Design & DIY

Cottage Q&A: Buckling laminate

A laminate floor against white walls By Sasin Paraksa/Shutterstock

I get buckling laminate flooring in my unheated cabin. What are my options for fixing this problem?—Calli Flynn, Peterborough County, Ont.

Well, you can replace the buckled boards easily enough if you have extra pieces on hand, says Alana Kane of BestLaminate, a flooring supply company. “That’s why we usually recommend people order five to 10 per cent more than they need.” This means taking apart the floor to access the damage, replacing the wonky boards, and reinstalling the floor. Done! You’re back in business. Except, unless you eliminate what’s causing the buckling, “it could happen again,” says Kane. “And that’s kind of a pain in the butt.”

The problem? “Laminates don’t do well in temperature extremes or high humidity,” says John Haswell of Quality Red Tag Floors in Edmonton. These conditions generate moisture; the boards absorb the moisture, swell, and buckle when they push against each other.

Does your floor have a decent expansion gap around the perimeter? “Laminate usually isn’t secured to the subfloor,” says Ari Marantz of Trained Eye Home Inspection in Winnipeg. “It ‘floats’ overtop.” The minimum recommended gap is usually ¼”. Increasing it would give the floor more room to expand.

Heating your place year-round—and eliminating any other sources of moisture, say, from leaks or a damp crawl space—can help too.

This article originally ran in the May 2018 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

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