Believe it or not, yes it does. Genuine hardwood flooring that is waterproof does exist.
The top waterproof hardwood flooring brands are listed below. If you’re still skeptical and want a tried-and-true waterproof flooring option, alternatives are offered too.
- Is Hardwood Flooring Waterproof?
- What is Waterproof Hardwood Flooring?
- Is Waterproof Hardwood Flooring Really Waterproof?
- Who Makes Waterproof Hardwood Flooring?
- Pros and Cons
- Other Waterproof Flooring Options
Is Hardwood Flooring Waterproof?
Generally, no. It must be made specifically for waterproof performance.
Because wood can be easily damaged by water, waterproof hardwood flooring seems like an impossibility, but with new technology, many manufacturers are now offering real hardwood flooring that has been made waterproof.
Waterproof hardwood flooring appeared on the flooring market in 2019 and it’s quickly becoming popular. You can find it in a wide range of wood species, colors, styles, and finishes.
What is Waterproof Hardwood Flooring?
Waterproof hardwood flooring is engineered hardwood flooring that has been enhanced with innovative technology to make it impervious to water. The technology varies by manufacturer, but all products include a highly protective and durable hydrophobic sealant applied to all sides of each plank to prevent water infiltration.
Fun words: Hydrophobic / hydrophobicity – “Afraid of water,” meaning in the flooring industry that waterproof engineered hardwood flooring is protected from water absorption, and that’s a good thing since water in prolonged contact with unprotected wood flooring causes swelling damage and staining.
Solid vs Engineered Hardwood – Why Waterproof Hardwood is Engineered
Solid hardwood flooring planks are milled from a single, solid piece of hardwood. Traditional stains and sealing materials are applied, of course, but not to all sides. Water seeping between planks can cause damage. Solid hardwood floors are water-resistant, but not waterproof.
Traditional engineered hardwood is constructed with a base made of layers of plywood bonded together with a layer of real wood on top. The top wood layer is often a veneer that cannot be refinished. Some engineered hardwood flooring has a thicker top layer of solid wood that can be refinished at least once.
Why Waterproof Hardwood is Different
Traditional non-waterproof engineered hardwood is less expensive than solid wood. It’s advantage is that it is more stable – less prone to shrinking when the air is very dry and warping when the air is humid. The top layer of engineered hardwood is coated with a sealing agent to make it less prone to water damage but if water penetrates the plywood core, it will be damaged.
Waterproof hardwood flooring is always engineered hardwood, meaning the flooring includes a high-density inner core with real wood veneer on top. The high-density base and core are made from waterproof materials such as or stone and polymers and referred to as SPC (stone plastic composite).
The floor planks are coated on all six sides to seal them to prevent water absorption. The planks are made to lock together tightly when installed keeping water from getting between them and into a wood subfloor where it can cause damage.
Is Waterproof Hardwood Flooring Really Waterproof?
The manufacturers say yes, but because it is a relatively new product, long-term results are not yet available.
We do know that the flooring is highly water resistant. Tests show that if water is allowed to remain on the floor, the flooring will not swell, warp, mold or stain.
Does Waterproof Hardwood Flooring Look and Feel Like Wood?
Waterproof hardwood flooring does look and feel like wood because the top layer is real hardwood.
Installing a subfloor will create the best solid hardwood “feel” as you walk on the floor. Use the manufacturer’s recommendations for subfloor material, underlayment, and installation guidelines.
Who Makes Waterproof Hardwood Flooring?
Today there are quite a few manufacturers. Here are the best waterproof hardwood flooring brands and information about their products.
Bruce claims their Hydropel flooring is 100% hardwood and 100% waterproof through a 3-part system of tightly locking planks, a proprietary coating on all plank edges, and a hyper-dense core. Hydropel can be installed in any room of the house including basements.
Bruce currently makes 11 choices of Hydropel in both Oak and Hickory woods in colors ranging from Parchment, a very light White Oak, to Black Brown, a darkly stained Hickory. There’s also a variety of browns and grays. The flooring is available in 5” wide planks of varying lengths with a low-gloss finish.
Carpet One Hydrotek H2O
Carpet One states that Hydrotek combines the unique character of wood with engineered waterproof technology to produce flooring that is 100% waterproof, pet proof, and scratch resistant.
Hydrotek is available in White and Red Oak, Hickory, Pine, Maple, and Walnut with design techniques like reactive staining and wire-brush finishes. Planks are 7” wide and come in random lengths of up to 6’.
Hydrotek is available in 13 choices of wood with each type available in several stain colors.
