How to Repair Swollen Laminate Flooring
Tips & Tricks

How to Repair Swollen Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is affordable, durable, and attractive. While the flooring is designed to withstand occasional spills, extreme exposure to moisture and water can lead to bubbling, ultimately leading to swelling.

You can repair a swollen laminate floor; however, you’ll first have to examine the swollen area to determine the root cause. You will then remove the wall molding, remove the laminate board, replace the swollen planks with new ones, and finally allow a sizeable expansion gap when reinstalling.

Read on to learn more about how to repair swollen laminate flooring:

Why Has My Laminate Flooring Bulged?

Several factors can contribute to the bulging of your laminate flooring. Here are some of them:

Moisture Damage

High moisture content in the environment can lead to the bulging of laminate flooring. In addition, increased moisture levels cause laminate floor bubbles, especially if it reaches the laminate core. Therefore, it is prudent not to install laminate flooring in areas prone to water exposure, such as kitchens and bathrooms.

You can purchase a dehumidifier to lower the overall humidity levels, which can eventually lead to the swelling of your laminate flooring.

Moisture damage will also make the room susceptible to mildew, algae and mold growth. Find it’s source and waterproof the house properly.

Tension Between Planks

Laminate floors expand and contract when responding to temperature changes. If you don’t leave enough expansion gaps when installing your laminate flooring, it will eventually peak, bubble, and buckle.

Additionally, highly tight moldings can also lead to bulging; therefore, you should be very mindful during the installation process.

Improper Cleaning and Water Spills

Failure to fix a pipe leak as soon as possible might lead to bulging of your laminate flooring. Additionally, letting water spills stay on your laminate floor won’t do any justice to it. It is best to clean spills as soon as they occur to keep moisture from seeping through the seams, ultimately leading to swelling.

It is advisable that you avoid wet-mop cleaning or steam cleaning laminate floors because doing so could lead to bubbling and swelling.

Poor Laminate Quality

It is best to buy laminate flooring from a trusted manufacturer or seller if you want to get it in excellent condition.

Good quality laminate boards shouldn’t break under minimal physical impact. Therefore, it’s best to check on overall strength and density before installing the flooring.

Before purchasing your laminate floors, ensure that the sheeting is strong enough to withstand consistent pressure. Additionally, check the locking mechanism to ensure that the laminate strips click without additional effort.

Exceptionally Thick Substrate Layer

Rolling up the substrate layer in several layers to level the floor is quite a common practice. However, very thick substrate layers can weaken the lock connections, leading to squeaking, crumbling, staggering, and eventually breaking laminate flooring.

Will Laminate Floor Swelling Go Down?

Laminate floor swelling can go down if you find the right solutions for the swelling. It will help if you follow these steps when fixing swollen laminate flooring:

Determine What Caused the Swelling

It will help if you do a thorough inspection around the swollen laminate flooring area to determine the primary cause of the problem. Some of the reasons could be flooding due to faulty appliances like dishwashers or a leaking pipe.

When inspecting, please take note of warped or bubbled boards that don’t fit evenly because you will eventually have to replace them. You can mark the damaged areas using a marker pen, sticky note, or a colored piece of tape.

Remove the Wall Molding and Laminate Board

It’s essential to remove the wall molding before removing the laminate board. You can use a hammer and a screwdriver to remove the wall molding or baseboards correctly; however, remove it with caution to avoid causing any irreversible damage.

When you have removed the wall molding successfully, you should rip up the affected boards one by one. In addition, it’s advisable to remove surrounding boards so that you don’t leave anything to chance.

You can then remove the laminate boards by slipping the floorboards gently from the connecting board’s locking mechanism. If the swelling was due to insufficient expansion gaps, you could fix the problem simply by reducing the overall tension. For example, if the gap between the wall and the board is less than ¼ an inch, you can make it larger by extending it to at least ¼ to ½ inches. Then, using a sharp utility knife, you can increase the expansion gap by accurately cutting the board close to the wall.

Replace the Damaged Laminate

You can make replacements after removing the problematic boards. However, it’s best to replace them with similar boards, preferably from the same manufacturer.

Start the replacement process by sliding the new laminate floorboard as an alternative for the damaged one. While removing unaffected boards isn’t necessary, you can replace those that appear weakly connected to ensure that you do a thorough repair job.

Return Undamaged Floorboards and Inspect the Flooring

Once you’ve fixed the problematic area, carefully return the undamaged floorboards to their original positions. When doing this, check on the expansion and contraction gap because a small gap might have you repairing the laminate after a short time.  

You can opt to cut the edges of the laminate boards adjacent to the wall if you want to increase the extension gap.

Finally, inspect the laminate flooring to determine if it has other issues. It’s best to understand that swelling might happen in glued-down laminate flooring when the boards absorb the glue’s water content. However, the swelling usually disappears after three or four weeks.

Can You Fix Laminate Flooring Without Replacing?

It’s possible to fix a bubbling laminate floor without replacing the board. If the floor was initially glued down, swelling might not be due to moisture or water content. Glued joints might swell lightly if they absorb water from the glue; however, laminate floor bubbles tend to disappear within two or three weeks.

You can also try the following tips and fix your laminate flooring without replacing it:

  • Use the popping method to get rid of air bubbles on the laminate flooring.
  • If moisture has little or no effect on your laminate boards, you can salvage them using a room heater or a hair drier to dry the undamaged laminate board. However, you might need to replace the board if it swells.
  • You can use the X-acto knife on the bubbling spot to fix the issue.

