17 Jan 2023, Read Time : 7 Min

Best and Worst Flooring Choices for Damp And Wet Areas

The areas of your residential or commercial space that are often moist, damp or even wet can be challenging to choose flooring for. After all, there is a wide variety of flooring materials available today, so, how do you make a choice?

Firstly, it is best to understand how each flooring material works and how it reacts to dampness, moisture or wetness. There are a lot of materials that are prone to breaking down, getting mould and even rotting when subjected to moisture on a regular basis. It is best to steer clear of such materials to ensure the longevity and safety of your space.

So, which are the ideal flooring choices for your space and which materials should be avoided? Read on to learn more!

The Types Of Materials

All kinds of flooring materials can be broadly divided into two sections based on what they are made of – organic and inorganic.

Generally speaking, flooring materials that fall under the “inorganic materials” category work better for moist spaces than “organic materials”. Organic material refers to any material that was once living and has carbon based make up. But, while speaking of flooring, it refers to any material that is derived from plants, such as bamboo (which is technically a grass), engineered wood or solid hardwood. Usually when such organic materials are exposed to moisture they end up rapidly decomposing and becoming a host for a variety of bacteria and mould. On the other hand, most inorganic materials are usually made using synthetic, non-organic materials making them as good as immune to moisture related damage.

Of course, not everything is as black and white as it seems. Most materials have a healthy mix of organic as well as non organic materials in them. It is the ratio of organic materials vs non organic materials that determines the ability of the flooring material to withstand moisture.

For example, plastic laminate flooring possesses a surface that is completely inorganic, but the base of the flooring is often fiberboard that is made using wood fibres. It is this wood fibre base that makes plastic laminate flooring a bad flooring choice for moist spaces. On the other hand, even though bamboo is an organic flooring material, the use of a large amount of synthetic glues and resins enhances its ability to withstand moisture better than plastic laminate flooring.

There is only one exception to this rule – carpets. Apart from the very rare (and very expensive) cotton blends and wool carpets, most carpets are made using synthetic fibres and are completely inorganic. But, due to carpets absorbing and trapping moisture within the fibres, carpets are absolutely not suggested for damp spaces.

Good Flooring Materials for Damp Or Wet Spaces

The right flooring material is resistant to water and is protected from damage due to constant exposure to moisture. While most materials are not 100% waterproof (because water will find its way through the tiniest of gaps, seams and cracks), the materials mentioned in this section provide you with more than adequate protection against moisture and show minimal to no damage over prolonged use in damp or wet spaces. These materials can be used in spaces such as wet bathrooms, kitchens, balconies, terraces, and basements with full confidence.

The best flooring for wet areas:
  1. Ceramic tiles
  2. Porcelain tiles
  3. Vitrified tiles
  4. Concrete

These floor coverings are the excellent choice for the wet and the damp areas and make great options for bathrooms, kitchens, basement and laundries.

1.Ceramic Tiles

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Ceramic tiles are manufactured by combining clay, sand and water and firing them at high temperatures in a kiln until the materials fuse together. They are an excellent choice for spaces that see a lot of standing water or puddle formation. While installing tiles ensure proper grouting to seal all the gaps between the tiles to prevent water from seeping through. Ceramic tiles have a low rate of porosity and do not need any additional maintenance measure, such as sealing.

2.Porcelain Tiles

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Porcelain tiles are manufactured using a mix of finer clay, sand and water and are fired at higher temperatures than ceramic tiles. This results in a tile that is harder and has a lower level of porosity. These tiles can be used in most damp or wet spaces as long as the grouting is done properly and there are no gaping holes left between two tiles.

3.Vitrified Tiles

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Vitrified tiles are one of the strongest tiles available in the market. They are manufactured by pressing down a mixture of silica, feldspar, quartz and clay using a hydraulic press to create a vitreous surface. This manufacturing process helps create a tile that has a single mass from surface to base, reducing porosity and increasing their durability. These tiles are a great choice for most wet or damp spaces, especially outdoor spaces such as terraces, gardens, pool decks, and parking lots that are not only open to the elements, but also receive considerable footfall.

