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How do I Waterproof a Floor?

By Nychole Price
Updated May 16, 2024
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Waterproofing a floor is the best way to protect it from damage, especially in areas such as the kitchen, bathroom and in front of entranceways. Water can soak through the floor, causing it to warp, crack or develop mold. Some floors, such as linoleum, are naturally resistant to water damage but most others, such as wood, ceramic tile, and laminate must be waterproofed. There are different ways to waterproof a floor, depending upon the material from which it is made.

Wood flooring adds beauty and elegance to a home, but unfortunately it is also easily damaged by water. There are several things a person can do to waterproof a floor made of wood. Before hardwood is installed in a home, the subfloor should be covered with an asphalt felt, also known as moisture barrier, to protect the wood from the moisture that forms under the home. The newly installed or preexisting wood flooring can now be waterproofed by applying a sealant usually composed of a polyurea/polyurethane mixture. Since this sealant may change the color of the wood if applied incorrectly, it is recommended to have this procedure performed by a professional.

Ceramic tile is a popular flooring, often found in kitchens and bathrooms. It is relatively simple to waterproof a floor made from ceramic tile. If the flooring hasn't yet been installed, it is best to lay waterproof backer board over the subfloor. Should a piece of tile become cracked and water leak through, the subfloor will not be damaged. After the ceramic tile has been installed, or in cases of preexisting tile, a membrane-forming sealant should be applied. In addition to protecting the tile from water damage, it will also prevent the grout from becoming stained with dirt.

Laminate is the flooring of choice for homes located in areas of high humidity, because they are usually sold with a preexisting waterproof barrier. Like hardwood, a moisture barrier should be laid down before installing the flooring to protect that underside of the laminate. A polyurethane sealant can also be applied to waterproof a floor if its history is unknown. Laminate floor sealant is sold at any do-it-yourself store and can be applied in two to four coatings using a standard mop.

Even though a floor has been waterproofed, it will probably not be able to hold up against standing water. Spills should be wiped up immediately. Rugs should be placed in entranceways and in front of sinks and bathtubs to absorb water before it soaks into the floors.

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Discussion Comments
By SarahSon — On Jan 08, 2012

We are getting ready to remodel our kitchen and I have been studying floor plans and floor tile designs.

I have had linoleum in my kitchen for a long time, and I am so excited to have something new and modern looking. After a lot of research I have decided on ceramic tile. Now if I can just narrow down which ceramic tile pattern I want.

Because the kitchen gets so much traffic, I want something that is easy to clean but is not too dark. One of my friends recommended I make sure the grout I use is a darker colored grout. She said if I used a white grout, it was too hard to keep clean.

One advantage of the linoleum is I didn't have to worry about water getting on the floor. Even though linoleum is resistant to water, I am looking forward to having a new ceramic kitchen floor.

By LisaLou — On Jan 08, 2012

We used to have carpet in our basement, but after getting water down there more than once, we decided to install something else. Our carpet was already ruined from flooding, so we needed to rip it out and put in something new anyway.

One of the best ways I knew how to waterproof a basement floor was to put down ceramic tile. I know what we installed under the floor was just as important as the floor itself. I just didn't want to keep worrying about replacing carpet every time we got a heavy rain.

We did much of the work ourselves, and I will say that laying carpet is easier and less time consuming than laying ceramic floor tile. This was a back breaking job, but we have sure enjoyed the results.

The basement serves as our family room, so I have rugs scattered throughout to add some color and keep our feet warm.

By John57 — On Jan 07, 2012

When we moved in to our house, there were only 2 rooms in the whole house that had carpet and those were both bedrooms. The entire bottom level was all wood flooring, and everything else was ceramic tile.

Since all of this was already done, I have no idea what they used to waterproof the floors. I make sure and keep rugs in front of the kitchen sink and dishwasher. These help catch any water spills that might happen. If the dishwasher starts to leak, I might be in trouble though.

I also keep rugs in the bathrooms which all have ceramic flooring. The only thing I don't like about the ceramic floor is they are cold in the winter time.

My ceramic floor tiles must have some kind of sealant on them because we have lived here for 5 years, and my grout has not stained during that time.

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