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Laminate Flooring Problems (During And After Install)

Laminate flooring is a very popular DIY project that many homeowners choose. That doesn’t mean, however, that it is without problems.

Laminate flooring is prone to a number of issues that can show up both during and after the installation takes place. Unlike many types of floors, laminate flooring is easy to damage and you could have any issues that range from bubbling to fading and even slippery surfaces.

Laminate floor in the living room

Although laminate flooring is problematic when it comes to installation and day-to-day use, that doesn’t mean that you should avoid it altogether. In fact, if you know about some of the problems associated with laminate flooring, you can even avoid those issues before they become a problem.

On this page, we will discuss some of the specific issues that you may face while installing laminate flooring. With the proper install, you can avoid many of the other issues that could take place after the floor is down.

Of course, since you are dealing with a relatively inexpensive type of flooring, laminate is prone to issues as it sees day-to-day use as well. Any type of abuse is also likely to cause problems that could even ruin the floor.

For now, let’s take a look at some of the biggest issues that you will face. It will help you to make a decision as to whether laminate is the right choice of flooring for you or not.

Laminate Flooring Problems

When you’re working with any type of interior flooring, you are going to have problems. Those issues can show up from the very start or they may occur after the floor has already been installed.

Laminate flooring can be very beautiful and it looks fantastic at the store. That is what causes many homeowners to buy laminate because it is inexpensive and has the promise of looking great when it is installed.

The problem is; since laminate is usually an inferior product, it can cause various issues when you are installing it and after it is installed. Some of these can be avoided but others are just going to be a problem associated with laminate and there’s not much you can do about it.

It is also important to understand that not all of the problems are going to be visible. In fact, some of them may be hiding under the surface and you won’t even realize that it is an issue for a very long time.

Of course, it doesn’t matter what type of flooring you are installing, there are bound to be problems. All flooring will eventually fail but laminate tends to have a shorter lifespan than most.

Fortunately, you have come to the right place if you are trying to learn more about laminate flooring and why it is both good and bad for the homeowner as a DIY project. Let’s dig in and consider some of the problems associated with the flooring that can be an issue.

Top 6 Problems During Laminate Flooring Installation

Man thinking while sitting on the floor

The installation process is very important for laminate. When it is installed properly, it will likely last for years.

The most common issue with laminate flooring during installation involves the expansion and contraction of the floor itself. Some of this can be overcome by acclimating the floor before putting it down. Others are just going to be a common factor that can lead to settling, separating, and bowing.

Let’s look down through the different issues with installing laminate floors. Understanding the issues in advance can help you to adjust where necessary.

1. Acclimating – Most laminate floors are floating floors. Since they are not attached directly to the subfloor, they are subject to expansion and contraction.

In some parts of the world, you may have your windows open at certain times of the year and during that time, the relative humidity can go up in the room. At other times of the year, it can be quite dry.

The adjustment in relative humidity along with temperature fluctuations can cause the laminate floor to expand and contract considerably. This will lead to problems that can include separating and buckling.

One way you can adjust during the installation process is to acclimate the floor properly. The boxes should be in the room for at least 72 hours prior to installing them.

2. Snap Together – Another reason why many people choose laminate floor is that it seems to snap together so easily. As you will find out during the installation process, however, that is not always the case.

If one of the pieces of laminate is flawed in any way, such as being warped or twisted, it is not going to snap together easily. You might end up having to throw that piece out or the floor will buckle or separate over time.

You can adjust and correct this issue by avoiding using any pieces that don’t go together easily. There may be some waste but if you purchased the flooring properly, you over-purchased anyway.

3. Debris under Floor – Some types of flooring are forgiving when it comes to small pieces of dirt or perhaps a small stone on the subfloor. That is not the case with laminate flooring.

Anything that is under the laminate flooring is going to end up showing sooner or later. It may not show at first but it is going to come back to haunt you as time goes by.

Constantly cleaning the floor ahead of where you are working is the most important key to a successful installation.

4. Reverse Installation – Most tongue and groove laminate flooring is going to be laid in one direction. The problem is, there are times when you have to install it in the opposite direction.

