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Do Laminate Floors Need to Be Sealed?


Laminate flooring is a popular option for homeowners looking to get the look and feel of hardwood without the high cost.

Not only is it durable and easier to care for than hardwood, but it’s also available in a variety of colors and wood effects to suit almost all tastes.

A common question people often have, though, is whether or not laminate floors need sealing, and that’s what we’ll be answering in this article.

Most laminate floors are factory sealed for scratch resistance and waterproofing, so sealing the surface usually isn’t necessary. Most manufacturers recommend sealing the edges or joints of a laminate floor, however, particularly in wet areas like laundry rooms or commercial applications.

Read on to learn more about the key parts of a laminate floor that you might want to seal, how to tell whether your floor already has sealant applied, and the step-by-step processes for applying a sealant to your laminate floor.

Do Laminate Floors Need to Be Sealed?

When it comes to sealing a laminate floor, there are three areas to consider:

  • The floor’s surface (the part you walk on);
  • The floor’s edges (those around the outside of the floor);
  • The floor’s joints (where the specific boards join together).

Let’s look at each one in turn.

Do You Need to Seal the Surface of a Laminate Floor?

It isn’t usually necessary to seal the surface of a laminate floor, and it’s something that most laminate manufacturers typically recommend against doing.

For example, here’s what Krono Original says:

Do not apply sealant to the laminate flooring after installation. The use of sealant by the consumer or installer may void the warranty.

Egger

Krono Original follows this recommendation, stating:

Do not apply additional sealant onto the laminate flooring surface.

Krono Original

Pergo is another manufacturer that does not recommend sealing the surface of one of their laminate floors.

To understand why you shouldn’t apply a sealant, it’s worth looking at the various layers that make up a laminate floor.

Most laminate floors consist of four layers, as shown below.

an image showing the various layers that make up a laminate floor board
The Layers of a Typical Laminate Floor
  1. A transparent protective layer on the top.
  2. A design layer featuring the laminate floor’s pattern.
  3. A fiberboard core which gives the floor its rigidity.
  4. A backing layer at the bottom which provides moisture resistance to the underside of the board.

The top layer is often referred to as the ‘wear’ layer. Its primary function is to protect the laminate from everyday wear and tear, including scrapes and scratches from everything from vacuum cleaners to pets’ claws.

The wear layer is usually highly moisture-resistant and non-porous, which helps prevent the laminate from absorbing any moisture or liquids that come into contact with the floor’s surface.

The lack of pores also prevents any waterproofing sealer from penetrating the laminate, which makes it prone to being rubbed off or peeled away as people walk over it, and this can leave an unsightly appearance.

Aside from not looking great, the unabsorbed sealant could also make the floor more slippery, which could be dangerous.

Do You Need to Seal the Edges of a Laminate Floor?

While manufacturers typically don’t recommend adding a layer of sealant to the surface of your laminate floor, they pretty much universally recommend adding sealant to the floor’s edges.

In most cases, this refers to applying a sealant layer to the laminate floor’s expansion joints (the gap around the edge of the floor between the laminate boards and the walls).

Here is some guidance from a selection of laminate floor manufacturers:

A mold resistant waterproof silicon sealant should be used to completely fill all of the expansion joints around the perimeter of the floor. This will prevent water from getting below the floor which could cause the floor to fail.

Kronoswiss Aquastop

A floor that is laid in a damp room, or in a room where it is at risk of exposure to spillages and water, must be sealed at the edges.

Pergo

In commercial entrance areas and damp areas, we recommend sealing the edges of the laminate.

Egger

As shown by these quotes, sealing the edges will be most important in rooms where high moisture levels are likely to be a concern, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.

However, we consider it to be good practice in any setting, as it’ll add more protection to your laminate floor in the event of a spill or any other unplanned moisture content.

Do You Need to Seal the Joints on a Laminate Floor?

In most cases, sealing the joints of a laminate floor is particularly recommended for commercial or industrial applications.

For example, Krono Original states:

For the installation of laminate flooring in commercially-utilized rooms, a sealing procedure must be carried out. Clickguard™ protects the flooring from the top down for the long-term against the effects of moisture.

Krono Original

As with sealing the edges of a laminate floor, we don’t just recommend sealing laminate joints for commercial applications. Doing so can be a good way for homeowners to get extra peace of mind and protection against water-related issues in particularly wet areas, for example, entrance halls or laundry rooms.

The main advantage of the Krono Original Clickguard product mentioned above is that it’s non-adhesive, meaning you can lift and relay the floor if needed.

We would recommend checking by manufacturer, though, as not all laminate joint sealants are non-adhesive (and you’ll probably need to check compatibility with your particular type of floor).

Egger, for example, recommends using a PVAc glue (D3) to seal the joints on their floors that will be exposed to high levels of moisture, with the adhesive applied to the top of the tongue when installing the boards.

Pergo also offers a product called SafeSeal for their laminate floors, another PVAc-based adhesive sealant that stops moisture penetrating through the joints in the floor for extra protection against water damage.

do laminate floors need to be sealed article image - an image showing sealant being applied to the joints on laminate flooring boards

©dgm/123RF.COM

Unfortunately, as discussed here, applying glue to your laminate floor will prevent you from being able to remove and relay it elsewhere in the future.

