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why is my floor bubbling

Why Is My Floor Bubbling?

We’ve recently been getting a lot of questions about floor bubbling. The questions range from what causes it, to how to fix it. We’re here to help you prevent and fix floor bubbles and buckling with this article!

Moisture and Laminate Flooring: The Basics

The wood materials in the laminate flooring expand and contract with moisture. Humidity is one of the ways that moisture can be introduced into your flooring. The amount of moisture in the air can cause your laminate to change widths. Manufacturers generally recommend that you install your laminate flooring in no more than 60% humidity and no less than 30% humidity. Keeping your humidity within these levels ensures your floor is protected from too much moisture in the air.

Buckled Laminate Flooring

Alternately, direct water damage can cause “bubbling” around the edges of the planks. This is caused by water or other liquid seeping into the laminate flooring joints, where the locking system connects. Damage like this can also be caused from too much humidity in the air.

floor bubbling
Floor Bubbling (photo credit: http://www.mfcsi.com/why-floors-fail.html)

Preventing Floor Bubbling and Buckling

  1. Acclimate your flooring for 48 hours in the room you’re installing it in
  2. Leave an expansion gap of 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch around all walls and stationary structures (such as pillars)
  3. If you are installing on a cement subfloor, use a moisture barrier
  4. Run your A/C in the summer to keep humidity down in your home
  5. Clean up spills immediately after they occur

How to Repair Bubbled or Buckled Laminate Flooring

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for these types of flooring mishaps. When it comes to fixing the cause of the buckling, there is really only one way to do it. The most important thing to note is to 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.

  1. Remove moldings to prepare to replace the flooring
  2. Uninstall the laminate up to the problem zone
  3. Check the locking system.
  4. If it is undamaged, simply reinstall the planks that are popped up
  5. If the flooring is damaged, such as bubbled, replace the damaged planks with new ones
  6. Reinstall the flooring, making sure to leave a larger expansion gap, around a 1/2 inch away from the wall

Have more questions? Leave us a comment below and we will help you!

More About Humidity And Laminate:

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40 comments

  1. Avatar

    Does having a whole home dehumidifier help eliminate the expansion and contraction of a laminate floor.

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Erica, thanks for the question. If you are keeping a consistent level of humidity in your home, you should see little expansion and contraction. With the dehumidifier, be careful not to suck all of the humidity out of your home. Different seasons may require different settings. The key is consistency here. There are some other factors that could contribute to expansion as well, such as leaving water on the floor. Hope this helps!

  2. Avatar

    I just found moved into my apartment, and found that the bedroom has a couple of hard bubbles on the floor (it’s laminate)…
    The maintenance guy brought his reader into the apartment, and it was at 13%…he also said he’s seen floors where it will keep bubbling up and the entire floor with burst open.
    Is this accurate?
    Should I have a mold inspector come and check the flooring?

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Megan, thanks for the question! Can you specify what the reader was measuring? As far as bubbling goes, usually it is just the surface and should not split a plank. If you’re having issues with bubbling, it is important to nail down the cause. Is it excess water? Excess moisture in the air? It most likely will not be from the subfloor. It might be a good idea to get a flooring inspector to come out and see what the issue may be!

  3. Avatar

    Thanks for helping me understand that the floor might be water damaged when there is bubbling on the edges of the plank. I guess I need to hire a professional to fix the issues with our water system since the floor started having issues like that yesterday. Actually, I have no idea what is happening when I was mopping the floor, and I noticed the bubbling.

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Millie, glad it was helpful! Leaving water sit on the floor after you mop can also add to bubbling. Let us know if you have any other questions!

  4. Avatar

    After 15 years my laminate is buckling on the edges and there are large bubbles in the plank. There is no apparent leaking water source. It started and within a week about 10 boards are damaged. Naturally this product is discontinued and we hope to have enough stashed away for the repairs. What is going on all of a sudden?

    • Tyler

      Ardith – if your home has humidity issues that could lead to it. Or if cleaning habits have changed, that could effect it as well. If it was a product issue an issue like this would not have shown up after 15 years.

      • Avatar

        Hi I have a question I put laminate floors in my house like 2 years ago and now I can see like circles on it more in the traffic areas . Why this happen can I fixed?

        • Alana Kane

          Hi Karol, thanks for your question. Since this is a high traffic area, you may have had more opportunity for water damage along the seams and under the top coat. Anytime water sits on an area, you can experience bubbling. Unfortunately, there is no way to fix it besides re-installing in the areas that are affected. If you have any other questions, please let us know!

