Does Vinyl Flooring Expand and Contract?

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does vinyl flooring expand and contract

Vinyl flooring is a low-cost, easy to install option for people who want new flooring for their home

Vinyl is a relatively durable option that is perfect for people with families or pets. It can withstand quite a bit of abuse over many years and is easy to replace. 

However, one of the issues with vinyl flooring is that it can expand and contract. 

When this happens, you can end up with issues like buckling, swelling, and lifting. Knowing how this happens can help you avoid it with your own vinyl flooring. 

In this article, we will lay out some of the reasons vinyl flooring expands and contracts. This can help you prepare your home and make sure your flooring is secure. 

Why Vinyl Flooring Expands and Contracts: Basic Idea

There are quite a few reasons that your vinyl flooring might expand or contract. These include: 

  • Hot sun
  • Scraping objects
  • Humidity 
  • Poor fitting

By understanding these reasons, you can avoid them and keep your vinyl flooring looking new. 

What is Vinyl Flooring?

what is vinyl flooring

Vinyl flooring is a flooring type that is similar to laminate or hardwood floor. However, instead of wood or pressed particle board, it is made from semi-flexible vinyl. 

Since it is made from less expensive materials, vinyl flooring is much more affordable. This makes it a great choice for people who have children or large families. 

It is also available in many different colors and textures so you can match it with your home. 

However, because of its chemical makeup, it is very susceptible to warping and expanding. This can cause issues with the floor and affect the structural integrity. 


One of the most common reasons that vinyl flooring will expand or contract is sunlight.

When lots of light hits your vinyl flooring, it can get heated up very quickly. This causes parts of the floor to soften and shift. 

This is especially true if you are getting direct sunlight in the same places over a long period of time. 

When light is hitting the same area, it will gradually wear it down and cause it to contract. This can make the snapping mechanism that holds the planks together come apart. 

Moving Heavy Objects

Another one of the prominent reasons that vinyl flooring will expand or contract is the movement of heavy objects. 

When you move furniture or appliances, this can also move individual planks. The planks then get small gaps that cause the floor to shift as a whole. 

To prevent this from happening, be careful about how you move heavy objects. 

Always pick up furniture all the way up off the floor if you are going to move it. This will not only prevent the planks from shifting, it will also keep scratches from happening


If you live in an area that gets a lot of heat and humidity, this can cause your vinyl flooring to shift. 

Vinyl will take on moisture and will expand accordingly when it gets into the pores of the material. This can cause swelling and shifting of the planks. 

The same goes for areas that are very dry. Dryness can cause the vinyl to get brittle and contract. 

If you want to avoid this, the best way is to acclimate your vinyl flooring before installing it. Leaving the planks in the room for 48 hours will allow them to settle and keep them from changing size.

Improper Fitting 

If your vinyl flooring was not properly installed, it could end up expanding or contracting. 

You need to have at least ¼” of space around the perimeter of the room between the vinyl and wall. This will allow the flooring to shift naturally with use without causing disruptions. 

Make sure that you hire a licensed flooring expert to install your vinyl flooring. They will be able to come up with the best solution to keep your flooring from expanding or contracting.

Frequently Asked Questions

faq does vinyl flooring expand and contract

  • What are the problems with vinyl plank flooring?

Some of the most common problems with vinyl plank flooring are shifting and scratching. 

Because it is a relatively pliable material, it is susceptible to movement. It can also fade over time if it is exposed to sunlight. 

  • What flooring expands and contracts the least?

High-quality hardwood flooring will expand and contract less than any other material. 

Any time moisture can get into your flooring, it will expand. The harder the material is, the less likely it is that this will happen. 

  • Can mold grow under vinyl plank flooring?

If you don’t have a tight fit and an underlayment beneath your vinyl flooring, moisture can collect. 

Whenever moisture can sit somewhere for a long time, mold can grow. This causes rot, deterioration and more issues. 


Even though vinyl flooring is susceptible to expanding and contracting, it is a good material to use. 

If you take the time to protect your flooring, it should last you for many years. By understanding some of the common issues, you can prep your home and keep it safe. 

Photo of author


Michael J. O’Connor is a writer and marketing specialist from the Bay Area of California. A graduate of Sonoma State’s Creative Writing program, he spent many years as a contractor and carpet layer, learning the ins and outs of flooring and general contracting. When he’s not typing away at his desk, he enjoys hiking with his dogs, woodworking and collecting rare books. See full biography here.

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