Swollen laminate flooring is a sign of changes in temperatures and humidity. This change will make the floor either contract or expand.
In cases where there are no expansion gaps left, the floor will form bubbles or swell up.
When you leave your laminate flooring in unattended moisture for too long, it absorbs this moisture and starts swelling up.
Causes of Swollen Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring, being a wood bi-product, does not tolerate water/moisture. Any leaking appliances should be fixed immediately, and any water spills should be wiped off as soon as possible.
High moisture content will create dampness, and too much dampness in a continuous period of time will lead to floor swelling and bubbling.
Sometimes the cause of dampness could be from under the laminate planks from the subfloor through a process called the rising damp.
Before installation, make sure the planks are well acclimated, at least 48 hrs. In the room that it is going to be installed.
Acclimation is important because it makes sure that the planks are well “aware” of the room’s temperature and humidity and will adjust before installation. In case of changes in humidity, the planks will not separate and leave gaps.
These gaps will give space for water damage.
When installing laminate planks on the floor on wood and/or concrete subfloor, make sure you use an underlayment with a water barrier.
It is also key to make sure the room has enough ventilation. This air circulation is important/key in making sure that any excess water/moisture evaporates.
Sometimes laminate flooring might swell due to a lack of expansion space. During installation, leave a small gap about ½ inch from the wall.
How to repair swollen laminate flooring
The best way to permanently fix swollen laminate flooring is entirely removing the damaged areas and replacing them with new planks. All the way from the underlayment.
Step 01: Inspect the Swollen Area
Carefully check the affected areas and not to forget, use a marker or tape to mark the affected areas. Walk on the entire floor and check for the presence of bubbles.
Step 02: Remove Mold and Prepare to Replace them
In this step, it is important to use protective wear. Every time I perform a task like this, I always improvise with tools that I already have in the house.
You will need:
- Safety goggles
Remove the mold near the damaged planks (the swollen area) carefully, not to damage the subfloor.
Step 03: Remove the Laminate Planks
Following the tapes, you marked before, remove the affected areas and dispose of them. Remove the underlayment as well, and clean the subfloor to make sure adhesives will properly stick.
Ventilate the room, to evaporate and make sure the subfloor is entirely dry before installation.
Step 04: Replace
Make sure, with you, you have planks that match the existing flooring. You can check in your store if you have any that were left during the first installation.
If not, contact your supplier. Some might seem to look alike, but the patterns could be different if not keenly selected.
This time around, if before you hadn’t, use an underlayment that comes with a water barrier. This is to make sure that moisture will not rise and do the same damage again.
Once you’re done laying your underlayment, slide in the planks following the pattern of the existing flooring.
Put the tongue in line with the groove of the previous plank. Continue this process until it’s complete.
Do not forget to leave an expansion gap.
It is important to identify the cause of the swelling and fix it first before reinstalling your flooring. Fix leaking taps and any other appliances.
It won’t make sense to replace your flooring without identifying and fixing the cause because with time you will have to go back and replace the flooring again.
How to prevent swelling in laminate flooring
- Before installation, makes sure that your planks are acclimated to the room in not less than 48hrs.
- Fix any leaking appliances and taps. Wipe any spills immediately they occur.
- Ventilate your room properly. You could also run your AC if need be to evaporate any moisture on your floor.
- When installing your flooring on a wood or concrete subfloor, use an underlayment with a water barrier.
- Allow an expansion gap of about ½ of ¼ inches around walls and columns(pillars).