Laminate floor peaking is a condition where the board edges are pushing together and peaking upward.
End joint peaking, the plank ends are raised up forming a high spot at the joint. This condition is most visible in areas where lighting flows across the floor.
End joint peaking can be a product, installation or site related issue.
Floor Peaking Causes
Dimensional or planar change resulting in the planks to dome or edge lift. Lab testing usually required to verify.
- Elevated subfloor moisture, alkalinity, contamination, unlevel or irregular substrate. Heat and cooling not properly controlled, resulting in excessive expansion and contraction.
- Excess moisture in the substrate below. Over a concrete slab, pretest the concrete. That concrete needs to be dry enough for laminate flooring. A vapor retarder should be placed between the concrete and laminate flooring.
- Excessive moisture, standing water, leaks, excessive water used in cleaning or improper cleaners used (i.e. wax, oil, polish, solvent, steam mops) can lead to swelling at the joints, often appearing as peaking.
- Failure to allow for sufficient expansion space will cause peaking. Expansion space prevents problems. If not, the floor becomes locked in or pinched. As the floor expands it has no place to go other than up.
- Also, not enough expansion space was left at fixed objects. As with boards installed tight, the planks expand, push together and the edges peak upward. This normally occurs because of inadequate acclimation or uncontrolled temperature and relative humidity.
- Moldings at doorways or quarter round or base at walls, nailed through the laminate. Fix by removing and replacing the molding or quarter round. Place nails directly into the wall or cabinets, not the flooring. If necessary, cut back the laminate to give more expansion space. Use wider molding to cover the gap.
- T-molding not used between rooms or areas. Correct by cutting the laminate flooring between the rooms or areas and adding the proper T-molding.
- Occasionally peaking can occur from over tapping of the planks during installation, which has resulted in too tight of a fit.
Peaking that is not too severe, can normally be corrected by adding expansion space. Remove all baseboards and locate the area(s) where the flooring is locked in. Add expansion space by cutting the planks. In some situations you can undercut the drywall so that the laminate has more room to expand. The peaking can take weeks or even months to go down. If there is a stubborn area, try weighting it down for a period of time.
Laminate Floor Buckling or Warping
Buckling laminate planks form a peak. This is a severe laminate floor peaking condition where the flooring is growing excessively. With buckling the laminate will lift entirely off the floor. Excessively high moisture caused buckling. The moisture is usually below the laminate such as high moisture in a concrete slab or flooding. High, uncontrolled relative humidity also causes buckling. A vacant house without, or inadequately operating HVAC system is a perfect candidate for buckling. Excessive moisture during cleaning can also result in buckling.
Improper installation and aggravate buckling. There are several potential installation concerns. Examples include:
- Improper acclimation.
- Moisture level of substrate too high at time of installation.
- Not enough expansion space.
- Nails and other fasteners through the laminate flooring.
- Not using required transitions.
Laminate Floor Cupping
With laminate floor cupping, the boards develop a peak with a shallow wave-like appearance. The boards will be high at the edge of the boards and low in the center. When you have a high moisture related concern within individual pieces of flooring the cupping frequently develops gradually, the moisture imbalance is usually on the underside of the flooring. Lack of proper acclimation often causes a subtler cupping.
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Laminate Cores Can Absorb Water
- Laminate flooring products are manufactured using high-density and low-density fiberboard cores. High-density fiberboard HDF is more expensive and more resistant to moisture. Excess moisture damages high and low density cores just as with wood flooring.
- While many people refer to laminate flooring as a wood floor, the wood grain they are seeing is a picture of wood, much like wallpaper. The image is adhered to the fiberboard and a protective plastic is applied on top of the image.
- As laminate floor takes on moisture from cleaning, relative humidity and other forms it will expand. As the moisture level in a laminate floor decreases such as during the heating season when the relative humidity is lower, it will contract. Laminate floor peaking occurs with expansion and laminate floor gaps usually occur with contraction of the flooring planks or tiles.
- Laminate flooring is a good product though problems such as laminate floor peaking can occur, especially with improper installation or unregulated site related conditions.
Sylvia Tagle-Torres says
I bought my laminate flooring from Sam’s Club in Corpus Christi, Tx. I have very little problem but I don’t want or don’t have the money to replace. If I put glue with a injection needle, will that fix it. Or if I paint the entire floor with clear polyurethane would that fix it. We live in very humid area. I have air condition …is that enough.
Terry Weinheimer | Kevin Weinheimer says
The best way to keep your floor looking good is to follow the manufacturers maintenance directions and use very little moisture on it. As far as relative humidity it usually performs best between 35% and 50%. You can purchase a digital thermometer/hygrometer at big box and hardware stores for as little as about $15. A good investment and this will let you know if the air conditioning is doing its job.
You do not want to paint your laminate with clear urethane that will ruin your floor and not protect it from peaking. If you have peaking damage at a joint you could try injecting the area with glue and while it will not correct a problem it may add a bit of protection to the damaged area. Do not attempt to inject glue into all of your seams as you will only end up with an ugly mess.
Anne McGibbon says
I have a laminated floor where the end under the T-molding is coming up or rising. I have removed the T-molding as not to trip on it. Can this end of the floor be glued back down and new T-molding be replaced?
Terry Weinheimer | Kevin Weinheimer says
Glue down a floating floor is done with rare exception, such as on a floating floor. When you glue down part of a room such as in the doorway or in any other area, the floor is no longer able to float as a unit. You need to replace the T-molding that has popped loose. Make sure that when it is replaced, you leave expansion space. Without proper expansion space the floor can break the T-molding loose as the floor expands. Also make sure that the new T-molding is properly secured.
Marissa Avery says
We purchased our brand new house in February 2017 (moved in the 1st weekend of March) which included a 1 year builder warranty. We started to notice peaking on many of our flooring planks about 3-6 months after we moved in. I regularly used my central Vac in between my cleaning cleaning lady who would come every 3 weeks and only used NORWEX cleaning clothes on our EVOKE laminate flooring. I had verbally mentioned it to our warranty lady when we were having other problems and she stated we would address them at the 1 year walk through.
In December with Family coming I was mortified by the appearance of my floors so I applied a polish to them to help conceal the issues. (I have spoken with the product reps and received documentation that their product would not cause this issue) At our year walk through the flooring was brought up with the flooring manufacturer coming out, a flooring company that stated the floor was installed improperly, but then later commented they were trying to get the builders business, so no surprise when both of their reports came back stating it was because I used this product.
I spoke with the distributor and he feels that is because it was installed in the WORST winter we had in years and the temperature was not adequate for the flooring to acclimate.
I am trying to gather as much research as possible before we take this to court. Have you heard of this being an issue in many other houses????
Terry Weinheimer | Kevin Weinheimer says
We hear of similar laminate flooring issues almost daily. The problems you are experiencing could be maintenance, site or installation related. You may want to consider hiring your own inspector. You do not say where you live, if it is in the United States or Canada go to NICFI.org and click on the inspector search tab. Before doing so you may wish to go to the Evoke Flooring site and read installation, maintenance and warranty literature about your product. https://evokeflooring.com/us/literature