How to Fix Bubbles on Laminate Floors? (3 Methods)

Laminate floors are strong and durable, but sometimes the planks develop bubbles due to exposure to moisture. So, how to fix bubbles on laminate floors?

You can fix bubbles on laminate floors by popping the bubbles and then applying wood glue (or wax) over the spots. Or, by replacing the laminate planks with new ones. 

After you pop the bubbles, the trapped moisture and air in the laminate planks will escape. This leaves a scar behind, but wood glue will cover the scar. Replacing laminate planks works for extreme cases of floor bubbling. 

3 Reasons Why Laminate Flooring is Bubbling

Laminate bubbling is when some parts of your laminate floor raise to the seams or top layer of the laminate flooring. The bubbling is more common at the edges of the laminate planks; moisture is the most common reason for this bubbling appearance.

If the laminate planks are exposed to constant moisture, the moisture (water) will seep into the planks and cause the fiberwood to swell or pop up. The fiberboard will become waterlogged and swollen, creating a soft and bubbling appearance. This usually happens in high moisture areas (rooms) such as bathroom and laundry room,

However, moisture isn’t the only reason laminate floors will bubble. Here are some other reasons: 

1. Using The Wrong Floor Cleaner

If you use the wrong cleaning solvent, the planks will swell and bubble up. Some cleaning agents contain bleach that can cause the laminate planks to bubble up.

If the laminate floor is bubbling because of bleach, the swollen (bubbled) parts of the planks will appear darker or discolored. 

2. No Acclimation Gap

If you don’t leave enough time for laminate floors to acclimate, the planks will start to bubble and swell. That’s because the planks will crash against each other (or walls) while expanding; this crash can cause the planks to crack or split several times. Laminate planks’ split (or cracking) will make it easier for air and moisture (or water) to get into the planks and cause laminate bubbles.

3. Wet and Uneven Subfloor

The subfloor (or base) must be dry and waterproof before installing laminate planks. If the subfloor is wet or uneven, the laminate planks will get exposed to water and start to bubble.

Bubbles on Laminate Floors Can Disappear Over Time

If the laminate bubbling is caused by water, the bubbles might disappear over time. Once the water dries (or evaporates), the bubbles will lessen or become flat. That’s because once the water evaporates, the wood becomes dry. 

However, even if the bubbles disappear, they will leave a soft and wrinkled spot over the laminate planks. The only way to make the bubbles disappear from the laminate floors is to use wood glue or wax to cover the spots. 

If laminate bubbles are caused by other factors, such as improper prep or lack of acclimation gap, the bubbles won’t disappear over time. That’s because you haven’t fixed the cause of the problem. 

Drying The Water Under Laminate Planks Helps

Drying the water under the laminate floors will remove the bubbles on the floor, but not immediately. It will take a few days until the bubbles flatten and disappear. However, this only works if the bubbles (or swelling) are caused by a wet subfloor or water. If the bubbles are caused by a different reason, drying the water won’t work. 

If you dry the water under the laminate planks, but the planks are still exposed to constant water, the bubbles will re-appear. The only way to fix laminate floor bubbles is to find and repair the cause of the problem. 

How To Fix Bubbles on Laminate Flooring?

There are different ways to fix bubbles on a laminate floor. The method you’ll use depends on the cause of the bubbles and how badly the laminate planks have been damaged.

Method 1: By Popping The Bubbles

You can fix bubbling laminate floors by popping the bubbles. 

Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Place a cloth or rag over the bubbled surface. 
  2. Puncture the bubble by using a putty knife or something sharp. 
  3. Remove the water from the laminate floors using a clean rag. 
  4. Fill the affected spots with wood glue and smoothen them with a putty knife. 
  5. Once the wood glue is dry, polish or wax the laminate floors. 
  6. After the wax is dry, place a bookshelf (or something heavy) over the affected spot to flatten it. 

Method 2: By Removing and Replacing The Floor

Another way to fix bubbles on laminate planks is to remove the damaged (or affected) laminate planks and replace them with new planks from the same set. 

This method is time-consuming and difficult, but it’s the best laminate bubble repair method; it works to fix all cases of bubbles. Also, it allows you to inspect the subfloor and the baseboard around the laminate floor to know what the problem is and how to solve and avoid it later.

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Inspect the floor to spot the damaged planks.
  2. Use a laminate pull bar to lift and remove the damaged planks.
  3. Check the subfloor and repair patches.
  4. Leave the subfloor to dry completely.
  5. Install a waterproof underlay on the floor to prevent water damage.
  6. Apply little glue to the bottom of the laminate planks.
  7. Lay the laminate planks on the waterproof underlay. Ensure to leave enough gaps for acclimation of the laminate planks.
  8. Tap the planks repeatedly with a rubber mallet, so they stay strong on the subfloor.

Method 3: By Creating Expansion Gaps

If the bubbling is caused by a lack of expansion gap on the floor, you can fix it by creating more space for the planks to acclimate.

First, inspect the laminate floors. If the planks are pushing hard against the wall or door frame, they don’t have enough space to acclimate. So, you need to create an expansion gap.

To create an expansion gap for laminate floors:

  1. Remove the baseboards and trims on the bottom walls.
  2. Use a power saw to trim the edges of the laminate floor to remove the long parts.
  3. This will create a gap between the planks and the wall. 
  4. Use a rubber mallet to tap the planks to the floors. 
  5. Leave the floor for a few days to expand (acclimate), then re-install the baseboard trims. 

Replacing Laminate Planks is Optional

If the laminate planks are still in good condition, you don’t have to replace them after repairing bubbles on the floor. If the planks are swollen or damp, you must let them dry for a few days before re-installing. So, in this case, you don’t need to replace the laminate planks. 

However, if the laminate planks have discolored, wrinkled, or rotten, you must replace the laminate planks to fix the bubbles on the planks. This is because the laminate planks have been damaged and need replacement. 

To know if you need to replace your laminate planks or not, inspect the floor. If the planks are hard and strong, you don’t need to replace them. You just need to fix the cause of the bubbles and leave the planks to dry. 

If the laminate floors are weak and rotten, you must replace them because the planks aren’t strong enough to be on a floor. Leaving damaged laminate planks on your floor can cause gouges on the floor.

Preventing Bubbles On Laminate Flooring

Here are expert tips to help you prevent bubbles on your laminate floor:

  1. Use waterproof covering like floor mats and carpets on the laminate floor.
  2. Do not install laminate planks in high moisture areas like bathrooms.
  3. Always install a waterproof protective underlayment before laying the laminate planks.
  4. Leave enough acclimation gap between the laminate planks and the walls while laying the floor.
  5. Apply laminate glue while installing the planks to prevent water from seeping between or underneath the laminate planks.
  6. Wipe and clean water spills immediately after they occur.
  7. Use a protective sealant on the laminate flooring to make it waterproof.

Final Words

Bubbles on laminate floors are caused by water damage, spills, or using the wrong floor cleaner. You can often remove bubbles on laminate floors by drying out the water under the planks. However, if the water (or bubbles) have damaged the laminate floors, you must replace the planks with new ones.

To prevent the bubbles from reappearing, install a waterproof subfloor, use a waterproof carpet, and seal the laminate floors with polyurethane.

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