Buckling Laminate Flooring: The Curvy Conundrum Unraveled

Laminate flooring has become a popular choice for homeowners due to its affordability and durability. However, one common issue that may arise is buckling. Buckling laminate flooring refers to the lifting and separation of the floor planks, which can cause unsightly gaps and potential damage to the overall flooring.

To understand and address this problem, it’s important to know its causes. These can include improper installation, exposure to moisture, temperature fluctuations, and inadequate expansion gaps. Being aware of these factors can help you prevent buckling and maintain your laminate floor’s aesthetics and functionality for the long term.

Causes of Buckling Laminate Flooring

Buckling laminate flooring can be caused by several factors. Here are some common reasons for this issue:

Moisture and Humidity

One of the primary causes of buckling laminate flooring is excessive moisture and humidity. When the moisture levels in the environment increase, laminate floors can absorb the excess moisture and expand, leading to buckling. It is important to maintain proper humidity levels within the space to prevent this problem.

Some ways to control moisture and humidity include:

Improper Installation

Improper installation techniques can also contribute to buckling laminate flooring. If the floor is not installed correctly, it may not have enough room for expansion, resulting in buckling. Some common installation mistakes include:

  • Not leaving an expansion gap around the perimeter of the room
  • Using inappropriate underlayment materials
  • Not allowing the flooring to acclimate to the room’s environment before installation

Temperature Fluctuations

Temperature fluctuations can cause the laminate flooring to expand and contract, which may lead to buckling. It is essential to maintain a consistent temperature in the room to avoid this issue. You can achieve this by:

  • Controlling the room’s heating and cooling system
  • Installing a thermostat to monitor temperature levels
  • Avoiding direct sunlight on the floor by using blinds or curtains

Subfloor Issues

Subfloor problems can also cause buckling in laminate flooring. Uneven or damaged subfloors can lead to uneven pressure on the laminate, causing it to buckle. Some ways to address subfloor issues include:

  • Inspecting and repairing the subfloor before installation
  • Using a leveling compound to create a smooth surface
  • Ensuring the subfloor is dry and moisture-free

4 Prevention Tips

Proper Installation Practices

Using proper installation techniques is crucial in preventing buckling in laminate flooring:

  • Ensure boards are tightly locked together and staggered.
  • Leave an expansion gap around the room’s perimeter to accommodate for natural expansion and contraction.
  • Use manufacturer recommended underlayment for optimum performance.

Moisture Control and Barrier

Proper moisture control is essential to preventing buckling:

  • Perform a moisture test before installation.
  • Install a moisture barrier when flooring is being installed on or below grade.
  • Avoid excessive exposure to water by cleaning spills immediately.

Room Temperature Maintenance

To maintain an optimal temperature for the flooring:

  • Keep the room between 60-80°F (15-27°C).
  • Avoid direct sunlight exposure with window coverings.
  • Monitor humidity levels and use a dehumidifier when necessary.

Subfloor Preparation

Preparing the subfloor before installation is key to ensuring a stable base:

  • Subfloor must be level, clean, and dry.
  • Repair any damaged areas before installation.
  • Fill in any low spots to create an even surface with a leveling compound.

Repairing Buckled Laminate Flooring

In this section, we will cover the steps to repair buckled laminate flooring. The process involves assessing the damage, removing and replacing damaged planks, and reinstalling the flooring. Follow these steps to restore the appearance and functionality of your laminate flooring.

Assessing the Damage

Before starting the repair work, it is essential to identify the extent and cause of the buckling. Check for water damage, improper installation, or insufficient expansion gaps around the room’s perimeter. Knowing the reason will help you address the issue and prevent it from happening again.

Removing and Replacing Planks

To remove damaged planks, follow these steps:

  1. Carefully disassemble the flooring, starting from the nearest wall or molding, until you reach the affected plank(s).
  2. Remove the buckled plank(s) and inspect the subfloor for water damage or unevenness. Repair or replace the subfloor as needed.
  3. Replace the damaged plank(s) with new ones, ensuring they match the existing flooring in design and thickness.


After replacing the damaged planks, it’s time to reinstall the laminate flooring. Make sure to leave adequate expansion gaps around the room’s perimeter, typically 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch, to allow for natural expansion and contraction. To make the process easier, consider using spacers or expansion joint strips.

Reassemble the flooring by clicking the planks back together, following the original installation pattern. If possible, use a tapping block and a pull bar to ensure tight connections between the planks. Once you’ve reinstalled the flooring, reinstall the baseboards, moldings, or transition strips to complete the repair.


In summary, buckling laminate flooring can be a frustrating issue for homeowners. Addressing the problem early can help prevent further damage and save time and money in the long run.

Key steps to prevent buckling include:

Following these preventive measures and addressing any signs of buckling promptly will contribute to maintaining the durability and appearance of your laminate flooring.

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