Waterproof Laminate Flooring: Our 2023 Buying Guide

Waterproof Laminate Flooring: Our 2023 Buying Guide

When it comes to waterproof flooring choices, some options leap to mind straight away. Laminate doesn’t tend to be one of them because it can be very susceptible to water damage. However, this is a huge generalization, as there are, in fact, some brands that would seem to give a good waterproofing performance. It should be borne in mind that caution must be exercised when dealing with what seems to be the best waterproof laminate, as claims aren’t always what they seem.

So, when it comes to assessing just how waterproof these laminates are, we’ll dig deep, looking closely at warranties, care guides, and online reviews. We’ll also take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of laminate flooring in general and how it performs in a head-to-head with engineered wood. At the end of the day, we want you to have the best waterproof laminate flooring brand for your home.

Let’s start by looking at the problem with a lot of laminates.

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Most Laminates Can’t Handle Water…

The majority of laminate flooring examples have difficulty with water. Why’s this? It’s mainly down to the core, which tends to be wood-based. Although this has tremendous advantages in terms of foot feel, it brings a big downer to the party too: wood is, of course, very absorbent. And when it absorbs water, it swells. So, if there’s much water going on down there, you can end up with a floor that starts to look a little uneven. Worst case – it will buckle, and you’ll need to replace it.  

But, Highly Water-Resistant Laminates Do Exist

A lot of laminate is sold as water-resistant. How can this be? Well, we need to be careful with our terminology here. Water-resistant is not waterproof. The former means that it will be able to resist water for a short period of time while you go get a mop. This property is delivered by the resin used in the laminate’s construction, which is hard for water to seep through. Real waterproofing is what luxury vinyl delivers, i.e., water can’t do anything to the floor, no matter how long it stands. 

So, Is Waterproof Laminate Really Waterproof?

If laminate is sold as actually waterproof, it can mean one of two things. Option one: the manufacturer is being very casual with their terms. When they say waterproof, they actually mean water-resistant. This is usually revealed when you go check the warranty and find that it only guarantees performance against water for a certain period of time. Usually not very long. 

Option two: this is quite rare but important to cover. It may be the case that what we have here is genuinely waterproof laminate flooring. This kind of laminate has the usual construction, i.e., layered with a core, then a design layer, then a wear layer. But where it differs is that the structure is given an impermeable coating all around, not just on top. 

This is vital because if the waterproofing is just at the top, all the water has to do is nip around the side to get at the unprotected part of the flooring. This is generally what happens with water that’s been left to stand on laminate. By having the protection that runs all around the plank (and sometimes even within it), the laminate is able to keep the water at bay for much longer. Probably still not as good as luxury vinyl, but certainly a sight better than most laminate.  

Best Waterproof Laminate Flooring Options

When looking at the best waterproof laminate available, we wanted to pick brands that deliver in all kinds of ways. Obviously, their waterproofing was key, but we also wanted flooring that had other qualities too, as we’ll now see. 

1. Mannington Restoration – Best Overall

Mannington Restoration - Anthology - Parchment
Mannington Restoration – Anthology – Parchment

When a brand has a tagline ‘resists everything’, you know you’re in the bold boast neighborhood. Setting aside the things that it definitely wouldn’t be able to resist, what we’re most concerned about is its way with water. 

Right away, we can see that it’s not completely waterproof. An inspection of the care and maintenance guidelines tells us that, although OK with a steam mop, you should never flood the floor with water, and, crucially, any spills should be attended to straight away. So, we’re looking at water-resistant rather than waterproof. However, this isn’t a dealbreaker, provided everyone goes into it with their eyes open. 

What we most certainly do like about Mannington Restoration is the collection of 69 attractive wood looks that cover a spectrum of shades, from pale Sawmill Hickory to deep Black Forest Oak. The micro-beveling around the plank edges certainly helps with the authenticity, and the ScratchResist and SpillShield Plus tech gives a high degree of protection against damage. 

We also like Mannington’s green credentials – the flooring contains up to 70% recycled content and is manufactured in the US. The warranty’s a little low, at 25 years for residential use, but overall, Mannington Restoration’s a very good bet. 

Key Specifications:

  • Brand: Mannington Restoration
  • AC Rating: 3
  • Overall Thickness: 12mm
  • Water-Resistance Time: ‘A reasonable period of time’
  • Warranty: 25 years residential, 5 years light commercial
  • VOC Certification: FloorScore
  • Price Per Square Foot: $3.99 – $4.99


  • Terrific looking product
  • Excellent range of wood looks
  • Great environmental credentials
  • Low VOC certified
  • Highly scratch-resistant


  • Slightly disappointing warranty
  • Not totally waterproof

2. Mohawk Revwood – Best Value

Mohawk RevWood Plus - Castlebriar - Waterproof Laminate
Mohawk RevWood Plus – Castlebriar

Mohawk’s a massive flooring company that’s been around a while, so they should know what they’re doing, right? Well, yes is the answer. This is a great product with a lot to offer.  

