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Why Does Vinyl Floor Warp? (With Solutions)

Vinyl is a durable type of flooring made of synthetic materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC), plasticizer, and other non-organic elements.

Although it is recognized as suitable flooring for summer, warping in vinyl floors is common due to temperature fluctuations. The owners experiencing the problems would want to know all about it. To find out the answers to your question, give a quick read!

Why does vinyl floor warp?

Vinyl floor tends to warp due to experiencing temperatures it cannot withstand. When there is no space left for its expansion due to heat exposure, it starts to warp. Additionally, without proper installation, or it is left in a moist atmosphere, the weakened adhesive starts warping the floors.

Vinyl floors require a little maintenance. If it’s left on without cleaning for a long time, mold grows underneath it, on the subfloor if it experiences enough humidity and moisture.

It also starts to warp if it’s kept in high temperatures. As a result, it fails to withstand temperatures below 5°C (41 °F), it shrinks, and cracks start to appear on its surface.

Does vinyl flooring warp?

Yes. Especially the regular vinyl planks which are made of low-quality materials that cause the vinyl to warp as it cannot withstand heat and cold.

Luxury vinyl planks and sheets, made of high-quality elements, are less prone to warping. While the less expensive regular vinyl tends to warp in certain conditions.

Why does vinyl floor warp?

Warping can occur due to various reasons. In order to prevent them, it’s important to know why exactly it happens. The reasons for warping include:

Direct exposure to heat

Vinyl flooring can be very sensitive to temperature swings and climate. Most vinyl flooring doesn’t have a UV topcoat, which makes the materials warmer than usual as it doesn’t prevent the heat from damaging its layers.

This is mainly true for regular vinyl planks. If it is even a self-adhesive vinyl plank, the heat can cause the adhesive to loosen up, allowing the tiles to move easily.

When the tiles begin to shift, they may easily warp due to the heat. If your planks also have low-quality fiberglass in their top layers, it traps heat allowing them to warp faster.

Poor installation

While installing it, many avoidable mistakes are made which may invite warping in the future.

If nails are used in the process, fastening it too firmly doesn’t allow the planks to expand naturally as it leaves them no gaps for extensions. So the edges pop out. If no gaps are left near to the walls while installing, it may warp, again due to lack of space for expansion.

Moist exposure

Most vinyl floors may have non-permeable features but liquids cannot be kept around for a long time.

When it is not glued to the sub-floor firmly, it leaves gaps underneath the surface. Water may seep through the layers, damaging the vulnerable layers. Water or any kind of liquid penetrating its layers causes buckling.

Why is my vinyl plank flooring popping up/lifting on the edges?

Vinyl plank flooring tends to pop out or lift on the edges due to temperature swings. Most vinyl floors tend to change their size in heat and cold.

If you have installed your planks imperfectly without leaving spaces near the floor, it cannot let them expand naturally in high temperatures.

It can result in lifting on the edges as it has no space for its extensions. Water penetrating its layers may also damage the planks, leading the edges to pop up. Besides, if it experiences heavy objects dragging on its surface, it causes dents, and hence the edges lifting.

How to fix warped vinyl flooring?

Fixing a warped vinyl flooring can be quite easy if you have certain tools. You don’t need expertise or experience to fix it. These are the 2 ways you can fix your warp vinyl flooring:

Cutting away the warped edges

You’ll need a concave knife, gloves, and a multi-tool for this particular method. You have to carefully remove the skirting on the wall with a concave knife to easily reach the warped edges. 

Once removed, with the help of a multi-tool, cut away a small portion from the ends of the vinyl flooring to leave a gap of 5mm to 8.5mm. After that, you can put the skirting back in its place. 

Flatten the warped floor

Flattening can effectively help in the future prevention of vinyl floor warping. Aim a hairdryer with low heat at the warped planks before prying out the plank. This helps loosen the adhesive underneath.

Apply a strong adhesive underneath it, especially on the edges to avoid popping up. Place a hand roller over it for leveling the surface. You can also place weight to let it stick properly to the sub-floor.

