Why Is My Vinyl Plank Floor Buckling (Here's What You Can Do)

Kirstin Harrington
by Kirstin Harrington
Vinyl plank flooring is an inexpensive and visually appealing material, but it is prone to buckling. Your vinyl flooring may buckle due to excess weight, hydrostatic pressure, or humidity. Whether it be the subfloor beneath it or environmental conditions, let’s take a look at why your vinyl plank flooring is buckling.

Vinyl flooring can take any room in your home to the next level, bringing a chic and modern look of real wood floors without the hefty price tag. Vinyl planks come in a variety of different colors and finishes to fit anyone’s aesthetic. However, if your vinyl plank floor is buckling, it can become an eyesore.

The main reason for vinyl plank floor buckling is expanding and contracting in response to overexposure to heat or cold. Vinyl flooring can also buckle from exposure to moisture, too much weight, or not having a proper perimiter. To prevent buckling, use shades or curtains to block heat, use proper adhesive to install the floors, and roll the floor after installation.

If you’ve had the flooring installed by a professional, they can come over and assess the situation. They might take photos and contact the plank manufacturer. While installing it yourself is cheaper, you might have a more challenging time getting help from the vendor.

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What Causes Vinyl Plank Floor Buckling?

Buckling can happen with loose lay, glue-down, and click-together flooring. There are several different reasons why this can occur. It’s essential to understand what causes buckling to help avoid it from happening in the future.

Poor Installation

One of the main reasons for vinyl plank floor buckling is a poor installation job. If the installers didn’t take proper care to install the floor correctly, it will increase the likelihood of buckling down the road.

Some issues with installation could be using a poor-quality adhesive or not creating tight enough seams between the planks. When this happens, moisture can seep through and collect underneath the flooring, soaking into your subfloor.

One big component of poor installation brings us to our next reason for buckling floors.

Not Considering A Perimeter During Installation

When installing vinyl flooring, it’s crucial to know that it will naturally expand and contract depending on the temperature. Stop the floor around ⅓-inch of the wall to allow for expansion. If this isn’t done, when it becomes too hot, the floor could buckle.

Excessive Heat And Sun Exposure

One of the main culprits with vinyl flooring that buckles are due to the expansion of the material. When it becomes warmer, it can ever-so-slightly expand. This can easily cause the floor to buckle.

When vinyl planks are exposed to temperatures that are too cold, the opposite can happen. The flooring will contract, which will leave you with gaps between the tiles or planks. The main reason for buckling to happen is overexposure to sunlight.

If you notice the damage has happened in front of a sliding glass door or large bay window, this could definitely be the cause. This is especially true when using glue-on materials or vinyl flooring with fiberglass.

Moisture Causes Vinyl Plank Floor Buckling

Another common cause behind flooring buckling could be due to moisture. If there is an excessive amount of it on the subfloor, it can weaken the adhesive. Something you can do to avoid this if working with concrete is running a vapor barrier under the planks.

If you’re installing or have already installed vinyl planks in the kitchen, entryway, or bathroom, it’s essential to get the waterproof version. These areas are prone to more water, and spending the extra money will save you hassle down the road.

Vinyl Plank Floor Buckling From Too Much Weight And Improper Use

Since there are multiple types of vinyl floor installation, there are different qualities to each style. For example, a loose-lay vinyl floor can easily buckle under heavy furniture. On the other hand, glue-down flooring doesn’t.

When it comes to heavy furniture, it’s essential to lift it when moving it. Dragging large objects on top of loose-lay planks can cause buckling. You can go the extra mile and attach felt pads on the furniture’s feet to prevent daily wear and tear.

How To Prevent Vinyl Plank Floor Buckling

You can do a handful of things when installing this type of flooring to prevent buckling altogether. Here are the top tips and tricks to ensure you have a durable and high-quality floor anywhere in your home.

Proper Installation

Your best bet at avoiding buckling vinyl plank floors is to do a good install job from the get-go. Remember to account for a perimeter around the floor to compensate for the natural expansion and contraction of the planks. Also, create tight seams and ensure you use high-quality materials.

Using Proper Adhesive

If you’re working with planks that require glue, it’s essential to have the correct adhesive type. There are incredibly cheap options that will save you money but will deliver a low-quality result.

