Is your once beautiful vinyl plank floor suddenly looking raised and uneven? Vinyl floor will serve you for a long time if properly installed and well maintained. That said, mishaps can occur, and indeed, there are a couple of reasons for vinyl plank floor buckling.
The good news is that you can fix this problem without the help of a professional installer as long as you can catch it early. Read on to find out possible causes of vinyl buckling and an easy step-by-step guide for repairing your floor.
Although vinyl planks are sturdy and reliable, this flooring can still succumb to damage. Here are the main reasons for your vinyl planks floor buckling:
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Vinyl Plank Floor Buckling
1. Poor Installation
A bad installation job is the number one reason why vinyl planks bend after some time. Like hardwood and laminate, vinyl floors require room for expansion as the floors settle in.
During installation, place the planks at least a quarter-inch away from the wall to accommodate the natural expansion and contraction. The planks will bend and lift if there is no space for expansion left around the room’s perimeter.
2. The Condition of the Subfloor
Vinyl planks are considered the easiest to install because they don’t require extensive subfloor prep work as the planks float on the existing floor. But, for the best results, the subfloor should be leveled and free of debris before installing the planks.
Installing any vinyl on a badly done subfloor is a sure way to shorten your floor’s life span. The uneven floor will weaken the seams between planks, resulting in buckling.
3. Temperature Changes
Vinyl will expand when exposed to heat and contract when the ambient temperatures are cooler. The expansion and contraction cause the flooring to shift and buckle. Planks that are closer to windows and exposed to constant fluctuation of heat and cold are more prone to buckling.
While you cannot control ambient temperature changes, you can use the appropriate window dressing to protect your floor from exposure to direct sunlight. Doing this will minimize expansion from heat exposure and the subsequent contraction.
4. Moisture Trapped Underneath the Planks
As is the case with heat and cold, moisture is a major culprit in weak, lifted, and buckled vinyl flooring. In well-installed flooring, the seams between planks are tight enough to keep moisture from seeping through. Still, if your concrete subfloors have a moisture problem, the seams between the planks could come apart, weakening the flooring and causing it to buckle.
High-quality vinyl plank flooring is less prone to moisture damage. That said, it is a good idea to install a moisture barrier on top of the subfloor before installing the plank flooring to protect against the effects of excessive moisture.
Consider investing in waterproof vinyl, especially for areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, and patio, which are more prone to moisture exposure and damage. There might be a slight price variation between waterproof and non-waterproof planks, but the waterproof flooring does give you value for your money.
5. Abuse and Improper Use
Many factors determine the durability of the flooring; one among them is the care and maintenance you accord your floors. It goes without saying that floors that are well-cared tend to last longer than those subjected to abuse and improper use.
Vinyl is strong and sturdy, but one thing that will weaken your flooring is dragging and dropping heavy items. Frequent dragging of heavy furniture and appliances across the room will pull the planks apart or cause them to strain under the heavyweight, resulting in bending and buckling.
6. Using Low-Quality Adhesive
People make a major mistake using a cheap and low-quality adhesive when installing glue down plank vinyl flooring. A cheap adhesive may seem like a smart cost-saving move, but in actual sense, it will cost you more in the long run. A low-quality adhesive is prone to moisture and heat damage, causing the planks to buckle and come apart.
The cost of replacing your vinyl floor planks will quickly add up over time and will be higher than the cost of buying a good quality adhesive. I strongly recommend investing in the best possible vinyl flooring products to avoid spending more money overhauling or replacing the flooring after only a short use.
These are the top reasons for vinyl plank floor buckling. As you can see, many of these causes of damage are preventable through proper installation and meticulous maintenance. If your flooring has buckled already, you can replace or repair the planks.
How To Repair Buckled Vinyl Plank Flooring
Follow these easy steps to repair floating vinyl plank flooring:
Step 1: Identify the closest wall
To repair floating or click and lock vinyl plank flooring, you must first remove the planks closest to the problematic plank. To do this, identify the wall closest to the buckled plank and use this as your reference point as you do your repairs.
Step 2: Undo the wall molding
Take out the molding around the wall’s perimeter. By doing this, you can easily remove the planks to get to the one that needs replacing.
Step 3: Remove the neighboring planks
Once the molding is off, you can now lift the first plank closest to the wall. Continue removing the planks on that row until you get to the damaged plank.
Step 4: Replace the damaged plank
Take out the damaged plank. Then, install a new plank and lock it into place. Ensure that the new plank is the same size as the old one.
Step 4: Replace the other plank
After installing the new plank, you must now place back the other planks moving towards the wall. Be sure to interlock the planks as required to leave the floor stable.
Step 5: Reinstall the molding
With the planks put back in their respective spots, replace the molding for a finished look.
How To Repair Glue Down Vinyl Plank Flooring
If your flooring consists of glue down vinyl planks, the repair and replacement process will be slightly different.
Step 1: Dislodge the damaged vinyl plank
The advantage of glue down vinyl flooring is the easy and quick replacement and repair process. Instead of removing neighboring planks, you only need to remove the damaged ones. Use a flathead screwdriver to get under the damaged plank and yank it out.
Step 2: Remove the adhesive
A hard set adhesive holds the vinyl planks to the subfloor. Before installing a new plank or reinstalling the old one, ensure that the subfloor is free of dried-up adhesive.
Use a flat-headed scrapper to remove adhesive from the back of the plank and the subfloor. Use cotton wool soaked in a few drops of mineral spirit to soften the adhesive for easy removal.
Step 3: Reinstall the plank
If the plank is not structurally damaged and has only buckled out of place, you can reinstall the old plank, and it will be as good as new. First, ensure that the plank is dry before attempting to replace it.
Next, apply high-quality adhesive to the plank. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on applying the adhesive for best results. Finally, place the vinyl in its original spot.
Step 4: Roll over the vinyl planks
Rolling over ensures that the vinyl planks adhere to the subfloor to minimize the subsequent risk of buckling. Ideally, it would be best to use a 100-pound paint roller to go over the affected planks to ensure strong adhesion. Allow a few hours for the adhesive to dry.
Maintenance Tips For Vinyl Plank Floors
No one likes the sight of a damaged vinyl floor. Luckily, you can protect your floors from the effects of buckling. Here are a few tips:
Shut out direct sunlight
Use your preferred window treatment to protect your vinyl floors from direct exposure to the sun. Curtains, shutters, glass tint, or film will all get the job done.
Practice proper installation
If you install vinyl flooring on your own, use high-quality products, including the best adhesive you can afford. A good adhesive is less likely to come apart, and the floor will serve you many years.
In addition, ensure that the subfloor is clean and even before installing either floating or glue down vinyl planks.
Avoid dragging heavy items across the floor
Lift furniture and other heavy appliances off the floor when moving them from one point to another. This alone will improve the longevity of your vinyl flooring fivefold.
Although vinyl plank floor buckling is a rare occurrence, it does happen. The good news is you can easily repair damaged floating planks or glue down vinyl flooring on your own. Keep in mind that without proper maintenance, the cost of replacing and repairing vinyl flooring can quickly add up.