Despite being a more functional option compared to hardwood flooring in terms of cost, ease of installation, and resistance to water and staining, laminate flooring can be affected by certain issues.

One of these is bubbling. But what is it and how can you resolve it when it occurs? Find out right here where we discuss how to fix laminate floor bubbles in detail.

What Is Laminate Floor Bubbling?

Laminate floor bubbling refers to a condition that causes small parts of surfaces in this category to rise up close to the seams or at the center of planks, giving the impression that your floor is peeling slightly.

bubbling in laminate floor

Causes of Bubbling in Laminate Flooring

1. Excessive Moisture in the Air

The presence of excess moisture in the air may cause bubbling in laminate floors. This could occur during the summer, or even if you happen to live in excessively humid areas.

This issue could also be further exacerbated by a lack of adequate ventilation as well.

2. Neglecting Spills

Spills should be cleaned up instantly since laminate floors are not waterproof. Failure to do so could result in your surfaces bubbling. 

3. Using the Wrong Cleaning Methods and Products

The use of mops (either those of the manual or steam variety) can result in excess water seeping into the laminate floor and causing the layers of the plank to separate. This issue can also be caused by using the wrong cleaning products which may affect the adhesive used to hold the layers together.

The loosening of the glue may result in the veneer layer being separated from the plank which may manifest as bubbling. (This separation is also referred to as delamination and may also be caused by low-quality laminate products.)

4. Lack of an Expansion Gap

Laminate floor planks are not meant to be in contact with the walls of a room, stairs, or cabinetry.

Failure to provide an expansion gap between the planks and these components when the laminate floor is installed will result in the planks pushing up against each other during the onset of warmer weather possibly resulting in bubbling in the surface.

Leaving an expansion gap bigger than the recommended size can also lead to issues. 

5. Failure to Take Required Precautions With the Subfloor

Concrete subfloors are not impervious to water and due to their porous nature, moisture will seep through them.

If laminate flooring is installed without permitting an adequate curing period for the subfloor or without the presence of a suitable vapor barrier, it may cause moisture-related issues such as bubbling or buckling in laminate floors.

How to Fix Bubbles in Laminate Flooring?

There are several options for repairing bubbling in laminate flooring which each depend on the cause of the issue. As a result, you will need to examine the floor to determine the reason for the bubbling and select one or more of the appropriate solutions provided below:

1. Check the Extent of the Damage

If only a single plank is damaged, you will simply need to remove the molding, and then the planks from the wall, until you get to the affected plank. You will then need to remove the damaged board and replace it with another from the original batch. 

If the bubbling is more widespread, you may need to replace the entire surface since the issue is likely to be due to the floorboards being of poor quality.  

2. Provide an Expansion Gap

Are the walls level with the laminate floor planks or do they even slightly overlap them? To resolve the issue, you will need to remove the molding and cut a gap of at least a quarter of an inch to provide sufficient space to allow for the expansion of the floors during warmer weather. (The larger the surface of the laminate floors, the larger the gap will have to be.)

To cut in straight lines you will need a circular saw while a jigsaw will do for circular contours. 

A degree of skill is required to cut laminate flooring and so you may need to rely on the services of a professional.

Once you have provided the expansion gap and replaced the molding, you may need to place weights on any uneven planks to restore the smoothness of your floor.

3. Cut Through Bubbles on Planks

It is possible to cut and glue bubbles on planks. You will require the following tools:

  • A sharp knife
  • Wood glue

You will also need to:

Cut a slit through each bubble

For each affected plank you will have to make an incision through every bubble.

Apply the wood glue

Wood glue can stain the flooring and so care will need to be taken when applying it. You will need to squeeze a small amount through each incision and smoothen it. 

A weight should be applied for 24 hours to give the wood glue time to dry.

4. Glue Delaminated Wear Layers

Loose wear layers can be fixed by gluing them. You will need the following tools:

  • Putty knife
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps
  • Compressed air

For each affected spot on each plank you will have to do the following:

Apply compressed air beneath the delaminated layer

This can be done by inserting the blade of the putty knife beneath the wear layer and applying the compressed air. Doing so will enable you to ensure it is clean enough to apply the glue.

Apply the wood glue

You will have to apply the adhesive while taking care to hold the layer up with the knife and press a small quantity of wood glue beneath the topmost layer of the plank.

Clamp the planks

You will have to apply the clamps to the parts of the planks to which glue has been applied making them pretty tight.

You will also need to leave the clamps in place for 24 hours which is the period the wood glue will need to dry.

Preventing Laminate Floor Bubbling

Laminate floor bubbling can be prevented by taking the following precautions:

1. Installing Moisture Barriers

Moisture barriers with a minimum of 6mm must be installed above concrete subfloors. If you live in particularly humid areas, you will need to ensure they are at least 12 mm thick.

2. Using the Right Cleaning Methods

Excessive amounts of water should be avoided when cleaning since, it will penetrate the planks and subsequently damage them.

Acidic cleaning agents such as vinegar are also unsuitable   for laminate floors since they will affect the glue holding each plank together and cause loose veneers.

3. Making Use of Dehumidifiers 

This is especially important during summer when humidity can be rather high. Switching on your air conditioning units can also help to reduce moisture levels in the air and reduce the risk of any resulting damage to your floors.

4. Pay Close Attention to Humidity Levels

The recommended levels of humidity for laminate flooring range between a maximum of 60% and a minimum of 30%. Ensuring humidity is maintained between this range will enable you to protect your floors from the risk of any damage from excess moisture in the air.

FAQs

Can I repair swollen laminate flooring without replacing it?

It will depend on the underlying cause of the swelling. When laminate flooring swells due to the presence of excess moisture, it will not regain its original size back even when dried. Under such circumstances, it is best to replace the affected part of the floor.

However, if the swelling in the floor planks is due to the use of glue to install them, the issue would ordinarily be resolved when the moisture from the adhesive dries out (this should take about a month). There will be no need to replace the boards in this instance.

What parts of the home are the least suitable for laminate floors?

Parts of your house that will see a great deal of moisture are the least suitable for laminate floors. This includes kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms, basements, and covered porches. It is best to opt for more water-resistant flooring choices such as ceramic tiles or vinyl instead.

How can I get rid of water under laminate flooring?

Simply remove the boards and remove the excess water using a wet vacuum. Next, allow it to dry out completely. 

However, it is worth noting that the water may actually extend to other areas,

You may need to call on the services of a professional to ensure they are able to detect any further damage and thoroughly eliminate any excess moisture present, forestalling any risk of mold or mildew.

Conclusion

The main cause of bubbling in laminate floors is moisture although it may also be caused by poor quality flooring or the lack of an expansion gap.

It can easily be fixed by using wood glue, replacing the entire surface (in the case of widespread damage), or cutting an expansion gap.