How To Fix Buckling Laminate Floors? (3 Methods)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

Laminate is a floating floor known for its durability and strength. However, some laminate floors start to buckle. Why does this happen, and how to fix it?

The main reason for buckling laminate planks is moisture. If the planks are exposed to moisture, the water will seep into the floor and cause the planks to become water-logged (or swollen), creating a buckled appearance.

Laminate planks can become buckled due to improper subfloor preparation. If the floor isn’t flattened (even) properly before the planks are installed, the floor will appear buckled and uneven.

To fix a buckled laminate floor, place a heavy item over them until the planks are even. Or, remove and replace the affected planks with new ones.

What Causes Laminate Flooring To Buckle?

What Causes Laminate Buckling and Lifting?

Water is the main reason why laminate flooring starts to buckle. When the floor is exposed to constant moisture, the water will get underneath the floor and cause the fiberboard to lift. This causes the planks to crash into each other and curl upwards.

Here are some other reasons why this happens:

1. Improper Preparation of The Subfloor

The subfloor or base is the foundation of the floor. If the subfloor is uneven or isn’t flattened properly, the planks will become raised, creating a buckled appearance.

2. No Gap for Acclimation

After installing laminate, the floor goes through a process known as acclimation. This is when the planks expand and contract to fit properly on the floor. To aid this process, you must leave small gaps between the planks to give them space to move during acclimation.

However, if you don’t leave gaps between the planks, the planks will clash and press against each other during the acclimation process. These clashes will cause the floor to look swollen.

Can a Buckling Laminate Floor Fix Itself?

A buckled laminate floor can fix itself only if it was caused by moisture or water. In this case, the swollen spot on the plank will disappear after the water evaporates.

However, if the laminate planks are buckling because of improper surface prep or floor application, the problem won’t fix itself.

Also, if the planks are exposed to water spills or a leak, the buckling won’t fix itself. That’s because the floors will be exposed to constant water from the leak (or spill), and water won’t evaporate.

Use a hairdryer to fix a buckling floor caused by water. The hairdryer will speed up the evaporation rate of the water underneath the planks, causing the moisture to disappear faster. However, this only works if the floors are damaged by water (and aren’t exposed to water anymore). A hairdryer won’t do much if the floors are still exposed to water.

Can You Repair Buckling Laminate Flooring Without Replacing?

You can repair buckling laminate planks without replacing them only if the planks are still in good condition. Or, if laminate flooring buckling is caused by a water spill. In this case, place a heavy item over the planks for a few hours to press them back into place.

However, if the planks were exposed to water for a long period and the water penetrated the planks, you must replace them. That’s because the planks are damaged, swollen, and soft and will take forever to dry. You can wait until the planks dry to see their condition, but most of the time, they will be unusable.

Also, if the planks are cracked or stained, you must replace them. If the planks have dark spots or look discolored, water has damaged the planks severely, and they are unusable.

How To Fix Buckling Laminate Floor?

Fixing a buckled laminate flooring is easy; here are three methods to do it:

  1. Place a large or heavy team over the plank to press them back into place.
  2. Allow the planks to dry.
  3. Remove and replace the planks.

Method 1: Placing a Large Object

Placing a Large Object on The Buckled Floor

Place a large or heavy object, such as a bookshelf, over the buckled planks to press them back into place. This works for light swells on the floor.

Don’t use this method if the floors are affected by moisture because placing a heavy object over damp planks will prevent them from drying.

Method 2: Allow The Planks To Dry

Leaving The Buckled Laminate Floor To Dry Up

If the floors are affected by moisture, leave them to dry or increase the evaporation rate by exposing the planks to heat. To increase the evaporation rate of moisture (or water), use a hairdryer or place a heater near the planks. The increased heat will cause the moisture to evaporate two times faster.

Don’t use this method if the buckling laminate floor is caused by improper subfloor prep or plank application.

3. By Removing and Replacing Planks

By Removing and Replacing The Buckled Laminate Floor

If nothing works, remove the planks, fix the issue, and install new planks. You must use this method if the buckling planks won’t fix or if they are damaged, discolored, or soft.

Here is a guide for this:

  1. Inspect the floor to spot the damaged planks.
  2. Remove the baseboards and trims around the damaged planks.
  3. Use a laminate floor pull bar to lift and remove the damaged planks.
  4. Inspect and fix the problem that caused the floors to buckle.
  5. If the subfloor is wet, allow it to get dry.
  6. Install a waterproof plastic sheet on the subfloor (if the subfloor isn’t already waterproof).
  7. Install the laminate planks.
  8. Leave enough gaps on the floor to allow the planks to acclimate.
  9. Wait 24 hours before you re-use the floor.

How To Prevent a Laminate Floor From Buckling?

To prevent a laminate floor from buckling, do the following. 

  1. Use waterproof mats on the floors, especially in the areas where the floor will be exposed to constant water.
  2. Ensure the subfloor is dry before installing the planks.
  3. Use a waterproof underlayment before installing planks to prevent water from the subfloor from affecting the floor.
  4. Always leave gaps for laminate acclimation.
  5. Wipe water spills from the floor immediately after they occur.
  6. Always wait 3-5 days before placing heavy furniture over the planks.
  7. Don’t place items heavier than 350 pounds per square inch over laminate.

Final Words

A buckling laminate floor can be fixed by pressing the planks back in place, increasing the evaporation rate of the moisture, or by removing and replacing the planks. The fix you use depends on the cause of the buckling floors and the condition of the planks.

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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