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.