Homeowners and businesses are raving over the versatility of LVP. Luxury Vinyl Planking is a floating interlocking plank system floor that not only promises durability and scratch resistance but also is 100% waterproof. However, claims have been made on different manufacturer’s LVP systems not holding up to intense water conditions. To analyze this, we need first to break down a couple of things.
What Does Waterproof Mean?
There are several terms which we use interchangeably that have slightly different meanings. For example, water resistant means a product will resist water from infiltrating through it to some degree. Water-repellent is usually a product treated with a protective layer or coating that results in water having trouble getting into the underlayer. Lastly, waterproof means that a product is 100% impervious to water penetration. Most waterproof products, whether phone cases, speaker cases, or other electronic waterproof devices, are ranked on an IP Rating Scale 0-8. This scale takes into consideration the water pressure at certain depths, temperature, and other factors that can allow water to damage the device. However, this scale is used only on waterproof items that are protecting something from be damaged or dying. So, in the flooring industry, waterproof is loosely used. For something to be truly waterproof, water cannot penetrate it from either side nor can it jeopardize the integrity of the product. Most LVP indeed will not get damaged from water. So, is it must be waterproof then? Well, let us take a more in-depth look at where the underlying issue arises.
LVP Waterproof Issues
Luxury Vinyl Planking and Tile systems are floating floors. These floating floors can be installed over many surfaces including concrete slab, tile, and hardwood. While your floor may be waterproof, your subfloor is not waterproof. Imagine a waterproof box being filled with water. As the pressure builds, the integrity of the box is jeopardized. Likewise, if water is coming up from your subfloor, the pressure will rise against the bottom of your LVP. This pressure will look for an escape route to reenter the atmosphere. The nearest point will be the weakest points or the seams of all the planks. Even if this pressure is not enough to get your planks to buckle; it can get your concrete to react. If your subfloor breaks underneath, now you have a new issue. So, even though water is not damaging your LVP directly, it can cause correlating problems.
Some manufacturers have recognized this problem, and this may be in their warranties. If you are looking to install LVP over concrete, you may want to consider putting a waterproof underlayment down prior to installation. However, these scenarios are very uncommon; they should be recognized prior to installation. That is why it would be a very uncommon practice to install LVP at the bottom of a pool or in a shower system. While the flooring is “waterproof,” other factors like the subfloor play a role in the performance of the product.
All manufacturers have different levels of warranties from flooding all the way to hurricane damage. Make sure you fully understand how your warranty works prior to purchasing your floors and if you have concerns about the environment in which you are installing it. While LVP is waterproof, it is vital to understand the ramifications you may face for installing it directly over a slab, especially one predisposed to water. For more insight on LVP and other flooring products, make sure to subscribe!