Laminate Flooring - Avoid Common Problems
Updated: Jun 8
The wood materials in laminate flooring expand and contract with moisture, causing it to bubble and buckle (popping up in areas.) These common problems occur when liquid seeps into the flooring with incorrect cleaning methods, or if your flooring wasn't installed at the right humidity.
Direct water damage can cause “bubbling” around the edges of the laminate flooring planks. Damage like this can also be caused from excessive humidity in the air. This damage can be caused by water or other liquid seeping into the laminate flooring joints, where the locking system connects. To avoid bubbling laminate be certain to clean up spills immediately, and never leave standing water on the floors after cleaning. If necessary, run a dry mop over your floors after cleaning to ensure no moisture is left.
Humidity is one of the ways that moisture can be introduced into your flooring, and 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% and no less than 30% humidity.
To ensure your floor is protected from too much moisture in the air, maintain the humidity within the 30% to 60% range. If there is too little humidity the rooms with laminate flooring you can use a humidifier. If the rooms are too humid, you can use a de-humidifier to help lessen the moisture in the air. Even rain can have an effect 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.
Preventing Floor Bubbling and Buckling
Acclimate your flooring for 48 hours in the room you’re installing it in.
Leave an expansion gap of 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch around all walls and stationary structures (such as pillars)
If you are installing on a cement subfloor, use a moisture barrier
Run your A/C in the summer to keep humidity down in your home
Clean up spills immediately after they occur
Never leave standing water on the floors after cleaning.
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 floor popping up in spots, there is really only one way to do it. The most important thing to note is to not walk on your buckled floor, as this 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 bubbling or 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 planks that are popped up
If the flooring is damaged, such as bubbled, replace the damaged planks with new ones
Reinstall the flooring, making sure to leave a larger expansion gap, around a 1/2 inch away from the wall
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