Laminate flooring is durable, and it is made to last. But accidents happen, and you can run into flooring problems. One of the most common problems with laminate flooring is buckling. Due to changing temperatures, the laminate floor boards do not have enough space to expand and contract.
As the laminate floor is a floating floor, the boards tend to expand when it gets hot and contract when it is cold. Therefore, you must take precautions and install your laminate flooring keeping this in mind to prevent buckling.
However, if buckling has already occurred, there is nothing to panic about. You can repair laminate flooring by buckling it with simple methods. Before we fix buckling, let’s figure out what causes buckling in the first place.
What is Buckling Laminate Flooring?
Laminating floor buckles cause the floor to take on an uneven appearance in which the planks seem to split and lift. It creates raised ridges on the affected laminate floor. It can happen due to several reasons, as mentioned below. The buckled laminate flooring makes an unappealing concave shape, making it uncomfortable to walk and look at. Moreover, in extreme buckling cases, the boards may even crack.
Reasons Why Laminate Flooring Buckle?
There is no point in fixing a buckling laminate floor until you find the underlying cause and remedy it. Changes in temperature and moisture are two main reasons why laminate floor buckles. Some other reasons can cause laminate flooring buckles. Let’s get down to it.
Excess Water and Moisture
Water can damage your laminate planks if it is left to sit on the floor for too long. It seeps under the floor and makes it swell, which pushes the laminate plank up next to it. Therefore, clean immediately when spills occur.
No Moisture Barrier
It can also happen when you do not install underlayment while installing laminate planks over a concrete subfloor. The concrete surface gives off moisture over time, damaging the laminate planks.
Inappropriate Cleaning Methods
You should not clean laminate flooring with a lot of water or a steam mop. Water can seep under the planks leading to water damaging the boards.
Inadequate Expansion Gaps
Laminate floor planks tend to expand in warmer weather and contract in colder weather. Therefore, it is important to leave some gaps between the planks while installing the laminate planks to accommodate these changes.
Failure to leave expansion gaps will result in buckling when the planks expand against each other in hot weather.
Another If the baseboards are screwed to the floor instead of the wall, it doesn’t allow the floor to expand, and the expanding edges do not have any space, so they buckle.
Failure to Acclimatise Flooring
You have to acclimate laminate flooring like you acclimatize vinyl and hardwood flooring. Acclimatizing the laminate floor boards allows them to adjust to the moisture and temperature of your living room floor.
To acclimatize your laminate planks, lay the flooring flat on the floor in its packaging for 48-72 hours in the room where you want to install laminate floors.
Wrong Type of Flooring
There are different types of laminate floors, and not all are suitable for all places. You should consider installing vinyl flooring in moisture-prone areas. The wrong type of flooring, especially the one susceptible to water damage, can worsen the buckling situation.
How to Fix Buckling in Laminate Floors?
It is fairly easy to fix buckling in laminate floors. However, you may have to take different measures depending on the extent and nature of the damage. The solution may involve flattening some boards, replacing some, or installing an entirely new floor.
Take the following steps to fix buckling in laminate floors.
Determine the Cause of Buckling
First, you must find out which factor caused buckling to ensure it doesn’t occur in the future. Figure out if it is due to water damage or inadequate expansion gap. If it is caused by water damage due to leakage from appliances or pipes, make sure you fix that before repairing your floor.
If it happens due to a concrete subfloor, install a proper moisture barrier to protect the laminate planks from any moisture seeping through the concrete.
If it is due to insufficient expansion, ensure you do it right when reinstalling the new floor.
Fixing Minor Edge Curling
High humidity and poor cleaning practices can cause minor buckling. In this case, the boards may return to their normal shape once they dry out. You can ensure they return to their normal shape and speed up the process by putting some weight on the curled boards to flatten them.
Replace the Affected Planks With New Ones
Quite often, you will need to replace the misshapen boards. There are two methods to replace buckled laminate floors.
