If you want to learn how to repair swollen laminate flooring without replacing it then you have come to the right place.
Always take steps to maintain and keep your laminate flooring looking its best. But, when damage does occur, don’t worry! The good news is that swollen laminate flooring can often be repaired without replacing the entire floor.
All you need to do is follow the steps laid out in this guide and you will have a good chance of repairing your floor.
Laminate floors look like hardwood, but the two types of flooring are constructed differently. Laminate is made up of several layers.
The top layer is the wear layer. The wear layer is super durable.
The middle layer is the image layer that gives the appearance of real wood.
Often, it is the base layer where the trouble begins when it absorbs moisture. The base layer provides the strength and stability of laminate flooring. The base layer is made of plywood or fiberboard.
Laminate Flooring Issues
If your laminate flooring is showing bubbles, the reason this is happening is most likely due to too much moisture under the floorboards. Some of the main reasons why laminate flooring planks may need to be repaired include:
Too much moisture is the main culprit for damaged laminate planks. Even though laminate planks are often considered to be waterproof, they are not completely water-resistant. If moisture gets into the core, it will cause the flooring to swell or bubble up.
The most important step when moisture is the reason the planks are swelling is to locate the source of the moisture. The wetness could be coming from a moisture barrier problem, or it could be from a spill that was never properly cleaned up.
Other moisture sources stem from maybe a pipe that is leaking underneath the floor or a dishwasher or washing machine overflowing onto the laminate flooring. Moisture could also be coming from the atmosphere with high humidity in the air.
If the laminate flooring is installed on top of concrete or a wood subfloor, it will interfere with water evaporation and ventilation. If there is no moisture barrier installed, it could cause bubbling on the laminate planks.
Spills and Steam Cleaning
Spills or water that ends up under or on the floor from a leaky pipe could cause the laminate flooring to swell.
Another source of excess water is steam cleaning or wet mopping. Cleaning with water can cause buckling and bubbling to occur caused by the water damage.
It is important to install the laminate planks properly. When bubbling happens on your laminate flooring, it may be because of too much tension between the planks. Laminate floors expand and contract when the temperatures change.
If there are no expansion gaps, the laminate could bubble, peak, or buckle.
If the moldings are extra tight, it can cause bubbling as well. If there are no gaps, the planks will start to lift, and the base will start to bubble. Eventually, the entire floor will start to swell if the molding is too tight.
Delamination can make the floor swell. This usually occurs because the floor was not properly installed. The result is that the laminate flooring puffs at the base.
When there are no expansion joints between the joining sections of boards, air bubbles can become trapped underneath the flooring boards. It is important to always leave a minimum of ¼ inch expansion gap, or 1/2-inch, .635 to .27 cm., when laying laminate flooring to avoid buckling.
Don’t worry! Just because some of the planks may become damaged doesn’t mean you have to replace the entire floor.
How to Repair Bubbled Damage
There are a few methods for repairing laminate flooring. Before replacing the entire floor, try these methods to fix the damaged area:
- Try bursting small bubbles by placing a damp cloth directly on top of the bubble, and then cut a small slit with a sharp knife, like an X-Acto knife. Once it is cut open, squeeze wood glue into the slit. Finish off by pressing the veneer down with a weight. Let it sit overnight until the bubble is flattened.
- Rent a 100-pound roller, and roll up the floor to smooth out the laminate surface.
- Use a hairdryer or a heater to dry the damaged area.
- Another repair method for bubbled floors is called the popping method. As the name implies, pop the bubbles.
If none of these methods work, use an epoxy laminate repair kit.
Replace Individual Panels
Sometimes, it’s necessary to replace an entire panel of laminate. To do so follow this step-by-step guide of 8 helpful steps:
- Get a replacement plank that matches the flooring
- Prepare the replacement plank, using a utility knife cut off the lower section of the locking mechanism on the tongue side as well as the tongue end.
- Measure and cut out a small rectangle in the damaged plank.
- Use a chisel and a hammer to lift out the cut rectangle.
- Remove the rest of the plank, and cut the locking connection.
- Spread carpenter glue on the underside of the upper sections of the tongues that you had previously cut on the replacement plank piece.
- Click the plank’s groove side into the tongue of the adjacent plank as you lower the plank into the floor.
- Place a weight on the new section to hold it down until the glue completely sets.
If the baseboard swells, you may have to replace the entire floor. Seek the advice of a professional wood installer before replacing the entire floor.
Prevent Laminate from Swelling
Preventing damage to the floor is the best step. To maintain laminate flooring and make it look its best, follow the following helpful tips:
- Never allow standing water to stay on the surface of laminate flooring for long.
- Always mop any damp area as quickly as possible whenever water spills happen.
- Avoid wet-mopping laminate floors. Dry mopping is always the preferred cleaning method to maintain laminate flooring.
- Always use the recommended cleaning products to avoid damage to the laminate floors and to keep the floors from becoming sticky.
- Always use a moisture barrier if the floor is installed on top of cement.
- Maintain a humidity level of between 35 and 65 percent in the room. If the room tends to be humid, use a dehumidifier, or turn on air conditioning.
When your laminate starts to bubble or swell, don’t despair and think you have to replace the entire floor. The good news is that you can effortlessly repair the swollen laminate flooring without replacing every plank.
But, it’s always best to care for the floors from the start to properly maintain and prevent damage from occurring in the first place.
Some frequently asked questions when it comes to repairing laminate planks include:
Why did my laminate bubble up?
Many factors may have caused the laminate to bubble.
Laminate floors tend to swell, sometimes referred to as bubbling up, and even buckle due to moisture, delamination, improper installation allowing no gap between the planks, or no expansion joints.
Do I have to replace the entire floor, or can damaged laminate planks be repaired?
The good news is that often individual damaged laminate planks can be repaired without needing to replace the entire floor.
Repair methods such as using an X-Acto knife, renting a 100-pound roller, or drying out the damaged area are some ways to repair laminate flooring that has damaged planks without replacing the entire floor.
Can my swollen laminate shrink?
Yes, at least for a short while, swollen laminate can shrink. Do not try to add extra heat to make the swelling go down since this can make the flooring shrink even more to a non-repairable state.
Can cleaning products damage my laminate floor?
Yes, using the wrong cleaning products such as harsh chemicals can damage laminate flooring. The best way to clean a laminate floor is by regular dry mopping. Gentle, natural cleaners can also be used occasionally. Remove stains from the laminate surface safely with a vinegar and water solution.
Can a bulge in the laminate be repaired?
A bulging laminate floor indicates that there is excess moisture involved. Find the root cause of the moisture, and eliminate the issue. If you catch the issue quickly, the individual planks can be repaired without the need to replace the entire floor.
Never ignore bulging laminate since the sooner you fix the issue the more likely you will be able to fix the problem. If the bulging is left too long, the entire floor will become damaged and beyond repair.
What causes bubbling in my laminate floor?
Bubbling is a sign that there is water that has seeped in underneath the laminate planks. It is very important that if you notice bubbling in your laminate, get to the source of the problem before it damages the entire floor.