Does Laminate Flooring Expand in Summer? (A Complete Guide)

Summer is coming, so your laminate flooring might start to expand. Why does this happen, and what can you do about it? We’ll answer all of your questions in this article.

Laminate flooring expands, especially in summer. It’s impossible to avoid expansion however, depending on the number of humidity changes, it may be minimal in some cases. Leaving expansion gaps is crucial to avoid peaking, buckling, warping, or cracking.

You may be surprised to learn that laminate flooring can actually expand quite a bit in the summertime. That’s why leaving a proper expansion gap between your flooring and walls is important. Without one, your floors could buckle and warp or bend, which is definitely not a look you want in your home.

Do Laminate Floors Really Expand In Summer?

Laminate floors do really expand in the summer. It’s not possible to avoid the changes in laminate flooring, as different factors can contribute to their expansion. These are discussed in the next section. 

Why Do Laminate Floors Expand In Summer?

Laminate floors expand due to many reasons. However, they are all in some way connected to one main thing, which is heat. So this is why laminate floors expand in the summer. 

  1. Temperature 

The first and most common reason why laminate flooring planks expand during the summer is because of temperature changes. When the surrounding temperature rises, your laminate flooring undergoes expansion. Not only does laminate grow in size when temperatures are high, but it can also move, which happens in times of extreme temperature changes and fluctuations. 

  1. Humidity

Air is another common reason why laminate floorings expand in the summer. When the weather outside becomes humid, the laminate floorboards will start expanding. Since humidity increases with temperature, it’s understood that expansion will occur in the summer.

  1. Moisture and liquids

Another reason that contributes to the expansion of laminate floors in the summer is exposure to foreign materials. Moisture, as well as liquid chemicals, can inflict considerable damage on your laminate floors. They also cause expansion because they can seep through the gap between the boards. However, this does not happen with a single spill, but repeated incidents can result in expansion. 

How Long Does It Take for Laminate Flooring to Expand in Summer?

Once you have bought your laminate floorboards, you must give them at least 48 to 72 hours to acclimate and expand. But when it’s summer, this expansion happens again because they are adjusting to humidity and temperature changes. 

The laminate floor needs time to adjust itself to the new environment. 

But this does not mean that they will not expand again. Even after laminate floors have been installed and have settled for weeks, months, or even years, they can still expand in summer. This usually occurs when there are significant changes in temperature and humidity. 

This means there is no exact time for when the expansion will occur or how long it will take. This can be before or even after installation. Allowing it to acclimate correctly can help you manage the expansion. 

Do I Need An Expansion Gap For Laminate Flooring?

Yes, an expansion gap is a must when installing laminate flooring, and to understand the reason, you need to understand what laminate flooring is made up of. Once you know the structure of laminate flooring, you will be able to understand why an expansion gap is essential. 

Laminate flooring structure

Four layers make up your laminate flooring planks. 

  1. The first layer of laminate flooring is transparent and called the wear layer, as it protects the photographic layer below from wear and tear and UV damage. 
  2. The photographic layer comes; next that boasts a high-resolution image, usually of wood, as laminate flooring is often used as a substitute for wood flooring. However, it can also be marble or have unconventional designs, such as images or greenery. 
  3. Now the board layer comprises HDF, i.e., high-density fiberboard. This is of the highest layer and consists of wood that has been combined with a binder after milling and then pressed to form the boards. 
  4. The last layer supports the entire structure and is called the base layer, as it provides stability. 

When you look at the structure and see that laminate flooring contains HDF, it means that wood is used. As a matter of fact, 90% of the laminate floorboards are made up of organic material. This means it’s porous and also attracts moisture because it’s hygroscopic. 

It makes laminate flooring planks susceptible to humidity and temperature so that they will expand. 

Leaving an expansion gap can help you manage this change. Typically, an expansion gap of a minimum of ¼ and ½ inches will suffice. The size of the expansion gap can also depend on the size of the room itself, and manufacturers may also have recommendations.

You don’t just need expansion gaps close to the walls. If the room is bigger and exceeds 12 meters in length and 8 meters in width, then an expansion gap may also be needed at the center. 

Similarly, a bigger expansion gap might be required if the room experiences extreme temperature because this may lead to more expansion. The level of difference in humidity and temperature can also affect the size and frequency of expansion. But don’t leave too big gaps, or you’ll have to fill them later.

It should also be noted that an expansion gap should also be left in front of pipes, transition moldings, permanent cabinets, pillars, or any other object that may be attached to the room’s floor permanently. These vertical obstructions can also make it difficult for the laminate floor to expand. Therefore, leaving an expansion gap ensures that the boards don’t face any trouble and can expand easily.  

What Happens To Laminate Flooring Without Proper Expansion Gap?

If you haven’t left an expansion gap between the flooring planks at the installation time, you might encounter the following problems.

  1. Peaking 

When laminate floors expand, the boards may push up against one another at the seams, creating slopes on the flooring surface. If that happens, you’ll need to cut the board that is pushing up into the wall. This commonly happens because there is no expansion gap for the board to expand, which is why it’s peaking. 

  1. Buckling or warping

Similar to peaking, rising humidity levels can lead to buckling in your laminate floors when there is no (or not enough) expansion gap. Buckling can also occur when the laminate floor planks are directly exposed to moisture. 

Like when you don’t clean up any spills immediately, using a wet mop, or leakages from dishwashers that may be undetected. The floorboards push up against each other and can even slide over one another. In fact, the edges of the boards may warp because of the pressure and lack of room for expansion.

  1. Squeaking 

Not leaving an expansion gap during laminate floor installation can also lead to squeaky floors. Many homeowners complain about their laminate floors being noisy when they walk over them, and this happens because the floorboards need to expand, and they don’t have the room to do so as there is no gap left. 

They are pushing against one another, and stepping on them causes the planks to squeak, which you don’t want.

  1. Cracking 

Another problem you will encounter when you don’t leave an expansion gap during the installation process of laminate flooring is cracking. Yes, your laminate floor planks may crack when they expand and don’t have the room to do so because there is no expansion gap. 

The pressure may cause cracks to occur in the flooring, or their click mechanism may become damaged due to it. This may prove to be quite costly because you’ll need to replace the planks with new ones, as the damage might be irreversible. 


Does Laminate Expand in Summer or Winter?

Laminate flooring expands in the summer and not in winter. During summer, when temperature and humidity levels rise, it expands, and it contracts in the winter when temperature and humidity levels decline.

Which Direction Does Laminate Flooring Expand in Summer?

When laminate flooring expands, it means that the boards will push up against each other. This can happen in the middle of the room, between two rooms, or even near the walls. The laminate flooring expands in an upward direction. 

Does Waterproof Laminate Flooring Expand in Summer?

Yes, waterproof laminate flooring will expand in the summer. This is because the expansion occurs when there are changes in temperature and levels of humidity rise. High temperature and humidity lead to expansion because of the presence of wood in the laminate flooring boards. Hence, even if the laminate floor is waterproof, it will still be affected by the changes in temperature and the humidity in the air.  

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