Flooring America/Flooring Canada Aquadura H2O
Flooring America put their waterproof hardwood flooring, Aquadura H2O, through a variety of tests to be sure it was waterproof, including submerging it in water. After 24 hours, the flooring showed no swelling or cupping from water damage.
Aquadura H2O comes in 36 hardwood options including Pine, Walnut, Hickory, and Oak with 5” or 7.5” planks, a low-gloss, and a hand scraped or smooth finish, depending on the profile.
Lifecore Flooring H2OME
Lifecore Floorings H2OME is certified by the National Wood Flooring Association as real hardwood flooring. H2OME is engineered hardwood flooring that is made with a closed-cell construction, meaning that sealing all edges and surfaces is designed to prevent water penetration. H2OME also includes a tough finish coat that resists scratches and dents.
H2OME is available in 4 collections, City Spa, Designer Splash, Farmhouse Fresh, and Urban Oasis. The collections are all Oak with 7.5” wide and 2’ to 6’ random length planks, a wide variety of stains, and reclaimed, distressed, and hand scraped finishes.
RainTree only makes waterproof engineered hardwood flooring. The flooring is constructed of a foam backing, a high-density, rigid composite waterproof core and a 1.2mm layer of real hardwood. The flooring is topped with a clear, waterproof wear layer that is durable and resistant to scratches.
RainTree has also tested their flooring by submerging it in water with no signs of damage to the flooring.
RainTree is available in 14 options in either European White Oak or American Hickory, with 7.5” planks in random lengths up to 6.25’ and a brushed matte finish. RainTree is available in very light to dark stain choices.
Pros and Cons
Waterproof hardwood flooring has many advantages but also a few disadvantages.
- Waterproof construction
- Scratch and dent resistant – as is all engineered hardwood flooring
- Can be installed anywhere in the home including the bathroom and basement
- Low VOCs/volatile organic compounds, especially flooring with a FloorScore or GreenGuard rating for low VOCs
- Offers better resale value than vinyl flooring and carpet – but not as good as solid hardwood flooring
- It costs less than solid hardwood flooring
- Can be more expensive than traditional engineered hardwood flooring
- Cannot be refinished, so it will need to be replaced in 12 to 25 years depending on how much traffic it gets
- Not available in as many varieties as solid and traditional engineered hardwood – but with its rising popularity, that could change
Other Waterproof Flooring Options
There are several other waterproof flooring options available today that do a good job replicating the appearance of real hardwood floors. If you’re not sold on waterproof engineered hardwood flooring, consider these choices.
Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP)
LVP is constructed of layers including a rigid vinyl base layer for stability with a photograph of wood applied to the base. The top layer is a transparent, durable, wear layer that’s been embossed, following the wood-grain in the photo, to create the look and feel of real wood. You can find LVP mimicking just about any species of wood with your choice of stain color, style and finish.
LVP is extruded into planks, like solid hardwood, and features a tongue and groove edge treatment making it easy to install and creating a secure fit between planks. LVP can be installed anywhere in the home, including the basement.
Traditional LVP is very water resistant, but not 100% waterproof. Look for innovations in LVP flooring that uses a WPC (wood/plastic core), or SPC (stone/plastic core), to make them waterproof. These waterproof vinyl flooring materials are also called engineered vinyl planks, or EVP flooring.
Waterproof LVP brands include Shaw Floorte Elite, Armstrong Luxe, and COREtec.
Laminate flooring is made in layers, much the same way as LVP, with a base layer, a core, a photograph of wood, and then a wood-textured top wear layer.
Laminate flooring is made in planks that install tightly together with a click or lock system keeping water out. Traditional laminate should not be installed in areas frequently exposed to moisture like a bath, mudroom or entryway, but waterproof laminate works well in those areas.
Traditional laminate uses a wood-based core and is only water-resistant, but there are several new laminate flooring products using specialized coatings to make them waterproof.
Waterproof laminate brands include Mohawk RevWood Select and RevWood Plus, Pergo Wet Protect, Shaw Repel, and Mannington Restoration.
Ceramic or porcelain tile can be made to replicate the look of wood. These tiles are often formed in shapes that mimic a wood flooring plank. An image of wood is printed onto the tile in durable glaze, and the tile is embossed like wood grain. Wood-look tile is 100% waterproof and can be installed anywhere tile can be installed.
Wood-look tile comes in a wide variety of colors, plank widths, and styles, including hand-scraped and distressed looks, and low-gloss finishes. The tiles can be installed to create the look of a simple plank floor or in patterns like herringbone or parquet.
Top wood-look tile brands include American Olean, Daltile, and Shaw.