Laminate flooring is among the most popular types of flooring in many countries, and with good reason.
It’s durable and can withstand some pretty serious foot traffic, but it also looks great and is cost-effective, too.
Having said that, laminate flooring isn’t completely perfect. It has one major weakness, and that is that it can’t deal with water or tolerate high moisture levels particularly well.
When exposed to too much moisture, the laminate begins to warp and swell.
So, is there anything you can do to solve this problem? One simple option is to replace the laminate, but that’s not exactly cheap.
Luckily for you, there is a way to repair swollen laminate flooring without breaking the bank.
If you’re interested in finding out more, read on, dear reader! In this article, we’ll be explaining how you can fix your swollen laminate flooring without replacing it.
Why Is My Laminate Swollen?
There are few things quite as frustrating as looking down at your laminate and realizing that it’s swollen. But what’s causing it? Here are the most common culprits:
As we mentioned in the introduction, the most common cause of this problem is too much moisture. Laminate flooring is designed to be waterproof, but it’s not completely water resistant.
The real problems, including that tell-tale bubbling, arise when the water gets underneath the laminate and into the laminate core.
This could be caused by a spillage in an area where the laminate was poorly sealed, or it could come from below, from a leaking water pipe.
Excessive steam cleaning and wet mopping can also degrade your laminate flooring over time and cause it to swell.
The Laminate Was Incorrectly Installed
Laminate responds to temperature changes, expanding and contracting as the temperature rises and falls.
This means that your laminate needs to be installed in a specific way, incorporating so-called ‘expansion gaps’ to give the laminate a little room to respond to these temperature changes.
Installing the laminate planks too close together leaves the laminate with nowhere to go during these temperature fluctuations but into the next plank, leading to peaking, bubbling, and even buckling.
There are other causes of laminate flooring problems. One simple but surprisingly common cause of bubbling is air trapped underneath the laminate during the installation process.
If your flooring is not properly ventilated and the air has nowhere else to go, it will eventually start to bubble up through the laminate.
How To Repair Swollen Laminate Flooring
We won’t lie to you- if the damage is extensive, the best thing you can do is rip the whole laminate floor up and start again.
But, if the damage is relatively minor or highly localized to just a plank or two, there are a few things you can try to fix it before you start pulling the floor up.
Using A Hairdryer Or Heater
This is often talked about as a fix for swollen laminate flooring, and it does have some genuine utility, but it won’t actually repair bubbling laminate.
By the time the laminate has bubbled, it has long since absorbed the moisture and dried out, so drying it out further won’t do any good.
If you find moisture underneath the laminate and resolve the issue, you can then use a hairdryer or heater to speed up the drying process - and if you catch the laminate soon enough, it may be salvageable and able to be relayed.
Bursting Minor Bubbles
If the bubbling is only minor, you can try to burst the bubble and pack it back down yourself. In order to do this, you must first gently dampen the area with a damp cloth.
Using a knife, you may then make a slight incision in the affected area. Grab some wood glue, squeeze it into your incision, and then attempt to stick the laminate back down flat.
You’ll need to keep constant pressure on the area for the glue to hold, so find a heavy object that you can leave on it to weigh it down.
Wait at least 12 hours, and with a bit of luck, the bubble will be a thing of the past.
Using A Roller
Sometimes, generally if the cause of the defect is not excess moisture, you can force the laminate back down into shape by rolling it repeatedly with a 100lb roller.
You can normally pick one of these up from the local hardware store. However, bear in mind that even if you force the laminate back into shape, you haven’t fixed the root cause of the problem.
Replacing A Single Laminate Plank
If, and only if, you’re dealing with damage that seems localized to just one or two planks - and the under laminate appears undamaged by moisture - you can attempt to replace just the offending boards.
In order to do this, you’ll first need to remove the wall molding using a hammer and a screwdriver in order to get access to the planks in question.
You should then be able to carefully pluck out the offending planks one by one, by gently slipping the plank out from the locking mechanism of the neighboring plank.
Depending on what caused your issue in the first place, you can start to make corrections. For example, you can judge at this point if the issue was insufficiently large expansion gaps.
If your expansion gaps were previously less than a quarter inch, you can expand them to half an inch or so.
It should be fairly easy to get hold of a replacement plank or two of the same brand.
In fact, many installers leave some spares, so you might even have a couple knocking around in the garage.
Either way, it should be fairly straightforward to slip the replacement board into the locking mechanism of the adjoining boards.
So we’ve covered the primary reasons you laminate swells and bubbles, and offered a few DIY solutions for minor damage.
But remember, if the damage is extensive, particularly if it is water damage, the best option is to hire a professional to replace the whole laminate flooring.
It might not be cheap, but it’ll save you time and money in the long run.