FAQ: Water Damaged Laminate Floors

by | Jun 23, 2020 | Water Damage

According to flooringinc.com, “Wood-look flooring in laminate has been the #1 flooring trend two years in a row with no end in sight.” Hearing this, it’s no surprise that “water damage laminate floor” is the #1 search term that brings visitors to phcrestoration.com. 

Typically, when a customer calls PHC Restoration regarding water damaged laminate flooring, they’ll say something like, “My dishwasher leaked water onto the floor, and I cleaned it up and it looked dry at the time, but now something’s wrong with my floors.” Since we regularly answer lots of questions about this topic, we’ve put together some frequently asked questions:

How do you know if water has irreversibly damaged your laminate floors? 

There should be visible signs indicating water damage has occurred. Edges between the joints will be puckered, swollen, or they may look blistered. When you walk over water damaged laminate floors, you may hear a squishing sound. Or even worse, water may come out of the joints when you walk on the floor!

What makes laminate flooring so susceptible to water damage? 

To answer that, it’s easiest to look at what laminate is typically made of: a base layer of MDF (medium-density fiberboard) or hard fiberboard embossed with a laminated vinyl sheet that looks like wood or tile. Basically, it’s made out of cardboard, which is a porous material that doesn’t hold up to water very well.

What are some common sources of water damage for laminate floors?

Typically, we see the most damage originating from the kitchen where icemaker lines, sinks, and dishwashers are the sources for most water damage insurance claims. 

If the source is in my kitchen, why do my living room floors have to be removed?

Laminate is installed as a floating floor, which means it’s not attached to the subfloor. Therefore, water can move freely beneath the surface and migrate through multiple rooms of a home. Just because the source of the loss was in the kitchen doesn’t mean that the damage stays in the kitchen. It can travel to the living room, hallways, laundry rooms, or wherever the laminate floor may be installed. 

Why do I need a restoration company if my laminate flooring has been damaged by water?

Through the use of moisture meters, professional restorers can determine how far water has migrated from the source and use that information to develop a plan to restore the property to pre-loss condition. The saturated planks will need to be removed to allow for drying the surface beneath with air movers and dehumidifiers. 

I bought waterproof floors, so that means I don’t have to worry about water damage, right?

Just because the flooring material is waterproof doesn’t mean that the material underneath the floor can be sufficiently dried without detaching the floor. 

How do I reduce the risk of accidentally damaging my laminate floors?

Always clean according to the manufacturer’s instructions, which usually means NEVER using a steam mop on your floors! Here’s a link to some great tips from Shaw Floors: https://shawfloors.com/flooring/how-to/laminate/care-maintenance/how-to-clean-laminate-floors