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Recently I've noticed the following in my laminate flooring:

bubbling

Apologies if the image is huge or unclear (I'm writing this from the Stack Exchange mobile app.

In short, there is ripples/bubbles in the laminate. I THINK the bubbling/warping began after we had someone help clean our house. My first thought was that someone spilt water or some wax solution for hardwood floors but it's difficult to say because the bubbling seems to be growing on a weekly basis and some of it goes under a rug where folks couldn't reach.

I'm planning to crawl under the house (yay!) to see if there is any water pipe leaks but if not, any other thoughts on what could be causing this?

  • Do you know if there is a moisture barrier under the laminate flooring? – bigbull15 May 14 '16 at 19:50
  • @user288719 there is rolled underlayment beneath. The floor has been fine for years until this one spot now. – Mike B May 14 '16 at 19:53
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I doubt it qas from rhe cleaning unless standing water or harsh chemicals were involved. Find out what chemicals were used to clean the flooring. Some (all?) laminate flooring is very susceptible to chemicals and recommend either only water or special cleaner.

IMO, This is most likely a moisture problem. Check any and all sources of water near the flooring. Perhaps a leaking dishwasher or sink is allowing moisture under the flooring.

For perspective, my wife spilled some bubble solution on our laminate and it was cleaned up less than 1 min later but it managed to soak into the seams a bit. That seam raised up about an 8th of an inch and took nearly 2 weeks before it was completely dry. As it dried, it slowly retreated back to level with the surrounding flooring.

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Laminate flooring can hold water for a long period of time. While a moisture barrier is intended to prevent moisture from moving from the subfloor to the laminate, it also will hold water on top of it. If you have a crawl space under that part of the flooring, it is definitely advisable to perform a visual inspection. From your photo, I can't tell if the swelling is near an exterior wall, but if it is, I would perform a visual inspection for any signs of water leakage there as well.

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This doesn't look reasonable to be water damage. I would not expect water damage to cross a seam like that. At the seam, it would wick along the seam and expand on either side of it. Other pix of laminate show raised edges along seams.

It looks like something sat as a puddle on top of the laminate, then dried in place, or they found something that actually could penetrate the aluminum oxide top coat, the paper layer and swell the surface.

Look closely at the edge of the 'ripple' Do you have something clear sitting on top of the floor, or has colour layer of the floor actually lifted up?

If you take more pictures, put a strait edge, like a level, on the floor and get down on the floor and shoot a pic sideways. I'm curious how much the floor has raised.

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That looks like water damage to MDF-based laminate. The planks are a composite of sawdust and a binder, with a layer on top that has a printed picture of wood and a wear surface. The bubbling in the picture starts at the seams. Water wicks into the seams and is then absorbed into the MDF, which swells.

The water absorption can happen pretty fast due to capillary action and the fact that MDF acts like a sponge, but it takes a very long time to dry out (weeks if the swelling is just right at the seams, months if well into the plank). Some MDF has a resin binder and will eventually return pretty much to its original condition. Some self-destructs when it gets wet.

The swelling will very gradually improve. Areas like the horizontal seam on the left several planks below the rug are swollen only along the seam, and may eventually return to normal or not be too noticeable. The giant bubble in the center could take the better part of a year to dry out, and may still be noticeable.

Give it a year and then assess how noticeable it is. If you can find the identical planks for sale, the damaged planks can be cut out and replaced if needed.

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