When water gets under laminate flooring, it can cause all sorts of problems not only with your laminate but your subfloor as well.
Not Sure What to do to save your Laminate?
In this guide you will learn:
• Ways that water can get Under laminate flooring,
• What can happen when water gets under your laminate,
• Signs of water damage to your laminate floors,
• How to dry out Water under your laminate floor.
Water Under Laminate Flooring
Water is one of the worst things that can happen to laminate flooring. Comprised of a thin top layer with a core usually consisting of particle board, when water gets underneath it you have a very brief window to address the problem before lasting damage can occur.
In mere minutes, water can absorb into the laminate and begin to wreak havoc on your flooring.
Signs of Water Under Laminate Flooring
Often, the signs of water under your laminate flooring will be readily visible. This can include:
Swelling occurs when the dense fibrous material that comprises the core of laminate floor planks absorbs water, causing it to expand and the planks to lift and separate from each other.
Once this happens, there’s little you can do other than dry them out and hope that they return to their former shape, otherwise they will need to be replaced.
Buckling is when the edges of the laminate lift up, creating a dip in the middle of the plank. Also known as “cupping,” when buckling occurs it creates an uneven floor surface.
Unlike solid hardwood, laminate flooring can’t be sanded back to an even surface, so when buckling happens you’ll need to replace the affected area.
• Splitting or separating planks
The least worrisome of this list, splitting or separating can be caused by something as simple as a rise in the humidity, causing the planks to absorb a bit of moisture and push away from each other.
When planks begin to separate, they can usually be restored by drying them out, and adjusting them back into position if needed.
When laminate flooring absorbs water, sometimes as it dries out the core twists and contorts to where the planks become what is known as “warped.”
Once warping occurs, unfortunately, there isn’t anything you can do. Warped laminate will need to be replaced.
• Mold or mildew growth
Simultaneously one of the most noticeable and one of the most dangerous signs of water damage under your laminate, the good news is if done properly mold and mildew can be treated so long as the growth isn’t too severe.
You’ll need to act quickly when mold is spotted, and if you’re unable to get it out of your laminate yourself you’ll need to contact a professional.
But if you find mold, you can read more about how to deal with it in this guide:
- Water Under Laminate Causing Edges to Lift Up
If you suspect there is water under your laminate flooring and it’s lifting at the edges, chances are its due to one of three things.
• Concrete slab or subflooring has absorbed moisture
• It was installed improperly
• Expansion joints were done incorrectly
If your subflooring under your laminate has absorbed moisture, the water evaporating can cause your laminate flooring to rise up.
As long as you follow proper drying techniques, it should settle back down on its own.
If it’s an installation issue, that means the flooring likely wasn’t given time to acclimate to the room, or there wasn’t enough of a gap left between the wall and the first plank.
If it’s the former, you’ll need to give it time to do so, then ensure it dries properly and make adjustments once it has. If it’s the latter, you’ll need to do some necessary trimming to ensure the planks have room to naturally expand and contract.
Water Under your Laminate?
Call 844-994-1288 for a Risk Free estimate from a Licensed Water Damaged Floor Restoration Specialist in your area.
We Can Help Dry out the Water under your Laminate & Repair any Water Damage
What Happens If Water Gets Under Laminate Flooring
Seeing as laminate isn’t the ideal flooring for any areas with potential exposure to water, when water manages to find its way beneath your laminate flooring the amount of time you have to mitigate potential damage is minuscule at best.
Laminate flooring is much better protected when it comes to spills on top of it when compared to if water gets under it!
Water will start to soak into the core material beneath the top layer within minutes to a couple of hours depending on your laminate brand/quality, once that happens the planks are almost guaranteed to be ruined.
If you can get to it in time, however, you can minimize the exposure and hopefully prevent all but cosmetic damage.
Small Amount of Water Under Laminate
If the amount of water beneath your laminate is already minimal to begin with, hopefully, you should only experience some swelling and maybe some separation when you apply proper drying techniques.
We’ve covered how to dry out laminate flooring later in this guide, or see our Water Damaged Laminate Flooring Repair Guide.
The objective is to keep fans and dehumidifiers running to get the moisture out as quickly as possible.
Water Leaking Under Laminate Flooring
If you’re employing all the proper techniques to dry out laminate or keep your laminate flooring dry and it’s still absorbing moisture, there’s a good chance you have a water leak underneath your laminate floors.
The first thing to do is to shut off water to the house, via the water shut off valve.
This is typically located somewhere near the front of the house in the basement, or often near the furnace or hot water heater. Once you have the water shut off, start to look for signs of a leak.
If you’re able, look at the ceiling underneath the floor where the laminate is.
If the laminate is laid down on a solid concrete slab, indicators of a leak could also mean potential serious issues with any plumbing laid into the concrete.
