How To Fix Buckling Laminate Floors? (3 Methods)

Laminate flooring is used in homes and offices due to its strength and durability. However, one common problem with laminate floors is buckling. Why does this happen?

The main reason for buckling in a laminate floor is moisture. When the laminate floor is exposed to moisture, the water will gradually begin to seep into the floor where it will cause the planks to become water-logged or swollen creating a buckled appearance.

Laminate floors can also become buckled due to improper preparation of the subfloor. If the subfloor wasn’t flattened properly before the laminate planks were installed, the floor will appear buckled and uneven after a few days.

There are two ways to fix buckling laminate flooring. The first method is to flatten the buckled plank by placing weight on it. And, the second method includes removing and replacing the buckled plank.

What Causes Laminate Buckling and Lifting?

What Causes Laminate Buckling and Lifting?

The main reason for buckling and lifting in laminate floors is water. When the laminate floor is exposed to high moisture content or water for extended periods, the water will begin to seep into and beneath the laminate planks.

The presence of water in the planks will cause the fiberboard to become water-logged and swollen. That causes the planks to crash into each other and curl upwards creating a buckling appearance.

You should also know that moisture can affect the laminate planks from above. For instance, if the laminate floor was installed in the bathroom, the planks will be exposed to water from splashes, cleaning, and so on.

Moisture can also affect the laminate floor from beneath the floor. For instance, if the laminate floor was installed on wet concrete or if there is a damaged pipe under the subfloor causing leaks. In both cases, the moisture can cause the laminate floor to buckle or lift from the surface.

Here are other common reasons for buckling laminate floor:

1. Improper Preparation of The Subfloor

This is another common cause of buckling in laminate floors. The subfloor or base is the foundation of the laminate floor. The subfloor is what the laminate planks sit on. If the subfloor or base of the laminate floor wasn’t flattened properly before the planks were installed, the planks will become raised due to the uneven subfloor creating the buckled appearance.

2. No Gap for Acclimation

Another cause for a buckling laminate floor is the lack of gap for acclimation during installation. After installing laminate planks, the floor goes through a process known as acclimation. This is when the laminate planks begin to expand and contract to fit properly on the floor.

To aid this process, DIYers are usually advised to leave small gaps while installing the planks to give space for movement of the laminate planks during acclimation.

If you didn’t leave this gap for movement, then the planks will clash and press against each other as they contract and expand. This clash can cause the laminate floor to buckle or swell.

3. Extreme Temperature Changes

If you live in areas where there are frequent, rapid, and extreme changes in temperature, the laminate planks can buckle or swell.

In this case, the rapid changes in extreme temperature can cause the laminate boards to shrink causing warps and bubbles on the floor. This will also create a buckled or bumpy appearance on the entire laminate floor.

So now that you know the causes of a buckling laminate floor, will the floor fix itself? Let’s take a closer look.

Will a Buckling Laminate Floor Fix Itself?

It’s very common for buckling laminate floor to fix itself but this only happens if the buckling was caused by moisture or water.

In this case, the swollen spots on the laminate planks will disappear after the water is evaporated. However, if the buckling laminate floor was caused by improper surface preparation, improper application, or temperature changes, the buckling laminate floor will not fix itself. In this case, you’ll have to fix the buckling laminate floor manually.

It’s not uncommon for buckling laminate floor to fix itself. In this case, the swelling in the floor is because the fiberboard core is waterlogged. When the water in there gets evaporated, the swelling or buckling will disappear and the laminate floor will become level.

However, if the buckling was caused by other reasons apart from a water spill or a leak, then the buckling will not disappear. This is because you have not addressed the cause of the buckling laminate floor.

Can You Repair Buckling Laminate Flooring Without Replacing?

You can repair buckling laminate floor without replacing only if the buckled laminate plank is still in good condition or if the cause of the buckling was a water spill.

In both cases, you can fix the buckling without removing and replacing the laminate floor. However, if the laminate floor has been damaged or is severely riddled with bumps, you’ll have to remove and replace the damaged laminate planks.

Let’s face it. Removing and replacing a buckled laminate floor isn’t the easiest of tasks. Doing this is usually time-consuming and difficult but luckily, you don’t always have to replace the buckled laminate floor.

If the buckled laminate floor is still in good condition, then you can fix the buckling by placing a weight or a heavy item like a bookshelf on the laminate plank for a few hours to press it back in place.

Also, if the buckling was caused by a water spill or any other minor cause, you can leave the affected plank to dry. When the buckled laminate plank gets dry, it will get level with the rest of the floor. In this case, you also don’t need to replace the laminate floor. You only need to let it dry.

But if the buckled laminate floor has been damaged, you’ll need to remove and replace the damaged plank. If you don’t replace the damaged plank, then it will disfigure the entire laminate floor.

