How Moisture Affects Different Types of Commercial Flooring

It’s estimated that American businesses spend roughly $2.4 billion on remediation of structures and floor coverings due to moisture-related flooring failures every year, and an additional $1.2 billion is spent on topical moisture treatments. On top of added expenses in terms of project delays, unplanned expenditures, and more, it also adds lost opportunity costs due to business disruptions, loss of reputation, and more. Therefore, when you’re planning a new flooring installation for your Anaheim business, it is critical to consider the levels of moisture your flooring will be exposed to, as this will affect what types of flooring you should use. 

As a general rule of thumb, inorganic materials produced by chemical processes hold up far better than organic materials consisting of carbon-based plants like wood and bamboo. When exposed to moisture, organic materials begin to decompose and become host to mold and bacteria, an issue that inorganic materials do not face. 

However, not all flooring materials are fully organic or inorganic. Plastic laminate flooring has a synthetic surface that is 100% inorganic, but it has a base layer usually made from wood fibers. This makes it a poor choice for damp locations. Carpet is another example of this issue: while most types of carpet used in commercial flooring are fully inorganic, carpeting traps and holds moisture very easily, making it terrible for damp areas. 

Here is a list of the most common types of commercial flooring and how well they hold up against moisture.

Ceramic and porcelain tiling

There’s a reason these materials are used so frequently in wet areas like bathrooms, showers, and pools. Ceramic and porcelain are all but immune to water, with their only weak points being the grout seams between the tiles, which can crack and let moisture seep through if they are not maintained.

Vinyl

Vinyl is another type of material that is extremely waterproof. However, seams in vinyl sheets and tiles can cause moisture to seep in and affect the adhesive bonding the vinyl to the subfloor underneath it, which means careful installation is key.

Laminate

Laminate is reliant on a core of organic fibers which can swell and blister in contact with water. Therefore, any moisture that gets through the seams of a laminate floor can easily ruin the installation. This makes it critical to wipe up and clean spills as soon as possible when they occur on a laminate floor.

Rubber

Typically seen in areas with lots of foot traffic—such as hospitals, gymnasiums, and schools—rubber flooring is resilient, holds up extremely well in moist conditions, and actually becomes even more slip-resistant when wet. While not frequently used in administrative or business settings, it is an excellent flooring material for active areas for these reasons.

Wood

This can depend on what type of wood is used. Engineered wood consisting of a water-resistant plywood material can withstand the occasional puddle but is not meant for long periods of standing water. Solid hardwood, however, is a terrible idea for high-moisture environments. Once hardwood floors become water-logged, there is very little that can be done for them, and they will likely need to be replaced.

Carpeting

Carpet provides a comforting and inviting flooring solution for dry interiors, but it should be your last choice for wet environments. Carpet takes an extremely long time to dry out and promotes mold and mildew growth in its fibers when it does become wet. Inorganic materials like olefin and polyester are only slightly better than wool and cotton in this regard

For thirty years, JKP Flooring has been the premier commercial flooring specialist for Anaheim and the rest of Orange County. No matter what kind of installation or renovation project you have in mind for your business, our teams work during nights and off-hours, ensuring that your workplace productivity is not affected. If you’d like to know more about our installation techniques, the materials we use, or are interested in an estimate for your flooring project, call us today at (800) 500-5739.