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What Happens if Vinyl Flooring Gets Wet & How to Dry It Out?

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Water is the most common enemy of vinyl planks flooring. Although it is waterproof, there are instances where an unexpected water leak or moisture under the floor can cause them to swell and delaminate. When this happens, it is important to take immediate action in order to dry out the flooring and prevent further damage.

Some common symptoms of water damaged vinyl flooring include:

  • Warping
  • Buckling
  • Discolorization
  • Cupping
  • Rippling
What happens if vinyl flooring gets wet & How to dry it out

So what should you do if your vinyl flooring gets wet?

To simply put it, if you happen to spill water over the vinyl planks clean them with a cloth as quickly as possible. Then turn on the fan or heater to dry them out. On the contrary, if the water problem is under the floor (e.g. from a broken pipe), you’ll need to fix the leak, and use a shop vac or dehumidifier to fix moisture.

Is Vinyl Plank Flooring Waterproof?

Yes, vinyl plank flooring is waterproof. That does not mean it is indestructible. However, despite the risks involved vinyl flooring is still the best choice for moisture areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and basements, because of its water-resistant property.

Just be sure to take care of any spills quickly and mop up any standing water on a regular basis. For more information about cleaning and mopping your vinyl plank flooring, check out my article “Can You Use Swiffer on Vinyl Plank Floors“.

Furthermore, there will still be instances where water will sneak under vinyl plank flooring, however, you can prevent this mishap by installing an underlayment. You can find the best underlayment for vinyl flooring here.

Can Water Damage Your Vinyl Plank Flooring?

One of the most frequently mentioned benefits of vinyl plank flooring is that it is usually water-resistant. However, there’s one thing regarding it that needs to be clarified that is: if the water stays on it for a longer duration, it will seep through and will ultimately damage the vinyl flooring. So it is recommended to regularly clean your vinyl plank floors.

Its surface is water-resistant to spills and accidents from an untrained pet. If spills occur you should clean them up quickly so they don’t sit on the vinyl for extended period of time. Additionally, those spills and pet accidents are usually a rather small quantity of water, not a flood of water coming in through a leaky window or basement floor during a storm.

The thing is, vinyl flooring’s surface is resistant to water, that too in the case of small spills from kids or untrained pets. However, it is serious problem if there is a flooding situation or any other instance where water stands on the floor for an extended period of time.

If you’re thinking about installing vinyl plank flooring in your bathroom, laundry room or kitchen, and are wondering if it can get wet – the answer is: yes, it can. But that doesn’t mean your new floors will be ruined as soon as they get splashed.

Main Problem Often Lies in Subfloor or Substrate

The subfloor or substrate is the sneaky culprit when it comes to causing water damage to vinyl plank flooring. Before you lay vinyl plank flooring over a concrete slab, make sure it is completely cured and moisture tested.

In addition, crawl space leakages, flooding, and other water sources will cause elevated moisture levels in the subfloor which will ultimately lead to mold growth or permanently damage the flooring. Hence, these problems are complex and should be avoided at all costs.

TIP: Installing a vapor barrier over the subfloor is always a good idea, as it will protect your floor from moisture damage. Ensure the installer doesn't skip any necessary steps/guidelines to save time and cost.

While vinyl plank flooring is generally touted as a simple DIY home flooring project, however, it does involve time, effort, and knowledge.

Even if your vinyl plank flooring is professionally put over a completely dry substrate, other things can happen in your home that can cause problems such as:

  • Plumbing issues with the toilet, sink, or bathtub
  • Groundwater moisture
  • Leaking or overflowing dishwasher or washing machine
  • Crawlspace moisture

If you detect any of the above-mentioned problems, you should take immediate action to mitigate the issue. Don’t wait for the apparent signs to appear, because the longer you wait the greater the damage; leading to the replacement of the entire floor.

What Water Damage on Vinyl Plank Flooring Looks Like

Water damage on vinyl plank flooring, like on any floor, is unsightly. If you suspect a moisture problem beneath your floorboards, look for the following indicators, which range from subtle to obvious:

  • Deteriorating adhesive – Do any planks appear to be moving when they weren’t before?
  • Seams that are deteriorating – Are any of your planks’ seams opening up?
  • Discoloration – Because vinyl plank floors are stain-resistant, there should be no discoloration if they are in good condition.
  • Bumps, ridges, or bubbles – Check for any of these by touching rather than looking; your fingertips can detect what your eyes may miss.

How to Repair Water Damaged Vinyl Floors?

