vinyl plank flooring is separating

60 Replies

Promotion
Marko Rubel
ATTENTION INVESTORS
Get Deals 100% Funded – No Credit, No Banks, No Job Verification
New Unlimited Funding® program for investors: low-interest, without banks or shark lenders.
Check availability

@Sol Bergren Underlayment helps. Vinyl is pretty stable but the wood underneath isn't - especially if your climate changes often and drastically, or moves a lot. What happens is the wood underneath expands and contracts at a rate that is different than the vinyl. Wood moves a lot, vinyl not so much. The underlayment float helps with this, it lets it slide as a group better. Backing board helps as well. If the subfloor is the cheaper plywood this is more likely to happen, as the crappy surface gives it more sticktion. 

My guess was that the floor wasn't leveled in certain areas leading to a chain reaction of splitting

Thank you all for the input. That install was done over a Pergo underlayment but the home is on a crawl space. I think I’ll avoid vinyl planks on a crawlspace in the future. 

Never  had any issues to speak of looks like a the floor was not level  I mean  BIG time not level  this stuff is very forgiven stuff can take a beating and still look ok .Or it was not installed right .

So the floor is shifting because its probably not ran all the way to the wall. If you check under your trim you'll prob find places where the flooring is not touching the wall this will cause the floor to shift in those spots add some type of filler to put pressure against the wall and floor to avoid the seams having room to shift. If you want me to explain further message me. My husband is a contractor. We had a similar issue.

Originally posted by @Tara Sullivan :

So the floor is shifting because its probably not ran all the way to the wall. If you check under your trim you'll prob find places where the flooring is not touching the wall this will cause the floor to shift in those spots add some type of filler to put pressure against the wall and floor to avoid the seams having room to shift. If you want me to explain further message me. My husband is a contractor. We had a similar issue.

 @Tara Sullivan, the instructions on the LVP I've installed require you to leave a 1/8th" gap for expansion and contraction. Aren't you concerned if you install to the very edge of the wall you'll have buckling? I've seen the floor split because the subfloor wasn't level and no one put down leveling agent before laying the planks. I feel like the small gap is important.

And 1/8th in is very small. I don’t mean squeezing it against the wall. I have seen some floors where their 1” , .5” even 2” sometimes have been left as a gap under the trim.(We had some bad subs at points) but I bet if you check your gaps you’ll find your problem.

Originally posted by @Sol Bergren :

Hi @Erik B. :) 

The flooring was installed about 4 years ago, but actually started separating pretty shortly after install. It was installed in a house that is over 100 years old and the subfloor wasn't perfectly level, but not horrible.

I'm seeing seems open up near the bottom of the stairs/entrance and in living room area, I guess mainly the higher traffic areas.  Probably only about 5% of the seems but it's enough to make the floor look not great.

I think the vinyl plank flooring was decent quality as it was quite a bit more expensive than the laminate I was looking at initially, but maybe I could have bought even more expensive vinyl.  Not really sure on that front, that could be the issue.

I had an flooring guy tell me they won't install vinyl plank over old hardwood without first laying down luan due to the separation problem.

Yep, I have the same issues in a few apartments.  Now, when I go over there, I throw on some 1992 Jordans with sticky bottoms and do a solid jump stop on them and they slide right back into position.  

@ Gerry Rien, do you recall the thickness and manufacturer of the LVP with adhesive seam?  I'm about to do an entire house and don't want to regret a poor selection.

Also would you recall if any underlayment was used?

Thanks 

Looks to me like the issue is the butt joints were not spaced out properly. Should be a minimum of atleast 9" apart. This is why installers usually use "Turn Boards" (smaller cuts of material to space out the butt jojts of thr material". Without this you get whats called "stair casing" or "zippering". As you can see you basically have created a staggered line/seam across the floor for the LVP to seperate. Moisture, subfloor conditions etc can also cause gapping. But the installalation here basically made the floor more susceptible to gapping. You can try to pull up the baseboard and shoe at the wall, and use a crow bar to try and move it back together or tap it with a rubber mallet at the wall. But the first thing I noticed was the fact that thr butt joints are not spaced out and you have a staircase pattern across the floor. 

Hi Sol, I hope you have resolution to your initial problem.  I randomly came across your post from about a year ago.  Coincidentally, within the last day or so, I listened to BP podcast # 399 with Jeff Thorman.  Beginning at the 40:28 mark in that podcast, Jeff discusses something related to the topic you posted.  He mentioned a floating engineered hardwood plank.  You, and others, may be interested in learning more about it.  I know that I am! Good luck!

Hopefully you resolved your issue, if not this is an easy fix.

Your ends are going towards the wall because you don't have a space that allows the flooring to go towards that wall.  

I screw down a grabber screw at the end of the plank.  I put two in them. on about an inch in from each side.   It is about 6 inches wide so put two screws at the end that does not allow for the plank to slip to the wall.  The screws will be about an 1/4 inch high is all. 

I bought top of the line if I say the name they might delete ,I like the product a lot for rentals put it in expensive SFH and cheaper ones . Oh I commented twice sorry

@Sol Bergren

BP had a legend on their podcast episode 399: Jeff Thorman who discussed this common problem.

My experience there's a handful of root causes:

- Subfloor is not level - in which case this is bound to happen no matter how well you installed

- Improper installation - I've found the planks seem tight when they typically have a small bit they could get tighter which is why I always use a scrap piece of the interlocking flooring, then while installing each piece of flooring, I pull into place manually as best I could, then use the scrap flooring to lock into the open side of the piece I'm installing and tap with a hammer as needed until the pieces is truly secure in place. You'll need some practice, and to slide the scrap piece around tapping as needed, you'll also need to replace the scrap piece most likely after a couple hours of uses.

- Most annoying - there could be a slightly crooked or twisted piece from manufacturing that you didn't notice and then installed and threw off the whole floor. But this is tough to tell and harder to find once installed.

Frustrating situation because I haven't found a ton of great problem-solving for snap/click floor once installed, it's all about preparation and installation and then you're usually stuck unless you pull up and replace completely which isn't necessary in your case.

I've had trouble with LVP (and Bamboo) flooring over wood floors with staple up subfloor heating.   The heating and cooling seems to cause the vinyl to expand and contract (especially under rugs and piles of laundry where the floor is insulated from room air)   It was especially bad with the adhesive edged LVP we got from HD.   The heat must have softened the glue and expanded the vinyl.   When it shrank, there were 1/2" gaps with exposed adhesive.

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

We hate spam just as much as you