Easipay Flooring Logo in Orange

Get In Touch:

03303 332360

Easipay Flooring Logo in Orange
blog banner: Why does laminate flooring expand?

What Causes Laminate Flooring To Expand?

Laminate flooring is a popular choice for many homeowners due to its durability, ease of installation, and attractive appearance. However, like many other types of flooring, laminate is subject to expansion and contraction due to various factors. Understanding why laminate flooring expands can help you prevent potential damage and maintain the beauty and integrity of your flooring. In this comprehensive blog post, we will delve into the reasons behind laminate flooring’s expansion, how to manage it, and best practices for installation to minimize issues.

The Nature Of Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is made up of several layers: a bottom stabilizing layer, a core layer (typically made from high-density fibreboard, HDF), a decorative layer with a photographic image, and a top wear layer to protect against scratches and wear. Each of these layers reacts differently under various environmental conditions.

Reasons Why Laminate Flooring Expands

1. Moisture And Humidity

The primary reason for the expansion of laminate flooring is the presence of moisture and changes in humidity. The HDF core, being highly absorbent, swells and expands in high humidity conditions or when it comes into contact with water. This is why laminate flooring is often not recommended for areas like bathrooms or basements without proper moisture barriers.

2. Temperature Fluctuations

Like many materials, the components of laminate flooring expand in heat and contract in cold. This thermal expansion can cause the planks to push against each other and bulge if not properly acclimated to the room’s temperature before installation or if temperature changes are extreme.

3. Improper Installation

Improper installation can also lead to expansion problems. Laminate floors need a small amount of space around the edges of the room to allow for natural expansion and contraction. This gap is usually covered by baseboards or trim. If the flooring is installed too tightly against the walls, it doesn’t have enough space to expand, which can lead to buckling.

How To Manage Expansion

Proper Acclimation

Before installation, it is crucial to let the flooring acclimate to the room’s conditions. The standard recommendation is to leave the unopened packages of flooring in the room for at least 48 hours before installation. This step helps the laminate adjust to the temperature and humidity levels and reduces expansion after installation.

Use of Expansion Gaps

Always ensure that there is a sufficient expansion gap between the laminate planks and the walls, typically about 10mm to 20mm depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. These gaps allow the floor to expand freely without pushing against the walls.

To hide the expansion gaps, installers typically use beading, also called a Scotia or Floor Trim, which is attached to the skirting boards which cover the gap.

Moisture Barriers

When installing laminate over concrete or in moisture-prone areas, use a moisture barrier. This can be a simple plastic sheet or more advanced underlayment designed to block moisture. This barrier helps prevent the core of the laminate planks from absorbing moisture from below.

Maintaining Stable Environmental Conditions

Try to keep the home’s temperature and humidity levels as stable as possible. Use air conditioning, dehumidifiers, or humidifiers to maintain a consistent environment that is not too dry or too humid.

You might also like: Can Laminate Flooring Be Repaired?

Installation Tips To Prevent Problems

  1. Measure and Plan: Ensure you measure the room accurately and plan out the placement of the laminate pieces to allow for expansion gaps along all edges.
  2. Follow Manufacturer’s Guidelines: Adhere strictly to the installation instructions provided by the laminate manufacturer, as different types require different care.
  3. Check the Subfloor: Make sure that the subfloor is level and clean before installation. Uneven surfaces can also contribute to improper laminate behaviour.
  4. Inspect the Material: Before installing, check each piece of laminate for defects. Damaged materials can exacerbate expansion issues.

In Conclusion

Expansion in laminate flooring is a natural phenomenon caused by environmental factors such as humidity and temperature, as well as certain installation practices. By understanding these factors and implementing the appropriate measures, you can ensure that your laminate flooring remains beautiful and stable for years to come. Proper installation and maintenance not only extend the life of your flooring but also prevent the stress and cost of dealing with buckling and other expansion-related issues.

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!

It is generally recommended to leave a gap of about 10mm between the laminate flooring and the walls to allow for expansion. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines as this can vary based on the type and model of laminate flooring.

Laminate flooring can be installed in areas with higher humidity, but it is crucial to use a moisture barrier that provides additional moisture protection to prevent expansion and warping. 

It’s important to note that a humid room is not a damp room. Kitchens can become humid when boiling food – bathrooms are prone to damp conditions and laminate flooring is not suitable. 

For a better alternative, read our post on the best bathroom flooring options here.

Place the unopened packages of laminate flooring in the room where they will be installed and leave them for at least 48 hours. This helps the laminate adjust to the room’s temperature and humidity conditions.

Not leaving sufficient space for expansion can cause the flooring to buckle and lift off the ground. This happens because the laminate planks push against each other and have nowhere to expand, leading to upward pressure.

Yes, temperature changes can cause laminate flooring to expand and contract. Extreme changes in temperature can lead to significant expansion and contraction that may damage the flooring.


Buckling can occur for several reasons, including lack of an expansion gap, excessive moisture, or not allowing the flooring to acclimate to room conditions before installation.


To fix buckling, first determine the cause of the problem. It may be necessary to remove the planks and reinstall them with proper expansion gaps. If moisture is the issue, address any leaks or humidity problems and possibly replace affected planks.

Using a moisture barrier is essential when installing laminate flooring over concrete or in any area where moisture might be a concern. This barrier helps prevent moisture from reaching the laminate planks and causing expansion.

Typically, you will need a tape measure, utility knife, rubber mallet, spacers, a pull bar, and a saw for cutting planks to fit. These tools help ensure that the installation goes smoothly and that the flooring is properly aligned and spaced.

Maintain a relatively consistent indoor temperature and humidity level by using HVAC systems, dehumidifiers, or humidifiers. Avoid drastic temperature changes and try to keep humidity levels within the range recommended by the flooring manufacturer.