Either way, you’ll want to get in contact with a water damage mitigation specialist right away to have the issue addressed.
Water Under Laminate Flooring in Bathroom
When it comes to bathrooms, laminate flooring isn’t an ideal choice. Bathrooms generally result in the most splashes and spilled water, which over time will take its toll on your laminate floors.
If water spills on your laminate bathroom floors, you should get it up right away specially to prevent water seeping under your laminate, and take necessary precautions to minimize splashes and spills.
Stay vigilant, and keep an eye on the plumbing under any sinks, and watch the area around the base of your toilets.
An improper sealing on a toilet can cause water to leak out and leak under your laminate floor and seep into the planks around it.
Be sure to use shower curtains properly to keep water inside the shower, and do everything you can to minimize tub splashes.
If water gets under your bathroom laminate, follow the drying techniques listed in our drying guide later in the article.
Keep track of its progress with a moisture meter to ensure that it’s drying out, and hopefully, you can prevent any serious damage.
What To Do If Water Gets Under Laminate Flooring
More often than not, when larger amounts of water get under laminate flooring , it will need to be replaced.
If water does get under your laminate, there are steps you can take to reduce the damage as much as possible and to prevent it from spreading to other areas of the floor.
At best, you can keep it contained to as small an area as possible, and save yourself the cost of having to replace the flooring in its entirety.
Water pipe Burst under Laminate Flooring
Sometimes, your luck just runs out, and you’ll experience a burst pipe underneath your laminate flooring. When this happens, it’s never fun, and the process of repairing and replacing your flooring isn’t an easy one.
The first thing you should do is shut off the water to your home via the water shut off valve.
If the water is allowed to continue to spill out through the burst pipe under your laminate, it will continue to spread out to other areas of the flooring as the initial burst zone becomes saturated.
Not having running water in your home is a tremendous inconvenience, so if you’re DIY-inclined there are ways of applying temporary fixes to the pipes, but ultimately you’ll have to call in a professional plumber at some point.
Get your drying equipment set up as soon as possible, because the more water you’re able to get out of the flooring, the less there is to spread further out, damaging more laminate planks.
Water Trapped under Laminate Flooring
In some instances, you may find that water has become trapped beneath your laminate flooring. If this is the case, the best thing to do to save as much laminate as you can is to take up some laminate planks so the water can escape through the drying process.
Starting at the wall nearest the source of the damage, use a prybar to remove the molding along the floor, being careful not to damage it.
Once its up, use the prybar again and start gently taking planks out, moving them towards the wall and lifting them up.
After you’ve removed several, you should be able to start sliding the damaged ones out to get to the area where the water is trapped under your laminate flooring.
From there, use towels and mops to get up as much of it as you can, then deploy the fans and dehumidifiers.
Keep an eye on the laminate planks nearby to ensure you’ve uncovered as much as the area as needed, as the water may have spread further than you initially thought.
Give the laminate planks a chance to dry, and then determine whether any of them are still usable.
How to Dry Laminate Flooring With Water Under It
In some cases, you may not be able to take up laminate flooring planks. It’s one of the best methods available, as it exposes the water under the laminate to direct airflow, but if you’re not in a position to take up floor planks, the methods of drying remain largely the same.
Secure the area, and make sure there isn’t any more water coming in. Deal with any surface water, and move any furniture up off of the wet area.
Set up fans angled at the floor, and bring in the dehumidifiers, leaving everything running at their highest setting. It could take several days, so be patient and use a moisture meter to monitor progress.
Will water dry up under laminate flooring on its own?
Any water will eventually evaporate and dry up on its own, provided there isn’t more coming in from anywhere.
The problem is, if water got under your laminate flooring there was a reason why, and chances are water will continue to get under it unless you address those issues.
That being said, if water is left to dry out on its own, the damage will be exponentially worse, not to mention you run the risk of it getting into your subflooring as well, which can cause rot, mold growth, and a whole slew of other major issues.
Allowing water under your laminate flooring to dry in its own is one of the absolute worst things you could do, and at the very least will result in ruined laminate. Please do not do this.
If water gets under laminate and it buckles, will it go down when it dries?
If the buckling is very minor, there is a possibility that the laminate will go back down when it dries. This is never guaranteed, though, as any amount of moisture absorbed into laminate flooring can cause irreversible damage.
Follow proper drying techniques, and keep an eye on the affected area.
That being said, you should never count on this happening. Laminate flooring is one of the most susceptible when it comes to water damage, and far more often the damage will be permanent, resulting in needing to replace any damaged planks.
Buckled laminate going back down on its own isn’t entirely unheard of, but we don’t recommend getting your hopes up.
Can you use a vacuum to get rid of water from under laminate flooring?
