What happens if laminate gets wet?
Can You Fix Water Damaged Laminate Flooring?
In most cases, yes, you can fix water damaged laminate flooring. Although there is a risk of swelling, you can save laminate flooring damaged by water. The key to saving your flooring is to begin cleanup quickly and dry boards thoroughly.
How Does Water Damage Laminate Flooring?
Water damages laminate flooring by soaking into the layers and causing them to fall apart. Laminate floorboards typically have four different layers:
- Backing Layer – The backing layer is the bottom-most layer that touches the floor. It acts as both a moisture barrier and helps to balance the board on the floor below.
- Base or Core Layer – On top of the backing is the base or core layer. This forms the main structure of each board. It’s usually made of a composite wood material called high-density fiberboard.
- Design or Image Layer – Next is the design layer, which gives the floorboard it’s pattern or design. An image is printed on a thin resin layer and glued to the base layer.
- Wear Layer – Finally, the board is coated in several layers of clear resin. This helps protect the board against scratches and everyday wear. It also serves as a moisture barrier to keep out water.
- The base layer is most likely to have water damage. Depending on the type of backing material, it can also fall apart if there is enough water.
How Damage Occurs
If you’ve spilled some water on a laminate floor, there’s no need to panic. If it is patted dry with a cloth or sponge or wiped with a dry or well-wrung mop, you should be all set. However, if there is a spill and water is allowed to seep into the gaps between the laminate floor planks, damage can occur. This is because the wear layer will protect against water damage, but when water enters the floorboard gaps, the fiberboard core can get wet, causing it to swell.
If you’ve ever had a bookcase or table made of particle board and gotten it wet, you’ve noticed that the boards swell and bend. This is the same thing that can happen to your floorboards. If enough water gets into the seams, the core will soak up the moisture. If your laminate flooring is bubbling at the seams, it has water damage. And along with swelling, bending and cracking, a saturated laminate floorboard can develop mold.
How to save your laminate floors from water damage
Water on Top of Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring can get wet, but only the top. Laminate flooring’s sides, open seams, damaged areas, and bottoms can never get wet.
Mop up standing water quickly, as water can migrate into laminate’s seams. The edge areas of the laminate are more of a problem since edges are cut and exposed. If the water has reached edge areas or open seams, thoroughly extract the water with a wet-dry vacuum.
If you install the laminate flooring in a full bathroom, you must take extreme precautions given by laminate manufacturers. Installation in guest or half bathrooms without precautions is acceptable because water is not prevalent as in rooms with bathing facilities. In these rooms, the main areas of concern would be around the toilet and below the sink.
Water Under Laminate Flooring
When the water reaches under laminate flooring, the water must be removed immediately. If a small amount of water has leaked toward the edges of the flooring, pull up any quarter-round (shoe molding) or baseboards around the perimeter. If the water is not pervasive, you may be able to extract it with a wet-dry vacuum.
Your best bet is to remove the affected floorboards. Floorboards that run parallel to the spill may be simple to remove (after the quarter-round and baseboards have been taken up) since the last course of parallel laminate boards should tilt upward. You can then progressively take up boards as far as you need.
Floorboards that run perpendicular to the spill, as well as the first course of boards, cannot be removed so easily. In this case, you need to remove all of the laminate floorboards.
Let The Repairs Begin
Before you begin any DIY repairs, you should have Water Mold Fire Restoration’s water damage experts inspect the situation. We will provide these inspections at no cost. The water has probably affected your subfloor, which needs to be dry. The last thing you want to do is lay down your new flooring on a subfloor that isn’t 100% dry because any excess moisture will then be absorbed into your new flooring, creating the same type of damage to the floor as you just had.
Here are some basic repair tips:
- Stop The Leak – before you even think of dealing with your floors, make sure you locate and stop any leak.
- Identify Damaged Areas of Flooring – determine where the damage starts and ends. Look for the previously mentioned types of damage.
- Remove slightly more than you think is necessary – many times, the water has crept further than you think or can see. Keep removing boards until you can’t see any more moisture underneath them or also underneath the underlayment.
- Board replacement – gently slide or tap the new boards into place. The hardest board to replace will be the last one.
Dealing With Laminate Floor Water Damage
Laminate flooring is made using sections that are interlocked. This makes it easy to perform repairs in the event of water damage. To perform repairs, start by drying the wet area. Then begin removing the damaged parts. Before installing new sections on the floor, make sure its surface is completely dry.
There are a number of reasons why kitchen and bathroom floors become flooded. The most common causes include a leaky dishwasher, refrigerator, washing machine, or another source of moisture penetration.
If you suspect water damage, you should first identify the source of the leak, then fix it immediately. You could start by clearing the water on your floor. Of course, without closing the leak first, this will not do much good.
Once the source of the leak has been dealt with, proceed to remove wet parts of your laminate floor. Give it time to dry out. To speed up the drying process, use a wet-vacuum or mop to absorb the water. The method you use may depend on the volume of water spilled and whatever tool is available to you. Ideally, a wet-vacuum should be used to clear a large amount of water.
When all the water clears, the floor will still be wet and will need to be left exposed for a while to dry. Put a fan on the floor to speed this process up. Sections of the floor that have been damaged may require removal using a crowbar or circular saw. To remove the damaged parts without damaging the areas on the surrounding floor, you can use a chisel and hammer. The part of the floor under the damaged section(s) is softer and should be scraped with a sharp edge such as a knife or a similar tool. When you replace sections of the floor use construction glue and make sure each piece fits perfectly before moving on to the next one.