Inexpensive adhesives are more likely to loosen over time and cause floors to buckle. Not only should you be using premium glue, but it should also be appropriately applied. Something you’ll notice on the packaging is designated working time.

During this time frame, it forms a secure bond. If you’re working it after that time has gone by, it won’t work as it’s designed to. Follow the directions on the packaging closely and do not deviate.

Rolling the Floor

Another thing you want to ensure that you’re doing is rolling the floor. Think of this as adding weighted pressure to help secure the flooring down. To do this, you’ll need a 100-pound roller and roll it evenly across the entire floor.

This helps secure the planks and adhesive to the subfloor. Doing this also helps to prevent buckling from happening in the future.

Sunlight and Window Treatments

As you know by now, extreme heat and direct sunlight can cause your precious floors to buckle. To prevent this, consider taking the steps to avoid excessive heat in the first place. This can be something like hanging curtains or blinds so that some of the heat and light can be absorbed.

Repairing Vinyl Plank Floor Buckling

If you’ve found yourself already dealing with buckling vinyl plank floors, don’t worry. There are a handful of repair methods that can help remedy the issue. Depending on how bad the problem is, you may just need to replace a small section of the flooring.

If your click-and-lock vinyl flooring is buckling, here’s how you can repair it. If you need to replace the entire floor, there are other options as well.

  • First, identify the wall closest to the buckling plank and use it as your reference point. You will need to remove any planks that surround the affected planks as well as the buckling planks. Gently peel back any planks that have buckled along with the surrounding planks.
  • If necessary, remove the wall molding to easily reach any planks that are close to the wall. Then you can remove the plank closest to the wall as you work toward the damaged plank.
  • Also, make sure you replace the plank with the same size as the old one.
  • Finally, replace the other planks that you removed, making sure they click into place, and reinstall the molding.

Let’s say your glue-down vinyl floor planks are buckling — you only need to remove the damaged planks. Here’s what you can do to make a quick and easy repair.

  • Carefully peel back the damaged plank.
  • Scrape off any leftover adhesive. If you need to soften it, you can use heat from a hairdryer.  
  • Put on new adhesive, being sure to follow the directions on the packaging.
  • Work the plank back into place and use the 100-pound roller to ensure that it’s adhered to the subfloor.

Read this guide for more tips on how to remove glue from vinyl flooring.

Replacing A Section Of Buckling Vinyl Plank Flooring

If you’re replacing a small section of vinyl plank flooring and you’re using click-together or loose-lay flooring, follow these easy steps.

  • Remove the buckled tile and use them as a guide to cut new pieces that are the same size.
  • Once you have a piece cut, take a rubber mallet to work it into its designated spot on the floor.

The Cost Of Vinyl Flooring vs. Alternatives

Here’s what you can expect to pay on average for the alternatives of vinyl flooring. These prices range quite a bit depending on your location, the type of finish you’re looking for, and how much you’re buying.

Type of FlooringMenardsHome DepotLowes
Real wood $3.50/sq ft$4.00/sq ft$5.00/sq ft
Vinyl$1.00/sq ft$2.75/sq ft$2.50/sq ft
Laminate$1.25/sq ft$2.00/sq ft$2.00/sq ft

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Related Questions

Can you put vinyl plank flooring on an uneven floor?

If the floors you’re working with are just slightly uneven, vinyl planks can be used for full coverage. If you have extremely uneven floors, consider opting for laminate sheets or tile instead.

How long does vinyl plank flooring last?

Because vinyl flooring is incredibly durable, it can last up to 20 years. It’s an excellent choice for homes with a lot of foot traffic thanks to the built-in wear layer on the surface. This layer helps to prevent scratches and blemishes from daily use.

Should floating floors move when walking on them?

In general, floating floors tend to have a small amount of movement with them. This is especially true when they’re installed over a pad. The pad compresses when weight is applied, causing the floor to move slightly.

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Kirstin Harrington
Kirstin Harrington

Kirstin is a passionate writer who loves helping people learn new things when it comes to home improvement. When she's not behind a keyboard, she enjoys DIY projects, crafts, spending time with her pets, and making videos. She hopes that with all she writes, someone is finding a solution to their home improvement needs.

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