Mohawk Revwood is a range of laminates that incorporates four collections: Essentials, Select, Premier, and Plus. Essentials is the entry-level, giving a choice of 36 different shades of wood, all of which are scratch-resistant and good against water for a short period of time. 

Select carries 27 wood look choices, with a 10-year waterproofing warranty. That’s not to say that water can be left in place for 10 years. Just in case you were wondering. Spills still need to be tackled pretty much straight away, or the warranty’s invalidated. 

Premier contains a range of 47 styles and colors, all benefitting from a lifetime warranty given to the surface and subfloor’s protection against water. Plus is the very best, offering 46 different looks with water-repellent and All Pet protection. This is a great bonus, as sometimes water resistance will not deal so well with pet urine, so very reassuring to have this covered. 

Mohawk claims that Revwood is extremely scratch-resistant, offering four times the ability to withstand such damage that you might find with some competitors. 

Key Specifications:

  • Brand: Mohawk Revwood
  • AC Rating: 4
  • Overall Thickness: 12mm
  • Water-Resistance Time: Up to 30 minutes
  • Warranty: Lifetime residential, 5 years light commercial
  • VOC Certification: CARB2
  • Price Per Square Foot: $2.99 -$4.29


  • Great value
  • Four different collections have something for everyone
  • Good warranties
  • Low VOC certified
  • Highly scratch-resistant


  • You can’t use a steam mop with Essentials or Select

3. Shaw Repel – Premium Pick

Shaw Repel Laminate - Summer in Seattle
Shaw Repel Laminate – Summer in Seattle

Shaw’s Repel is a quality line that won’t win any awards for range size – just 15 different options are available – but makes up for variety with performance. It also has the best names for its color choices, such as Summer in Seattle and Carolina on My Mind. 

Shaw scores good environmental points with its OptiCore, which is made from wood industry by-products or from sustainably managed forestry. Moreover, all Repel flooring is made in the USA, which helps to trim that carbon footprint. 

One of the complaints that come up a lot about laminate flooring is the quality of the locking system that holds together the installed planks. With Shaw Repel, you don’t need to worry about this, as their VersaLock AG system is extremely well-reviewed, so installation’s easier, and protection from spills is better. Having said that, maintenance instructions advise that water be dealt with immediately, so, once again, real waterproofing’s not on offer here. 

A big plus is that Repel is guaranteed for life against fading, which means that it’s an ideal choice for sunrooms. Laminate is often especially vulnerable to fading from exposure to sunlight, so this really sets Repel apart. 

Key Specifications:

  • Brand: Shaw Repel
  • AC Rating: AC4
  • Overall Thickness: 12mm (14mm with attached pad)
  • Water-Resistance Time: Not given
  • Warranty: 30-year residential, 5-year light commercial
  • VOC Certification: GreenGuard Gold
  • Price Per Square Foot: $3.49 – $5.49


  • Very authentic looking
  • Good eco-performer
  • Great locking system
  • Low VOC certified
  • Guaranteed against fading


  • Vulnerable to excessive humidity
  • Needs underlayment (doesn’t come supplied with all options)

4. Pergo Outlast+ – Most Affordable

Pergo Outlast + - Applewood
Pergo Outlast+ – Applewood

Pergo’s Outlast+ is a well-regarded product with a big claim. Its blurb says that it’s 100% waterproof for life. We expected that a dive into the warranty and care instructions would reveal the usual caveat about tackling spills straight away, but, no, it would appear that Pergo is confident in its product’s waterproofing ability. All it does say is that if you are going to install it in a room likely to see a fair bit of liquid action, like a bathroom, you should pay special attention to the installation instructions. Fair enough. 

As far as looks go, Outlast+ comes in 43 very appealing varieties, including the warm Ginger Spiced Pine and the intriguingly named Natural Rebel Oak. Graceland Oak has us All Shook Up, but let’s have A Little Less Conversation about this and see how Outlast+ stands up to wear. It’s AC4 rated and comes with SurfaceDefense protection, which gives all the durability you’d expect from the people who invented laminate in the first place. 

Underlayment is supplied ready attached, meaning installation (using the Uniclic method) is a relative breeze. 