A reverse installation is possible and many professionals have no problem doing it. For most homeowners doing the DIY project, however, there is going to be a lot of waste.

5. Gaps – It is not out of the ordinary for gaps to appear in the space between the laminate planks. Since they are locked together, if you don’t get them together tightly, the spaces will appear.

It may not be a big issue if one of them appears but they tend to carry across the room. It is better to correct the problem immediately by using a rubber mallet. Otherwise, something will fall into the space and they won’t fit back together again.

6. Low Quality – The quality of the floor is going to make a huge difference when it comes to the end product. You can choose a higher-quality laminate for that very reason.

Admittedly, most homeowners are choosing laminate because it is a low cost product. Spending a little more on a lower-end product, however, will make a big difference in the final installation.

Top 6 Problems After Laminate Flooring Installation

Confused man while sitting

There are always likely to be problems with any type of flooring. With laminate flooring, however, the problems are more likely to occur.

The most common issue associated with laminate flooring is peaking. This is typically due to expansion and contraction. As the floor expands, the seam pops upward and forms a peak. This type of issue can sometimes be corrected by leaving enough of a gap around the perimeter of the room.

1. Floating – The expansion and contraction of laminate flooring is what leads to peaking, described above. You need to allow the floor to continually expand and contract due to temperature and moisture changes.

If you leave a 1/4 inch gap around the perimeter of the room it will correct this issue. It allows for the expansion but if the floor contracts, it will not likely contract enough that the gap appears from under the baseboard.

2. Noise – Laminate flooring tends to move as you walk on it. The boards rub as they move back and forth against each other and that can cause a lot of noise.

Most people tend to attribute squeaks and creaking to the subfloor. Although that may be true, laminate flooring is also known for causing those types of problems.

One way to overcome this issue is to use high-quality underlayment. Corkboard or something similar is a great choice. Most people who choose low-quality laminate are not willing to spend the extra money on a higher quality underlayment but it can make a difference.

3. Warping – As the moisture level changes in the room you may have a problem with warping and buckling. This is especially a problem if moisture tends to come from beneath the floor and work its way up through it.

Keeping humidity at an acceptable level is one way to avoid this problem. Some moisture is fine but too much moisture is likely to cause issues.

4. Gaps – Laminate flooring goes together neatly with some pre-constructed tongue and groove connectors. If they are not connected properly or if there is any warping or twisting in the laminate, it is likely to lead to a gap.

Most gaps can be corrected with a rubber mallet and gently tapping the floorboard into place. If you don’t correct it right away, however, some dirt and debris may get into the gap and it will never close properly.

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5. Fading – As the floor is down for an extended time, it can lead to some fading of the finish and colors. That is especially true in high-traffic areas or if the floor is exposed to sunlight directly.

6. Bubbling – Keeping the floor dry is an ongoing issue. If anything spills on the floor and is not cleaned up right away, it could lead to some bubbling of the laminate finish. Washing the floor with too much water will also cause this problem.

Laminate Flooring Pros And Cons

Man fixing the floor

It is always good to look at both the good and the bad when it comes to doing any DIY project. That is especially true of laminate flooring.

The price of laminate flooring is the reason why most people tend to choose it. It is one of the least expensive options for floor installation. If you are on a budget by point to have beautiful floors in your home, choosing laminate is a good way to go.

Here are the pros and cons of using laminate flooring:

Pro for Laminate Flooring:

Durable – Although laminate flooring does have its issues with durability, it is much less likely to scratch than hardwood floors.

Repair – From time to time, you will have to repair any type of flooring. As long as you have some extra pieces of laminate flooring from the installation, you will be able to repair it easily.

Cost – Compared to hardwood, you will spend a lot less on laminate. It is processed from composite wood that is pressed at high temperatures. Typically, you will spend about $0.50 on the dollar compared to hardwood.

Installation – Since most laminate flooring is able to snap together without any glue and it doesn’t have to be up attached to the subfloor, it is very easy to install.