Here are scenarios where you have to replace the laminate floor to fix buckling:

  1. If the buckling has affected several parts of the floor, you need to replace it
  2. If the buckling has made the laminate plank soft, you need to replace it
  3. If the laminate plank is turning black or starting to discolor, you need to replace the laminate plank.

Next, let’s find out how to fix buckling laminate floors easily.

How To Fix Buckling Laminate Floor?

There are three ways to fix buckling laminate floors. You can either place a large object on the buckled floor to press it back into place, leave the buckled floor to fix itself (or dry), or you can remove and replace the laminate floor. This guide will discuss the three methods, how they work, and when to use them.

Method 1: Placing a Large Object on The Buckled Floor

Placing a Large Object on The Buckled Floor

This fix involves putting a large object like a bookshelf on the buckled or swollen laminate floor to press it back into place. This works for light buckles or swells in the laminate floor.

You can also use this fix if the buckles in the laminate floor aren’t much on the floor. You shouldn’t use this method for a buckled laminate floor that was caused by moisture because placing a large object on the damp laminate plank will prevent it from drying up properly.

Method 2: Leaving The Buckled Laminate Floor To Dry Up

Leaving The Buckled Laminate Floor To Dry Up

Another fix for buckling laminate floors is to leave the floor to dry. You can also use a heating mechanism over the buckled floor to make it dry faster.

In this case, the swelling or buckle in the laminate floor will fix itself when the floor gets dry. This step only works for a buckled laminate floor that was caused by moisture or water.

You shouldn’t use this method if the buckled laminate floor was caused by improper subfloor preparation or bad laminate plank application.

3. By Removing and Replacing The Buckled Laminate Floor

By Removing and Replacing The Buckled Laminate Floor

This fix is usually a last resort and should only be used after exhausting all the other options to fix the floor.

If the buckled floor was caused by water or any other minor cause, you don’t have to use this method but if the laminate floor is damaged, discolored, shrunk, or soft, you need to remove the affected plank and replace it.

Here is a guide for this:

  1. Inspect the laminate floor to spot the damaged planks
  2. Remove the baseboards and trims around the buckled laminate planks
  3. Use a laminate floor pull bar to lift and remove the buckled or discolored laminate planks from the floor
  4. Inspect and fix imperfections on the subfloor
  5. Allow the subfloor to get dry
  6. Install a waterproof plastic sheet or underlay on the subfloor
  7. Install the laminate planks correctly taking into consideration the locks on the planks.
  8. Leave enough gaps on the floor to allow the laminate planks to acclimate
  9. Leave the laminate floor to dry.

Will a Hairdryer Fix a Buckling Laminate Floor?

A hairdryer will fix the buckling laminate floor only if the buckling was caused by moisture or water.

In this case, you can move a hairdryer over the buckled laminate floor to dry the floor. However, If the buckling laminate floor was caused by other factors relating to improper surface prep or terrible subfloor condition, then a hairdryer will not do much to fix the problem.

Hairdryers are commonly used to fix buckling or bubbling laminate floors but this only works for waterlogged laminate floors. The heat from the hairdryer will increase the rate of evaporation on the laminate floor causing the moisture in the fiberboard core to be evaporated twice as fast. Since the buckling was caused by moisture, evaporating the water with a hairdryer will fix the buckling laminate floor. But if the buckling wasn’t caused by water, then a hairdryer will not do much.

How To Prevent a Laminate Floor From Buckling?

Here are some expert tips to help prevent your laminate floor from buckling or swelling:

  1. Always provide waterproof floor mats on the laminate floor, especially in areas where the floor will be exposed to water like the bathroom and laundry room
  2. Ensure the laminate subfloor is dry before laying the laminate planks
  3. Always use a waterproof underlay before laying the planks to prevent water from the subfloor from affecting the laminate planks
  4. Always remove and trim baseboards before laying laminate planks. This is to allow the laminate floor to be locked in place against the walls. This also prevents water from seeping through.
  5. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions while laying the laminate floor
  6. Ensure to leave enough gap for acclimation of the laminate floor during application
  7. Wipe water spills on the laminate floor immediately they occur
  8. Always allow the laminate planks to be set in place for at least 3-5 days before placing objects on the floor
  9. Don’t place heavy items like pianos and motorbikes on the laminate floor.

Final Words

In summary, buckling laminate floors can be fixed either by pressing the laminate plank back in place or by removing and replacing the buckled laminate floor. The fix you’ll use depends on the condition of the floor and the cause of the buckling laminate floor.

Remember that hairdryers only work for waterlogged laminate floors. If the buckling in the floor was caused by improper application or a damaged subfloor, the best thing to do is to remove, clean, and reassemble or replace the laminate planks.

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