If there’s any possibility that you’ll want to raise and re-lay your floor at a later date, for example, if you move home, then make sure you choose a non-adhesive joint sealant for your laminate floor.


How Do I Know if My Laminate Floor Is Sealed?

Most laminate floors come pre-sealed, typically using a ‘wear’ layer that is moisture-resistant and non-porous to prevent water from getting into the laminate’s fiberboard core.

It is possible to get laminate flooring that comes in an unsealed or unfinished state, though, and this type doesn’t have the transparent protective layer applied from the factory, making it more susceptible to water damage.

Thankfully, unsealed laminate flooring isn’t very common, and it usually isn’t too difficult to check whether or not your laminate floor is sealed.

Here are a few quick and easy ways to tell if your laminate floor has a layer of sealant applied:

1
Checking the Floor’s Sheen

The first and easiest method is to check the floor for a high-gloss sheen, which can indicate that the laminate has a protective sealant layer applied. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work, especially in laminates with a matte or natural sheen.
2
Applying a Small Amount of Water to the Floor

The next method is to try the ‘water beading’ test, which involves placing droplets of water on the laminate floor to see whether or not they absorb into the floor.

an image showing water on top of laminate flooring boards

©ronstik/123RF.COM
If there is no change to the color of the laminate after a few minutes and the water has stayed beaded on the surface, then it’s safe to assume that the floor has a layer of sealant applied.
3
Checking the Color of Any Scratches

You could also check regular wear and tear on the floor, for example, scratches from pulling a chair in and out across the floor.

do laminate floors need to be sealed article image - an image showing scratches on a laminate floor

©andreypopov/123RF.COM
If you can see a different color underneath these scratches, you’re likely looking at the laminate’s fiberboard core, and this could indicate that the floor does not have a sealant layer applied.
4
Lightly Scraping the Floor

Finally, a slightly destructive method is to lightly scrape the floor using a floor scraper or a knife’s blade and inspect the lifted material for anything that looks clear. Any transparent material that you find could indicate that the floor already has a layer of sealant applied. We’d recommend doing this somewhere relatively inconspicuous, for example, behind a sofa.


Can You Seal Laminate Flooring to Make It Waterproof?

As we’ve mentioned above, you can seal a laminate floor to provide additional moisture resistance.

The process of sealing a laminate floor’s edges around the expansion joints and between the joints of the various boards is relatively common, especially in rooms or locations that are likely to experience a lot of moisture.

The need to apply a sealant to the surface of a laminate floor is far less common, though, and you should only do so if the manufacturer specifically recommends it, as it could risk your floor’s warranty.

There are plenty of laminate floor sealants available for laminate floors, from those specifically designed for expansion joints or board joints to your floor’s surface. In the case of joint sealants, you can also choose between adhesive and non-adhesive variants.

Because of this, you should always check whether a specific type of sealant is compatible with your laminate floor, and it’s probably a good idea to test it out on a small area first to ensure it works as expected.

Here are a few of the advantages and disadvantages of applying sealant to a laminate floor:

Sealing Laminate Floors – The Advantages
  • Compatible sealants will provide increased moisture protection to your floor.
  • It can prevent moisture from passing through the floor to the subfloor, limiting the damage caused by large spills or leaks.
  • In general, laminate floor sealants are inexpensive, making it very affordable to seal entire rooms.
  • Applying the sealant is relatively straightforward.
Sealing Laminate Floors – The Disadvantages
  • It’s quicker and easier to apply sealant when the floor is being laid (particularly in the case of joint sealants). It can be difficult to achieve the same level of sealing on already laid laminate floors.
  • Some manufacturers don’t recommend applying a sealant (particularly to the surface of a laminate floor), and doing so can void the floor’s warranty.
  • Given the non-porous surface layer of a laminate floor, getting the sealant to adhere correctly can be challenging. It isn’t uncommon for the sealant to start peeling off relatively quickly from people walking over the floor or from pulling furniture items across it.
  • Applying sealant to the surface of a laminate floor can make it more slippery to walk on, which can be dangerous.

How to Seal a Laminate Floor

As discussed above, there are three areas you need to consider when it comes to sealing a laminate floor; the floor’s surface, the edges, and the joints.

Let’s look at each one in detail:

How Do You Seal the Surface of a Laminate Floor?

As we’ve mentioned, it usually isn’t necessary to seal the surface of a laminate floor.

The majority of laminate manufacturers advise against applying a layer of sealant to your floor, and that’s because, in most cases, it already has a transparent ‘wear’ layer on top designed to stop everything from scratches to the absorption of liquids.

Having said that, it is possible to get laminate flooring that comes in an unsealed or unfinished state, and this type doesn’t have the transparent protective layer applied from the factory, making it more susceptible to water damage.

Thankfully, unsealed laminate flooring is pretty uncommon, and it’s relatively easy to tell if your floor has been sealed by following the steps in the previous section.

On this basis, we wouldn’t apply a layer of sealant to a new laminate floor unless the manufacturer specifically recommends it or if you’ve found that your floor does not have any sealer or a transparent wear layer applied by the manufacturer.

