Laminate flooring is popular due to its sleek and elegant look coupled with its durability. It requires far less maintenance than carpet and other flooring materials and is considerably more affordable, especially when compared to hardwood. However, it does come with a set of disadvantages to go with its advantages. Those disadvantages include the susceptibility to water damage. Homeowners should consider the following:
Water Damage and Laminate Flooring
Water damaged laminate flooring is one of those problems home inspectors see regularly. Depending on the amount of water and the time it was allowed to stay on the floor, damage from moisture can be severe. In many cases, floors can be so badly damaged that they cannot be repaired and must be removed.
Causes of water damage to laminate flooring include:
• Roof leaks
• Leaking appliances
• Overflowing toilets
• Wet concrete floor
• Excessive humidity
What Happens When Laminate Flooring is Damaged by Water?
When the seams between planks of laminate flooring are saturated with water, they swell. In this situation, the homeowner’s only option is to replace those planks; however, this is not easy as it may not be possible to find planks that match up exactly with the ones already installed. It may therefore be necessary to replace the whole floor.
How to Spot Water Damaged Laminate Flooring
• Plank edges are puffy or swollen
• Severe cupping
• Severe crowning
• Severe cracking
Homeowners should note that even a small amount of water like a spilled drink or rain blowing in through an open window could result in major damage. Furthermore, the moisture may not be visible until after the floor has been damaged.
Why Laminate Floors are Susceptible to Moisture Damage
In many cases, laminate floors are installed without a moisture barrier. The most commonly used underlayment is simply a foam pad installed between the laminate flooring and the subfloor. Even when a moisture barrier is installed, it is still possible for moisture to get trapped in the foam pad. The trapped moisture will speed up the rate at which the laminate flooring is damaged and may also cause damage to the walls and subflooring.
Water Removal Steps for Laminate Flooring
If the laminate floor has been flooded, immediate water removal steps are essential. Homeowners can use fans or dehumidifiers for water removal. In most cases, the floors will return to their previous state after they have been dried out. Once the water removal efforts are complete, the damage can be assessed and a determination made about whether it will be necessary to replace the flooring.
In order to protect laminate flooring, homeowners should try to limit indoor humidity to between 30 and 50 percent while maintaining a temperature of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.