The simple answer is that wood flooring is typically not meant to be waterproof. This is the reason that homeowners are advised against getting wood flooring installed in their bathrooms. Generally, it is also recommended to prevent stagnant pools of water and water seepage since this can prove to be damaging for hardwood floors. However, there a few exceptions to this and considering that the distinct advantages of wood flooring, waterproofing wood floors can be worth it and is not too difficult.
Waterproof Engineered Hardwood Flooring
Quite a few flooring manufacturers are now offering waterproof engineered hardwood flooring that can be installed in commercial and residential projects. This type of engineered hardwood flooring is designed to perform to the highest international standards. Since these manufacturers value safety, this type of engineered hardwood flooring tends to have a fire resistance higher than the required standards. The specific surface density of this type of engineered hardwood floors enables them to be highly durable and withstand wear and tear.
Above all, the manufacturers subject this type of engineered hardwood floorboards to growth, memory and swell tests, which involve the use of water, which is the reason they tend to be waterproof. This also makes them mold and termite resistant as well. This type of flooring may consist of High Density Fiberboard (HDF), plywood or real wood as the core while a layer of hardwood veneer is glued on the top. Thus, this type of flooring actually comprises of wood rather than just posing with a “wooden” effect. This makes it usable in area where heat and water pose problems.
Engineered Hardwood Flooring With A HDF Core
While not entirely waterproof, engineered hardwood flooring tends to be resistant to contract and expansion as a result of changing humidity levels when compared to solid wood flooring. However, in comparison to engineered hardwood flooring with a plywood core, a High Density Fiberboard (HDF) core tends to be more resistant to water exposure. An HDF core consists of compressed recycled sawdust and eco-friendly resin. However, engineered hardwood flooring with an HDF core is less likely to return to its original dimensions if it swells up after absorbing too much moisture, but it is always possible to waterproof this type of flooring.
How To Waterproof Solid Wood Flooring?
As mentioned, unprotected wood flooring is usually prone to mildew, rotting and staining since they do not happen to be naturally waterproof, neither are they generally manufactured to be waterproof. If you are serious about getting hardwood flooring installed in your house, you could avoid expensive repairs by waterproofing your floors.
Keep in mind that any finish that is applied to a wood floor will only make it waterproof to some extent, but totally waterproofing wood flooring is not possible simply by applying a finish over it. In order to potentially achieve that, the boards will have to be sealed on all sides before they are installed.
Polyurethane is the most water-resistant sealant that can be applied to existing wood flooring. If you would rather have a natural and unfinished appearance for your wood flooring, a paraffin-based sealant or a penetrating oil can also be used in order to make wood floors water-resistant. These materials can be applied using a brush, floor finish applicator or a roller.
1. If your wood flooring does not already have a finish, the floor will have to be sanded.
If you are planning to refinish your wood floors rather than just waterproof them, you can achieve professional sanding results by using a drum sander and an edger. If you feel that this would be too much of a hassle, a floor buffer that has a 120-grit sanding screen can also be used. The grain of the flooring can be flattened by running the buffer over it.
2. The floor will have to be thoroughly cleaned using a vacuum cleaner.
then the fine bits of dust that have been left behind will have to be removed by wiping them down using a damp tack cloth.
3. Depending on your needs, a suitable waterproofing sealant should be selected accordingly.
Outdoor waterproofing sealants, such as the type that are used for decks, tend to evaporate rapidly and even though the paraffin coating left behind is waterproof, it also tends to be visible. If you want your flooring’s surface to look natural, you may use penetrating oils that will harden in the grain by adding a protective coating to your wood floors. If you want to achieve maximum water protection, polyurethane film coatings are an ideal choice, but again, you will be able to view the coating.
4. The chosen sealant will have to be poured into a 5-gallon bucket.
Paraffin-based sealants can be applied using a brush or a roller. When penetrating oil is being used, it can be applied using a brush and excess oil that pools on the floor can be wiped off using a rag. For polyurethane film coating, it is best to use a floor finish applicator, which resembles a weighted sponge squeegee that has to be dragged along the wooden surface. The chosen sealant should be spread on the floor, staring from the corner that is opposite the exit and then spreading it towards the door. The windows should be kept open and a respirator should be worn.
5. Wait for at least one night for the sealant to dry.
You will not have to do anything else if a paraffin sealant or a penetrating oil was applied. However, if a polyurethane film coating was used and no other coat of finish is going to be applied, then a 120-grit sanding screen will have to be used once again to screen the wooden surface.
The bottom line is that there are no wood flooring options that are completely 100% waterproof. However, it is true that manufacturers have started offering waterproof engineered hardwood flooring, but getting them installed may not be an option for everyone. The same goes for regular engineered hardwood flooring that has an HDF core instead of a plywood one. Fortunately, it is possible to manually waterproof regular solid wood floors, but it is always better to get them waterproofed by a professional.