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Flooring - Laminate

Laminate Flooring - Buckling Problem

Yesterday I saw a laminate floor that had buckled. The laminate flooring had been installed for about 6 months and was a medium quality product. The homeowners did the installation themselves, after getting verbal instructions from a sales person at a big box retailer.

They admitted that they had felt comfortable in doing the project themselves and had only skimmed the manufacturers laminate floor installation instruction sheet. The room size was approximately 11’ x 17’.

To my knowledge, there are only 2 reasons for a laminate floor to buckle:

  • The laminate flooring was not allowed to acclimatize itself to the room before installation. (Warehouses and big box retail stores are exceptionally dry facilities).
  • There was no expansion space allowed between the flooring and the wall.

On questioning the homeowners, they said that the material was in their home for more than a week before they installed it and that they had left a 3/8" gap all around the room. Both of these should have been adequate to prevent buckling.

Quarter round had been placed around the room to hide the gap between flooring and the walls. I removed a piece of quarter round and immediately discovered the problem. The homeowners had nailed the quarter round to the floor, through the laminate, rather than to the wall, thus locking the floor into place and not allowing the flooring to expand and contract under the quarter round.

Simple mistake and one that was relatively easy to correct.