Cons for Laminate Flooring:

Noisy – As we discussed above, laminate flooring can be quite noisy. The boards tend to rub back and forth against each other and create the squeaks and creaks that you may hear.

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Offgassing – This is a problem that is not often discussed but it can be a serious issue. Laminate flooring may off-gas for years, leading to health problems for those who are susceptible to them.

Moisture – Exposing laminate to any type of moisture can cause damage.

Where Should You Not Use Laminate Flooring?

Man thinking while sitting on the floor

Laminate flooring is an option that can be considered in many parts of the home. There are also areas where it should not be used.

Generally speaking, you should avoid using laminate floors in any part of the home that is prone to moisture. Laundry rooms, bathrooms outdoor areas (including enclosed porches), and saunas are some obvious areas where laminate flooring would be problematic. If it is necessary to mop the floor in the area, it should also be avoided.

For the most part, people tend to use laminate in the living room and perhaps even the dining room. Bedrooms are also an excellent choice for a laminate floor because they don’t get a lot of foot traffic.

As long as you avoid areas of the home that are prone to moisture, you are not likely to have any serious problems with the limited floor installation.

How Long Does Laminate Flooring Last?

Man fixing the floor

If you are installing a laminate floor in your home, you would probably appreciate using it for many years. How long can you expect your new laminate floor to last?

Most laminate floors will last anywhere from 15 to 30 years. Lower quality laminate is likely to wear out or have problems at the lower end of the scale. If you use a higher quality laminate and install it in part of the home where moisture and foot traffic is not heavy, it will last a very long time.

It is always a good idea to get the highest quality laminate floor that you possibly can. Most people tend to choose laminate because they are on a budget but spending a little more can go a long way in helping the floor to last.

You also need to care for the floor properly if you want it to last a long time. Wet mopping the laminate floor is like killing it with kindness, as the moisture will cause the laminate to bubble and buckle.

Dry mopping the floor on a regular basis is one of the best things you can possibly do. There may be times when you can wash the floor but you have to do so with a rag that is practically dry.

Is Laminate Flooring Considered Cheap?

Man thinking while sitting on the floor

If you’re on a budget, you are probably concerned about spending too much on flooring. Laminate may just be the right choice for you.

Laminate flooring is considered to be cheap by most DIY home enthusiasts. The average cost for laminate is five dollars per square foot. Just because it is cheap, however, does not mean that it is substandard. As long as you choose a high-quality laminate and care for it properly, it will last for many years.

One of the things to consider when purchasing a laminate floor is the thickness of the floor. Some of the cheaper options are going to be extremely thin but as you get thicker, it is going to cost more money.

You need to find the sweet spot between the floor that you can afford and the quality that will last your family for many years to come.

A laminate floor is inexpensive but it is not cheap, as far as the quality is concerned. When you get a good laminate floor, you will be happy with the installation.

Is Laminate Flooring Good For Bedrooms?

Man fixing the floor

As long as moisture is not a problem, laminate can be put in almost any room in the home. Should it be put in the bedroom?

The bedroom is the best place for laminate flooring. Between the fact that it is typically a very low moisture area and it doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic, it is likely to last for a very long time. It can also add to the beauty of the bedroom, creating the space that will be a showpiece in the home.

As was mentioned previously, if there is a moisture problem in any part of the home, laminate should be avoided. On the other hand, areas such as the bedroom and living room make an excellent choice for laminate floor.

The bedroom is likely the best place for laminate flooring because of the limited foot traffic and low moisture. You can install a laminate floor and be happy with the installation as it will last you for many years to come.

There are always going to be problems with any type of flooring but laminate flooring has its own issues. The top issue with laminate flooring is its durability. If it is in a dry area of the home and does not get a lot of foot traffic, it will last for a long time. Any moisture or other issues, however, will likely cause the floor to disintegrate rapidly.

Related Articles

Can You Install Laminate Floors On Ceiling?

How To Repair Laminate Flooring

How To Transition Laminate To Tile/Carpet/Linoleum/Vinyl Plank

How To Transition Laminate To Hardwood/Doors/Stairs/Concrete

ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on December 22, 2021.

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