How to Fix Laminate Flooring That is Lifting

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how to fix laminate flooring that is lifting

Laminate flooring is a great alternative to traditional hardwood that is both attractive and affordable. 

Its tongue and groove fastening mechanism makes it easy to install and easy to finish. However, because of this fastening, it also has a tendency to lift up and will not be as secure. 

There are many reasons why laminate flooring might lift up off the ground. Understanding why this happens and what you can do to fix it can prepare you in case it happens. 

In this article, we have laid out some of the ways you can fix laminate flooring that is lifting.

It is recommended that you try to find the cause of the lifting before attempting to fix it. This will prevent you from going through time-consuming fixes that won’t help the problem. 

Fixing Laminate Flooring: Basic Idea

There are a few different things you can do to fix a laminate floor that has lifted up off the ground. Each of these fixes corresponds to a specific issue, so it is best to understand what the problem is. 

  • Level the subfloor
  • Install underlayment
  • Put in an expansion gap
  • Re-lay the laminate

Why Laminate Floor Lifts

why laminate floor lifts

Laminate floor lifts up off the ground for a number of reasons. 

One of the most common reasons is that moisture has gotten trapped under the slats. Usually, you will notice this type of lifting after the floor has been laid for a while. 

When moisture gets trapped under a laminate floor, it causes it to swell. The flooring will then move and come out of the tongue and groove fastening mechanism. 

Laminate floor may also lift if the subfloor underneath isn’t perfectly level. If you have bumps or dips in your subfloor, the laminate may not settle correctly and will lift up. 

If your subfloor has errant finishing nails, you may also end up with lifted laminate. 

Laminate also needs an expansion gap between the floor and the moulding. This gap should be about ⅛” and is meant to allow the floor to expand. 

If you don’t have an expansion gap in your floor, this could be the cause of lifting. 

It is also entirely possible that you need to re-lay your floor to get it to fit properly. When laminate shifts and moves, it can lift up at the seams. 

Check for the cause of the lifting before moving onto the below solutions. 

Level Out the Subfloor

If your laminate is lifting due to an uneven wood or concrete subfloor, you will need to even it out. 

Remove the laminate slats and check the state of the subfloor underneath. Look for any nails or pieces of wood that may be sticking up. 

Remove any protrusions from the subfloor and check the angle of it using a level. If you notice any bumps or dips, you can use a grinder or sander to even it out. 

If your subfloor is solid hardwood, this task may be a little more complicated. 

Leveling hardwood requires the use of shims and extremely intricate sanding. If you aren’t sure how to do this kind of work, it may be best to call in a specialist. 

Install an Underlayment

install an underlayment

One of the more common reasons your laminate could be lifting is trapped moisture. 

The first thing you will want to do if you suspect this reason is to look for and fix any leaks. Water could be seeping up from your subfloor from pipes or seeping groundwater. 

The next thing you should do is remove the laminate and dry the room with fans and dehumidifiers. 

Once the floor and room is completely dry, install an underlayment between your subfloor and laminate. A vapor barrier is a perfect underlayment and will help keep water from coming up from the ground. 

After installing the underlayment, you can reinstall your laminate flooring slats. 

Check the slats for swelling before you re-lay them. If you find any swollen pieces, replace them with new slats. 

Make Room for an Expansion Gap

All laminate flooring must have an expansion gap along its perimeter to allow the flooring to expand. 

No matter how well you acclimate laminate, it is going to expand and contract. It will also move around from being walked on. 

If you don’t leave this gap around the edges, you will start to see lifting. This happens because the tongue and groove fastening starts to come apart. 

You will have to remove the laminate and recut the edge pieces to leave room for this gap. 

The expansion gap should be around ⅛” or just about enough the width of a quarter. Once the laminate is cut with this gap, it can be reinstalled. 

Re-lay the Floor

If your flooring has swollen or become too damaged, you may need to completely replace it. This will usually be the result of too much moisture having been trapped in the laminate. 

Laminate is particle board sandwiched between veneer. It is very prone to swelling and traps water easily. 

It is recommended that you use an underlayment and a sealing topcoat with laminate. This will prevent moisture from getting into the particle board and causing it to swell. 

Frequently Asked Questions

faq how to fix laminate flooring that is lifting

  • Is it normal for a laminate floor to bounce?

A small amount of bounce in your laminate floors is normal. 

This is called deflection and isn’t a cause for concern. However, if the bounce is very pronounced, this could be from swelling. 

  • Why is my laminate flooring not clicking?

If the tongue and groove of your laminate isn’t locking together, this could be due to the subfloor.

An uneven subfloor will not allow laminate to secure. If you encounter this, you may need to level your subfloor. 

  • How long does it take for laminate flooring to settle?

Laminate should settle within 72 hours of being installed. 

After this timeframe, you should know whether or not your laminate is installed correctly. If you notice lifting, you may need to make some adjustments. 


Installing laminate flooring is relatively easy. As long as you make sure to take precautions to prevent swelling and lifting, you shouldn’t have any problems. 

Taking the time to do your installation correctly will ensure that your laminate will last a long time. 

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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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