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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Identify the root cause of the buckling
- Resolve the underlying issue causing the buckling
- 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:
- Prepare for the repair by removing moldings around the damaged area.
- Carefully uninstall the laminate flooring in the problem zone.
- Thoroughly clean and prep the subfloor, ensuring there is no moisture damage and that the underlayment (if applicable) is in good condition.
- Check the locking system of the flooring. If it’s undamaged, you can proceed with reinstalling the flooring.
- Replace any damaged planks as needed.
- 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!