What Is Waterproof Hardwood?
"What did you just say?" That's the response we get from customer when we bring it up. Using the word "waterproof" and "hardwood" in the same sentence when referring to flooring is the equivalent of multiple negation in the English language (multiple negation is the use of 2 negatives in a sentence ie. "can't not"). To say this least, it doesn't make sense. But the flooring industry changes. The world changes. Heck, everything changes in some fashion over time. But as the industry changes, so does the mechanics of durable flooring. In comes waterproof hardwood.
Waterproof flooring, which is also known as hybrid flooring, is not completely new to the industry. No, its been around since 2010. 11 years with hardly any recognition. What gives? We'll get to that in a moment, but let's break down the product in layman's terms. In essence, waterproof hardwood is a thin veneer or real hardwood flooring that is adhered to a mineral core or SPC (stone plastic composite) of some sort. Its kind of engineered together but is different from the traditional engineered hardwood. Traditional engineered hardwood flooring is made of wood through and through. The veneer is a sliced or peeled veneer of hardwood adhered to plywood, then cut into planks. In flooring vernacular, engineered hardwood is entirely made of wood.
The mineral core comes from a successful flooring innovation called luxury vinyl flooring or LVP (luxury vinyl plank). LVP is made of several layers, but the 2 main components are the vinyl top layer and the core or mineral core. The cores come in a few varieties (SPC, WPC, Rigid), but probably the most popular right now is the mineral core. And you guessed it, its made of minerals. Its very stable and completely waterproof. LVP is very durable and waterproof, but its not real wood. The top visual is just a picture of hardwood. So, when you take the mineral core from LVP, and adhere a real layer of hardwood on top of it, you get a hybrid floor, or a waterproof hardwood.
Why Use Waterproof Hardwood?
Lets discuss the benefits of having real hardwood on your floor. Are you ready? Its real hardwood. That is the benefit. There's nothing else like it. Nature has given us natural beauty that can be milled and displayed for all to see. Hardwood flooring is durable, easy to clean, stain resistant, comes in a variety of species and textures, can be stained to any color, and the list goes on. Hardwood flooring is a multi-billion dollar industry and it's a renewable resource. It just keeps giving. I would imagine that when almost everyone thinks of redoing their living floor, they inevitably want hardwood.
The only con to using hardwood flooring is that it's very susceptible to water damage. Hardwood is like a sponge. It absorbs and releases moisture depending upon the environment that it's in, relative to it's milled moisture content. Too much moisture in the room? The hardwood absorbs that moisture. Too little moisture in the room? The hardwood releases its moisture. Too much exposure to water, like a leaking dishwasher, or over flowing toilet, and your new hardwood floor will more than likely be ruined. Hybrid flooring is a combination of both worlds. You get the look of hardwood on a mineral, waterproof core. The wood veneer is sealed so that water cannot penetrate from the topside, and the bottom is protected by the mineral core.*
So why has there been little to no chatter about such a marvelous product. Well, price has been an obstacle. the technology just hasn't been there to mass produce this at the right price. The only other waterproof products, LVP, and super affordable and last year over year. But now, as the industry changes and the market is flooded with luxury vinyl, retailers are looking for alternatives. Consumer's taste are shifting from fake to real. And now we have the price point that it takes to bring hardwood back to the home.
* Its worth noting that not all manufacturers of hybrid flooring have the same claim about being waterproof. It's the consumer's responsibility to read and evaluate each claim for each product offered. Also, once a waterproof hardwood has been cut to fit against the wall, or ripped to end a run, then the exposed hardwood from the cut WILL NOT be sealed and therefore not be waterproof.