Some urethane and polyurethane sealants are suitable for use on laminate floors when applied in multiple thin coats. It’s worth mentioning that the sealant will need to be reapplied more regularly versus a factory-sealed laminate, and so there’s additional maintenance required to reapply the sealant periodically.

For the reasons above, and to help avoid any hassle in the future, we’d always advise purchasing a laminate floor with a sealant layer already applied by the manufacturer.

How Do You Seal the Edges of a Laminate Floor?

The two most common types of sealant for the edges of a laminate floor are silicone caulking and polyurethane sealants.

Some manufacturers advise against using polyurethane as it can damage the floor and void the warranty. It can also be difficult to get a good bond between polyurethane and the laminate, likely due to the surface coating on the boards.

It’s easiest to seal a floor at the time of fitment, especially if you’ve already removed the skirting boards or baseboards. It is still relatively easy to seal the edges of an already fitted laminate floor, though.

Check out how to do it step-by-step below.

How to Apply Silicone Caulking to the Edges of a Laminate Floor
  1. Remove the skirting boards or baseboards (if still installed) to give you access to the exposed edges of the laminate planks and the floor’s expansion gap.
  2. Use a stiff brush and vacuum cleaner to remove any excess residue or dust from the edges of the laminate floor and the expansion gap. Any dust or dirt will make it tougher for the silicone sealant to adhere.
  3. Run a line of masking tape around the edge of the laminate floor, setting it back slightly so that a small portion (usually around 1/16″) of the top of the edge of the laminate floor’s surface is left exposed.
  4. Place the silicone caulk in a caulking gun.
  5. Open the silicone caulk by making a 45-degree cut as close to the tip as possible (the smaller the hole, the neater and more manageable the silicone flow will be).
  6. Work your way around the room, squeezing the silicone over the edge and slightly exposed top of the laminate floor. Make sure there’s a continuous layer of sealant so that there are no gaps.
  7. Most laminate floors flex slightly under weight, so avoid walking on the floor for at least 12-hours to allow the silicone to dry and adhere fully.
  8. Once the silicone has dried, remove the masking tape and go ahead and install the skirting boards or baseboards.
  9. You can remove any excess dried silicone by applying a small amount of mineral spirits. Make sure to completely remove these spirits after to ensure you don’t damage the floor.

In bathrooms or wet rooms, we’d also recommend applying silicone sealant around the edge of plumbing features, for example, around any toilet and sink bases and around the edges of bathtubs and shower enclosures to protect the cut edges of the laminate floor in these locations.

How Do You Seal the Joints of a Laminate Floor?

When it comes to sealing the joints of a laminate floor, you’ll need to apply the sealant to the board’s tongue edge, so it’s best to do this at the time of fitment when you’ll have access.

We’ve previously discussed the possibility of lifting and relaying laminate flooring, and so this is an option if you want to seal the joints of an existing floor. There are a few downsides here, though, including that it’ll be a lot more work versus applying the joint sealant to a new floor, and reuse will only be possible for unglued laminates.

We would question whether you need to apply a joint sealant to a glued laminate floor, though, given that the glue will already be sealing the joints. You only have to look at the fact that some manufacturers recommend using PVA-based glue to seal the joints to confirm this.

Another option for existing floors that some guides recommend is to apply a thin line of the sealant directly across the top of the closed gap between the boards. Unfortunately, any benefits in terms of additional sealing are likely to be short-lived, as it won’t be long before the sealant lifts or scrapes away from people walking over the floor. For this reason, we don’t recommend applying a joint sealer to the surface of your laminate floor.

When it comes to how to seal laminate flooring joints, the first step is to figure out which type of sealant you need to use. As mentioned above, some manufacturers recommend a PVAc glue (D3), whereas others advise using a non-adhesive sealer, so figure out which type is recommended for your floor.

When it comes to applying the sealant to the joints of the boards, the process is relatively straightforward. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidance, but, in general, you’ll need to ensure you’ve applied enough sealant to the top tongue side of each laminate board (this will be along one long side and one short side of the board).

Check the manufacturer’s guidance on how long you should wait for the sealant to dry. You can usually remove any leftover sealant using a scraper (be careful not to damage the floor) or using mineral spirits or warm water.


Final Remarks

It isn’t usually necessary to seal the surface of a laminate floor, and it’s something that most laminate manufacturers typically recommend against doing.

Most laminate floors come pre-sealed, typically using a ‘wear’ layer that is moisture-resistant and non-porous to prevent water from getting into the laminate’s fiberboard core, so an additional layer of sealer is not needed.

While manufacturers typically don’t recommend adding a layer of sealant to the surface of your laminate floor, they pretty much universally recommend adding sealant to the floor’s edges. Our preferred approach here is to apply a line of silicone sealant around the floor’s expansion joint, which should prevent moisture tracking under the baseboards and into the sub-floor.

In most cases, sealing the joints of a laminate floor is mainly recommended for commercial or industrial applications. We’d also consider it worthwhile in particularly wet areas of the home, for example, entrance halls and laundry rooms, for extra peace of mind.


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