With their affordability, durability and ease of installation, laminate floors are a great solution for many homeowners, and offer beauty and visual impact as well. However, there are a number of factors that may cause a laminate floor to “lift up” in places after installation. This typically involves a plank or series of planks, and the causes can include expansion after installation, moisture or flooding, or problems with your subfloor, among others.
Acclimation - One common reason for a laminate floor to experience lifting is that the floor was installed without leaving enough space around its perimeter for acclimation to occur after installation. When properly installed, a laminate floor should have a perimeter of approximately 8-10 millimetres to allow for expansion due to acclimation, in which the floor adjusts to the temperature and humidity of its new environment. For homes in coastal areas or regions of especially high humidity, increase this perimeter to 16 to 20 millimetres to ensure room for expansion due to humidity. If this is not done, however, the floor has nowhere to expand to, and consequently bows up slightly due to the pressure upon its sides.
Moisture - Another common reason for a laminate floor to lift is moisture. As a laminate flooring plank is essentially a laminated or plasticised coating surrounding pressurised and compressed wood particles, if it receives prolonged exposure to moisture, the plank will swell or expand. When attempting to determine if moisture is the factor causing your floor to lift, make note of the lifting and its location--if it occurs at or near a doorway, window, vent, pipe or other potential moisture source, you may have found your answer.
Pets - Another common cause for a laminate floor to lift is that it may have become a favourite spot for your pet to urinate. If the lifting is occurring at a frequent site for pet accidents, including urination, defecation, or even vomiting, the moisture from these occurrences can eventually cause the floor to lift. The lifting could also be due to something as commonplace as your pet's food or water bowl. If the food or water bowl is sitting on a bare laminate floor, the pet's everyday activity of eating or drinking can cause enough moisture over time to warp the floor.
Other Causes - A lift in your laminate floor can also be caused by the way the floor's planks or joints were fitted together upon installation. If they were hammered or tapped together too tightly, this can lead to a "peaking" and then a warping in the boards. The lifting can also be due to something as simple as an uneven subfloor. Another cause may actually be found in your cleaning methods. Many laminate floor owners erroneously assume that their tough, durable laminate floors are waterproof. Yet, while there are waterproof laminate flooring products, most laminate floors are not waterproof, and in fact should not be cleaned with excessive water or wet-mopping. If this has been your cleaning method of choice, it could be the cause for the lifting you're experiencing. By the same token, as you examine the location of the lift, look to see if you have a plant nearby--if you've been spilling even small amounts of water as you water the plants, this can have a direct effect on your flooring over time.
Next Steps - To solve your lifting problem, it's vital that you get help from an outside and professional source. If your floor was purchased or installed within the past year, for instance, it should still be under warranty. Make sure to not only contact your laminate flooring retailer, but also the flooring manufacturer, as well as your flooring installer, if you didn't do the installation yourself. If the cause of the lifting is determined to be acclimation, removing or lifting the baseboards is one solution that can help to relieve this pressure, and allow the floor to return to normal. If the cause is due to your pet, first make sure that you treat the area with an enzyme cleaner so that the pet does not continue to seek out the area for repeated offences. If the cause is the pet's food or water bowl, cover the area with a sturdy and waterproof mat or placemat, and be vigilant about spills so that the area remains dry. If the cause is a leak, problem with the subfloor, or an improper moisture barrier, these are complex repairs where laminate floors are concerned, and should only be done by a professional.