Water Underneath Laminate Flooring: Causes, Prevention, and Solutions

Water damage is a common issue faced by homeowners, and when it occurs beneath laminate flooring, it can be particularly problematic. Laminate is a popular flooring choice due to its durability and aesthetic appeal, but it is not entirely immune to water damage.

When water seeps under laminate flooring, it can lead to improper adhesion, causing the floor to swell or warp. In this article, we will explore the potential issues caused by water under laminate flooring and discuss methods to address and prevent the problem.

Causes of Water Under Laminate Flooring

Causes of Water Under Laminate Flooring

There are several factors that can contribute to water seeping under laminate flooring. In this section, we will discuss three main causes:

Leaks and Spills

Water leaks and spills happen frequently in homes and can lead to moisture buildup under laminate flooring. Common sources of leaks include:

  • Pipes, faucets, or appliances with defects or loose connections
  • Severe weather conditions, such as flooding or heavy rainfall
  • Accidental spills from daily activities, such as cooking or bathing

To prevent damage from leaks and spills, it is vital to address them immediately and ensure proper maintenance of household fixtures.

High Humidity

High levels of humidity in the air can also be a contributing factor to water accumulating under laminate flooring. This can be particularly problematic in certain areas, such as:

  1. Basements, which tend to have higher humidity levels than upper floors
  2. Rooms exposed to direct sunlight, leading to temperature fluctuations and increased condensation

To control humidity levels, it is recommended to maintain a consistent temperature of 60-80°F (15-27°C) and use dehumidifiers or air conditioners when necessary.

Improper Installation

Another possible cause of water under laminate flooring is imperfect installation. Issues that can arise during the installation process include:

  1. Inadequate expansion gaps around the perimeter of the room, which can cause buckling and water pooling
  2. Incorrectly sealed seams and joints, allowing moisture to seep through

It is crucial to follow manufacturer guidelines and hire experienced professionals to prevent these installation problems. Check the common laminate installing mistakes here.

Signs of Water Damage

Water damage under laminate flooring can be a hidden issue that slowly deteriorates your floor’s structure. It is essential to identify the signs early to address the problem and minimize the damage.

Buckling and Warping

When water finds its way under laminate flooring, it can cause the edges to lift and warp. This is due to the expansion of the flooring material as it absorbs moisture.

You might notice gaps between the planks or uneven surfaces, indicating that the floor is no longer level or smooth. These issues can lead to reduced structural integrity and possible safety hazards.

Discoloration and Stains

One of the more noticeable signs of water damage is discoloration or stains on the laminate flooring. Water may cause a yellowish or brownish tint on the floor’s surface, resulting from the absorption of water and minerals.

Additionally, you may notice an uneven appearance in the affected area, compared to the rest of your flooring. This can indicate localized water infiltration, which, if left unaddressed, may spread and worsen over time.

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are both common consequences of prolonged water exposure in laminate flooring. These microorganisms thrive in damp, dark environments and can lead to unpleasant odors and respiratory issues for occupants.

When inspecting your flooring, look for black or greenish spots, which are clear indicators of mold and mildew growth. If you find any sign of these contaminants, it is essential to act quickly and remediate the problem to protect the health of your household.

Drying and Repairing the Damage

Removing Excess Water

Begin by removing excess water from the surface of the laminate flooring. You can use a wet vacuum or absorbent towels to soak up the standing water. Be sure to work quickly to minimize water penetration into the laminate layers.

Drying the Floor

Once you have removed the excess water, it’s critical to dry the floor as quickly as possible. Using fans and a dehumidifier can help expedite the drying process. Open windows to promote air circulation, and consider using a space heater to speed up the evaporation. Monitor the moisture level with a moisture meter to know when the floor is sufficiently dry.

Replacing Damaged Laminate

Inspect the laminate flooring for signs of damage, such as warping or swelling. If you find any damaged pieces, they will need to be replaced. Follow these steps for replacing damaged laminate:

  1. Remove the baseboards or molding around the perimeter of the room.
  2. Use a laminate floor puller or a similar tool to carefully disengage the damaged planks from the surrounding pieces.
  3. Ensure the subfloor is dry before installing the new laminate pieces.
  4. Install the new laminate planks and interlock them with the existing ones, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Remember to leave a small expansion gap around the room’s edges.
  5. Reattach the baseboards or molding to complete the restoration process.

Preventing Future Water Damage

It is essential to prevent water damage in order to maintain the lifespan and appearance of your laminate flooring. The following sub-sections will provide practical methods to help protect your floors effectively:


Applying a waterproof sealant or underlayment is a critical step in preventing water damage. An underlayment designed specifically for laminate flooring helps act as a barrier between the flooring and any water or moisture:

  • Ensure to use a waterproof underlayment that is compatible with your laminate flooring.
  • Pay close attention to high-risk areas, such as kitchens and bathrooms, when applying sealant or underlayment.
  • Consider installing waterproof laminate flooring in areas with increased risk of water exposure.

Regular Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance are crucial in preventing water damage to your laminate floors. Implement the following practices to keep your floors in top condition:

General cleaning (sweeping, dusting, and mopping)Once or twice a week
Inspecting for signs of water damageOnce a month
Checking appliances for leaks and potential damageEvery 3 to 6 months

When mopping, use a damp (not wet) mop and avoid using excessive water, as this can contribute to water damage.

Proper Installation

Incorrect installation of laminate flooring can lead to water damage over time. It’s essential to follow best practices when installing your floors:

  1. Ensure all subfloors are dry and clean before installing the laminate.
  2. Leave a 1/4-inch expansion gap around the perimeter to allow for natural expansion and contraction of the laminate.
  3. Use spacers during installation to maintain a consistent gap around the edges of the flooring.

By considering these preventative measures, you can significantly reduce the chances of water damage to your laminate flooring and maintain its aesthetic appeal and longevity.

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