Key Specifications:

  • Brand: Pergo Outlast+
  • AC Rating: 4
  • Overall Thickness: 10mm (12mm with attached pad)
  • Water-Resistance Time: Not given
  • Warranty: Lifetime residential, 10-year light commercial
  • VOC Certification: Uncertified
  • Price Per Square Foot: $2.84 – $3.19


  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Seems to have good waterproofing
  • Underlayment supplied attached
  • Some interesting varieties
  • Great warranties


  • No VOC certification

5. Armstrong Audacity – All-Around Protection

Armstrong Audacity - Sherwood Elegance
Armstrong Audacity – Sherwood Elegance

Remember us talking about how if the plank’s sealed around the edges, it helps with waterproofing? This is a product that offers that all-around sealing, so let’s see if this makes the difference it should. 

The short answer is yes, it does. Throughout the product copy, reference is made to waterproofing, and this bears out where it counts in the warranty section. Here we found that as long as liquids are tackled within 72 hours, the waterproofing will hold. This is a very solid performance. 

What else does Audacity offer? A concentration on durability, offering enhanced stain, scratch, and dent protection – see this YouTube video for a demo. Normally, a regular mop and broom will keep it clean, but when necessary, a steam mop can be used. There are 31 different wood looks available, some with a Wild West feel, such as Yuma, Rio Grande, and the rich russet of Red Rock Canyon. It’s AC4, and a lifetime residential warranty is given, as well as a 15-year commercial warranty. 

Environmentally, Audacity acquits itself well, which is something of a bounce back from the class action suit it underwent a few years back due to high VOC emissions. It has the usual certification, as well as being 25% recycled and designed to be recyclable at the end of its life. Finally, the manufacturing process has been tweaked so as to minimize water usage.

Key Specifications:

  • Brand: Armstrong Audacity
  • AC Rating: 4
  • Overall Thickness: 12mm (14mm with attached pad)
  • Water-Resistance Time: 72 hours
  • Warranty: Lifetime residential, 15-year light commercial
  • VOC Certification: FloorScore, CARB2
  • Price Per Square Foot: $3.69 – $3.99


  • Excellent waterproofing performance
  • Eco-positive
  • Sound-absorbing underlayment supplied attached
  • Good looking
  • Impressive Warranties


  • Bad rep because of legal action

6. AquaGuard Laminate – AC5 Rated Option

AquaGuard Laminate Review
AquaGuard Laminate by FloorandDecor

And so to the AC5 choice. It’s not that often that you come across a rating of AC5, which is reserved for the toughest flooring out there, so when you do encounter it, you tend to sit up and pay attention. Simply put, AC5 is meant to denote suitability to most settings, be they residential or commercial. Does this flooring warrant the rating?

Well, yes and no. The AquaGuard website asserts that it’s stain-proof and waterproof, but there’s a doubt here, as revealed by the maintenance instructions, which advise instant cleaning up of any spills to protect the floor against staining and water damage. 

The warranty’s good – lifetime residential and 20-year commercial – and the range contains some nice looks, including the aged appearance of Stoneybrooke Creek and ebony-like Cloudland Gap. It’s a shame, then, that what should be a high-performing product is let down a little by online reviews, some of which are pretty scathing. Coming in for the critical treatment is AquaGuard’s durability, with a propensity to chipping and scratching receiving multiple mentions. 

Key Specifications:

  • Brand: AquaGuard Performance
  • AC Rating: 5
  • Overall Thickness: 12mm + 2mm pad
  • Water-Resistance Time: Not given
  • Warranty: Lifetime residential, 20-year commercial
  • VOC Certification: GreenGuard Gold
  • Price Per Square Foot: $2.69-$4.99


  • Long warranties
  • Underlayment pad comes ready attached
  • VOC certified
  • Suitable for a wide range of commercial settings
  • Has EIR texturing


  • Questionable durability
  • Waterproofing doubtful

How Did We Decide?

There were five points we bore in mind when making our laminate choices.

  1. Water Resistance – We had to be sure that floors that claimed to be resistant to water actually delivered. 
  2. Online Reviews – We trawled through a lot of internet opinions to see how purchasers felt about their floors.
  3. Style – Because, at the end of the day, your floor’s got to look good.
  4. Guarantees – It’s important that the manufacturer feels confident enough about the product to offer decent warranties.
  5. Environmental Angle – More and more consumers are factoring in eco concerns, including VOC emissions, recyclability, and manufacturing issues. 

Compare Waterproof Laminate Prices

Flooring NamePrice Per Square FootOverall Thickness
Mannington Restoration$3.99 – $4.9912 mm
Mohawk RevWood$2.99 – $4.2912 mm
Shaw Repel$3.49 – $5.4914 mm
Pergo Outlast+$2.84 – $3.1912 mm
Armstrong Audacity$3.69 – $3.9914 mm
AquaGuard Laminate$2.69 – $4.9914 mm
Waterproof Laminate Flooring Options

What To Consider When Choosing Waterproof Laminate Flooring

There are certain points you should have uppermost in your mind when thinking about which laminate flooring to go for. 


