Laminate are floating floors that use a locking mechanism to stay in place. However, sometimes the laminate planks will start to lift. Why does this happen, and how to fix it?
Laminate planks will start to lift if they are exposed to moisture or if there are no expansive gaps between them. To fix laminate floor lifting, remove them and dry out the subfloor or remove the baseboards to create gaps so the floor can acclimate.
If lifting is caused by an uneven subfloor or improper floor application, you must remove the entire flooring, fix the subfloor, and re-install it.
Planks Lifting in The Middle
Here are some common reasons why this happens:
1. Moisture Damage
If exposed to constant water or moisture, the boards will lift in the middle. So, though laminate boards are water-resistant, the floor isn’t completely waterproof.
If the fiberboards are exposed to water, the planks will expand so the fiberboards can accommodate water. The floor will continue to expand based on the moisture levels. Eventually, the expansion will cause a “bump” in the middle of the planks.
2. No Expansion Gap
After installing laminate flooring, you must leave gaps (or spaces) for the floor to acclimate. If you don’t leave enough gaps between planks, they will crash against the wall or each other. This causes the floor to lift. Mid floor lifts are accompanied by small cracks, especially on the horizontal side of the plank.
3. Incorrect Usage or Inferior Boards
If you lay laminate planks over the wrong type of subfloor, they will start to lift. Also, if you use inferior or poor-quality boards, they might lift due to their low durability.
Boards Lifting at The Edges
Here are common reasons why planks lift at the edges:
1. Improper Fixing of The Laminate Lock
Laminate planks have an interlocking mechanism at the side that locks planks together. Each plank has a slot and lock that fits into the other planks. The floor will rise at the edges if you don’t fix these locks properly.
Improper locking means that the locks at the sides aren’t tight or locked in place. So, when you walk over the laminate flooring, the locks at the sides will open and cause the planks to lift.
2. Uneven Subfloor
An uneven, rough, or patchy subfloor will cause the laminate flooring to lift at the edges or sides.
3. Heavy Furniture
Laminate boards have a weight limit of 350 pounds per square inch. If you place heavier furniture than 350 pounds per square inch, the weight will cause pressure on the locks, causing them to give way and open. This will cause the planks to become raised at the edges.
In this case, the lifted planks will also make a squeaking sound and might crack from the weight.
How To Fix a Lifting Laminate Floor?
You can fix a lifting laminate flooring in different ways, and the right fix depends on the cause. So, the first step is to find the cause of why it happened:
- If the raised plank is whitish or wet, the lifting is caused by water damage
- If the boards push against the walls, there’s a lack of expansion gaps between the planks.
- The subfloor is uneven if the planks are raised in the middle.
- If there are several lifted spots on the floor, it’s caused by poor fixing of the locks.
1. Water Damage
The boards will lift if the laminate flooring is exposed to constant water.
To fix this:
- You must remove the affected boards.
- Find the cause of the leak and fix it.
- Dry out the subfloor.
- Install a waterproof underlayment (if you don’t have one).
- Inspect the boards and replace the damaged ones.
- Re-assemble the floor.
2. No Acclimation Gap
If the lack of a gap is the cause of the problem, the planks will crash against the bottom wall or each other.
To fix this:
- Create an expansion gap on the floor.
- Remove baseboard trims from the bottom wall.
- Optionally, trim some laminate planks.
For this fix, you don’t have to remove the planks, as the problem will fix itself as long as you create gaps.
3. Uneven Subfloor
Laminate boards can also rise if the subfloor isn’t even.
To fix this:
- Remove the boards.
- Smooth the subfloor by sanding.
- Apply a coat of leveling compound on the subfloor to make it even.
- Re-assemble the floor.
4. Heavy Furniture
The only fix to this case is to immediately remove the heavy furniture and wait until the planks return to the correct level.
Replace or Not?
You can fix lifting laminate planks without replacing them if the planks are in good condition. In this case, a replacement isn’t needed; you just need to find out why they are lifted, fix them, and re-assemble the floor.
However, if the laminate planks are damaged, wrapped, waterlogged, or wrinkled, you need to replace them because they aren’t sturdy enough to support weight or traffic.
To know if a board must be replaced or not, inspect them. If you notice black stains or a wet appearance, the boards are affected by water. You can also lay the boards over a flat, strong base and place a small weight over it. If the board doesn’t move and stays rigid, you can re-use it. If the board moves or doesn’t stay rigid, you should replace it.
Here’s how to prevent this from happening:
- Apply the floor correctly.
- Always ensure that the subfloor is level and smooth before laying the floor.
- Apply a waterproof covering or sealant on the floor.
- Leave expansion gaps while installing the planks.
- Only use quality laminate boards.
- Always fix the locks correctly. You will hear a click-and-lock sound when the planks are fixed.
- Don’t put furniture that is heavier than 350 pounds per square inch.
- Wait 3-5 days for the floor to acclimate before you use them.
In summary, laminate floor lifting is caused by an uneven subfloor, incorrect arrangement of the boards, or water damage. You must first find out the cause of the problem before going ahead with a fix.
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,