Why Does Laminate Flooring Expand?

Temperature and humidity keep occasionally changing in any environment. When they change, your laminate flooring can absorb moisture in the air, making it expand. Conversely, a decrease in temperature will cause the laminate floor to contract, reducing the space required. Therefore, it’s prudent to leave the necessary space for your laminate flooring.

You can manage the expansion gap by ensuring that the laminate flooring doesn’t touch walls, adjacent flooring, or stairs. Then, depending on where they are, you can deal with the expansion gaps left by covering them with door bars, skirting boards, radiator collars, or beading.

Additionally, you can use laminate flooring spacers to address spacing issues. They help ensure that correct gaps exist between the laminate flooring and adjacent objects or flooring. The spacers and proper preparations can help you to avoid laminate flooring problems easily.

Can Water Damaged Laminate Flooring Be Repaired?

You can repair water-damaged laminate flooring. You can follow these steps to contain the situation and repair your laminate flooring:

Stop the Leak

You can’t fix a water-damaged laminate floor without stopping the leak. Leaking dishwashers, burst pipes, and leaking toilets are some of the most common causes of flooding in water-damaged laminate floors.

Determine How Extensive the Leaking Was

Once you’ve stopped the leak, you should determine how extensive it was and how much laminate flooring you should repair.

Evaluate the laminate flooring in each room and take note of bubbled or warped boards and those that do not fit together evenly. Mark the damaged areas using a sticky note or a colored piece of tape.

Remove the Damaged Planks

Remove the damaged planks and fix the areas that need them. This step requires you to have all the tools that you’ll need before proceeding. You will need a hammer, a crowbar, and a utility knife.

Replace the Damaged Planks

Replace damaged planks with fresh ones, and ensure that the replacement planks match your current planks as closely as possible. Once you’ve found the perfect replacement planks, fit them with the existing plank. However, avoid nails that might have been exposed when removing the water-damaged laminate flooring.

How to Prevent Your Laminate Floor From Swelling and Bulging

It’s best to prevent your laminate flooring from swelling than trying to find solutions once it’s swollen. You can prevent swelling and bulging of your laminate flooring by following these steps:

Regulate Humidity Levels

Your laminate flooring will expand when humidity levels are above sixty percent. The expansion mostly happens due to the flooring’s click-to-lock system, which pushes the sides of the laminate planks into each other.

On the other hand, low humidity levels below thirty percent lead to shrinkage, which results in the planks pulling away from each other. You can purchase a dehumidifier to help maintain a constant humidity level, especially during summer. A humidity level of about 33% to 60% is good enough for protecting your laminate flooring from humidity-based damage.

Leave Adequate Space for Expansion and Contraction

Random set expansion gaps aren’t sufficient when it comes to laminate flooring. Instead, it’s best to take measurements and leave an adequate gap of about ¼ to ½ an inch. Large enough gaps allow for sufficient expansion and contraction; therefore, preventing your laminate flooring from swelling.

Clean Up Spills Immediately

There is an increased risk of laminate floor water damage whenever it’s exposed to water; therefore, you should always clean up any leaks and spills before they make the floor soggy. It’s best to avoid water build-up by fixing any appliance or pipe that has malfunctioned and leaking water to your floors. In addition, some fridges and dishwashers often cause spills; therefore, you should be extremely careful when setting your laminate flooring beneath such appliances.

Evaluate Your Cleaning Techniques

Your laminate flooring risks damage if you expose it to water, soap, and other liquid cleaners. In addition, wet mopping can lead to swelling of your floors; therefore, you should consider dry mopping as it’s an excellent way of keeping your laminate floors clean and well-maintained.

It would help if you cleaned the floors as frequently as possible when using a dry mop. Additionally, you might need to vacuum or dry mop laminate floors more regularly if you have several children and pets. If you opt to use cleaning products or detergents on your laminate floors, ensure that you only purchase those meant for use on laminate floors.

Avoid spraying the cleaners directly on the floors; instead, sprinkle some on a microfiber mop and gently clean the floor.

Acclimate Your Laminate Flooring Before Installation

It’s essential to allow your laminate flooring to acclimate before installing it. You can allow at least two or three days for the laminate flooring system to adjust to your home’s environment before installing them. You can also allow the same time for replacement laminate boards, mainly if you’re replacing many damaged boards.

Can You Iron Laminate Flooring?

You might drop something on your laminate floor and dent it. However, you can steam the dent out using an ordinary iron and a wet cloth to ensure that it gets back to its usual look. Here is how to do it:

  • Place a tiny drop of water into the dent, and then fold a piece of damp cloth four times and place it on the dent. The pad should be about one-inch square.
  • Place the tip of a hot iron on the pad and move it over the pad in a circular motion. At this point, steam should start rising from the cloth; however, keep the iron moving.
  • Use a considerable amount of force as you move the iron, and iron the pad for at least three minutes or until it becomes dry and the steam dissolves.
  • Check if the dent has cleared. If it hasn’t, repeat the procedure above until you eradicate the dent.

Laminate floors are designed to be water-resistant; however, they aren’t 100% waterproof. You have to be very cautious of flooding and stagnant water because as soon as your laminate flooring is saturated with water, it will only be a matter of time before your laminate boards start buckling and warping. Clean up spills on laminate floors as soon as they occur.