Laminate Flooring Common Issues and Solutions

Laminate flooring is built for today’s active lifestyle. The HDF laminate core is both water resistant and dimensionally stable and the laminated surface is treated with Aluminum Oxide, adding strength and a high degree of scratch resistance. Laminate warranties cover fading, denting, staining and manufacturers defects; they do not however cover normal day to day wear and tear or incorrect installation. Note that most laminate floor issues do arise from incorrect installation or incorrect or inadequate care and maintenance, including incorrect cleaning methods.

Minor Scratches

Although very durable, it is normal to find minor scratches as result of daily wear and tear. Fortunately, this situation is easily remedied with the aid of a laminate floor repair kit, available at your local flooring store and all online retailers. These kits may include acrylic or latex putty, wax pencils or crayons and are color coded to match the floor. In the event that your color or style of flooring has been discontinued, you can purchase a generic kit from your local hardware store. Always take a plank of flooring with you, in order to select the correct color.


This and other laminate flooring repair kits are available from Home Depot. Click here to purchase.

For more serious damage, it might be necessary to replace the damaged boards. The introduction of glueless laminate flooring has resulted in a floor that is both easy to install and repair. For this you will need additional laminate flooring. See below for instructions on replacing laminate floor boards.

Peaking

Peaking refers to a situation in which the laminate floor boards push up against each other and result in high points at the joints. There are a number of reasons why this can happen. The most common cause of peaking is a lack of expansion space between the laminate floor and the walls around the perimeter of the installation, or a lack of expansion space between the laminate floor and laminate moldings. This situation is easily remedied. Simply follow the peaking board’s perpendicular to the wall or molding, remove the necessary molding- if against the wall, remove the baseboard and cut the laminate board that meets the wall or molding, thus giving the floor more space to expand. The peaking will not however dissipate immediately, it is necessary to place a weighted object on the peaking areas.

Peaking laminate boards


Another reason for peaking could be due to the fact that the moldings in the doorways or around the perimeter of the room have been fixed to the floor, thus preventing the floor from expanding. Remember that a laminate floor is a floating floor and must not be fixed to the sub floor or moldings at any point as this will not allow the floor to expand and contract, as these floors naturally do.

Peaking can also arise due to the fact that a continuous area of flooring is too long in one direction without an expansion joint to relieve the pressure. This will generally happen in areas where the floor runs for over 40 foot – this number differs per manufacturer. Check the manufacturers recommendations if you feel that your area is very large in one direction.

Buckling or warping

Buckling or warping is almost always as a result of moisture and/ or water damage. Laminate flooring is affected by water in a number of ways. High moisture content in the air can sometimes lead to buckling or warping. Excessive water on the surface of the floor can also lead to buckling or warping. For this reason it is important never to wet mop a laminate floor. The most common cause of warping or buckling is water or dampness rising from the subfloor in conjunction with the lack of a sufficient moisture barrier.

buckling and warping laminate boards

Buckling or warping can also be as a result of an inferior product construction. Laminate floor surfaces are laminated under extremely high pressure. For this reason, it is necceasry to have a pressure balancing layer on the bottom of the boards. This layer is made up of a rigid material and equalzes the pressure that is exerted form above.

Gapping

Gapping is not very common with laminate flooring. Gapping is a situation in which the laminate flooring boards tend to pull away from one another resulting in gaps between the boards. This situation will occur if the temperature drops to a point way below what is considered normal. For this reason it is very important to always acclimatize your flooring to the room temperature and conditions of the room in which the laminate is to be installed.

Mold and mildew

Issues concerning mold and mildew are gaining increased attention from both residential and commercial property owners as well as the public at large. In virtually all situations if there is a mold issue, there is an excessive moisture issue. In order to prevent, control, or erradicate mold and mildew, one must first identify, evaluate, and eliminate the source of excessive moisture.

Prior to removing an existing flooring or installing a new floor or repairing an existing laminate floor, if there are visible indications of mold or mildew or the presence of a strong musty odor in the area where flooring is to be removed or installed, the source of the problem should be identified and corrected.

To deal with mold and mildew issues, you should refer to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines that address mold and mildew. Depending on the mold and mildew condition present, those remediation options range from clean-up measures using gloves and biocide to hiring a professional mold and mildew remediation contractor to address the condition. Laminate flooring, because it is relatively non-porous, allow any mold and mildew on the flooring surface to be easily cleaned. Remediation measures may require structural repairs such as replacing underlayment and/or subfloor contaminated with mold or mildew as a result of prolonged exposure to moisture.
The EPA mold guidelines are contained in two publications “A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture and Your Home” (EPA 402-K-02-003) and “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings ”(EPA 402-K-01-001). Appendix B of the “Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings” publication describes potential health effects form exposure to mold, such as allergic and asthma reactions and irritation to eyes, skin, nose and throat. These publications can be located on EPA’s website at www.epa.gov/iaq/molds/

Off register

Off register is a situation in which the flooring pattern on one flooring board does not match up the pattern on the connecting board. Note however that manufacturers do allow for a small variance. This situation however almost never occurs, and in the event it does you can claim based on manufacturing defect.

Off register laminate boards

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Expanding High Density Fiber Board (HDF)

The core (middle section) of a laminate floor plank is made from HDF. HDF subjected to water, will swell and fall apart. Most laminate cores however are treated with water repellent chemicals. You might find that your laminate floors feel soft and squishy (for lack of a better term) when you walk on them. This is probably the result of a water soaked core. If this situation arises, your only remedy is to replace the affected boards.

Chipped corners

Excessive chipping on corners can be as a result of any of the following:
a) Wrong method of installation used. A laminate floor utilizing the click mechanism of installation does not require a tapping block or mallet for installation, the boards simply click together. Using a tapping block and mallet to install this type of floor will result in marks, indentations and chipping.
b) Cleaning the floor with a vacuum cleaner that contains a beater bar.
c) Also chipping can result of a poor quality laminate floor.

Replacing damaged laminate floor boards

To replace boards that are situated close to walls or moldings, follow these steps:

1. Start by removing the baseboard or molding. Be sure to do this carefully as not to damage the molding, as it is replaced in the final step.
2. Remove the boards starting from the molding until the damaged board is accessible.
3. Replace the damaged board and then the rest of the boards you removed, by clicking them back in place.
4. Replace the molding.

The process of repairing a laminate floor board that is closer to the center of the room is more detailed and time consuming. The process involves removing the damaged board utilizing a saw or router, then replacing the board utilizing a sufficient water resistant adhesive. Follow these steps.

1) Mark the damaged board 1-1/2” from ends and side. Drill 3/16” holes at corners of marked area.
2) Cut along lines between the drilled holes and remove the center section. Then cut remaining piece in the center on both sides and remove.

Replacing laminate boards


3) Prepare a replacement board by cutting and removing the factory tongue along the long and short end of the board. The figure below represents the two types of locking systems available.

Replace laminate boards 2


4) Apply adhesive to the cut edges and replace the board by aligning the groove on the replacement board with the tongue of the abutting board, and snap back into place.

5) Make sure all edges are even on either side of the joints. Utilize a heavy object to apply pressure for at least 24 hours. Make sure the weight is evenly distributed across the new piece.

Prevention is better than cure. Place floor mats at door entrances inorder to reduce the amount of sand tracked into the house. It is a good idea to place felt pads under furniture legs as this wil lprevent scratching caused by dragging the furniture across the floor. Also keep large pets' nails groomed.

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