If you have found evidence of water damage on your vinyl floors, the first step is to determine the source of the moisture and repair it. Once that’s been accomplished, you can focus on repairing the floor itself.

  • The most common method is to remove and replace the damaged planks. This can be done by a professional, or if you’re feeling handy, you can do it yourself.
  • Another option is to patch the area with a new piece of vinyl flooring that matches your existing floors. This can be tricky for DIYers.
  • For minor water damage, you may be able to simply clean and dry the affected area, preferably with a wet/dry shop vac and dehumidifier.
TIP: Always keep extra planks on hand in case of future water damage.

How to Fix Bubble in Vinyl Plank Flooring?

If you have a small bubble in your vinyl plank floor, you can try to repair it with a vinyl floor repair kit. These kits are available at most hardware stores.

Another way is to use an adhesive to glue the vinyl plank to the subfloor. Make sure to use a heavy object to weigh down the vinyl plank while the adhesive dries. I recommend using Taylor Seam Sealer 2062.

Watch the video below to see how professional floor by southern boys uses a syringe, adhesive glue and dab roller to repair bubbles in vinyl flooring.

Moisture and How to Get It Out of Vinyl Floors?

If the floor has been flooded, the vinyl planks may need to be removed in order to investigate the cause and extent of the damage. Using your Shop Vac or a mop, swiftly remove the floodwater.

1. Use Shop-Vac

A Shop-Vac is a vacuum cleaner that may be used to clean both dry and wet messes. It has the ability to function as a water extractor. It comes in a variety of sizes, from 1 gallon to 2.5 gallons. However, make sure you do not exceed its capacity.

After that turn on the dehumidifiers and fans to let the moisture dry completely. Use a moisture meter to check the level of moisture in the vinyl planks and subfloor.

NOTE: The reading should be no more than 10%. If it's more than that, you will need to continue drying the floor until the moisture level is lowered.

Once the floor is dry, check for any water damage. If there is any, you will need to replace the damaged boards. In this case, it’s best to get in touch with a professional installer.

2. Use Moisture Meter

I recommend using the General Tools Digital Moisture Meter. It has four settings i.e, concrete, drywall, masonry, and wood. Furthermore, you can tell when the vinyl planks are dry enough to put back down by tapping the prongs on the flooring.

On the contrary, if you have only a moisture problem, turn on the heater and put some fans in the room. Leave them like this for a few days, however, do make sure the heater is not too hot.

3. Use Dehumidifier

Similarly, if the room in question is in the basement, a dehumidifier is recommended because basements are usually damper than other parts of the house.

The medium-sized dehumidifier by homelabs comes highly recommended. It is ideal for wet rooms ranging in size from medium to large. As a result, it is ideal for basements. Moreover, a larger version is also available from the same manufacturer, but for most individuals, this size will be enough.

It can extract up to 22 pints of moisture from the air per day and has a sleek modern design. Put it in a corner and it will do its job.

The best part is that it has an auto turn-off feature, so even if you forget about it, this dehumidifier will automatically shut down when the tank is full.

Another advantage, it has the ability to work silently, even at the maximum fan speed. In addition, it is UL (Underwriter Laboratories) Certified, which means it has been safety tested.

4. Check for Mold

It’s a good idea to check for mould if you’ve had floods or a moisture problem. Mold and mildew resistance is a feature of some vinyl plank flooring types. However, even with those unique varieties of vinyl, you should still check if you have any reason to be concerned, such as a plumbing problem, a leaking kitchen appliance, or flooding.

You can either hire an expert to inspect or purchase a mold kit and examine it yourself. This DIY Mold Test kit contains a guide on how to collect samples, as well as all of the essential tools and the cost of the lab analysis. 

The only additional expense is the cost of shipping it to the laboratory. You will receive quick results via email and will be able to contact them via phone if you have any additional questions.

Use the lab’s customer service for this kit if you’re concerned about mold. Some molds are generally harmless and can be easily removed using latex gloves, bleach, and water. 

On the other hand, there are also some types of mold that are more dangerous and require more attention. Similarly, some mold cannot be cleaned and must instead be cut out. If you have a more significant problem, it is best to consult a professional about how to get rid of it properly.

Can Mold Grow On Vinyl Flooring?

Yes, mold can grow on any type of flooring, including vinyl. However, it is more likely to grow on porous materials such as wood or carpet. Vinyl is a non-porous material, which means that mold is less likely to grow on it.

Mold needs four things to grow: moisture, oxygen, food, and warmth. If any of them are missing, mold will not be able to grow.

