Laminate flooring is an attractive, relatively inexpensive alternative to hardwood. However, it is not quite as durable or resistant to damage.
Because of this, laminate is sometimes subject to swelling and moving around as it ages.
This has many different causes, but the important thing is to not panic if it happens. Since it is more pliable and less expensive, laminate can be fixed fairly easily.
Repairing Swollen Laminate Flooring: Basic Idea
There are a few ways to fix swollen laminate flooring, depending on what the cause is. These techniques include:
- Creating a hole to let air out
- Drying the laminate
- Flattening the swelling with a weighted roller
- Replacing the damaged planks
Why Does Laminate Flooring Swell?
One of the most common reasons that laminate starts to swell and lift is temperature change.
Laminate flooring should be installed with small gaps in between the individual pieces. If the installer doesn’t leave room, the flooring expands naturally and doesn’t have anywhere to go.
This can lead to the laminate lifting up off the floor and creating swelling.
The other very common cause of swelling is moisture.
The laminate will start to absorb the water and this causes swelling and bubbling in the floor.
Poke a Hole in the Swelling
When moisture or heat starts to create swelling in laminate flooring, it will sometimes transfer to air.
This expansion of air can cause bubbles where it is trapped underneath the floor. They may be small and barely noticeable or they might be quite large.
If you can move the bubble around with your finger, this is a good indicator that air is causing the issue.
If this is the case, you can simply take an X-Acto knife and cut a very small hole in the bubble. Then, you can push the air out gently and the bubble should go down.
Dry the Laminate
Sometimes laminate flooring swells because it has absorbed moisture from the atmosphere or the floor itself.
If you have determined that this is the cause, first you will want to eliminate the source of water. Check your home’s plumbing and make sure that there aren’t any leaks that are making their way under the laminate.
If the excess moisture is due to humidity in the atmosphere, consider a dehumidifier. Try to maintain a relative humidity of around 45% in the room.
To dry a piece of laminate that has swollen from moisture, you can usually use a hair dryer.
Run the hair dryer along the swollen flooring until you start to see it contract. Then, use a roller or straight edge to flatten it out.
If the piece of laminate starts to swell even more while drying it, you will need to replace it.
Flatten With a Roller
Sometimes, laminate flooring will expand and start to buckle if there is not adequate expansion or contraction gaps.
These small gaps should be left around the perimeter of the floor where the flooring meets the moulding. They should be between ¼” and ½” to allow the floor to move naturally.
If you start to see your flooring buckle, you may need to cut these gaps.
After cutting the gaps, you can flatten the buckles with a 100lb roller. These are available at any hardware store and will give you smooth, even pressure.
As long as these gaps remain, your laminate flooring should have plenty of space to expand and stay flat.
Replace the Planks
If your laminate flooring has been damaged badly by water or swelling, you will have to replace the planks.
Luckily, most laminate flooring has a tongue and groove latching system. This makes it easy to remove one piece and replace it.
When you are initially installing a laminate floor, it is always a good idea to store some planks away. This will give you some extras in case something gets damaged.
- Will mold grow under laminate flooring?
Mold will grow under laminate flooring if water is left to stand on the surface or leaks under.
Be sure to clean up any liquid that spills on the flooring and eliminate any plumbing leaks. Even with a moisture barrier, black mold can grow, which is unhealthy and unsightly.
- Can I make my laminate floor waterproof?
A polyurethane top coat can help mitigate water damage on laminate if spills or leaks occur.
While a top coat will not completely fill in any gaps or cracks, it can help protect the flooring itself. It can also help protect the floor from damage like gouges and scratches.
- Can you mop laminate flooring?
You can absolutely mop laminate flooring, but it is important to not use too much water.
Use just enough water to get the surface of the laminate clean. Do not lay down buckets of water as this will get in through the gaps and cause damage or mold.
Laminate flooring may not be as sturdy or damage-proof as hardwood floors, but it is fairly durable. Unlike hardwood flooring, it is also fairly inexpensive and easy to replace.
However, as long as you take precautions and maintain it properly, your laminate floor can last a long time.