We all have some areas in our home that are moist of damp. Since many floor materials are vulnerable to rot or mold when they are exposed to moisture, deciding which flooring to go for is a difficult choice to make.

Organic vs. Inorganic Flooring

Generally, floorings made of inorganic materials are considered to be better than floor coverings containing organic materials. When it comes to flooring, organic materials basically refer to plant-based materials. These materials include engineered wood, solid hardwood, and bamboo. When these organic materials are exposed to moisture, they quickly start decomposing can soon become subject to bacteria and molds. On the other hand, inorganic materials are formed of synthetically refined chemicals that are immune to moisture and its effects.

However, flooring materials are usually not fully inorganic or organic and thus their ability to resist moisture depends on the ratio of organic to inorganic. But making floor covering decisions only on the basis of this ratio might not be the right thing to do. It is because there some flooring materials that are inorganic but still a poor choice for moist areas where as some organic flooring materials might serve as a relatively better choice.

For example, although laminate flooring has 100% inorganic synthetic surface, but its base layer is usually made up of fiberboard formed of wood fibers. It is therefore a poor floor covering for moist areas. On the other hand, bamboo flooring, which is fully organic but is largely made of glues and synthetic resins, is quite better in handing dampness as compared laminate flooring.

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In case you’re finding the perfect floor covering that isn’t affected by moisture for your home, here’s a comprehensive list of flooring materials and their resistance to dampness.

Good Floor Coverings for Damp Areas

The floor coverings listed in this category are highly resistant to moisture. Most of these materials are 100% waterproof and can be used with confidence in damp areas like bathrooms, basements, and kitchens etc.

  • Ceramic Tile: It is an excellent choice for areas that have standing water. However, the only weak point of these tiles are the cemented seams between the tiles that allow water to penetrate through them.
  • Porcelain Tile: It is a type of ceramic tile usually used in bathtubs, showers, pools, and other damp areas. These tiles are highly resistant to intensely damp areas thanks to the high temperatures and fine clays used in their production. Porcelain tiles have a very low water absorption rate i.e. about 0.5% or less. They are considered to be the best material for persistently moist areas.   
  • Sheet Vinyl:  This floor covering is 100% water proof. However, it may have a very few seams that allow for water penetration.
  • Concrete: It works excellently against water if sealed properly. Concrete floor coverings are becoming increasingly popular in living areas because of their newly added texturizing and colorizing options.
  • Vinyl Tile: It is a 100% waterproof flooring material. However, the seams created during its installation allows for water seepage.
  • Engineered wood: This flooring material performs just fine when it comes to damp areas. Its base is mad of water-resistant plywood which helps it stand moisture. However, it cannot resist standing water for long periods so any water spills should be wiped away immediately to avoid any damage.
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Poor Floor Coverings for Damp Areas

The flooring materials listed under this category should not be used in moist areas at all.

  • Solid hardwood: It does not work in damp areas like basements and is strongly discouraged to be used in areas where water is prevalent, like bathrooms etc. Once exposed to moisture, solid hardwood will be as good as new. Site-finished solid hardwood works slightly better against water as compared to pre-finishes hardwood. It is because site-finished wood has seams with sealant filling that provide resistance against water seepage whereas pre-finished wood has seams filled with liquid finishing that is vulnerable to water.
  • Carpeting: It is strongly discouraged to go for carpeting in bathrooms and other damp areas. It is because once wet, carpet will dry out slowly resulting in mildew and mold growth.  However, carpeting made from polyester and olefin works slightly better than wool carpets in wet areas.