Why is my laminate flooring lifting?

Why is my laminate flooring lifting?

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You can find laminate flooring in a lot of houses today, and it’s little wonder why! It’s durable, easy to maintain, beautiful and reasonably priced. It’s also got a reputation for being easy to install yourself. However, sometimes problems can occur – such as your laminate flooring lifting at the edges or even lifting in the middle. Mistakes during installation are one possible cause, but there are several other ways this problem can arise.

We’re here to take you through the different issues that can cause laminate flooring to lift, and we’ll offer some tips on how to prevent your laminate floor from lifting in the first place. 

Why does laminate flooring lift?

When we discuss laminate flooring ‘lifting’, we mean that the boards rise from the subfloor and push against each other in peaks, as if something has pushed them from underneath. It’s never normal for laminate flooring to lift in any way, either at the edges or in the middle of the room. This should not be dismissed, as often it’s a warning sign that something is wrong underneath the surface and it needs to be sorted for your flooring to remain safe and stable.

Here are the most common reasons why your laminate flooring may begin to lift off of the subfloor.

  1. Uneven subfloors
  2. Lack of expansion gaps
  3. Incorrect installation
  4. Excess moisture

These issues can cause several problems in addition to your laminate flooring lifting, so if you notice any sponginess, bounciness or separation of the boards, you can consult our laminate flooring help guides in our Ideas Hub to get answers to those problems too.

How to fix laminate flooring that is lifting 

Our top recommendations to fix laminate flooring that is lifting:

  1. Get a trusted expert to help you assess and fix the problem
  2. Trim your expansion gap around the room
  3. Check your underlay is fitted correctly
  4. Fix any issues that might be causing water damage to your planks.
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Uneven subfloors

Laminate flooring is designed to sit or ‘float’ above your subfloor, because the pieces interlock in a ‘click and lock’ method without glue or nails. When there are any issues with your subfloor, such as unevenness, a blockage, or other imperfections, they will affect the stability of the laminate’s locking mechanism– you can find out more about this in our ‘What is laminate’ flooring guide.

Another sign that uneven subfloors could be the cause of your problem is if your flooring feels bouncy or spongy. You can find guides on ‘Why is my laminate flooring bouncy’ and ‘Why does my laminate flooring feel spongy’ if you think this could be your issue.

We’d recommend calling in a trusted expert to level out an uneven subfloor rather than attempting to do it yourself. The right approach will depend on your type of subfloor and the exact nature of the problem – getting it wrong could be costly!

Lack of expansion gaps

When installing laminate flooring, an expansion gap must be left around the perimeter of the room. This allows the laminate boards to swell and contract when the temperature climbs or drops. Without it, the boards will try to expand beyond the available space, leading to the laminate floor lifting in the middle or at the edges depending on where the pressure builds up.

If the expansion gap is too small or non-existent, trimming away a thin strip of laminate all around the edges of the room will create the 7-10mm space you need. In theory you can do this yourself if you have the right tools (safety equipment and a multi-tool with a circular blade.) Still, it’s wiser to opt for a professional, as your skirting boards will / may have to be removed and reinstalled, which could damage your plaster, or the skirting boards themselves.

Incorrect installation

We talk a lot about laminate flooring needing time to acclimate to a room before it’s fitted to reduce bounce, movement, and damage. If you want your flooring to stay put, you need to allow the boards time to swell and contract as they get used to the temperature and moisture levels in a room. If you try to put the boards in too early, they’ll lift as they move, and this can be tricky to resolve.

Another issue that could cause laminate floor lifting is poor underlay positioning. Overlapping or incorrect underlay can also prevent laminate boards from lying flat. With this type of issue, there is only one solution, and that’s bringing up all your laminate flooring and relaying your underlay correctly. Whether this means buying the correct underlay to cover any imperfections on your subfloor or ensuring that it’s laid properly, this should help your flooring lie smoothly and reduce the chances of laminate flooring lifting again. Once again, having a professional do this is the safest option!

Excess moisture

Wood flooring products don’t react well to lots of moisture, whether it’s burst pipes, overflowing sinks and baths, or large liquid spills. Even poor maintenance can lead to your laminate flooring lifting - such as using too much water on the laminate to clean it or using a sopping wet mop or steam mop, which damages the wooden core of the laminate boards. The moisture causes the wooden core in the laminate boards to swell, and this can cause the laminate flooring to bubble and lift.

It’s best practice to look after your laminate flooring by only using slightly damp or dry mops or cloths to clean it. There’s a lot more information on how to keep your laminate flooring in great condition for longer in our laminate flooring care guide.

If your laminate flooring has taken on too much moisture and is warping out of shape, the first step is to address the cause of the damage – fixing any leaking pipes or other sources of damp. Unfortunately, the affected laminate boards will need to be replaced. You can always browse Tapi’s product range or make an appointment with one of our Floorologists to explore your options! If you think this might be you, take a look at our guide on how to tell if you need to replace your flooring.

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How to stop laminate flooring from lifting

From the moment you bring it home, taking the correct steps to care for your laminate flooring can make all the difference to keep it in the great condition it arrived in. To ensure that your floors don’t shift, here are our top tips on how to stop laminate floor lifting before you even install it:

  1. Buy great quality laminate boards and have them fitted professionally.
  2. Always check the subfloor for unevenness or moisture issues before installing your flooring.
  3. Don’t buy cheap underlay – this is what’ll protect your laminate flooring from minor anomalies on the subfloor and keep both the laminate and the subfloor from damaging each other. 
  4. Allow the laminate floors to acclimatise to the atmospheric conditions of your room for a few days before you begin to lay them. Over time your flooring won’t expand and contract as much with temperature changes thanks to this acclimation period.
  5. Avoid water spills or accidents as far as possible – wipe up any spills as soon as they occur, never use a sodden or steam mop on your laminate floors and regularly check your water pressure levels and pipes to avoid mishaps.

If you find that your laminate flooring is lifting beyond repair, you can always come down to your local Tapi store to check out our range of solid, dependable, and beautiful laminate options. You can also find other guides on laminate, vinyl, and carpet if you need help with any other flooring problems or inspiration on our Ideas Hub.


Published: 01-06-2022