Buckling can occur with click-together, loose lay, or glue-down flooring. There are a handful of reasons this problem can happen. Understanding the reasons for buckling can help us avoid the problem by taking simple preventative measures.
Sunlight & Heat
One of the major causes of buckling in vinyl plank flooring is expansion and contraction of the material. As the material becomes warmer, it can expand slightly, causing the floor to buckle. In the colder weather, the opposite is true and the floor can contract, leaving gaps between two of the tiles. Buckling is most common in areas that get more direct sunlight, such as along sliding glass doors and large windows in the home. If the tile is self-stick or glue-down, the extreme heat from the sun can also release the bond of the glue, allowing tiles to shift. This is especially common in vinyl flooring that has a fiberglass inner layer. The luxury vinyl materials are less likely to buckle than some of the less expensive, economy tile floors.
If water seeps up under the flooring from an extremely moist concrete subfloor, the adhesive can be weakened, causing buckling in the floors. During installation, run a vapor barrier under the vinyl plank flooring to help prevent buckling from moisture. The higher quality the material, the less likely it is to buckle due to moisture. If using vinyl plank flooring in a bathroom or kitchen, make sure it is a waterproof version.
Not Allowing for a Perimeter
Vinyl flooring naturally expands and contracts in the heat and cold. Stop the floor between a quarter inch and a half inch shy of the wall to allow for this natural expansion. If the floor is installed flush with the wall there is no room for growth in the hot months and the loose-lay floor can easily buckle.