To an extent, yes. Wet vacuums are great at getting water out from between the seams of laminate planks, but if used properly they can also be helpful in getting water out from underneath laminate flooring.
To do so, you’ll need to remove some planks, following the guidelines of removing the molding along the wall and pulling planks towards it before lifting them out.
From there, using the wet vacuum along the seams of the exposed planks can help pull some of the moisture out from underneath them.
If you’re going to go to all that trouble, though, you may as well go all the way and remove planks from the entire area so you can wipe it up with a towel or mop.
Handy as they may be, a wet vacuum isn’t going to absorb as much as towels or mops in this instance.
Laminate Needs Rescuing?
Call 844-994-1288 for a Risk Free estimate from a Licensed Water Damaged Floor Restoration Specialist in your area.
We Can Help Dry out the Water Under your Laminate & Repair any water Damage.
Water Under Laminate Flooring In Basement
Basement flooring is set on top of the concrete slab that helps form the foundation of your home, so if you have water coming up through that slab you might potentially have a major problem.
Concrete can wick moisture up through the ground, which over time can be absorbed by any flooring laid on top of it. If that flooring is laminate, there’s going to be gradual water damage over time.
If the water is more severe, or you’re finding standing water in your basement and there hasn’t been any rain or flooding, there could be one of several reasons for it.
- Your concrete slab may have cracked, possibly from a water main break, and is letting water in.
- The moisture barrier around the foundation of your home may not have been installed correctly, letting water seep in through the walls after it rains.
These are serious issues that not only will result in water getting into your flooring, but more importantly could compromise the structural integrity of the foundation of your home.
Will water under laminate cause mold?
Yes, water under laminate can and will absolutely cause mold, especially in the basement.
Normally it takes mold approximately 24 to 48 hours to begin to grow under wet laminate flooring, but it can take as little as 12 if there’s been a sewage backup or groundwater flooding.
Paired with the normally damp, cool, low-light conditions of a basement, you have the perfect environment that mold loves to grow in.
Continue Reading: Mold under Laminate Flooring
How To Keep Water From Going Under Laminate Flooring
The reality is, laminate flooring is not the best choice of flooring for areas where there’s a good potential for water getting in/on it.
If you’re choosing which type of flooring to use for a kitchen or bathroom, laminate is not ideal.
But many of us find ourselves buying a home where laminate has already been installed in those rooms, and can’t always replace an entire room’s flooring on a whim.
That being said, unfortunately there’s no real way to entirely prevent water from getting under your laminate floors.
Common misconceptions involve a clear top coat of polyurethane, clear caulking the seams so water can’t get in, and other similar methods that sound like they make sense.
In practice, however, polyurethane will flake up and begin to peel off as it dries which can damage your flooring, and given the nature of laminate flooring the caulk will gradually separate from the seams as the floor is walked on and the gaps flex, expand, and contract.
The only way to keep water from getting under your laminate is staying vigilant for any signs of leaking water, and minimizing things like splashes and the like. Keep your plumbing well maintained, and have it inspected at least once every two years.
At the first signs of any water on your Laminate flooring, get it up right away, and begin the drying process.
Even the most expensive laminate flooring, with locking mechanisms that slow water penetration through the gaps, will most likely be ruined once water gets underneath them.
What Happens when you don’t use a Water Barrier Under Laminate Flooring
When installing laminate, particularly on top of a concrete slab such as in a basement, a water barrier of some kind can help prevent direct contact with any water coming up from the subflooring.
Skipping the use of a water barrier can put your laminate flooring in direct contact with moisture almost immediately, whereas a water barrier buys you some time.
As the name implies, a water barrier acts as just that, and can help prevent water from transmitting between layers of flooring. Also called “moisture barriers,” they’re typically recommended when installing laminate on a cement subfloor, or any area where there’s a chance of water soaking up through the subflooring.
In some instances, a water barrier may even be necessary to maintain any warranty you have on your laminate flooring.
Failure to use a water barrier can ultimately lead to a potentially voided warranty, which would have saved you a small fortune as we already know that once laminate becomes water damaged it is essentially ruined.
When To Call A Professional
Any time you feel as though things have progressed beyond what you’re comfortable dealing with, or when the damage is severe and there are considerable amounts of water under your laminate flooring.
When a water line bursts or there is significant mold growth, you should always contact a professional without hesitation.
Burst water lines can cause serious damage within your home and to your subfloor – mold is a severe health risk, especially to people with respiratory illnesses such as asthma or COPD.
Call someone sooner rather than later, especially if you’re worried you might be doing more damage than actual repairs and you have no reliable way to completely dry out water under your laminate and especially the subfloor.
We have Water Damage Restoration Technicians that can help Find the Source of the Leak under your laminate & Restore your Laminate Floors.
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