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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  1. Hi Christina, I would contact the retailer that you purchased the floor from. It sounds like it could be water damage. The retailer will be able to help you file a claim against the manufacturer.

  2. Hello I had a laminate floor installed about a month ago. Now the floor is bubbling it started with just one at the edge of corner. But in the past week several more boards are starting to bubble what can I do.

  3. Hi Carolynn, thanks for your question. There are now waterproof laminates that should limit the potential for buckling. You could also look into a rigid core vinyl that would be waterproof.For the underlayment, you will need to check with the manufacturer. This will depend on how thick your flooring is and if cork is an option they recommend using. Most underlayments are much thinner than 1/2″, however, cork is a bit more stable.

  4. Hi Violeta, sorry to hear about your issue. Unfortunately, he is correct. If you have mold and water damage, you will need to replace the subfloor and laminate to avoid health risks and to create a stable base. To check the other toilets, you could uninstall the perimeter molding and unclick the planks until you reach the toilet. You should be able to see if there is water that way and then re-install the planks.

  5. I’m contemplating getting laminate flooring throughout my condo except the bathrooms. I do not have children or any pets. After reading these comments about buckling I wonder if I should do carpet instead.
    Also, our condo association requires 1/2″ cork underlayment for sound with laminate flooring. Do you foresee a problem with this requirement?

  6. Hello, my house is build 2014. I am the first owner. In february 2019 we replaced the the toilet bowl but we replaced it by ourselves following the instructions of the toilet bowel manufacturer. So we installed the toilet bowl in February 2019 and a year later in February 2020 the laminate floor around the toilet bowl began to swell. Probably we did not install the toilet bowl correctly so water was leaking under the laminate floor, there was no water or moist on the surface of the laminate. We stopped using that washroom completely, and after three months the swelling of the laminate disappeared almost completely. Three days ago a professional came to install the toilet bowl correctly and he said that there is moist under the laminate, the laminate is still wet. He said that even if he installs the toilet bowl perfectly the laminate floor will swell again because the water will leak again into the laminate. He said that we should first call a service to dry the laminate and under it. I called a service and they came and said there is moist and mold under the laminate. They said to dry the layer below the laminate will cost thousands of dollars, that the laminate will be taken away and after drying the area a new laminate will be put in the washroom.And the whole washroom is about 1,5 square meters.I need your advice if there is another solution for the problem, We replaced two more toilet bowls by ourselves couple of months later and now I am scared if water is leaking under these two toilet bowls too. How to check if water is leaking under the other two toilet bowls?

    Thank you

  7. Hi Rosa, thanks for the question. You should only see issues if water is left on the laminate. If you’re immediately drying it, it shouldn’t cause issues.

  8. Hi Joe, thanks for the question. It’s hard to say. They could increase if they continue to be exposed to water or humidity.

  9. hey i randomly got bubbles in my wood most likely from water that spilt earlier but will the bubbles get bigger or will they stay this size?

  10. I have a question, can a lightly damp cloth (only warm water, no chemicals or additives) used to surface wash the floor and an immediately dry cloth/ paper towel used to dry the floor (hand and knees wash and dry) cause damage to laminate floors such as peeling, bubbling, or warping? And how long before it starts to show damage?

  11. Hi Susan, thanks for the question. Unfortunately, there is no solution for bubbling except for replacing the plank. It can be a DIY project if you still have left over flooring.

  12. Hi Ashmore, thanks for your question. Could you have had water sitting on the flooring for a long period of time or a pet accident? This is usually the cause of bubbling.

  13. I have bubbling from water damage where I rent from cats spilling water. On in kitchen and one in living room. How much does it cost to repair the small areas or replace for a small apartment? I also heard it’s difficult to match the same floor colors.

  14. Hi I just had my floors done over 3weeks ago ,and tonight I’ve noticed bubbles in on floor board should I ring the company that lad them or have I did something wrong,its in a strange place it’s in the middle of the flooring if it was by back door or cooker ect I’d say that might have an effect on it , any advice please aa

  15. Hi Ben, unfortunately if the water got into the seams and created a bubble, there is no way to bring it back to normal. I wish I had better news for you!

  16. I’m housesitting and I spilt water on the table and didn’t realize and it did this. Is there any way you can fix that without getting rid of the entire planks

  17. Hi Sissy, great question. Unfortunately, damage from humidity will not be covered. Warranty claims are generally the fault of a manufacturer error and not outside damages. The Roomba damage will also not be covered, as that became a man-made damage from the wheels and possibly having debris moving along the floor with it, potentially leaving the marks.

  18. My Roomba is taking away the glossy finish off of my laminate floor as it continuously turns corners throughout the years. it’s been 9 years with a 15 year warranty, I use only swiffer as recommended but seams are also lifting. I’m requesting a refund but the company will send an inspector and my refund would be prorated, I live in Florida and it’s hot and humid which could be the cause but not sure if humidity would be covered under the warranty. I guess my question is the Roomba trail and humidity something that would be covered under a warranty for laminate flooring?

  19. Hi Jane, thanks for your question. Is the bulge at the seams? I would recommend getting some coasters to help disburse the weight under the legs. It should not have caused an issue unless it is very, very heavy. Pool tables are able to sit on top of laminate to give you a weight reference. Hope this helps!

  20. Hi we have just laid laminate flooring , in out sitting room . It had the expansion gap all around its laid on floor board , with foam underlay . All was good , we the put the furniture back , as few hours later a big bulge appeared, do you think it could be the weight of the sofa as it’s very heavy , but has small round feet .we will take the flooring up to the problem, and relay but we are wondering how we can stop this happening again , we would be grateful if you have any ideas . Many thanks , jane

  21. 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!

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

  23. 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!

  24. 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?

  25. 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!

  26. 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?

  27. 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!

  28. 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.

  29. 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!

  30. 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?

  31. 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.

  32. 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?

  33. 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!

  34. 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?

  35. 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.

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

  37. Glad it could help Sagan!

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

  39. 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.

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

  41. 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.

  42. 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

  43. 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!

  44. 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?

  45. 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!

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

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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?

  50. 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?

  51. 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!

  52. 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?

  53. 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!

  54. 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

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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/

  58. 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

  59. 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!

  60. 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?

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