Especially right now, with straitened circumstances affecting huge numbers of people. Laminate tends to be a less expensive option than, say, luxury vinyl and much less of a massive outlay than solid hardwood. Nevertheless, you should certainly shop around to make sure you’re getting a good product at a price you can afford. There are some financing options it may be worth considering (but do take advice on this before you leap into a financial arrangement you find you can’t sustain). 

Resale Value

Consider what kind of investment you’re making and what, if any, effect it will have on the value of your house. Laminate may not have the impact on home value as, say, solid hardwood, but the right product can result in a 200% return on investment. It’s important to have a good-looking laminate and one that sits well amid the decor of the room. 


Most laminate is relatively easy to install, so it is a pretty good choice for a DIY project. Unless that is, you’re what you might call practically challenged, in which case do consider hancing the job to the professionals. If you do decide to do it yourself, allow plenty of time and ensure you’ve got all the tools and materials you need ready. Have the instructions to hand and maybe somebody on standby in case you need some urgent assistance! 

Location in the House

Is it a part of the house that gets lots of traffic? In which case, you’re probably going to want AC4. Is it a part of the house that gets wet? Then make sure you go for waterproof and not just water-resistant laminate flooring. Also, consider special wear such as pet claws and sunlight. If it’s going into a conservatory, you’re going to need flooring with fade resistance guaranteed. 

The Pros & Cons of Waterproof Laminate

There are lots of things to like about laminate. A few things you might not be so keen on, too. 


  1. It Can Look Good – It’s so much more attractive than it used to be, with great ranges and some really vibrant shades available. 
  2. Economical – Laminate tends to cost less than a lot of the alternatives. 
  3. Reasonably Eco-Friendly – Despite being, in essence, a synthetic material, there are parts of the construction that are entirely natural. Efforts are being made by many companies to make the manufacture more environmentally friendly and sustainable. 
  4. Durable – Laminate is generally very scratch and dent-resistant.
  5. Easy To Install – The floating method involves no glue and is just a matter of clicking in place. 


  1. Can’t Be Refinished – If there’s significant damage to any planks, they’ll need replacing. 
  2. It Can Look Not So Good, Too. The worst laminate looks very synthetic. 

Waterproof Laminate vs. Waterproof Hardwood: Which Is Better?

Waterproof hardwood is the name often given to engineered hardwood, which is hardwood that’s been augmented in order to make it less susceptible to water damage. There are certain strengths that engineered hardwood can bring, the first being its appearance. 

Unlike laminate, engineered hardwood is surfaced with real wood. Despite the advances in recent years, laminate still doesn’t look quite like the real thing. Another strength is that, because it’s real wood, it can be refinished when there’s any damage needing rectifying. With laminate, once you’re through the wear layer, that’s it. Game over. Engineered hardwood will also give your home better resale value. 

What can laminate deliver that engineered hardwood can’t? Well, firstly it’s a lot cheaper. Engineered hardwood can be in the region of $10 SFT, while laminate is often sub $5 SFT. Laminate’s also got better scratch proofing and dent proofing. On the other hand, of course, hardwood continues to look good even when scratched. Like a beat-up Les Paul, it just gains in character. 

Finally, while engineered hardwood can be water-resistant, as we’ve seen, there are one or two laminates that perform better than this, so some laminates are probably a better choice for environments that tend to get a bit wet. 

Final Thoughts

It’s definitely the case that there are great laminates available that are ideal for installing in a wet environment. The performance that our favorites deliver makes them a great choice for the bathroom, the basement, the kitchen, or wherever you want to put them. While it’s true that some of the brands discussed here need instant attention to prevent damage from spills, we’ve included others that are more than able to stand up to standing water. 

We hope this piece has been helpful in your decision process. Whichever kind of flooring you end up with, may you be very happy with it. 

If you’ve had any experience with waterproof laminate, we’d love to hear from you so please use the comments section below. 


Is all laminate waterproof?

Laminate flooring, in general, can be quite susceptible to water damage. There are some brands, however, that can offer good resistance to liquids for up to 72 hours. 

Is laminate a good choice for the bathroom?

Although care must be exercised in order to find good performers, some laminates can be used in bathrooms. However, vinyl plank is a much safer option.

Is laminate easy to install?

Generally, laminate is held to be easy to install. It’s laid using the click-in method, so no messy adhesive is required. Some caveats apply, such as the necessity to lay a waterproof membrane over a concrete subfloor before you lay the laminate. 

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