How to Fix Laminate Flooring Buckling

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How to Fix Laminate Flooring Buckling

Laminate flooring is an engineered floor material made to last for decades. However, it’s prone to expansion and contraction as a result of temperature and humidity changes. Buckling is the resultant problem that appears on your floor due to expansion and contraction, but how do you fix laminate flooring buckling?

Humidity and temperature changes do cause Laminate floor bubbling, separating, lifting, and buckling. Fluctuating temperature and humidity levels make the click loose making the laminate feel soft and spongy. To fix warping or buckling laminate floor, remove the mold or baseboard near the buckled plank, remove the spacers and fit with smaller ones, trim to give expansion space, nail the baseboards and put some weight on the repaired plank to weigh it down for at least a day.

What Causes Laminate Buckling and Lifting?

Laminate floor buckling, separating, spongy feel, and lifting can be caused by the following:

How to Fix Laminate Flooring Buckling

Moisture and temperature changes

If flooding occurs or accidental water leaks that end up flooding your floor, it mas cause laminate warping and buckling. Besides, it may cause some sub-floor problems for a longer period of time until it completely dries out.

On the other hand, temperature and moisture may cause humidity variation in your house, leading to laminate floorboards expanding. In such cases, your laminate floorboards may separate, warp, buckle or lift.

Improper installation

Often improper installation means during installation laminate expansion and contraction space left is inadequate or wasn’t left. Humidity, therefore, will force the laminate board to expand, pressing against the wall and each other board, and as a result, buckle, lift-up, or warp. In some cases, it may lead to bubbling on your floor or even swollen laminate flooring boards.

Expansion of the boards

Humidity can make your laminate floorboards expand and contract or shrink. Changes in humidity levels can make the board de-laminate or separate, lift, and buckle.

Subfloor imperfections and problems 

In case the sub-floor has imperfections like the uneven surface, it may cause the laminate floor to lift. An inadequate moisture barrier or poor laminate underlayment may also lead to moisture accumulation that may make the laminate buckle, separate, and lift a laminate floor.

How do you fix a buckling laminate floor?

Buckling or warping laminate floor is as a result of water damage. Water affects laminate boards in many ways, and it’s advisable to avoid wet mopping your floor. Excessive water or high moisture content will make your floor buckle or warp. In case you have already buckled, warping, lifting, and separating the floor, here are steps to fix it.

Identify the source of water

You first need to check and identify the source of the water problem; humidity and moisture. Identify the source of the problem is halfway solving it. In case the source of water moisture if flooding, or leakages then they will need to be addressed

Check the expansion gap

At times, the buckling, warping, lifting, separating, and spongy feel maybe be due to lack of or inadequate expansion and contraction or shrinkage gap. Generally, the temperature and humidity changes make the laminate flooring boards expand and shrink. However, if the laminate floor installer didn’t leave enough gap to allow expansion and shrinkage, buckling and warping will occur.

There is a need to check the gap left to avoid the later occurrence of the same problem. The installer needs to leave a gap of 8-10 mm and install expansion joints on your laminate floor. These expansion gaps can be left on door frames, water pipes near walls, and panels. For bigger rooms, you can put expansion joints in the middle of the room

Fix the warping or buckling cause/issue

Once you have fully addressed the laminate warping causes, remove the floor moulding or the laminate baseboards to get rid of pressure on the laminate flooring plank. If the cause was an inadequate expansion joint, trim your laminate board to leave enough gap for expansion and shrinking.

However, if the cause was poor installation method, you may be forced to hire a flooring profession to redo your floor and get rid of spongy feel, laminate lifting up, or even buckling. Consider appropriate underlayment for laminate floors. In extreme cases where the water has caused mold and mildew, ensure it’s fixed to get rid of the musty smell on your floor.

The sub-floor damage should also be checked to avoid spongy feel and squeak sounds as you walk on it. Sub-floor damage may also leave the permanent problem of the laminate floor moving up and down. Where the laminate board or plank wasn’t damaged, you can fix the problem and return the board into its original place. If the boards are still lifting up or buckling, add some weight on top to put pressure top and let it settle down as it dries up.

Replace the damaged board

At times the laminate board will be damaged beyond repair; consider getting a new one for the space left. Trim it appropriately to leave enough space for shrinkage and expansion. Get the same color shade to avoid having different shades on your flooring. Return and nail the mold back to its original area. You can then caulk the gap between the baseboard and laminate floor.

What to do if laminate floor is lifting?

The main causes of laminate floor lifting are changes in temperature and moisture content in your house. Also, poor installation and inadequate expansion gaps may make a laminate lift. To get rid of laminate lifting, ensure you have adequate floor expansion gap, check and regulate humidity levels in your house, and address sub-floor imperfections.

To fix laminate floor lifting, use a chisel and hammer to remove the moulding or the laminate baseboards to remove the laminate plank’s pressure. Measure the laminate expansion and contraction gap and trim accordingly before putting back the board. Add or put some weight on top of the repaired board to weigh it down for about 24-48 hours to help the lifting settle.

Why does my laminate floor feels spongy?

Sub-floor imperfections like uneven sub-floor surface, poor laminate underlayment, or even improper underlayment, the poor installation method can make your laminate floor feel spongy. However, soft and spongy spots can be fixed using a syringe and air inflation needle-like inflating balls.

Is it normal for laminate floor to move?

The laminate floor moves up and down since its mostly installed as a floating floor. Sometime the laminate may move due to boards separating or gapping. Gapping does occur when boards pull away from one another, leaving gaps between the floorboards. This happens when the temperature goes beyond the normal (60°-80°). To fix and prevent this, it’s important to acclimatize your laminate floor. This will help maintain the room temperature and conditions, especially during installation.

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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

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