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Why Does Laminate Flooring Warp?

Laminate flooring is a popular choice in homes due to its durability and ease of maintenance. However, one issue that can arise with laminate flooring is warping. Warping causes the boards to distort and develop bumps, curls, or lift from the subfloor, creating an uneven surface that can be both unsightly and unsafe. This blog post will explore the causes of laminate flooring warping, how to prevent it, and how to fix it if it happens.

Understanding Why Laminate Flooring Warps

Warping in laminate flooring typically occurs due to moisture problems, improper installation, or environmental conditions. Each of these factors can significantly affect the integrity and appearance of your floor.

1. Moisture and Humidity Issues

The most common cause of warping in laminate flooring is moisture exposure. Laminate consists of several layers, including a core layer made of dense fibreboard which is highly susceptible to moisture:

  • Spills and Moisture Penetration: Water from spills that are not cleaned up promptly can seep into the seams of the flooring, causing the boards to swell and warp.
  • High Humidity Levels: Excessive humidity can cause the wood fibres in the laminate core to swell, leading to warping. Conversely, too low humidity can cause shrinking that may also lead to warping.
  • Moisture from the Subfloor: If the subfloor is damp (common with concrete subfloors), moisture can rise and affect the laminate flooring unless there are proper moisture barriers in place.
A lot of moisture is tough for laminate to handle because the fibreboard inside wants to soak up water – the protective top layer resists spills temporarily so you have time to clean it up but over time a consistently damp room can negatively impact your laminate flooring, reducing its lifespan. Read here to see why laminate flooring can’t get wet.

2. Improper Installation

Improper installation can also lead to warping:

  • Lack of Expansion Gaps: Laminate flooring expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity. Failing to leave sufficient expansion gaps around the room edges can cause the flooring to push up against the walls and warp.
  • Poor Subfloor Preparation: An uneven subfloor can lead to points of pressure on the laminate boards, causing them to warp over time.

3. Inadequate Acclimation

Before installation, laminate flooring needs to adjust to the humidity and temperature conditions of the room where it will be laid:

  • Skipping Acclimation: Installing the flooring immediately after bringing it into a new environment can result in warping as the material adjusts to new conditions.

Preventing Warping in Laminate Flooring

Acclimate Your Flooring

Always allow your laminate flooring to acclimate to your home’s environment for at least 48 hours before installation. This helps the material stabilize in the new conditions.

Ensure Proper Installation

Make sure to install your laminate flooring with the correct expansion gaps and over a level, stable subfloor. Use spacers during installation to maintain these gaps consistently around the perimeter of the room.

Use Moisture Barriers

Installing a moisture barrier above the subfloor can prevent moisture from seeping into the laminate flooring. This is especially important over concrete floors and in humid environments.

Control Indoor Humidity

Maintain indoor humidity levels within the manufacturer-recommended range (usually between 30% and 50%). Using dehumidifiers or humidifiers can help stabilize the conditions.

You might also like: Can Laminate Flooring Be Repaired?

Fixing Warped Laminate Flooring

If your laminate flooring has already begun to warp, here are some steps you can take:

Replace Warped Planks

The most effective way to deal with warping is to replace the affected planks. This may involve disassembling part of your floor to reach the damaged sections.

Address Underlying Moisture Issues

Identify and resolve any moisture sources before replacing any flooring. This might mean fixing leaks, improving ventilation, or installing a new moisture barrier.

Use A Dehumidifier

For ongoing humidity issues, using a dehumidifier can help reduce the amount of moisture in the air and minimize further warping.

In Conclusion

Warping in laminate flooring can detract from the beauty and functionality of your space but is generally preventable with careful installation and maintenance practices. By understanding the common causes and employing preventive measures, you can ensure your laminate flooring remains flat and attractive for years to come. If you encounter warping, addressing the problem quickly can help mitigate damage and restore your floor’s appearance.

If you’re still on the hunt for new flooring, why not give us a try? Easipay Flooring offers great prices on high quality flooring, including laminate, vinyl and carpets. We also offer free underlay for carpets and laminate, and to make buying your new flooring more manageable we’ll also let you split the cost into instalments over time too, interest free! Tap the button below to get started.

Still Got Questions? Here's 10 FAQs!

The ideal indoor humidity level to prevent laminate flooring from warping is generally between 30% and 50%. Using humidifiers or dehumidifiers can help maintain this range.

Expansion gaps for laminate flooring should be about 10mm wide around the perimeter of the room or as specified by the flooring manufacturer.

It is challenging to fix a warped plank without replacing it. However, sometimes placing heavy objects on the affected area can help flatten it temporarily, but replacement is usually the best long-term solution.

To replace a warped plank:

  • Remove the baseboard and planks up to the affected area.
  • Replace the warped plank with a new one.
  • Reassemble the planks and reinstall the baseboard.

A 6-mil polyethylene sheet is commonly used as a moisture barrier under laminate flooring, especially over concrete subfloors or in basements.

You should acclimate laminate flooring to the room’s environment for at least 48 hours before installation to allow it to adjust to the room’s temperature and humidity conditions.

Heavy furniture can contribute to warping if it restricts the natural expansion and contraction of the laminate flooring. Always ensure proper expansion gaps are maintained even around heavy furniture.

A long level or a laser level can help you check if your subfloor is even. Any dips or peaks should be corrected before installation to prevent warping.

Yes, prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can cause laminate flooring to heat up and expand, potentially leading to warping. Using blinds or curtains to control sunlight exposure is recommended.

Immediately wipe up any spills on laminate flooring to prevent water from seeping between the planks and causing warping. Use a dry or slightly damp cloth and dry the area thoroughly.