Water under your laminate flooring can cause different types of damage. So, how to dry it out?
To dry water under laminate planks, remove the affected planks and use a wet/dry vacuum to suck (or dry) the excess water. Once the water is removed or dried out, re-install the planks. If the water is caused by a leak or cracked pipe, you’ll need to fix the problem before re-installing them.
If the planks are affected or waterlogged, you must allow them to dry, inspect them to see if they are usable and re-install them. You must replace damaged or non-usable planks.
Is Laminate Flooring Waterproof?
Laminate flooring isn’t waterproof but the planks are water-resistant. This means the planks can withstand moisture or water to a certain degree and for a limited period. For instance, if you spill water on the floor, it won’t penetrate the planks immediately. But, if left for too long, it will penetrate the flooring.
Also, if planks are exposed to constant moisture, the water will eventually penetrate and damage them. Moisture can also penetrate a laminate floor through the acclimation gaps between the planks. This is why you shouldn’t use laminate on a high-moisture area, such as bathroom floors.
Planks Won’t Dry itself
Water under laminate planks rarely dries out itself. That’s because there’s little space and provision for the evaporation process to occur under the planks.
Sometimes, a small amount of water will dry itself. In this case, you can turn on the room heat or dehumidifier to increase the evaporation rate.
However, if you are dealing with a water leak or flood, the floor won’t dry itself because evaporation can’t occur. In this case, you must remove the planks, fix the leak, dry out the subfloor, and re-assemble the floor.
How To Dry Water Underneath Laminate Flooring?
Drying moisture under laminate is easy; remove the planks, dry the subfloor, and re-install them.
Here are the tools you need:
- A mop
- Moisture meter
- A shop vac
- Floor scraper
1. Wipe The Water On The Laminate floor
If the top of the floor is wet, you must wipe off the water. If you don’t, the water will slide down to the subfloor and damage the planks from underneath.
To wipe a laminate floor, use a rag or mop. Don’t apply pressure while wiping, as you can push moisture from underneath to beneath the floor.
2. Remove The Planks
Find where the water is and remove the affected planks. You can do this by using a floor scraper or crown bar. If other planks are wet, you must remove them all so you can dry them out.
3. Suck and Clean The Water Out
Suck, clean, or wipe off the water on the subfloor or underlayment.
To do this:
- Use a wet/dry vacuum, shop vac, or mop.
- Put the suction of the vacuum hose on the subfloor and suck the water.
- After removing most of the moisture, use a moisture meter to test the levels.
- The moisture levels must be less than 6%.
- Wipe off the remaining water using a rag or cloth.
- Allow the subfloor to dry completely.
4. Turn On The Heater and Dehumidifier
To speed up the drying time of water, increase the evaporation rate. The faster the evaporation rate is, the faster the subfloor or underlayment dries. To increase the evaporation rate, use a heater or dehumidifier.
A heater will increase the heat around the subfloor, making moisture evaporate faster. Likewise, the dehumidifier will decrease the humidity levels, causing the moisture to evaporate faster.
5. Re-assemble The Floor
Before re-installing planks, inspect them. Damaged or rotten planks must be replaced as they aren’t strong or sturdy enough to withstand traffic. Wet planks must be left to dry completely. After the subfloor is fully dry, re-install the dry planks.
If you don’t have a waterproof underlayment, installing one under laminate is recommended to prevent water damage.
Signs of Moisture Damage
The planks will absorb the water if it gets under a laminate floor. This is because the planks are water-resistant on the top and not at the bottom. The top layer of planks is sealed with waterproof sheeting that repels water and prevents the planks from absorbing it.
However, the bottom of the planks doesn’t have this waterproof sheeting. Since the bottom isn’t waterproof, moisture will penetrate the planks and damage them. You will notice the planks swelling, lifting, and separating. The swelling will put pressure on the locks and cause gaps in the floor. Aside from that, the floor will feel wet when walking on it.
Water can get underneath the planks without you knowing. This is how to tell if the planks are damaged or not:
- Swollen or Bubbled Planks – If the planks are swollen or bubbled, the floor has absorbed too much water. So, the wood fiver has expanded to accommodate the moisture.
- Moist Feeling on The Floor – It should feel dry when you walk over the floor. But, if the planks are affected by water, they will feel cold or moist.
- Warped Laminate Planks – If the planks are warped or twisted, it’s because they start to detach and lift due to the moisture underneath them.
- Delamination – Delamination occurs when the floor starts to split into layers. The moisture puts pressure on the locks causing the planks to buckle or separate and causing gaps in the floor.
Stages of the Damage
Though laminate planks are water-resistant, they will get damaged if exposed to it for too long. Here are the stages of damage the planks will experience:
- Wet Spots – The first damage you will notice is white or dark rings on the floor. At this stage, the planks aren’t completely unusable; if you dry them out, you can re-use them.
- Bubbles – If you don’t dry the water, bubbles will form on the floor. The bubbles form due to the absorption of water by the planks.
- Swollen or Warping – Laminate can swell, warp, or buckle if exposed to water. The floor will start to dip or arch in the center.
- Separation – Water can also damage the locks of the planks and cause the flooring to separate.
- Wood Rot and Odor – If you don’t remove or dry out the water for too long, the planks will start to rot and become unusable.
Here are other signs of laminate floor water damage:
- Discoloration – If it’s water damage, some parts will look deeper or duller than others
- Loose adhesive – Water can wash the glue from beneath the planks.
- Wood rot – laminate planks are at least 70-80% wood, meaning that if there is water damage beneath the floor, the planks will rot.
Protecting Laminate From Moisture
The following tips will help prevent water from getting underneath your laminate flooring:
- Always seal spaces and acclimation gaps in the floor with latex or acrylic latex caulk.
- Wipe and clean water and spills immediately after they occur.
- Always seal the seams of the floor.
- Seal the floor with a waterproof sealant.
- Put a waterproof mat or carpet over the floor.
- Don’t install laminate in high-moisture areas, such as bathrooms.
- Use a waterproof underlayment underneath the floor.
In summary, water under laminate will damage the floor if left unchecked. To fix this, you must remove the planks, fix the source of the water leak, dry out the subfloor, and re-assemble the floor.
Damaged or rotten planks must be replaced as they can’t support traffic or furniture weight.