When it comes to flooring, there are plenty of great options on the market. However, none of these options are as cost-effective as the vinyl flooring panels. They’re incredibly affordable, look great, and even easy to install and repair.
However, some flooring options will expand and contract with use, which causes them to buckle and bulge. So, does vinyl flooring expand?
The quick answer to this question is “yes”, vinyl flooring is affected by the changes in the weather, which cause it to expand and contract in some cases. This may result in problems like buckling and bulging in the case of expansion and having noticeable gaps in the case of contraction.
However, just because vinyl flooring expands and contracts doesn’t mean that you can’t repair it or even prevent this from happening in the first place. In today’s article, we’ll walk you through some of the factors that can cause the expansion and how to prevent them.
Are Vinyl Flooring Planks Prone to Expansion and Buckling
Despite being one of the most efficient flooring options out there, vinyl is prone to expansion. However, you should know that such a phenomenon is natural and happens with nearly all other types of flooring options.
The reason behind expansion and contraction is changes in weather, since it’s a scientific fact that all materials in the universe will expand by heating and contract once it cools down.
The only issue with vinyl flooring planks is that they’re thin enough that they can bulge or buckle when they expand.
Similarly, if they’re exposed to extreme cold, they can shrink by millimeters. While this might not sound like much, it’s enough to show the gaps between sections and planks of the floor.
For that reason, the vinyl floor is usually laid in a way that leaves a very thin gap between each section, so that they don’t bulge when they expand.
Why Do Vinyl Flooring Planks Expand and Contract
In addition to the natural reasons, there are some other factors that will also cause the vinyl flooring to expand and contract. In this section, we’ll have a quick look at each one of these reasons:
1. Changes in Temperature
The first and most common reason why vinyl flooring ends up expanding is the change in weather, which is why such a problem is commonly found in places where there is a significant transition between summer and winter.
In addition to the weather, it’s also worth noting that vinyl is a bad conductor of heat. This means that areas that get exposed to direct sunlight become extremely hot for extended periods of time, which allows them to expand quickly.
2. Difference in Flooring and Installation Methods
Although such a problem is inevitable in all kinds of vinyl flooring, different types of installation methods will show various levels of expansion.
For instance, if the vinyl is glued down using heat-sensitive glue, the chances of bulging become automatically higher.
This is because heat will also loosen the bonds between glue molecules, so it’s easier for the vinyl floor to expand and warp.
Not only that but the quality of the vinyl panels used will also affect the stability of the floor. For example, low-quality vinyl flooring that has a fiberglass inner layer has a higher chance to expand than those made from higher quality materials.
3. Inadequate Installation
As you now know, the expansion of vinyl is a natural process that is bound to happen, which is why professionals with high experience leave a small gap between tiles so that they don’t expand and bulge.
In some cases, the tiles are installed in an unprofessional way, leaving no gaps between the tiles to allow natural expansion, causing noticeable bulges at some points.
Although vinyl itself is water-resistant, the glue that holds it together may not be. If water is left for enough time on the panels, it’ll seep through the gaps of the tiles.
This weakens the glue and makes the flooring more likely to expand, which is why you need to clean any spill as soon as possible.
4. Dragging Furniture over the Loose Lay Panels
If you use the loose lay installation method, chances are the floor won’t be held down by glue. This makes the floor highly unstable when you drag heavy items, such as furniture over the vinyl panel, causing them to expand or bulge.
How to Protect the Floor from Bulging
Although vinyl flooring may bulge and expand, you can prevent this from happening without costing you a lot of money. Here are some ways to protect your vinyl floor from expansion:
- Apply Floor Treatments and Sealants: These waterproof treatments seal the floor and prevent moisture from seeping into the glue.
- Leave a Suitable Gap Between Tile: since expansion is inevitable, leaving gaps between tiles is essential if you want to prevent the floor from bulging.
What Can You Do If Your Vinyl Flooring Expands
As previously mentioned, vinyl flooring is known for being one of the easiest types of flooring to fix and repair.
So, even if you already have an expansion in a certain spot in the floor, there are two methods to get that fix. First, you can always remove the tile and apply a fresh layer of glue to re-tile it back.
On the other hand, if the project requires serious repairs, you can always get yourself a professional to get the job done. The good news is that you’ll only need to replace the damaged part, and not the entire floor.
With that said, you now have a better understanding of vinyl flooring planks and why they’re prone to expansion.
As you can see, vinyl flooring is an extremely cost-effective solution that is a perfect alternative to hardwood flooring. Yet, the floor panels are prone to expansion due to a wide variety of causes.
Lucky for you, with little maintenance and care, your vinyl flooring should last for a considerably long time without buckling or bulging due to expansion.
Moreover, vinyl flooring is one of the easiest flooring panels to install and repair. So, even if the floor buckled at some spot, you can always fix the problem without costing you an arm and a leg!