Also read: Everything You Need to Know About Full Body Vitrified Tiles

4.Concrete

Concrete is highly permeable flooring, but when sealed well, concrete floors work very well in damp and wet spaces. Concrete is fast gaining popularity since with advent in technology now it is possible to add colour and texture to concrete, personalising the look according to the design and colour scheme of the space.

Acceptable Flooring Materials for Damp Or Wet Spaces

While the flooring materials mentioned in this section are not manufactured using materials that are 100% waterproof, the surface is fully waterproof. When installed properly and tightly sealed to avoid gaps, these materials can withstand standing water for short time periods.

1.Engineered Wood

Engineered wood has a sturdy base and is made using plywood that has a higher resistance to water. This makes it a far better choice for wet and damp spaces than laminate flooring. While engineered wood cannot withstand long durations of standing water, which may occur in spaces like bathrooms, terraces and parking lots, it can withstand spills, splashes and the occasional puddles (as long as the water is cleaned off within a short period of time, almost immediately), in spaces like kitchens, laundry rooms and mud rooms.

2.Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring has a waterproof surface, but the base is fibreboard that tends to swell up and crack when subjected to water. Even the smallest of gaps between the seams can result in water seepage and the ruin of your flooring. This flooring is best for spaces like kitchens and even then spills and splashes need to be cleaned immediately to prevent damage to the floor.

3.Linoleum Tile Or Sheets

Linoleum is not waterproof, but can be considered to be a water resistant material. The flooring is made using organic materials that include tree resins, cork and wood floors and linseed oil. It requires it to be sealed on a regular basis, but even then issues may arise due to the seams between the tiles.

4.Bamboo Flooring

Although bamboo flooring is made up of organic material, the bamboo is treated with various resin and chemicals, making the flooring water resistant, but not waterproof. This flooring can be used in the entryway and kitchen, provided all spills and splashes are cleaned immediately.

Poor Flooring Materials for Damp or Wet Spaces

The flooring materials listed in this section are an absolute no-no for use in damp or wet spaces for the simple reason that they are absolutely not water proof nor are water resistant.

1.Hardwood Flooring (Both Site Finished And Prefinished)

Solid hardwood flooring, whether it is site finished or prefinished, will not work in damp or wet spaces. It is possible to salvage wet hardwood, but it will never look as good as before. Site finished hardwood is slightly better in this regard than prefinished hardwood since site finished hardwood has a layer of sealant applied on its surface that plugs all kinds of seams and cracks, providing better protection against moisture. This kind of flooring is best used in spaces that see none to minimal spills and splashes and no standing water.

2.Carpeting

It is a very bad idea to install a carpet in a damp or a wet area, like bathrooms, kitchens, porches, balconies, terraces, etc. Once a carpet becomes wet it is a very long process to get it completely dry. The wetness promotes the growth of bacteria, mould and mildew.  It does not matter what material the carpet is, it is absolutely not advisable to use it in damp areas.

As you can see, there are various kinds of flooring choices at your disposal and a good chunk of them can be installed in the damp or wet space around your residential or commercial spaces. Regardless of the flooring you choose, ensure there is proper installation to seal all gaps and seams so that no amount of water permeates to the subfloor.

How Can Orientbell Tiles Help?

With Orientbell Tiles you can be assured that you will receive a good quality product. All of our tiles are manufactured using some of the latest technology. The tiles possess low porosity and can easily be used in damp or wet spaces without fear of water damage.

Looking to purchase some tiles? Head to our website or to a store near you. Be sure to check out TriaLook to visualise the tiles in your space before buying.

Author

Mannika Mitra

Mannika Mitra is an Arts Graduate from the Delhi University & a Post-Graduate Diploma holder in Journalism and Mass Communication. She has worked as a digital producer with new agency; ANI, NDTV & Hindustan Times before joining Orientbell Tiles as a part of their digital and content marketing team. Her interest in interior design and knowledge of tiles comes from her family of architects and Tile Shop owners. In her quest to write useful blogs that help users pick the right tiles and renovation inspiration, she frequently does research with architects, tile dealers among others. Apart from writing content for the website she loves to travel, know about various cultures and binge watch on OTT platforms.

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