  5. Avatar

    My laminate floor had a buckle in two spots. The installer removed the threshold and trimmed the last plank and reinstalled the threshold. This did. It fix the problem. Since the weather changed (hot humid summer to cool fall weather) the buckle has disappeared. So you think it will return when summer rolls around again?

    • Tyler

      Hey Cindi, thank you for reaching out! It definitely is possible it could show up again. I would check to make sure that there was proper expansion along the perimeter of the room, 1/4″. Let me know if you have any more questions!

  6. Avatar

    I have bubbling in my laminate flooring due to uneven leveling of the underlayment..any suggestions on a fix?

    • Tyler

      Hey Les, thank you for reaching out (although we wish it was under different circumstances). The only way to truly fix this issue is to remove the flooring and use a leveling agent, or putting down new plywood. Unfortunately nothing suggested is going to truly solve these problems you are having for a long term. If you have any other questions please feel free to reach out to us.

  7. Avatar

    Thanks for shearing information with us as well as with me because my floor also bubbling and you tell me the solution for this.

    • Alana Kane

      Glad it could help Sagan!

    • Avatar

      I am helping my clients whom I manage there investment property that just got finished from rebuild after devastating fires. They chose laminate flooring thru whole home and there is bubbling throughout 2 or 3 areas..The new fridge installed had a small slow drip leak from installation kit and after it was discovered by plumber bubbling occured in several areas in areas not even close to fridge area and by the stairs a very weird air pocket..is all this from tiny drip leak or other issue?

      • Alana Kane

        Hi Jenny, sorry to hear about the issues your clients are having! I do not think the slow drip would have affected the areas not close to the fridge. Are you in a tropical climate? We see issues most with homes that do not have a stable temperature year round or experience high moisture in the air. I would recommend checking the moisture content in the air to see what level you have. You can either rent a monitor or have a flooring expert come out. This could have also been the result of leaving excess water on the floor during cleaning. It will be important to get to the bottom of the issue!

  8. Avatar

    I have installed laminate flooring over vinyl flooring per the seller it was fine..I’ve had it installed for only 3 months..it’s hasn’t buckled like at the edges or anything but when you step on it ..it gives like bubbling.no boards are damaged…is there a fix for this without staring over…?? Thanks

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Ken, thanks for your question. Is your vinyl a floating floor? If so, there may be too much pressure on the joints from installing over it, which is causing it to feel like it has some give.

      • Avatar

        I have the same issue as Ken. What do you mean by floating floor?

        • Alana Kane

          Hi Angie, was the vinyl a glue down or a click-lock vinyl? If it was a click lock and is not adhered to the subfloor, it is called a “floating” floor, just as your laminate would be.

  9. Avatar

    I split a little bit of nail polish remover on a small section of laminate flooring and it took the top layer off (looks like plastic). is there any way to fix this? Is there a product that I could apply to the spot to put the topcoat finish back?

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Ingrid, thank you for reaching out. Are you sure this is a laminate flooring? Acetone (nail polish remover) should be safe for use on laminate flooring and will actually take off tough stains without damaging the top coating. Laminate is finished with an aluminum oxide coating that is resistant to many chemicals. I could recommend using a laminate repair kit that you can find at any big box store. Other than that, I do not have any product recommendations for shine. Hope this helps!

  10. Avatar

    I have a slight bubble at the seam not to noticable will it get worse and get bigger or stay the same

    • Avatar

      Hi Lauren, thanks for your comment. The most common reason for bubbling is moisture. This could be in the form of a spill or humidity in the air. If the flooring is not exposed to any additional moisture, the bubble should not continue to increase in size. Hope this helps!

  11. Avatar

    My question relates to pergo flooring in my apartment.The flooring covers living room, dining area and small kitchen. I’ve lived in the apartment for 8 years. Recently I’ve noticed 3 or 4 bubbles in the kitchen area – that area is only about 3×4. I don’t use any heat. But this area is in front of the stove, maybe a foot away. I’m thinking this flooring should not have been installed this way. I don’t know how long the flooring has been here it was in when I moved here. Part of my concern is that apt management is going to hold me responsible. There has not been any water issues. Got any advice?

