Wooden Flooring and Waterproofing: What You Need to Know

Is Wooden Flooring Waterproof

Wood floors may enhance the beauty and worth of any house. Water and wood, however, don’t always mix well together. If appropriate measures aren’t implemented, water can cause damage to wood flooring. Is wooden flooring waterproof, then, is a crucial concern for every homeowner thinking about installing wood floors? 

In general, wood flooring is not naturally waterproof. Because wood is porous, it can be harmed by water if it gets too wet. But, there are things you can do to improve the water resistance of your wood floors so they can tolerate spills and wet shoes from time to time.

Understanding The Effects of Water on Wood Floors

It’s helpful to know how water initially damages wood flooring in order to comprehend how to waterproof them. When wood is exposed to water, it absorbs moisture, causing the boards to swell, warp, or cup. Prolonged moisture exposure leads to expansion and contraction, cracking and splitting of the boards. It also encourages mold, mildew, and rot.

Water not only damages the wood surface but can seep into seams and get trapped underneath, causing more extensive underlying rot and structural weaknesses. Any water spills should be wiped up quickly to prevent moisture damage.

Another culprit is humidity. Wood naturally expands and contracts as humidity levels change. Excess indoor humidity exposes floors to gradual moisture damage. Use dehumidifiers and fans to regulate humidity indoors.

Choosing a Water-Resistant Wood Species 

While no wood flooring is completely waterproof, some species are more resistant to water damage than others. Denser hardwoods with higher natural oil content tend to repel water better. Good choices for damp areas include teak, ipe, tigerwood, and cumaru. Engineered wood products made with a water-resistant core are also good options.

When shopping for wood flooring, look for planks with these features:

  • Closed-grain structure – Dense, closed-grain woods absorb less moisture.
  • High oil content – Oily woods help repel water naturally. 
  • Durable protective finish – A quality factory-applied finish seals the wood surface.
  • Composite core – Engineered wood with a plywood or water-resistant core handles moisture better.
  • Use Proper Installation Methods

Installing the floor properly will also boost water resistance. Follow these best practices:

  • Allow subfloor to dry completely before installation. Test moisture levels – wood shouldn’t be installed over concrete with moisture above 3-5%.
  • Use a vapor barrier like polyethylene film to cover concrete subfloors before installation.
  • Leave 1/4″ expansion space around perimeter and between boards – this allows the floor room to expand and contract with humidity changes.
  • Avoid nailing planks too tightly – allow space for the boards to move slightly.
  • Use water-resistant adhesives and fasteners.

Apply a Protective Finish

A quality finish protects the wood surface from moisture. New factory-finished flooring comes pre-coated with aluminum oxide, polyurethane, or other water-resistant finishes. For site-finished floors, apply 3-5 coats of water-based polyurethane for the best moisture protection. Refinish scratched or worn areas promptly to maintain water resistance.

Extra Tips for Waterproofing Wood Floors

Along with proper installation and finishing, follow these extra tips to keep your wood floors water-resistant:

  • Add felt pads under furniture legs to prevent scratches that can compromise finish.
  • Sweep and mop carefully with damp (not wet) mop. Avoid excessive water.
  • Wipe up spills immediately with dry towel.
  • Place mats at exterior doors to absorb tracked-in moisture. 
  • Use area rugs in kitchen and bathrooms near sinks.
  • Run dehumidifiers to regulate humidity indoors. 
  • Use rugs or even plastic covers to protect floor beneath houseplants.
  • Recoat floor regularly to maintain protective finish.
  • Avoid walking on floor with wet shoes or allowing pets to track in water.

Repairing Water Damage on Wood Floors

If moisture does penetrate and damage your wood flooring, prompt action is required to prevent further issues. Minor cupping or gapping can be repaired with fillers and refinishing. For more severe moisture damage, warped or rotted boards may need replacement. Consult a wood flooring professional for repairs.

The key is not allowing spills or excessive humidity to linger. While no flooring is impervious, well-installed and maintained wood floors can withstand occasional mishaps. With extra care taken in wet areas, wood flooring can work for kitchens, baths, basements and more. Follow proper installation, finish and maintenance tips to keep your wood floors looking beautiful while minimizing water risks.

Read More –
Is Wooden Flooring Better Than Tiles

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