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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
Buckled laminate (Photo credit: from Ashley @From Oysters to Pearls)

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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16 comments

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

    • Viena

      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!

  2. 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?

    • Viena

      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?

      • 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

        • Viena

          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.

  3. 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?

    • Viena Swierczek

      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!

  4. 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

    • Ashley Tolfo

      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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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/

  7. 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?

    • Ashley Tolfo

      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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