How to Fix Laminate Floor Water Damage

Laminate flooring water damage is quick to occur and difficult to fix.
Written by Heather Bernhard
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Laminate floor water damage happens within a few hours of exposure and can be difficult to repair. You’ll need to ensure all moisture is sucked out of the seams so that the inside and underside of the flooring aren't ruined. 
While laminate flooring can withstand the occasional spill, ongoing or sustained exposure to liquid will destroy it—and we’re not just talking cosmetic issues, either. If left too long, your wet flooring can grow harmful mold.
If you see laminate floor water damage, it’s vital to have the issue repaired as soon as possible. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about fixing your waterlogged flooring, with a little help from
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What happens when laminate floors are exposed to water?

Though laminate flooring is slightly more resistant to water than
, it is certainly not impervious. So when it’s exposed to moisture for more than a couple of hours, laminate flooring can become warped, stained, or buckle and cup.


Typical industry testing involves submerging the flooring beneath the water for a full day, but research shows that laminate floor water damage long before that. 
Typically, laminate flooring with exposed edges retains its original shape for about two hours when submerged. After four hours, boards will begin absorbing the water and swell by 2/16ths of an inch or more. Even once they completely dry, they’ll likely never return to their original dimensions. 
Pro Tip The swelling process happens much faster in warm environments, so if you live in an area with a lot of heat, it’s even more critical to get spills cleaned up quickly.  


When laminate flooring gets wet, it can begin to delaminate, meaning the top layer will separate from the core. The layers that compose engineered wood are typically held together with glue. 
Intense pressure during manufacturing helps ensure the planks retain their shape, but once water penetrates the layers, that pressure begins to release. 
Unfortunately, laminate floorboards take two full days to dry once thoroughly wet. Installed floorboards can take much longer, and they may never dry at all, making delamination likely after any length of exposure to moisture.

Water on top of laminate flooring

It will likely be okay if laminate flooring gets wet only on the top. But the planks’ sides, open seams, and bottoms can never be exposed to moisture.
Still, even if your floors are only exposed on the top surface, you should mop up water as quickly as possible. Moisture can quickly migrate to the laminate’s seams and penetrate more vulnerable areas. 
If the water does reach the seams or other edge areas, thoroughly extract the liquid with a wet-dry vacuum.
Pro Tip If you’re installing laminate floors in a full bathroom, make sure to follow any precautions set by the manufacturer. This is especially important around the base of a toilet or sink.

Water under laminate flooring

You've got big trouble if water makes its way under your laminate flooring. If you see that any liquid has permeated a seam area, clean it up as soon as possible. 
If the spill is at the edge of the room, you'll want to pull up any baseboard or quarter-round and vacuum along the edges of the flooring as well. 
Unfortunately, it’s incredibly difficult to remove liquid once it’s gotten under your flooring. Your best bet is likely to remove any affected boards. If the boards run parallel to the spill, they should come up pretty easily; however, if the boards run perpendicular to the spill, you’ll have to remove them all. 

Fixing water damaged areas

Fixing laminate floor water damage is especially difficult because, unlike hardwood, laminate cannot be sanded flat. That means once it’s cupped or bent, it will stay that way unless you replace it. 
That being said, you can generally replace damaged boards on a one-for-one basis. Laminate flooring usually comes in packs with a set number of boards, and there are usually at least a few leftovers when installation is done. As long as you saved those boards, you can use them to replace any damaged areas. 
If you didn’t save your leftover boards, no worries. If you’re able to pry up one of the damaged planks and take it to a flooring store, they may be able to find you an exact match, or at least something very close. 
It’s important to note that if the damaged area is along the side of the room, you’ll have to remove the baseboard or quarter round before taking out the boards. If the affected area is in the center, you’ll have to remove the damaged boards using a fine-finish blade on a circular saw. 

Installing laminate floors in water-prone areas

Areas such as kitchens and bathrooms (where there are tubs, toilets, sinks, and dishwashers) are prone to water damage. If you want to install laminate flooring in one of these rooms, there are some rules you’ll need to follow: 
  • Fold the underlayment (or padding) up against the wall two inches, then cut any excess away with a utility knife 
  • Fill the expansion area around the perimeter with silicone caulk
  • Do not install laminate flooring around a toilet: remove the toilet, install the flooring, and then reinstall the toilet, leaving a quarter-inch expansion area
  • Apply molding to the base of the shower or bathtub, then fill in that area with silicone caulk as well
Pro Tip Make sure to put glue on the “tongue” of the board, even for lock-and-fold type laminate. Use enough glue that it seeps up to the surface when locking planks together.

Does home insurance cover laminate flooring damage?

Your homeowners insurance Dwelling Coverage (or
Coverage A
) will cover any type of flooring, including laminate, if the damage directly resulted from a
named in the policy.  
This means that you won’t be able to file a claim for accidentally letting your bathtub overflow or neglecting to fix a roof leak. The water damage would have to be sudden and unexpected, such as from a burst pipe
Homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage, whether from a backed-up sump pump or a torrential downpour. 
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Laminate flooring that swells due to moisture will never go back to its original dimensions. Damaged boards will have to be disassembled and reinstalled.
Water that gets under laminate flooring may be able to be dried out, but damage will likely occur before that happens. No matter what you attempt, it is likely that at least some of your boards will be permanently damaged.
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