When you want the luxurious look of hardwood without the price tag, vinyl plank flooring makes a great solution. This cost-effective alternative to hardwood flooring is easy to install, comes in a wide array of different styles to choose from, and is easy to maintain. Vinyl flooring typically requires either a click-together, loose lay, or a glue-down installation process. However, if not properly installed or maintained, your floor may experience vinyl plank buckling. Below we discuss how to avoid and even repair buckling.
What Causes Buckling?
Buckling can occur with click-together, loose lay, or glue-down flooring. There are a handful of reasons this problem can happen. Understanding the reasons for buckling can help us avoid the problem by taking simple preventative measures.
Sunlight & Heat
One of the major causes of buckling in vinyl plank flooring is expansion and contraction of the material. As the material becomes warmer, it can expand slightly, causing the floor to buckle. In the colder weather, the opposite is true and the floor can contract, leaving gaps between two of the tiles. Buckling is most common in areas that get more direct sunlight, such as along sliding glass doors and large windows in the home. If the tile is self-stick or glue-down, the extreme heat from the sun can also release the bond of the glue, allowing tiles to shift. This is especially common in vinyl flooring that has a fiberglass inner layer. The luxury vinyl materials are less likely to buckle than some of the less expensive, economy tile floors.
If water seeps up under the flooring from an extremely moist concrete subfloor, the adhesive can be weakened, causing buckling in the floors. During installation, run a vapor barrier under the vinyl plank flooring to help prevent buckling from moisture. The higher quality the material, the less likely it is to buckle due to moisture. If using vinyl plank flooring in a bathroom or kitchen, make sure it is a waterproof version.
Dragging Heavy Objects Over Loose Lay Flooring
Not all vinyl plank flooring requires a glue-down installation process. Loose lay vinyl flooring is extremely popular because of its durability and easy installation process but it does have a tendency to buckle if heavy furniture is dragged across the surface of the floor. When moving large items, lift the piece or use furniture movers to help limit damage to the floors. Felt pads under furniture can also protect against daily scratches.
Not Allowing for a Perimeter
Vinyl flooring naturally expands and contracts in the heat and cold. Stop the floor between a quarter inch and a half inch shy of the wall to allow for this natural expansion. If the floor is installed flush with the wall there is no room for growth in the hot months and the loose-lay floor can easily buckle.
Ways to Prevent Vinyl Plank Buckling
When installing this flooring in a home or office, there are a few simple preventative measures that will help prevent the floor from buckling in the first place.
Using Proper Adhesive
Some vinyl flooring required a glue-down installation process. Make sure to use a top-quality adhesive for this process. Inexpensive adhesives are more likely to become loose and allow floors to buckle than premium adhesives. In addition to using premium adhesive, it is also important to use the adhesive properly. Each brand of adhesive has a designated working time, in which it forms a secure bond. If you are spreading the adhesive after that working time has passed there is a chance it will not adhere properly. Follow all manufacturer instructions carefully when using vinyl floor adhesive to ensure the best results possible.
Rolling the Floor
After laying glue-down vinyl plank flooring, roll the floor with a 100-pound roller. This step will help to secure the floor and adhesive to the subfloor in every area. Using a roller at the initial installation will help to prevent the buckling of vinyl plank flooring down the line.
Sunlight and Window Treatments
Extreme heat and sunlight damage is one of the most common reasons for vinyl plank buckling. Prevent this from happening by taking steps to protect sections of the flooring from nearby windows. Applying a UV film or glass tint directly to the windows helps to limit the heat and light transfer through the window. Hanging blackout or thermal curtains is another way to limit the damage to floors by adjacent windows.
Vinyl Plank Flooring Repairs
If buckling has already taken place, there are some repair methods that can help remedy the problem. Sometimes, a simple repair of the affected area is sufficient. For more severe cases, replacing an entire section of the flooring may be necessary.
If the floors are glue down, gently peel back the area buckling. Scrape away any existing adhesive that has failed, softening it with a hairdryer if necessary. Apply new adhesive and work the vinyl tile back into place. Roll over the area to smooth out the buckled area and ensure proper adhesion of the adhesive. Place a few weights on the floor while the adhesive is drying.
Replacing a Section
Click-together or loose lay flooring allows for easy replacement of a section. Gently remove the buckled tiles and use them as a guideline to cut new pieces to size. Using a rubber mallet, work the new pieces into place. When installing floors initially, make sure to hold onto an extra box of materials. This will ensure that plenty of product is on-hand for future patches and repairs.
Vinyl plank flooring is a long-lasting and durable choice for a home or office. The resilient nature of the product makes it one that will last for many years to come. On occasion, slight buckling can occur, especially near windows and wet areas. With proper installation and a few preventative measures, buckling can be avoided. If it does occur, quick repairs and small patches will help restore the look of the flooring to its original splendor.