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Humidity and Laminate Flooring: What You need to Know

You might already know that water and laminate flooring don’t mix, but what about humidity and laminate flooring?

The wood materials in the laminate flooring expand and contract with moisture. Depending on how humid your home is, the flooring could change widths. Too much humidity could impact your floors integrity if it’s not installed correctly.

Manufacturers generally recommend that you install your laminate flooring in no more than 60% humidity and no less than 30% humidity. This middle range will give your flooring time to acclimate so that you get the best fit possible for your home.

What Happens When Humidity and Laminate Mix

As the humidity levels rise above 60%, your flooring expands. Because laminate is installed using a tongue in groove, click to lock system, this expansion can push the sides of each plank into each other causing them to buckle.

Low humidity levels can also have an impact on your flooring. When it is extraordinarily dry (below 30% humidity), the flooring shrinks pulling each plank away from the other. This can cause your floors separate and expose gaps.


Humidity Damage (Photo Credit: NALFA)
Humidity Damage (Photo Credit: NALFA)

Installation Phase: What You Can Do To Prevent Damage From Humidity

The installation of your laminate flooring is the critical time to think about humidity.

Before you install your flooring, you must acclimate your laminate to the environment where it will be housed. To do this, arrange your boxes of flooring with flat and side by side. Don’t put them flush against the wall. Give them room to breathe and become used to the humidity level in your home. The full acclimatization process takes 48 hours.

After your flooring has sat at least two days, you’re ready to install. During installation, humidity should still be taken into consideration. Manufacturers suggest leaving ¼ inch between the flooring and the wall to allow room for expansion and contraction.

By following these steps you’ll be able to prepare your flooring for the humidity levels in your home, minimizing your risk of damage from moisture in the air.

Acclimate your flooring by cross stacking the boxes
Acclimate your flooring by cross stacking the boxes

Have another flooring question? Ask our experts before you start your installation! With our help and guidance, you’ll become a DIY installer in no time.

Learn More About Humidity And Laminate Flooring:

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  1. The Woman Club is trying to change the floors, the building is very old, vinyl tile or down now. But there is moisture coming up around the sides of the floor tile. I think the moisture barrier due to age has broken. What can we do. We have a limited amount of money. We are a non profit club. We make money to help people.

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Sylvia, are you looking to replace the flooring, or just find a fix for the moisture? If there is moisture coming through the vapor barrier, there is a possibility for mold to grow where moisture is trapped under planks. We would recommend lifting a few of the planks to check for mold before making any decisions. If the planks are clicking vinyl, you should be able to uninstall the planks, correct any damage to the subfloor that may be causing moisture to occur, install a new vapor barrier and re-install the same vinyl planks if they are not damaged. That would be the most cost effective option! Hope this helps.

  2. Roseann Vachal

    We had laminate flooring installed 4 months ago and I noticed that when I walk down our hall that is about 3 ft. wide it makes a sound like as if your shoe laces were untied and are hitting the floor. Not loud and nothing is buckled. I am unsure as to what the sound is caused from and is it normal?

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Roseann! Thanks for the question. All types of flooring absorb sound differently. Laminate will almost always produce a sound when you walk on it, which is just a natural characteristic of the flooring. Depending on the subfloor and underlayment installed, the amount of noise will vary as well. So yes, what you’re hearing is normal! Let us know if you have any other concerns. Have a great day!

      • Roseann Vachal

        Thanks so much. I can put my husband at ease before he has someone come in and rip the whole floor up. We only noticed it in the hallway when everything is real quiet. No where else. I appreciate your answer. I love my floors.

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