Although similar to wood in its aesthetic, laminate floors are not as durable. They cannot be sanded and refinished like natural hardwood floors. They are also prone to water damage if any liquid seeps beneath the surface.
With this in mind, we need to consider seal laminate floors and protect it from the wear and tear of everyday life and ensure it lasts a long time in your home.
Use a flexible, silicone caulk to seal the outer edge of your laminate flooring. This edge is hidden under the baseboards, so it is best to seal the floors right after they are installed. Sealing the other seams of the laminate is unnecessary unless it is in an area at a high risk of water damage.
Are you just installing Laminate floors or thinking about them? Make sure you read my Laminate flooring buying guide, where I explained everything you need to know before buying them.
Is laminate flooring Waterproof? Do I Need to Seal them?
The Laminate is considered waterproof flooring as far as the top layer of the actual board is concerned, but the inner part is not so we need to be extra cautious. This means that if any water seeps in under the surface board, it can cause warping on the surface of the board.
The most vulnerable spots of the floor are around the edges, where there is a ¼ inch gap to allow the floor to float, and any joints that are near a water source (like a sink or a bathtub).
If you seal these cracks with flexible silicone caulk, then your floors will be adequately sealed to ensure their longevity.
More about in my post: Is Laminate Flooring Waterproof?
How can you seal Laminate floors?
Luckily, most laminate floors lock together tightly in a way that protects them from water damage. This means that you don’t have to coat the entire floor with silicone sealant. Only the ¼ inch space around the outside edge of the floor really needs to be sealed. This is the area that would typically be covered by the baseboards.
NOTE: You should always check the manufacturer’s guidelines for sealant suggestions.
Best time to seal your laminate?
The best time to seal your laminate floors is when the floor is first installed. Around the outside edge of your floors, you will have a 1/4-inch expansion gap. This gap allows the floors to expand, contract, and float. Before you install the baseboards, you will seal this gap.
Follow these steps when sealing your laminate floors:
If you are sealing a floor with floor boards already present, these need to be removed first.
- Use a knife to cut the caulk where the baseboard meets the wall.
- Use a leverage device like a pry bar to gently dislodge the baseboard, moving across the baseboard evenly.
- You can place a block of wood between the pry bar and the wall to protect the wall and help with expansion gaps.
TIP: You should take note of which baseboard belongs where either by numbering them or labeling the back. Also, keep track of which end is the top if the style makes it unclear.
Insert a tube of polyethylene foam (PE foam) in the gap around the edge before you caulk it. Shove it into the opening and press it down just past the surface of the laminate.
After the foam is in, use flexible, silicone caulk and drag the tip along the foam. Use your finger to spread the caulk a bit deeper and make the surface uniform.
Caulk around any vents, radiators, or other openings in the surface of the laminate. You do not need the foam for this. Simply cover the entire opening with caulk and spread it with your finger.
Useful Tips when sealing laminate flooring
- Check to make sure that sealing your laminate floors won’t void your manufacturer’s warranty before you begin your project.
- Always laminate sealers according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Wet your finger every couple of minutes before you smooth the caulk. This prevents the caulk from sticking to your skin. You can carry a paper towel with you to wipe off any unwanted caulk.
- Some people have had success at home protecting laminate seams by rubbing wax from a candle. This should be preferably a color close to the flooring shade. You rub it into the seam and buffing the extra off with a cloth. This is a quick DIY seal that can give you extra time to clean up a spill, but it does not waterproof your floors completely.
Can I Wet Mop My Laminate Floor?
This is a bad idea. You do not want loads of standing water on your laminate floors because it will soak in and damage the floors. Use a pre-moistened wet cloth (like a Swiffer wet mop) if you need to mop your floors. Usually, a dry mop will be enough to clean your laminate.
Can I Still Use Polyurethane to Seal the Whole Floor Just to Be Safe?
There may be laminate flooring brands that allow for some sort of sealers to be applied over the entire thing (wax, polyurethane, etc.), but most don’t recommend this. Because the top coat is already non-porous and waterproof, it can’t soak up the laminate floor sealant.
The joints are also already pretty well-fitted together. If you let the laminate soak up the sealant from the joints, it could warp, causing the damage you were trying to avoid in the first place.
NOTE: Sealing the laminate floor completely can make it extremely slippery so avoid this by any means.
If you are very concerned about water damage, then you can use clear silicone caulk to seal the seams of cracks only in the areas at a greater risk of water damage. This means caulking the boards around a sink or a bathtub. Don’t caulk the entire floor’s seams.
TIP: Consider buying vinyl flooring which is waterproof and worry-free alternative. Vinyl flooring option will cost you a bit more at the end but it is highly recommended if you have any sort of moisture problems from before in your home.
What Should I Do If I Spill Liquid on My Laminate Floors?
If you spill a cup of water or something comparable on your floor just clean it up as soon as possible. You don’t need to worry that much. But don’t let it sit for to long or else the liquid can seep in to the seams on the floor.