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Fixing Laminate Floors

By Brett Freeman
Fixing Laminate Floors

If your laminate floors have started talking to you, popping audibly when you walk over trouble spots, the problem may be that the floor has started to buckle in some places. In most cases, this results because the floor was installed with an inadequate gap between its edge and the wall. Because laminate flooring expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity, it should be installed with a gap of at least a quarter-inch. If the gap is inadequate, the floor expands and can press against the wall, which causes buckling. In some cases, you can correct this problem when you make the repair.

Step One: Identify All Trouble Spots
Because buckling results from your floor's expansion, the problem can come and go. Before you begin any repairs, take several days--preferably warm and/or humid days--to evaluate your floor. When you see or hear areas that are buckling, mark the afflicted boards with masking tape. The repair process can be laborious, so you may want to fix all of the problems in one session, if possible.

To Re-lay or not to Re-lay
The best way to repair a buckling laminate floor is work in from the wall closest to the buckled area, removing all of the boards until you reach those that are damaged, replacing them, and then re-laying the floor. But if your floor's trouble spots are more than a few feet from the wall, this method might not be practical. A less desirable, though effective, solution is to cut the damaged boards out and glue in replacement boards. Take some time to decide which method is best for you, because once you begin, it's too late to change your mind.

Doing it the Hard Way
If you do decide to pull up the flooring between the wall and the damaged areas, begin by removing the molding from the wall closest to the buckled boards (the wall that is parallel, not perpendicular, to the floor boards). Lift the outer edge of the first board to unlock it from the board next to it, then pull it back to remove it. Continue removing boards until you reach the damaged area. Remove the damaged boards, and replace them with identically-sized new ones (make sure the new boards are the same make and model). Repeat the process in reverse, locking the boards back into place. Wherever possible, trim the ends of boards to ensure an adequate gap. If the final board is too close to the wall, trim it slightly with a circular saw or router.

Spot Repair
If you decide to cut out the damaged board(s), begin by marking it at each corner, an inch or so in from the edges. Drill through the board using your largest drill bit. Using a router, connect the dots and remove the center of the board. Next, cut the remaining piece in half and remove both sides. Again using a router or circular saw, cut the tongue off of the replacement board. Apply carpenter's glue to the sides of the replacement board, then set it in place, aligning its groove with the tongue of the adjacent board. Remember, glue the board to the surrounding boards, not the subfloor. Finally, weigh the board down with bricks for 24 hours while the glue sets.

Repairing laminate flooring can be quite an undertaking, but once it's done, the silence will indeed be golden.

Sources:

Repairing Laminate Floors:
http://www.laminatefloorings.net
http://www.laminatefloorings.net/laminate_floors.htm
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