood will eventually absorb water that sits on it. Hardwood isn’t a good option for many parts of a house, as only the top finish will resist water. You might actually be surprised at the beauty of modern water resistant flooring. It closely mimics real hardwood, and is available in many shades and even textures.

Waterproof vs Water Resistant: Do the Research

It’s important to do your research before deciding to buy any type of flooring. Consider where the flooring is installed and if water has a high chance of being on the floor. You’ll also need to consider your overall budget for your flooring project, since waterproof flooring can cost more than water resistant flooring. If you try to save money by installing water resistant flooring in an area that gets frequent spills, you could end up spending more money in the future on flooring replacement.

Waterproof flooring can be used in all rooms. However, you may want to avoid installing water resistant flooring in rooms where water frequently collects on the floor, such as mudrooms. When you’re considering a flooring choice for your home, use this guide to help you decide between waterproof vs water resistant flooring options for your intended space.