Laminate flooring is made to last, however sometimes you can run into issues and one of the most common issues is buckling laminate flooring. Buckling occurs when laminate flooring does not have enough space to contract and expand with temperature changes. Since it is a floating floor, the planks tend to contract when it is cool and expand when it is warm. Therefore it is crucial to take precautions to prevent buckling.
Buckling laminate flooring is easy to fix if you know how to do it. Before you begin, you should figure out what the possible cause is for the buckling.
Reasons For Laminate Flooring Buckling
- Water and moisture damage
- Floor was not acclimated before the installation
- No expansion gap or the gap is too small
- When the floor was installed, the room temperature was unusually high or low
- No vapor barrier was installed, causing moisture damage
- Inability for the flooring to flat properly
- Floatation restrictions prohibiting the floor from floating properly and expanding/contracting with temperature changes.
Buckling is most frequent near walls where the laminate flooring expansion has met its max and had no more room to expand freely.
How to Repair Buckling Laminate Flooring
- Determine what caused the buckling
- Fix the cause of the buckling
- Replace the buckled planks (Explained below)
Read Ashley’s blog about her buckling flooring experience in her article: Kitchen Cabinet & Flooring Mistake to Avoid.
How to Fix the Cause of the Buckling
When it comes to fixing the cause of the buckling, there are two groups that the damage type falls into; water damage and movement restriction. Here we will explain how to fix these types of issues.
1. Water Damage
Water damage can come from several different sources. If a dishwasher has broken and leaked water everywhere, obviously replacing the dishwasher will fix the issue. However, there are other reasons why there could be water damage to your flooring.
- If you installed in a basement, check and make sure there is no water leaking from the walls or from the floor. If your basement is flooding/leaking, be sure to fix the problem before installing new laminate flooring. If there is still a lot of moisture, consider installing vinyl flooring.
- If you have a cement subfloor, make sure you installed an underlayment that has a moisture/vapor barrier. Water can seep up from the cement into the laminate flooring if there is no barrier.
- If you installed laminate flooring in a moisture prone area, such as kitchens, mudrooms, or bathrooms, you should consider adding water-resistant glue to the locking system as you’re installing the floor. This will help keep water from seeping into the vulnerable spaces of your floor, causing it to buckle. Be sure to place rugs where appropriate to help protect the floor.
2. Floatation & Movement Restrictions
Laminate flooring is a floating floor system. The seasons, moisture, and temperature (inside and out) play important role how your flooring will perform. Sufficient expansion gaps are essential. Here are some things to look for to make sure your floor has optimum movement space:
- Make sure the wall base/moldings are not pinching the laminate flooring. There should be a small gap between the laminate flooring and the bottom of the molding.
- Make sure there is a proper expansion gap around every wall and stationary object around the room.
- Re-position and add felt pads to heavy furniture to evenly distribute the weight on top of the flooring.
- Increase the expansion gap around the perimeter of the room.
- Increase expansion gap to the molding transitions.
- If the flooring was installed under cabinets, add dilatation or remove the laminate under the cabinets and leave an expansion gap around the cabinets.
How to Repair The Flooring
Do not walk on your buckled floor! It will permanently damage the locking system. Depending on your situation and the size of the damage, you may be forced to replace entire room. In a good case scenario, after fixing the reason of the buckling, you can uninstall the planks, replace heavily damaged planks, and reinstall the rest of the room.
- Remove moldings to prepare to replace the flooring
- Uninstall the laminate up to the problem zone
- Check the locking system. If it is undamaged, simply reinstall the flooring.
- Complete reinstallation
Be sure to address the root problem of the buckling to prevent it from occurring again.
Have you had to fix a buckled laminate flooring? What did you do to help the process along? Tell us your story in the comments below!