Waterproof vs. Water Resistant

Knowing the difference can save  your floors

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It doesn’t seem like there is much of a difference, but there is. Waterproof means that it can withstand any amount of water, from a small spill to a flood, and be just fine. Water resistant means that it can take on a little water for a short time. Anything after that will more than likely cause damage.

Many types of vinyl flooring are waterproof and/or highly water resistant. Laminate, on the other hand, is made out of recycled hardwood, so it is not waterproof.  Due to its melamine wear layer, it has a tough finish, which resists scratches and may have minor protection against a small amount of water. But, like hardwood, laminate does not do well with standing water or high humidity, regardless of whether this water is topical (on top) or seeping into the subfloor from below. If laminate floors become really wet, they will get ruined and buckle.

Water resistance in flooring means that the particular element of flooring has been designed to withstand water better than it normally would. With hard surfaces, most flooring is designed to be able to have some water on top for a while before it will soak through, giving you time to take care of the spill before it can affect the floor. Just about every laminate product claims this. The aluminum oxide coating most of them have is pretty much waterproof, but the seams or gaps between planks, aren’t, so the floor isn’t. In those gaps, you usually have an exposed core, and may eventually soak in water.

So, laminate flooring is NOT waterproof.  There is a common misperception out there that laminate is waterproof, and I believe this is due to the fact that many customers mistakenly confuse vinyl and laminate flooring.

If you feel that hardwood is not a good option for an area due to water or humidity, it is also a good idea to avoid laminate.

Laminate warranties usually do not apply to water damage, including but not limited to water damage caused by flooding, standing water (water that remains on the floor longer than 30 minutes), leaking pipes, mechanical failures, appliance leaks, or pet urine. be aware of what you are getting yourself into before purchasing!

BONUS: Scratch Proof vs. Scratch Resistant

The terms scratch proof and scratch resistant are different by definition, but used synonymously by manufacturers to promote their products. Scratch proof, if taken literally, would mean that the product is able to withstand any kind of abrasion and not bear any scratches. Scratch resistant, on the other hand essentially means that the product is able to withstand minor scratches. Scratch proof, therefore, stands for more durability than scratch resistant products.

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Tile Application: Your Bathroom

What is the best tile for your bathroom?

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Your bathroom has to stand up to wet conditions, frequent cleaning, and still look good while doing it. Not only does a fully tiled bathroom make it more water-resistant, it is a stunning design statement as well. How do you know what tile to choose for this application?

First, let’s go through basic terms that are important in choosing your bathroom tile.
The following water-proof ratings were developed by The American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The tests to get these ratings consists of first boiling the tile for five hours then immersing the tile in cold water for another 24 hours and then measuring its gain in weight from the original dry state. The amount of absorption is stated as a percent of change from the dry weight.

Non-vitreous
Water absorption of more than 7.0% by volume. These tiles are mainly used in dry areas of the house.

Semi-vitreous
Water absorption of more than 3.0%, but not more than 7.0%. A semi-vitreous tile is less porous than a non-vitreous tile.

Vitreous
Water absorption of more than 0.5%, but not more than 3.0%. A vitreous tile is less porous than a semi-vitreous tile because more of the tiny spaces between clay particles have been filled with glass.

Impervious
Water absorption of 0.5% or less. An impervious tile is the least porous — in fact, it is essentially waterproof — but instead of calling it super-vitreous or waterproof, the creators of the test settled on impervious. It is sometimes referred to as porcelain.

Coefficient of friction
For floor tile, this Coefficient of Friction (COF) ranking is important. The test establishes how much force is required to move an object across the face of the tile, dry or wet. It tells you how resistant a tile is to slipping.

For safety in wet areas or in flooring applications where accessibility is a concern, look for a tile with a high coefficient of friction. This property is measured on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the most slip-resistant, or just “wet” or “dry.”

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Want the look of wood but the durability of tile? Check our last post: Wood Grain Tile

Now how do these apply to your bathroom application?


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Walls

Tiles for your bathroom walls do not need to have a very high coefficient of friction. It really doesn’t matter how slip-resistant they are! Walls only get wet on occasion, so the tiles used on the walls can be non-vitreous to semi-vitreous. A personal favorite of mine is subway tile- it goes with everything!

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Floor

The tiles you use on your floor need to have a dry coefficient of friction, meaning you won’t slip and fall while hopping out of your shower. These tiles should be semi-vitreous to vitreous, holding in little to no water, as it is possible to experience constant or standing water. 

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Shower

The driest and lowest water absorption tiles need to be placed in your shower. I’d say vitreous to impervious, though impervious tiles aren’t completely necessary. They can be more expensive and will outlast your house, you, your children, your grandchildren, and beyond. No need for that, don’t you think? Those tiles can be saved for an outdoor application! Stick with vitreous tile and your wallet will thank you!

Still not sure what tile to use? We can help! Our staff of interior designers and tile specialists would be glad to assist in choosing the right tile for your bathroom (or any application!). Our new Tile Center will be opening at the end of this month, but don’t wait until then to come see us 🙂

For more information on Dalton Carpet One, stop by the showroom at 3690 Atlanta Highway, Suite 108 in Athens, Ga., call 706.353.0547 or visit www.daltoncarpetone.com.