Problems With Laminate Flooring

Laminate floors are becoming very popular.

Features

They're easier to install and take care of than hardwood floors, marble or granite, but you can get a similar look. They come in many colors and styles. Laminate floors can be a less expensive alternative to other flooring, but problems can rise if your lifestyle or home are not compatible with the use of laminate flooring.

The biggest problem for laminate floors is moisture. Humidity in the air can cause flooring to warp. Leaks from pipes, dishwashers, toilets, washing machines, air conditioners, sinks, water heaters and tubs can lead to buckling of laminate flooring. Child and pet accidents, spills, or wet mops can all cause damage to laminate floors. Mold and mildew can form if there's too much moisture between the subfloor and the laminate flooring. This is common when laminate flooring is laid in basements, bathrooms, kitchens and any other place that could easily get wet.

Warning

Laminate floors are very slippery. Wearing hard-soled or high-heeled shoes can damage the flooring, but wearing socks or slippers that don't grip can cause a slip-and-fall accident. Laminate floors are hard, and children in particular could be badly injured. Pets could also get hurt or break items when they slip on laminate floors.

Effects

Laminate floors expand and contract. If they're attached to a subfloor, the floorboards could push against each other and form peaks at the joints. Peaks can also form if there's no space between the floor and the wall for the floorboards to expand. If a section of laminate flooring is too long and has no expansion joints, floors can form peaks.

Considerations

Laminate flooring is advertised as resistant to moisture and scratches. With no moisture problems, pets, children or accidents and a lot of care, they may look new for a long time. But accidents happen; floors could buckle, crack, chip or become damaged in ways that force laminate floor owners to replace the boards, since laminate flooring can't be sanded down.

Prevention/Solution

Installing floors by carefully following manufacturers' instructions can prevent many problems that can harm laminate flooring. Flooring should be set in the room it will be laid in so it can become used to the temperature and humidity before installation. Leaks should be fixed, possible sources of moisture should be watched and spills should be cleaned up as soon as they happen. Laminate floors have to be cleaned according to manufacturer's instructions to avoid damage, and they should never be mopped with a wet mop. Damp mopping with a well wrung-out mop and drying immediately with a towel is the recommended method from most laminate flooring manufacturers. Manufacturers also suggest a treatment for floors that makes them less slippery.

About the Author

Cathryn Whitehead graduated from the University of Michigan in 1987. She has published numerous articles for various websites. Her poems have been published in several anthologies and on Poetry.com. Whitehead has done extensive research on health conditions and has a background in education, household management, music and child development.