How do I fix vinyl plank flooring that is buckling?

I had vinyl plank flooring installed and after a year and a half of it laying there like a floor should, it started separating where each plank was butted against one another and then it began to buckle in other areas. I had the cement floor inspected for signs of water damage or a slab leak and neither were found. I had some planks pulled up and spare new ones installed and now it’s buckling in new areas. It’s a floating floor, but obviously something is wrong. Since the original installer wasn’t successful in fixing the problem, I’m still stuck with the buckling flooring. I guess I’m on my own and need to figure out a way to DIY. I’m ready to yank the planks up and just glue them down. However, other input on how or what to do, other then gluing it down, would be appreciated.

  10 answers
  • Bec Dguerra Bec Dguerra on Apr 27, 2021

    My Daughter had this problem when she bought and moved into her house. She and my husband used a saw to cut off a quarter-inch at a time off one end of the room he removed the baseboards to tell where to cut. The floor should not hit the wall anywhere in the room. it was a pain but one-quarter of an inch solved the problem. They used a jamb saw so that there was no handle on one side, it fit right against the wall.

  • Annie Annie on Apr 27, 2021

    Aren't these supposed to be "floating" in the sense that they are not secured to the floor, only to each other? Consider expansion and contraction with seasonal temperatures.

    • Yes, they are supposed to be floating but they aren’t supposed to create a raised bubble that won’t go away. I couldn’t get a good photo of the areas but it’s coming together in a peak which is not ok.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Apr 27, 2021

    here is info for you I do know that with wood floors, they will buckle due to humidity issues and also if there is dampness somewhere in that area,between%20two%20of%20the%20tiles.

    • Thank you. I’m assuming the installers didn’t leave any room for expansion and butted the planks right up to the wall. Unfortunately as the floor began to buckle, it spread to adjacent areas. I had a whole section replaced to fix the issue and by the next day, many more areas began to buckle. So it actually got worse instead of better. Very frustrating and costly.

  • William William on Apr 27, 2021

    Did the installer leave a gap along the walls?! Did he use recommended underlayment before laying down the flooring? A 1/3" to 1/2" gap all around is recommended for expansion. Molding covers the gap and it should be nailed to the baseboard and not the flooring. Underlayment is a vapor barrier and allows the floor to move.

    • Hello William. I’m guessing that the initial installation was what caused the initial buckling and in an effort to correct it, they made it worse and butted the planks against the wall with no room for movement. I don’t know for sure because I haven’t removed the baseboards yet. There is under layment. Personally I think it was installed incorrectly, but the company that put it in only warranted workmanship for a year. I’m still trying to find a contractor that will actually fix it but so far I’ve been turned down because the floor was put in by someone else.

  • Pat Pat on Apr 27, 2021

    William is right. we have a floor that the installer left a gap around all four sides.

    Been on the floor for about 12 years and no buckling.

    • We not only had buckling in the bedroom but also had tiles moving in the hallway leading into the bedroom. So initially I thought the buckling in the bedroom was because the hallway tiles had gaps. Now the bedroom has buckling in areas adjacent to the repair and the hallway that had gaps now has 2 areas with buckling. Hence, I believe the issue is with the installation method vs the flooring itself. We had the entire house floored with the same planks and put in at the same time. The rest of the house is fine, but the hallway and master are messed up. The flooring company told me it’s most likely an installation issue and the company that installed the flooring is passing the buck stating it was most likely the flooring material being defective. I’m going to remove the molding and door thresholds to see if I can lift the end planks , trim them 1/4 in and hopefully be able to re lay the row of planks flat. It’s way above my skill level, but I don’t think I could make it any worse. Right now it’s a tripping hazard.

  • This video shows how to fix several floor issues:

  • Mogie Mogie on Apr 27, 2021

    Call the company that installed it and ask them if they stand behind their work. Log the exact date the floor was installed and every phone call and contact you have made regarding this. You may need that info in the future.

    • Thank you. I did call them and they came out and tried to fix it but then the floor came up in other places nearby. They can’t seem to figure out what is going on and other companies I called won’t touch someone else’s work especially when there’s an ongoing issue. I put this out there to see if there is some trick to fixing it on my own.

  • William William on Apr 27, 2021

    It involves quite a bit of work fixing it yourself. You might need to completely remove the flooring the reinstall. If you know the brand look it up on the internet. Before tackling the job check to see if there is a gap all around the perimeter. Remove one or two boards and see if there is underlayment.

    If there is no gap or proper underlayment you would need to remove the flooring, install proper underlayment, then reinstall the flooring with at least 1/3" to 1/2" gap around the perimeter.

    You could glue it down but the concrete would need to be sealed. The Big Box store can help you with what adhesive to use.

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on Apr 30, 2021

    I think gap wasn't left as it was installed .. make sure to trim that