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What you need to know about E3/AS1 rules for wet and splash areas

When changes to the building code came into effect late 2021, some people were confused about what constituted a wet area – and what kinds of floorings were considered acceptable.

We know it’s important to make sure that you get a solution that’s right for you and your needs, and that it’s going to stand the test of time – especially for wet areas, where choosing the incorrect option could cause headaches down the line.

Here’s what you should know about the latest updates to the E3/AS1 Building Codes, and what kinds of flooring you should consider for your new home or building project.

Water spill on a hard wood floor.

Clear definitions

The changes to the building code by the MBIE (Ministry for Business Innovation and Economics) cover internal moisture, surface water drainage, waterproofing and fire transfer including multi-unit dwellings and high-density housing.

Naturally, we’re going to focus on the parts the affect flooring: water.

MBIE policy ensures that wet areas – defined as kitchens, bathrooms and laundries – have flooring surfaces that are impervious to water splash and easy to clean, and are so at least 1.5 metres around the source of water (or ideally the entire area of the full room).

For most homes, that will mean having a splash-resistant flooring in the entire bathroom, or in the kitchen and extending 1.5 metres from the taps, dishwasher, plumbed fridge, etc.

Acceptable and Alternative Solutions

Section 3.1 of the code offers a range of surface materials that are considered ‘Acceptable Solutions’, such as:

  • Sheet vinyl with coving or silicone to the perimeter (edge).

  • Selected tiles that are impervious to water, laid on a waterproof membrane

  • Trowelled concrete, sealed, if on ground level.

Around the time of the Building Code update, some misunderstandings became misinformation, and some falsely believed that these the three solutions above were the only solutions that the Code would allow as floor coverings to wet areas.

The fact is that the above solutions are just examples of acceptable industry-standard solutions; the MBIE have clearly said that alternative solutions are available. 

Flooring that can also be used in wet areas

In addition to above, a huge range of flooring options can also be used in wet areas, such as:

  • Plank vinyl

  • SPC (hybrid) vinyl

  • Laminate

  • Cork

  • Timber

Providing they are impervious to splashes, are easy to clean, and have the documentation to back it up, these and other options are safely available to you to choose from.

Talk to Floorboards first for documentation

Floorboards can provide you with all the documentation you need to support any consent applications for your new home or renovation project. 

We have a number of flooring solutions that are designed to be splash resistant and easy to clean, with documentation provided by the suppliers that make it clear that they meet current requirements. These documents also outline the correct installation techniques to ensure that your flooring will stand the test of time. 

These support letters have been used several times in Auckland with Building Compliance Inspectors (BCIs) since November 2021.

If you’re in need of these documents for your next consent application, or you’d like to have them on file for a client, then please reach out to us. We’ll keep you up to speed on documentation and regulations to make sure you’ve got the facts at your fingertips and can be sure that your new flooring is the right one for you.

E3/AS1 wet area flooring summary

In short, many of the same flooring options are still available to you for wet areas, including plank and sheet vinyl, laminate, cork and timber – provided they are splash resistant, installed within 1.5m of the sources of water, are easy to clean, and your supplier and installer can provide the documentation to back it as a wet flooring solution.

If you're still unsure, talk to our friendly team of flooring specialists. We have a range of wet area flooring options to ensure your new home or renovation project meets the latest regulation requirements.

Phone 07 959 1861
Showroom Level 1, 79 Church Road, Hamilton


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