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Why is my laminate flooring bubbling?

Why is my laminate flooring bubbling?

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Laminate flooring is a great alternative to real hardwood flooring for so many reasons – it’s much more resistant to staining and scratching thanks to its durable protective topcoat, it’s much easier to install, and it costs a lot less than the real deal. When installed and cared for correctly, great quality laminate, (like those available from our laminate selection), should look as good as the day you got it for years to come.

However, occasionally with poor quality laminate, or poor maintenance or installation, your flooring can develop problems such as bubbling. This is when small parts of the surface of your board begin to peel away from the rest of the board, as if a bubble in your laminate flooring has pushed them upwards, tending to show up towards the seams of the planks. A common term for air pockets that form beneath laminate flooring that you may have heard is "peaking".

We’ll talk you through the reasons this condition can begin to appear on your laminate flooring, and how to fix it. Then, we’ll go through some steps on how to avoid your laminate flooring bubbling again. If you think you might have a different problem with your laminate, check out our DIY Corner to find the answers to lots of different problems, like lifting, bouncing, and separating.

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Why does laminate flooring bubble?

If you spot bubbling on your laminate, there is definitely a problem! Bubbling is an indication that your flooring has become compromised, and it needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

If your laminate flooring begins to bubble, there's, unfortunately, no way to repair the affected boards, but you can prevent the problem from getting worse.

The most likely reason why your floor may be bubbling is moisture in the boards, possibly from the subfloor, but more likely from above - although you can see if your subfloor needs replacing with our guide. Other than an obvious leak or plumbing issue, there are a few different ways that excess moisture can get into your laminate flooring:

  • Neglecting spills
  • Too much water during cleaning
  • Using the wrong cleaning products
  • Excessive humidity

We’ll explain how to identify the cause of the problem, and what you can do to keep it from spreading.

Excessive moisture

Water can wreak havoc on floors and furniture if it goes unchecked. Our laminate range included some highly water-resistant options, but no laminate flooring is immune to the punishing effect of excessive moisture!

Once water enters the core of the laminate boards, it will soak into the wood, causing it to expand and warp. This can cause bubbles on the surface.

Humidity

When the air gets warmer and wetter, especially in cities, laminate flooring, like all wooden floor types, needs to expand and contract to cope with the temperature shifts. If there isn’t sufficient room for the boards to expand, they’ll strain against each other, causing raised edges which sometimes look like bubbling – especially if moisture gets into the exposed joints.  

Neglecting spills

If spills are addressed immediately with the right cleaning methods, they shouldn’t cause a problem with laminate flooring. However, if you leave them for too long, liquid may find a weak point in the boards and damage either the wooden core or the top printed layer, which can spoil the look of your boards. You can find out more about the makeup of laminate boards in our laminate flooring buyer's guide.

Using the wrong cleaning technique

Another issue that may cause your laminate flooring to bubble is cleaning your floor the wrong way or with the wrong products.  

Wet-mopping and steam cleaning are major no-nos when it comes to cleaning your laminate because they produce too much moisture and can break through the finish to the more vulnerable materials underneath, causing laminate flooring bubbling.

You can learn more about the maintenance laminate flooring needs in our laminate care guide.

How to fix excess moisture

The affected planks will have to be removed and replaced, but you can stop the issue from spreading by finding and addressing the issue that is causing the excessive moisture in the first place. The first step is to find and address any possible leaks like compromised pipes or a malfunctioning dishwasher.

If humidity is the issue at hand, you could consider purchasing a dehumidifier or improving the ventilation in the room. If you think there might not be enough room for your laminate flooring to swell with the heat, then you may need to create a larger expansion gap around the edges of the room. If you choose to do this yourself, you’ll need to carefully remove the skirting board or scotia at the edges of the room. Mark a line 6-10 mm from the wall and trim along it with a circular saw or multitool (don’t forget safety equipment.) Remove the excess.

If possible, unlock the laminate up to the damaged plank and remove it, replace it, and re-lay your laminate back to the wall. Re-attach the skirting boards.

You can find a helpful guide on 'How to remove laminate flooring' in our Ideas Hub, which can take you through the individual steps for removing and replacing laminate flooring, no matter what type of laminate flooring you have.

How to prevent bubbles in laminate flooring

Taking precautions will help to prevent your laminate floor from bubbling in future, and it’ll hopefully also mean you keep a closer eye on your cleaning habits to keep your home in tip-top shape! Here are some ways to prevent bubbling in laminate flooring:

  • Never allow standing water on your laminate floor – always clean up spills as they happen.
  • Avoid wet mopping and steam cleaning your laminate floor.
  • Use dehumidifiers if your home experiences a lot of humidity, especially during very cold and very hot months.
  • Ensure that your underlay is the correct type and thickness before installing laminate flooring – you can always consult a Tapi pro to help you figure out what’s best for your home.

Hopefully, now you have a good overview of the different ways that laminate floor bubbling can occur, and your options to resolve the issue! If you need any more help with laminate-related issues, you can come down to your local Tapi store to chat with one of our flooring experts and we can help you find the solution you need for your home. We can also show you the amazing range of laminate samples and laminate underlay that we’ve got in store if you’re looking to replace any damaged flooring. Alternatively, browse our other guides, including what to do if you laminate floor is bouncy, or spongy, or how to acclimatise your laminate flooring once it's arrived.

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Published: 01-08-2022