How to prevent vinyl warping?

Although vinyl flooring is known for its durability every season, countries with hot and humid weather may have to prevent it from warping in the first place. Tips on preventing vinyl warping include:

Keep heat away

Protecting the floors from UV rays is important. You can use opaque windows and thermal curtains which will keep the heat from direct exposure. If you have transparent windows, attach a UV film to them.

If you use heating sources such as barbeque stoves or a heater, maintain a distance from the vinyl floor to avoid direct contact.

Keep the water leaks in check

Keeping an eye on the drainage system and water leaks benefits the house in total.

Water leakage can happen internally, causing the sub-floors to be cold and wet. It damages the layers causing them to warp.

While mopping, use a mild and non-abrasive cleaner. Make sure it completely dries afterward, you can use fans or hair-dryers for that.

Use a roller after installation

Using a hand-roller or a rolling pin after installation helps settle the adhesive. Once the planks are firmly stuck with the subfloor, there are low chances of it popping up or lifting on its edges.

Use a high-quality adhesive

As heat can often loosen up inexpensive adhesive, try using a high-quality one. Follow all manufacturer’s instructions. Please try to maintain the expiry date they mentioned as it starts to crumble after a certain period.

Try not to apply a very thick coat of adhesive, it might not dry and the moisture from that can also warp the edges.

How long do vinyl planks last?

There are different types of vinyl planks with different lifespans.

On average, vinyl plank floors last longer than other floors. It can last ranging from 10-30 years. It will require maintenance to last longer than 25 years.

Its lifespan also depends on the traffic it has experienced. 

If you have installed it in a busy area, say outside the house where you park your car, it cannot last more than 10-15 years as vinyl flooring is made of a softer material and can easily be punctured by experiencing heavy objects dragging on it.

In contrast, better quality vinyl flooring can last longer than regular planks. Luxury vinyl planks or tiles can last 25-30 years as it is less prone to severe damages. Hence, it might be worth purchasing expensive vinyl.

How much does vinyl floor expand?

Vinyl floors expand in heat due to their thermal properties.

The vinyl floor may expand 5mm to 9mm in total. This is why while installing the planks, leaving a gap of at least 5mm near the walls will prevent popping up on the edges.

Does vinyl flooring shrink in the cold?

Yes. Vinyl floors contract in cold, which leads them to shrink in size.

You might notice spaces near the walls and planks as it leaves gaps due to contraction. This mostly happens when your vinyl has thermal underlays or properties. If it is kept a long time in a cold atmosphere, it starts to crack.

However, it may not be true for luxury vinyl planks. It is less likely to shrink for adjusting in the cold as it can withstand high temperatures. Some regular planks, such as the sheet vinyl flooring may not be able to shrink, they may directly start to crumble.

What temperature to install vinyl flooring?

Before installing vinyl flooring, temperatures must be controlled within a very narrow range so that the floors can function properly.

Vinyl flooring is not recommended if the regular temperature in your country is below 65° F (18°C). As it also cannot withstand high heat, it should not be installed in temperatures above 80° F (26° C).

Sometimes, to suit room temperature, the planks and sheets should be left open in the room after unpacking.

Can you install vinyl flooring in cold weather?

Vinyl flooring can be installed in cold weather if it is properly laced with a high-quality underlayment and adhesive.

It will be safer to install as you increase the layers in the vinyl planks using corks or padded foam. Thick-layered vinyl floors are designed in a way that they can adjust to low temperatures. For adjusting, it may contract naturally to avoid cracking.

Regular vinyl flooring may also be installed if the temperatures are above 18°C (65°F) while luxury vinyl flooring can be installed in very low temperatures, without any need for extra underlayment.

Vinyl flooring warping is caused mainly due to too much high temperature and can be generally avoidable.

However, before installing vinyl or replacing the old tiles, following the manufacturer’s recommendations for the temperatures is a wise choice. Only then you can have greater benefits from the home upgrades.