You have likely spent good money having the floor installed or maybe even carefully installed the laminate flooring yourself – either way, you know that when laminate bubbles it is not a good sign of things to come.
Laminate flooring bubbles when it has been exposed to excessive moisture from the subfloor, surface water damage, or has expanded beyond the area provided due to high temperatures (creating excess tension in the planks).
What Does a Bubbling Floor Look Like?
I have added some examples of bubbling floors so you can compare the issues you are having to others we have come across.
These won’t help you diagnose the problem, but will give you an idea as to whether you are facing a similar problem as to the issues that this article discusses’.
3 Reasons Your Floor May Be Bubbling
There are three main reasons your floor may be bubbling. If it is bubbling as opposed to buckling it is more likely than not a moisture issue; whether this is from your subfloor or excessive surface water.
Though in rare cases this can also be caused by excessive tension of your laminate planks.
You will likely want to know the cause so let’s look at these individually and see if you can diagnose your particular problem.
When installing laminate over a concrete subfloor it is important that you use a vapor barrier (damp proof membrane). Because concrete is porous, water can seep into it and therefore into your laminate flooring.
It is advisable to use a moisture barrier on any subfloor that is prone to excessive moisture.
If you have installed a vapor barrier, it is possible that this may have been compromised, that there is excessive moisture in the air of the room, or that moisture damage is not your issue.
Excess Surface Water
Excessive surface water that is not cleaned up immediately, or repeated wet mopping can cause bubbling.
Laminate floors should be mopped using at most a damp mop (almost dry), or preferably a microfibre mop. Repeated water on the surface of your flooring can, and likely will, cause bubbling.
You should never use a wet mop on your laminate flooring.
While heat expansion problems are normally described as buckling as opposed to bubbling it is possible that this is what is causing your floor to alter in its appearance.
If an inadequate expansion gap has been left, specifically around the walls of the room, the expanding boards (in higher temperatures) can create increased tension of the planks causing boards to raise, or the protective layer to appear to bubble.
All laminate flooring installations should leave an expansion gap of between 5/16 – ½ inches (8-12mm).
Additionally, if your laminate flooring was not fully acclimatized for 48 – 72 hours, the planks may have expanded causing the same buckling issue.
Diagnosing & Fixing Your Problem
If you installed the laminate flooring yourself it is likely that the diagnosis of your issue will be much easier than if you had a professional lay the flooring for you. This will be especially true if one of the above causes has raised alarm bells.
This won’t however make fixing the issue any easier.
Regardless, the source of the problem will have to be corrected before, or while, you fix the planks themselves.
If your problem is moisture in your subfloor it is likely you will need to live with the bubbling or replace the whole floor and add a vapor barrier. Or simply temporarily fix the planks until it happens again. Laying a vapor barrier under an installed floor would be impossible, and taking up your whole floor to reinstall is very difficult, to say the least.
What to Do Next?
Once you have located and fixed the source of the problem you will be able to move on to fixing, or more likely, replacing the damaged boards. This will involve disassembling at least some of your laminate flooring.
Hopefully, you have a pack or two of the original laminate or that your laminate flooring is still available to buy.
If you are serious about fixing the flooring it may be a good idea to consult with a professional and see what corrective measures are available to you.
If you had your flooring installed by a professional, and the flooring is damaged through no fault of your own you may want to contact the company and see if they will repair the floor. Generally, companies will only do this free of charge if they are at fault, so tread carefully.