    • Avatar

      Hi Terri, thanks for your comment. There are a few reasons why your flooring could be bubbling. In most cases, bubbling is caused by moisture. This could be moisture from above in the form of a spill, or moisture from below your floor coming up from the subfloor. Do you know what kind of subfloor you have and what kind of underlayment was used beneath your floor?

      • Avatar

        I don’t know anything about installation or “below” the flooring. I do know that in the last 8 years there has been no water or liquid spilled. Thanks for answering.
        Terri

        • Avatar

          Terri, unfortunately it is hard to say what is causing the issue without seeing the flooring and knowing how it was installed. Perhaps it might be helpful to have a local home inspector come out and identify the root of your problem to prevent any other problems from arising.

  12. Avatar

    My new, professionally installed laminate floor has a “bubble” about 18″ in diameter about a foot in front of a door jamb. We called the installer back out and removed the mouldings. They all have a 1/4″ to 1/2″ for expansion.

    No water has been spilled and it took a good 3-4 weeks after floor was installed to appear. What do I do to fix?

    • Avatar

      Hi Bill, thanks for your comment. What flooring did you install and did you purchase it at Bestlaminate? Generally, bubbling is a result of the flooring having restricted flotation. Do you know what kind of underlayment your installer used? You can go ahead and reach out to the manufacturer of your flooring for warranty info, or give us a quick call to discuss this in more detail!

  13. Avatar

    Hi
    I just noticed my bedroom floor is bubling by the window. The floor is only 3 years old and was installed professionally. I live in Pompano Beach, Florida and i was wondering if the water could have been inflitrated from the outside wall. I am on the third floor.
    There is no trace of water stain just bubling.
    Does condo insurance cover for this damage?
    Looking forward for some answer

    • Avatar

      Hi Nancy – Thank you for your question. It is possible that there could be water leaking from the window onto the floor. There doesn’t always need to be a water stain when there is water damage. It could have also been caused by an unnoticed spill that was never cleaned up or a pet accident that went unnoticed as well. You can check with your condo insurance to see if they will cover the damage, but I cannot answer if they will cover it or not. Good luck!

  14. Avatar

    Should a vapor barrier be used (Pergo Gold) under the laminate if there is a vapor barrier under the floor? This is a manufactured home with a vapor barrier underneath. I was told that the Pergo Gold will rot my subflooring because it will sweat between the two vapor barriers. True? Your comments, please.

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Rita, thanks for the question. You will only need one vapor barrier for your floor. Is the Pergo Gold a padded underlayment with a vapor barrier? If so, you could remove the current vapor barrier film, and only use the Pergo Gold. Two underlayments should never be used together, but you can use a vapor barrier film plus a standard underlayment. Hope this helps! Please let us know if you have any other questions.

  15. Avatar

    My dog threw up and we were gone for over 4 hours and my laminate floor has 3 bubbled planks is there any quick fix without replacing. I’ve only had the floor for 2 months

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Diana, we’re sorry to hear about your issue! This is an unfortunate occurrence. Unfortunately, when it comes to bucking, there is no quick fix. The top lamination has separated from the core, and there is no way to re-attach it. Do you have some spare planks from your install? You would need to uninstall the flooring from the closest wall and replace the 3 boards that are damaged, and re-install the other planks. Since they are click-lock installed, you should be able to un-install and re-install the current floors. You can find more information on how to do that here: https://www.bestlaminate.com/help/repairing-laminate-floors-buckling-scratching-and-replacing/

  16. Avatar

    hi, do you know what the moisture levels of laminate wood floors should be? I have a pinless reader General MM8 which is showing me readings of 25-30%. Is it too much? If so what can be done about it? I dont see any bubbling or warpage or cupping etc. It rained here last few days does that have an effect? Are these meters the right ones to use?

    • Avatar

      Hi Ash – great question! Manufacturers generally recommend that you install your laminate flooring in no more than 60% humidity and no less than 30% humidity. If there is too little humidity in your home or room, you can use a humidifier. If your home or room is too humid, you can use a de-humidifier to help lessen the moisture in the air. Rain can have an affect on the moisture in your home, but if you have central heating and cooling that you use regularly, it should not affect your floor too much. It is also very important to make sure that you leave the proper expansion gaps around the perimeter of your installation to allow your floor to expand and contract when the humidity in the home changes. As always, we would highly recommend looking at your warranty and installation information included in your box of flooring to be sure your levels meet the floor’s manufacturer requirements. If you have any more questions, please feel free to call us at 1-800-520-0961 and we would be glad to help!

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