Laminate Floor Peaking Problems
Laminate floor peaking, buckling, cupping, words often used to describe peaking, though somewhat different problems. Each of these conditions is coupled with excessive moisture, and often an installation related concern. In this article we will discuss laminate floor peaking and touch on the buckling and cupping of laminate floors.
Laminate Floor Peaking, Buckling, Cupping Descriptions
Laminate Floor Buckling or Warping
Buckling laminate boards also form a peak. Laminate floor buckling is a much more severe peaking condition than laminate floor peaking. With buckling the laminate will be lifting off the floor. Buckling of a laminate floor is always caused by moisture but can be aggravated by improper installation. The moisture is usually below the laminate such as high moisture in a concrete slab or flooding. Buckling can also be caused by high relative humidity, a vacant house with no, or inadequately operating HVAC, or even excessive moisture during cleaning.
Buckling is aggravated by improper installation. Installation concerns include such problems as the laminate planks not being properly acclimated, moisture level of substrate was too high at time of installation, not enough expansion space was left, nails and other fasteners through the laminate flooring, locking it in place.
Laminate Floor Cupping
With the cupping of a laminate floor, the boards have also developed a peak. This peak has a shallow wave-like appearance. The boards will be high at the edge of the boards and low in the center. Cupping usually develops gradually, a high moisture related concern within individual pieces of flooring. This moisture imbalance is usually excessive moisture on the underside of the flooring. A more subtle cupping can be caused by lack of proper acclimation.
Laminate Floor Peaking
Laminate floor peaking is a condition where the board edges are pushing together and peaking upward, forming a high spot at the joint that appears as a shallow peak. Unlike cupping the boards will not have taken on a concave appearance.
Laminate Floor Peaking Causes
Laminate floor peaking is most commonly caused by the failure to allow for sufficient expansion space. Laminate flooring expands and contracts. If sufficient space has not been left at walls and other fixed objects it becomes locked in or pinched. As the floor expands it has no place to go other than up.
Correcting Laminate Floor Peaking
If the peaking is not too severe, it can normally be corrected by removing all baseboards, locating the area(s) where the flooring is locked in and add expansion space. Expansion space can either be added by cutting the planks or in some situations undercutting 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.
Other Causes of Laminate Floor Peaking
- Moldings at doorways or quarter round or base at walls, has been nailed through the laminate. Fix by removing and replacing the molding or quarter round without nailing through or directly next to the laminate flooring. If necessary cut back the laminate to allow for space. A wider molding may be required.
- 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.
- Floors can also peak from excess moisture in the substrate below. When installing laminate flooring over a concrete slab, the concrete should be pre-tested to make sure that it is dry enough for laminate flooring and 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.
- Occasionally peaking can occur from over tapping of the planks during installation, which has resulted in too tight of a fit. This type of peaking is rarely seen.
Laminate floor products are manufactured with either a high or low density fiberboard core. A high density fiberboard HDF is more expensive and also more resistant to moisture. Both cores though will become damaged by excess moisture just as with wood flooring and many other products.
While many people refer to their laminate flooring as a wood floor, the wood grain they are seeing is a picture of wood, much like wallpaper. This picture is adhered to the fiberboard and a coat of protective plastic coating is applied on top of this picture. The protective coating helps to make the surface of the laminate floor more resistant to water. Water both in the liquid and airborne can still be absorbs by the laminate of the edges and back side of the boards.
As laminate floor takes on moisture from cleaning, relative humidity of water damage 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.