If a small portion of your laminate floor is affected, remove that part in the following steps:
- Remove the molding from the nearest wall from the part of the floor you want to replace.
- Remove each plank from the groove of the adjacent laminate plank to take out the plank one by one until you reach the affected laminate planks.
- Discard the damaged laminate planks and replace them with new planks. Then proceed to the molding while locking the planks together. Take special care to ensure an adequate expansion gap to prevent buckled plank.
- Tap the floorboards with a rubber hammer or a wood block to ensure all the planks are firmly set in their places.
- Put the molding back in its place.
Another way to fix buckled laminate floor is you simply saw off the affected area lengthwise with the help of a circular saw and tape. Then you can replace the new planks on the floor.
This method is more effective when the damage is confined to a few boards. Also, you must ensure the subfloor is dry so the new laminate plank does not buckle again.
However, if you haven’t had any experience with laminate floors, it will be better if you get it done by a professional.
Keep an Expansion Gap
An inadequate expansion gap is the second major cause of buckling. If your laminate floor has buckled due to a lack of an expansion gap, you will have to remove the molding first. Then, you can create the gap using spacers and cutting out part of the boards near the walls. The minimum recommended size for an expansion gap is ¼ inch. Also, note that the expansion gaps are not too big either.
How to Prevent Laminate Floor Buckling?
Laminate floors cannot be sanded, unlike hardwood flooring, nor does it return to its original state when dried in the case of water damage. However, you can take special precautions to prevent your floor from buckling in the future.
Prevent Water Damage
Water can come from above in the form of standing water or humidity, or from below, in the form of seepage from the subfloor. There can be several different ways to prevent water damage. For example, if your dishwasher leaks water, fixing or replacing the dishwasher will fix this problem. Other reasons why there could be water damage to your flooring are as follows:
- Installing an underlayment on a cement subfloor provides a moisture barrier to your floating floor. If you don’t install underlayment, water can seep into the laminate flooring from the cement below when there is no moisture barrier.
- If you want to install laminate flooring in a basement, check if any water leaks from the floor or the walls. Fix this problem before installing a new laminate floor. If there is too much moisture, you should consider installing vinyl flooring.
- If you are installing laminate flooring boards in areas that are moisture prone such as bathrooms, kitchens, or bathrooms, make sure you add water-resistant glue to the locking system while installing the laminate floors. This will prevent water from going under the floor, which causes buckling. You can also use rugs and mats to help protect the floor.
Once you have fixed leakages and spills, switch on the dehumidifiers in your space. You should note that dehumidifying the affected area can resolve minor issues.
Installing a central air system or ventilating the area offers a long-term solution and prevents recurring problems.
Install the Right Flooring
Laminate boards may be more water-resistant than hardwood, but it is by no means waterproof. Installing a laminate floor in a space where leakages and spills are more likely, will drastically increase the risk of buckling.
Choosing waterproof options with more chances of spills and leakages can prevent buckling in the floor. You can obtain high-quality vinyl flooring, which will not only keep your floor from getting damaged but also enhance the aesthetic quality of your shower room, kitchen and mudroom.
You may have to use a polyurethane laminate floor sealant for the entire floor to make your floor water-resistant. However, you should note that using a polyurethane sealant can void your warranty. Read the manufacturer’s instructions related to this to proceed with this sealant.
Restrict Movement and Floatation
As laminate flooring is a floating floor system, moisture and changing temperature can affect the performance of your flooring. It is crucial to leave sufficient expansion gaps. Below are a few things you should consider to ensure your floor has optimum space to expand or contract.
- You should leave a small gap between the laminate flooring and the wall base. Make sure it is not pinching the laminate flooring.
- Keep a proper expansion gap between the laminate floorboards, walls, and other obstacles across the room.
- Install felt pads under the heavy furniture or re-position them to evenly distribute the weight on the floor.
- Keep the expansion gap around the room’s perimeter and the molding transitions.
- Make sure you add dilatation if the flooring is installed under cabinets, or simply remove the laminate under the cabinets and leave an expansion gap around them.