Home Laminate Flooring Buckling Laminate Flooring – How to Repair Laminate Flooring

Buckling Laminate Flooring – How to Repair Laminate Flooring

by Bestlaminate
Published: Updated: 228 comments 8 minutes read

Laminate flooring is known for its durability, but there is one problem that can occur: buckling.

When it comes to laminate flooring, it’s important to remember that it is a floating floor. This means that it is not permanently attached to the subfloor and instead “floats” on the surface. The reason for this is to allow the floor to expand and contract with temperature changes. While this expansion and contraction may not be visible to the naked eye, it is a crucial characteristic of laminate flooring.

However, when the floor is obstructed from floating or damaged by moisture, problems can arise. The planks may “buckle” or compress together, leading to humps, uneven surfaces, and unsightly marks. In extreme cases, the flooring can even lift entirely from the subfloor.

To prevent buckling and keep your laminate flooring in top condition, it is essential to take precautions.

Why Is My Flooring Buckling?

There are several reasons why laminate flooring may buckle. These factors include:

  1. Improper installation: If the flooring is installed too tightly or pinched down under heavy objects like cabinets, it may not be able to properly float, resulting in buckling.
  2. Insufficient expansion gap: Without a proper gap between the flooring and the walls, the laminate cannot expand properly and may buckle. Check out our recommended best practices for the expansion gap to avoid this issue.
  3. Underlayment issues: Without a vapor barrier, moisture can seep into the flooring and cause it to buckle. It is crucial to install your flooring with the appropriate underlayment to prevent this. Read our underlayment guide here.
  4. Water and moisture damage: Excessive exposure to moisture can cause the laminate flooring to swell and buckle. Take measures to protect your flooring from water damage.
  5. Lack of acclimation: If the flooring is not given enough time to adjust to the temperature and humidity of the room before installation, it may buckle. Allow adequate acclimation time to avoid this problem.
  6. Extreme room temperature: Installing laminate flooring in a room with an unusually high or low temperature can lead to buckling. Maintain a comfortable room temperature to prevent this issue.

Buckling is most commonly observed near walls, where the flooring’s expansion is restricted due to a lack of space.

Let’s Get Started!

Discovering buckling in your laminate flooring? Follow these essential steps for a successful repair:

  1. Identify the root cause of the buckling
  2. Resolve the underlying issue causing the buckling
  3. Replace or repair the damaged planks with ease using our step-by-step guide below.

How to Fix the Cause of the Buckling

Most commonly, buckling flooring is caused by movement restrictions or water damage. Here’s what you need to know to fix these issues.

Buckling Due to Movement Restrictions

Laminate flooring is a type of floating floor that requires space to expand and contract as temperatures fluctuate. Here are some helpful guidelines to ensure proper movement of the flooring:

  • Check that the wall base/moldings do not pinch the laminate flooring. There should be a small gap between the flooring and the bottom of the molding.
  • Ensure there is a sufficient expansion gap around all walls and stationary objects in the room.
  • Reposition heavy furniture and use felt pads to distribute the weight evenly on the flooring.
  • Increase the expansion gap around the perimeter of the room.
  • Widen the expansion gap at the molding transitions.
  • If the flooring was installed under cabinets, either add dilatation or remove the laminate under the cabinets and leave an expansion gap.
Buckling Due to Water Damage

Water damage can lead to buckling in flooring, a common problem. Laminate flooring, which has a wood core, can swell and expand when it comes into contact with moisture. To tackle this issue, here are some essential steps to follow:

  • Identify the Source: Water damage can originate from various sources, such as a leaking dishwasher. If you find a specific appliance or area that is the source of the problem, consider replacing it to resolve the issue.
  • Cement Subfloors: Moisture from the ground can infiltrate cement subfloors and cause buckling. To safeguard your flooring, use an underlayment with a moisture or vapor barrier.
  • Moisture-Prone Areas: In areas like kitchens or bathrooms where moisture is prevalent, use water-resistant glue during installation. This extra layer of protection can help prevent future buckling problems. Consider opting for a waterproof flooring option, such as luxury vinyl plank, for added peace of mind.
  • Basement Floors: If your flooring is installed in a basement, check for any water leaks from the walls or floor. Address these issues before installing new laminate flooring. For ongoing moisture concerns, consider using waterproof luxury vinyl plank flooring.

How to Repair Buckling Laminate Flooring

If your laminate flooring has buckled, don’t worry, there may still be a chance to repair it. Follow these steps to replace the damaged planks and restore your flooring:

For minor damages that affect only a small portion of your flooring, follow these steps to replace the damaged planks effectively:

  1. Prepare for the repair by removing moldings around the damaged area.
  2. Carefully uninstall the laminate flooring in the problem zone.
  3. Thoroughly clean and prep the subfloor, ensuring there is no moisture damage and that the underlayment (if applicable) is in good condition.
  4. Check the locking system of the flooring. If it’s undamaged, you can proceed with reinstalling the flooring.
  5. Replace any damaged planks as needed.
  6. Reinstall the flooring and moldings, making sure everything is secure.

It’s important to address the root cause of the buckling to prevent it from happening again. If the buckling has affected a larger area that can’t be repaired, you’ll need to replace the entire flooring.

If you have any questions or need further assistance, our team of flooring experts is ready to help you determine the best course of action for your project.

Still have questions on if your buckling laminate flooring? Contact one of our flooring experts today!

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Ryan May 13, 2022 - 10:07 am

I have laminate flooring that is just 5 years old. Recently our dishwasher pump went out and during the replacement process some water/moisture made a few of the planks curl up slightly on the sides/seams. Does anyone know if these will retract and correct as they dry or do we need to take further action? It seems very slight, but you can see it when you are at eye-level. We are concerned about mold if there is a significant amount of moisture underneath that we just can’t see. We are putting a box fan in the area to help with the drying process, but would love any advice.

Rachel Vahcic May 17, 2022 - 2:19 pm

Thanks for your question, Ryan! We are sorry to hear about your current flooring situation. It is likely that the laminate will absorb the moisture because it is a wood-based product. I would continue to let this area dry out for several weeks and keep an eye out for any mold. Unfortunately, that water damage is likely a permanent situation and you may need to replace planks.

Tinker October 26, 2021 - 4:47 pm

I have had my flooring in a large area (living, dining, hallway and kitchen) for about a year now but recently I have experience buckling. I thought it was because of my 55 gallon aquarium. A few days ago, I put felt pads under the aquarium and moved it from the location it was sitting. I thought that would release the buckle in the floor but it hasn’t. My toddler has jumped on the buckle several times but none of the planks have completely popped out. Do I need to replace the flooring in that area or wait a few more days to see if the flooring will shift into place? Also in regards to having heavy objects on a floating floor, how often should I move the object to avoid future buckles? Do I move it back and forth OR do I just have to completely relocate it from time to time? Thanks for any feedback!!

Vanessa November 2, 2021 - 9:45 am

Hi Tinker. When a floor is buckling like that it means that it is pinned down somewhere and is unable to expand and contract. You should never step on or try to flatten out a buckled plank because this will cause further damage to your floor. In order for the buckle to settle (if it is able to) you would have to remove any very heavy object that may be pinning the floor to the subfloor. It is also possible that a molding or wall base is also causing the buckling.

David August 24, 2021 - 9:12 am


After removing planks to solve buckling , how can i know if the locking system damaged?


Vanessa September 1, 2021 - 12:31 pm

Hello! After removing planks that are buckling, you will have to make sure there are no damaged or broken pieces of the actual locking system. The locking system can not be bent, broken or flimsy.

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