Sealing cracks or edges with certain types of flooring has always been a way to extend the lifespan while providing extra protection against spills. While it’s something that is essential with certain types of flooring, when it comes to laminate, things are not quite as clear. If you’re wondering whether laminate can be sealed or if it’s something you should attempt yourself, our guide will provide all the answers.
Can you seal laminate flooring to make it waterproof?
Protection is the key word with sealers whether used on stone or laminate flooring. By design, it provides a measure of water-resistance or can fully waterproof a floor. If you want to seal laminate flooring in a kitchen or other area prone to spills, you might be in for a bit of a surprise.
Laminate flooring has a wear layer, which keeps the image or design layer beneath from becoming scratched. In many cases, sealer will not adhere to this surface, which makes sealing certain types of laminate a fruitless endeavor. That top coat is already impermeable to water, so trying to add an extra layer of protection could potentially do more harm than good.
In fact, many homeowners don’t realize that sealing laminate flooring could void the warranty. That’s why you should always check with the brand and manufacturer beforehand. Some companies provide steps or tips on how to safely seal laminate floors while others clearly state to avoid it. With that in mind, if your flooring is safe to seal, here are the best ways to go about that.
Sealing Laminate Flooring
Now that you understand how sealing the entire surface of a laminate floor for water resistance isn’t a great idea, it’s time to think about the areas you can seal – the perimeter and seams. Sealing the perimeter is something required during the installation of most waterproof or water-resistant flooring, while sealing seams isn’t quite as common.
Sealing Expansion Gaps
When laminate flooring is installed, there is an expansion gap around the perimeter of the room with spacers. While this small gap is covered by the baseboard in the room, it’s the one weak point where water can get through to the subfloor on even the best click-lock laminate boards.
Pergo and other manufacturers recommended you seal this gap before putting the baseboard into place. If that isn’t an option, it is still something you can do yourself and only requires a few hours of your time and no expensive crack sealers. You will need a hammer and a thin pry-bar to remove the baseboard, but you will also need to pick up a few unique supplies.
The first is called a foam backer rod. These are commonly used around windows and doors in homes to fill large gaps before caulk is applied. Despite their name, there are not actually rods but thin strips of foam sold in a roll. The size you need depends on how large the expansion gap is, but you need to allow enough room for the backing rod and this next item.
Silicone caulk is also required, but there are dozens of brands to choose from. While all serve the same basic purpose, what’s inside the tube could potentially affect your flooring. This is another area where you should use the silicone recommended by the manufacturer of your flooring. If that’s not an option, stick to 100% flexible clear silicone. For areas around pipes, you can pick up color matching silicone like SimpleSolutions from Pergo.
- Remove any furniture or objects in the room that are near the perimeter. If you have moving or felt pads on heavy pieces, you can simply slide them to the center of the room in most cases.
- Gently remove the baseboard from around the entire perimeter of the room using a thin pry-bar and hammer along with any quarter round moulding. Refer to our laminate removal guide if you are unsure on how to remove these pieces.
- Remove the spacers, and then take your roll of backer rod and place it into the expansion gap along each wall. You can use the foam backer in any area where transitions occur as well to ensure a waterproof seal.
- With the backer rod in place, cut the end of the silicone sealant tube and cover the backing rod. You’ll want to fill in any spaces as you go where water could potentially seep through and get to the subfloor.
- When complete, wipe any excess silicone from the laminate flooring around the perimeter of the room and near transitions. Allow to dry, and then replace the baseboards, moulding and transitions in that room.
Sealing an entire Laminate Floor
If you have older laminate flooring in your home that was glued into place or doesn’t have a modern click-lock edge, you may have been considering sealing the entire floor. While that isn’t something we recommend for newer styles with a good wear layer, it is an option for older floors in areas where spills could be a concern.
Regardless of the age of your flooring or whether it’s in the bathroom, bedroom or kitchen, keep in mind that sealing the surface could void your warranty. Check with the manufacturer beforehand, and only use products that are safe for laminate flooring. You will also need to do a considerable amount of prep work depending on the area and conditions of the floors.
The process behind sealing laminate floors varies, but always begins with the product itself. You will need to remove everything from the room, and have plenty of ventilation along with a number of tools to apply the finish. The surface will need to be sanded by hand very lightly to allow the sealant to stick with caution towards the wear and design layers. The video below will give you a better idea of what to expect from this process.
Other Surface Coatings
Sealant is one of the older types of coatings homeowners and professionals use on hard flooring surfaces. While ideal to prevent water damage, it’s not the only option available. There are a number of products on the market today that can improve or rejuvenate the laminate in your home, including ones that provide a better grip.
One of the more interesting coatings for laminate comes from the Slip Doctors. It’s a water-based urethane sealer that can be rolled onto laminate in order to create a non-slip coating. Floor Grip comes in two finishes and a gallon is capable of covering floors up to 700 square feet per coat. There are a few aerosol-based products that can be applied in small sections as well.
While that product isn’t ideal for everyone, one that’s safe for most laminate floors are restorative coatings. Rejuvenate’s All Floor Restorer is a good example, and it’s a low-VOC formula that’s easy to apply and safe for laminate, hardwood, linoleum and more. You can find kits from Rust-Oleum and other major brands, just remember to read the fine print and make sure it’s safe for your style of flooring.
Adding an extra layer of protection to any type of floor that is made from organic materials like laminate or hardwood is never a bad idea – as long as you use the right product. Remember to always check the manufacturer’s directions when it comes to applying sealers to laminate flooring along with the warranty itself. If you want the best protection against moisture or spills, you may want to consider waterproof laminate flooring or luxury vinyl.