Laminate floors are strong and durable, but sometimes the boards develop bubbles due to exposure to moisture. So, how to fix bubbles on laminate floors?
You can fix bubbles on laminate floors by popping them and then applying wood glue (or wax) over the spots. Or, by replacing the boards with new ones.
After you pop the bubbles, the trapped moisture and air will escape. This leaves a scar behind, but wood glue will cover the scar. Replacing the boards also works for extreme cases of floor bubbling.
Why Does it Happen?
Laminate bubbling is when some parts of your floor raise to the seams or top layer. The bubbling is more common at the edges of the planks; moisture is the most common reason for this bubbling appearance.
If the boards 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 the boards 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 them to bubble up.
If the floor is bubbling because of bleach, the swollen parts 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 swell. That’s because they 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 underneath them and cause bubbles.
3. Wet and Uneven Subfloor
The subfloor (or base) must be dry and waterproof before installing the planks. If the subfloor is wet or uneven, the planks will get exposed to water and start to bubble.
They Can Disappear Over Time
If the laminate bubbling is caused by water, it 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 boards. The only way to make those spots disappear 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 Helps
Drying the water under the boards will remove the bubbles on the floor, but not immediately. It will take a few days until they flatten and disappear. However, this only works if the bubbles (or swelling) are caused by a wet subfloor or water. If they are caused by a different reason, drying the water won’t work.
If you dry the water under the planks, but they are still exposed to constant water, the bubbles will re-appear. So, 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 their cause and how badly the planks have been damaged.
Method 1: By Popping Them
You can fix bubbling floors by popping them.
Here’s how to do it:
- Place a cloth or rag over the affected spots.
- Puncture the bubble by using a putty knife or something sharp.
- Remove the water from the floor using a clean rag.
- Fill the affected spots with wood glue and smoothen them with a putty knife.
- Once the wood glue is dry, polish or wax the boards
- 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 is to remove the damaged (or affected) 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. Also, it allows you to inspect the subfloor and the baseboard around the floor to know what the problem is and how to solve and avoid it later.
Here is a guide for this method:
- Inspect the floor to spot the damaged planks.
- Use a laminate pull bar to lift and remove the damaged planks.
- Check the subfloor and repair patches.
- Leave the subfloor to dry completely.
- Install a waterproof underlay on the floor to prevent water damage.
- Apply little glue to the bottom of the planks.
- Lay the planks on the waterproof underlay. Ensure to leave enough gaps for acclimation.
- 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 floor. 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:
- Remove the baseboards and trims on the bottom walls.
- Use a power saw to trim the edges of the floor to remove the long parts.
- This will create a gap between the planks and the wall.
- Use a rubber mallet to tap the planks to the floors.
- 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. 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 them.
However, if the laminate planks have discolored, wrinkled, or rotten, you must replace them. This is because they have been damaged and need replacement.
To know if you need to replace them 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 them to dry.
If the boards are weak and rotten, you must replace them because they s aren’t strong enough to be on a floor. Leaving damaged boards on your floor can cause gouges.
Preventing Bubbles On Laminate Flooring
Here are expert tips to help you prevent bubbles from reappearing:
- Use waterproof covering like floor mats and carpets.
- Do not install the planks in high moisture areas like bathrooms.
- Always install a waterproof protective underlayment.
- Leave enough acclimation gap between the planks and the walls while laying the floor.
- Apply laminate glue while installing the planks to prevent water from seeping between or underneath them.
- Wipe and clean water spills immediately after they occur.
- Use a protective sealant to make it waterproof.
Bubbles on laminate floors are caused by water damage, spills, or using the wrong floor cleaner. You can often remove them by drying out the water under the planks. However, if the water has damaged the planks, you must replace them with new ones.
To prevent the bubbles from reappearing, install a waterproof subfloor, use a waterproof carpet, and seal the floors with polyurethane.