Vinyl flooring is a solid surface, so it doesn’t provide any food for mold. In addition, vinyl is impermeable, so it doesn’t allow oxygen or moisture to pass through it. For these reasons, mold is less likely to grow on the outer surface of the vinyl.

However, if the subflooring is exposed to moisture there are high chances that mold will start to grow there and if left unchecked, it will quickly spread to the other parts of the floor.

Common signs of mold under vinyl include discoloration, warping, and a musty smell.

How to Clean Mold Under Vinyl Flooring?

Here are some tips on how to clean mold under vinyl flooring

  1. Use a Mold test kit to inspect the area.
  2. If the test comes back positive, then you will need to remove the vinyl flooring.
  3. Clean the subflooring with vinegar + bleach or borax + water solution by spraying it on the affected area.
  4. Let the solution sit for 15-20 minutes, then rinse the floor with a damp cloth or clean water and let it dry out.
  5. Install a vapor barrier and reinstall the floorboards as needed.

How to Prevent Mold Under Vinyl Plank Flooring?

Here are some tips on how to prevent mold under vinyl plank flooring:

  • Keep the humidity levels in your home below 60%. You can use a hygrometer to measure the humidity levels.
  • If you have a plumbing leak, make sure to fix it as soon as possible.
  • Ventilate your bathrooms and laundry rooms to prevent moisture from building up.
  • If you have a crawl space, make sure it is well-ventilated and has a vapor barrier to prevent moisture from seeping in.
  • Take off your shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking in dirt and mud.
  • Clean your vinyl floors regularly with a damp mop and inspect them regularly for any signs of mold and mildew.
  • Keep fewer plants indoors as they release moisture into the air.
  • Use a dehumidifier, especially in rooms that are prone to moisture such as the basement or bathrooms.

How to Get Rid of Water Stains on Vinyl Flooring?

Water stains on vinyl flooring can be cleaned with a few common household items.

Note: Before moving on to the following step, make sure the water leak has been discovered and corrected.

To remove water stains from vinyl flooring, you will need:

  • A bucket
  • Warm water
  • Mild dish soap
  • A soft cloth or sponge
  • Vinegar
  • Plastic sheet
  • Tape

First, mix together the warm water and mild dish soap or vinegar in the bucket. Next, dip the soft cloth or sponge into the solution and cover the stains with it.

Now, take a plastic sheet and cover the cloth placed over the stain and seal it with tape – to prevent moisture from escaping.

Keep the stains covered for about 24 hours, remove the cloth and lastly clean off with mineral spirits.

Watch the video below for the visual instructions.

How Long Does Wet Vinyl Flooring Need to Dry?

It depends on the amount of moisture or water damage. If it’s just a spill, it should only take a few hours to dry. However, if the vinyl has been soaked in water or there was severe flooding, it will take a few days to dry out completely.

In such cases, you can use a fan to speed up the drying process. Place the fan in the room and point it towards the vinyl flooring. Leave it on for a few days until the floor is completely dry.

You can also use a dehumidifier to speed up the drying process. Place the dehumidifier in the room and turn it on. The dehumidifier will help to remove the moisture from the air.

Related Questions

Can Vinyl Flooring Survive a Flood?

If the vinyl plank flooring is exposed to more than an inch of water, for example, it will begin to swell and warp. If the water damage is severe, the vinyl flooring may need to be replaced.

Can You Use Vinyl Flooring in Bathroom?

Yes, but make sure to choose a vinyl flooring that is waterproof and has a wear layer that is thick enough to withstand scratches. In addition, to avoid moisture build-up, the bathroom must be well-ventilated.

What Causes Vinyl Flooring to Buckle?

Vinyl flooring can buckle due to many reasons such as moisture, humidity, temperature changes, and improper installation. It is critical to take necessary care to avoid it from buckling if it is installed in a room that is prone to moisture.

What Is Dry Back Vinyl Flooring?

The dry back is a type of vinyl flooring that uses an adhesive to stick to the subfloor. This type of vinyl flooring is more durable and resistant to moisture than self-adhesive vinyl flooring. Because the glue gets dry when it is placed on the subfloor, it is called dry back.

What Happens if You Spill Water on Laminate Flooring?

If you spill water on the laminate and it stays like this for some time, the laminate will start to swell and warp. It will start to look unpleasant and may discolor as well.

How to Protect Subfloor From Moisture?

The best way to prevent the subfloor from moisture is to install a vapor barrier. A vapor barrier is a material that helps to prevent moisture from passing through. In addition, installing underlayment over vapor barrier will bring additional protection.

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