6 Reasons Why Your Vinyl Plank Flooring Is Popping Up

why is my vinyl plank flooring popping up

One common problem that many homeowners encounter is the issue of vinyl plank flooring popping up.

It might seem like a minor inconvenience at first, but it can quickly escalate into a significant issue affecting the aesthetics and safety of your home environment.

Hence, having a clear understanding of the causes and potential solutions to this problem is critical.

This article aims to shed light on six common factors that might lead to your vinyl plank flooring popping up, as well as provide you with practical solutions to prevent and fix the problem.

1. Poor Installation

The Effects of Improper Installation

Speaking from firsthand experience, improper installation can lead to popping-up vinyl planks.

I once tried to install vinyl flooring in a rush to get my rental property ready for new tenants.

I didn’t even bother reading the instructions thoroughly. The result? You guessed it. After a mere couple of weeks, I noticed the planks popping up.

I learned the hard way that if the installation process is rushed or not done correctly, it can lead to the planks not adhering properly to the subfloor, causing them to pop up.

Acclimating the Planks and Using the Right Adhesive

I also learned that acclimating the planks and using a suitable adhesive are critical steps in the installation process.

In one instance, I did not allow my vinyl planks to acclimate to the room’s temperature and humidity levels before installation, thinking it was an unnecessary step.

Lo and behold, my floor began to pop up again. Additionally, using an incorrect adhesive caused the popping to worsen, as the adhesive I used was incompatible with vinyl flooring.

Tips for Ensuring a Proper Installation

After multiple failed attempts and countless hours of research, here are some tips I want to share with you to ensure a proper installation:

  1. Patience is key – Do not rush the installation process. Make sure you read and follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions carefully.
  2. Acclimate your planks – Allow your planks to acclimate to the room’s temperature and humidity levels for at least 48 hours before installation.
  3. Use the right adhesive – Not all adhesives are created equal. Make sure you use an adhesive recommended by the flooring manufacturer.
  4. Level your subfloor – A smooth and level subfloor is essential for a perfect installation. Any irregularities can cause the vinyl planks to pop up.

2. Subfloor Issues

Uneven or Unstable Subfloor on Vinyl Plank Flooring

An uneven or unstable subfloor can spell disaster for your vinyl plank flooring project.

Trust me, I’ve been there before. I once overlooked a minor bump on my subfloor, thinking it would be negligible once the vinyl planks were installed.

Boy, was I wrong! This tiny bump turned into a mountain under my sleek vinyl flooring, causing the planks to rise and eventually pop up.

The lesson learned? Even minor imperfections can lead to significant problems if not appropriately addressed.

Moisture and Debris

Moisture and debris, the silent saboteurs of my subfloor, were initially the last of my worries.

I learned the hard way when I installed my vinyl planks over a slightly damp subfloor.

It didn’t take long for the planks to start warping and, you guessed it, popping up.

And let’s not forget about dust and debris. On one occasion, I failed to thoroughly clean my subfloor before installation, thinking a little dust wouldn’t matter.

Little did I know, even the smallest particles can interfere with the adhesive, preventing the planks from sticking properly to the subfloor.

Preparing and Repairing Your Subfloor: A Step You Can’t Afford to Skip

When preparing your subfloor, there’s no room for cutting corners. First, ensure the subfloor is flat and level.

I found it helpful to use a long straightedge to identify any low or high spots. If you find any, they can be filled or sanded down, respectively.

Secondly, your subfloor must be clean and dry. Vacuuming and mopping the floor before installation can remove particles, dust, or moisture.

Lastly, any damaged areas of the subfloor should be repaired or replaced. Trust me, spending time on subfloor preparation is a worthwhile investment that can save you from the headache of popping planks later on.

3. Temperature and Humidity Fluctuations

One aspect I hadn’t initially considered was how changes in temperature and humidity could impact my vinyl plank flooring.

It turns out, much like many other materials, vinyl planks can expand and contract based on these environmental factors.

How Temperature and Humidity Changes Affect Vinyl Planks

One winter, I cranked up the heat to fend off the cold. I noticed my vinyl planks started to separate and create gaps.

On the flip side, during a particularly humid summer, my planks seemed to expand and push against each other, resulting in unsightly buckling.

This expansion and contraction are due to the vinyl’s reaction to temperature and humidity variations, a little science fact I had overlooked during my installation.

Ideal Indoor Climate Conditions for Vinyl Plank Flooring

After some research and a chat with a flooring expert, I learned that the ideal indoor climate for vinyl plank flooring is around 20-22 degrees Celsius (68-72 degrees Fahrenheit) with a relative humidity of around 30-50%.

Maintaining these conditions ensures the longevity and stability of the flooring.

Maintaining a Consistent Environment

My journey with vinyl planks taught me the importance of maintaining a stable indoor environment.

I have since invested in a good HVAC system to regulate temperature and a humidifier for those dry winter months.

In the humid summer, a dehumidifier or an air conditioner can be a lifesaver, preventing the planks from expanding too much.

I also found that window treatments to block excessive sun heat can be beneficial.

These might seem like small steps, but they can make a difference in preserving your vinyl plank flooring.

4. Low-Quality Flooring Material

How the Quality of Vinyl Planks Can Contribute to Popping Up

It wasn’t until I experienced a home renovation disaster that I truly understood the importance of the quality of vinyl planks.

I once tried to save a few dollars by opting for low-cost, off-brand vinyl flooring.

However, it became evident quickly that the lower price tag reflected the product’s substandard quality.

Within a few weeks, the planks started popping up at the edges – a telltale sign of poor material quality.

It’s crucial to realize that not all vinyl planks are created equal, and the quality can dramatically impact the longevity and aesthetics of your flooring.

The Importance of Choosing Durable, High-Quality Vinyl Planks

After the disaster with the cheap vinyl planks, I vowed never to skimp on quality again.

I learned that investing in durable, high-quality vinyl flooring would save me time, money, and frustration in the long run.

High-quality vinyl flooring is designed to withstand temperature and humidity changes without warping or buckling.

Identifying Premium Vinyl Flooring

Identifying premium vinyl flooring can be tricky, especially with the array of options available in the market.

However, one thing I’ve found helpful is to check the thickness of the wear layer – the transparent top layer of the vinyl flooring.

A thicker wear layer is a good indicator as it can withstand more wear and tear.

Additionally, premium vinyl flooring often comes with warranties, which are a testament to their durability and quality.

Remember, investing in high-quality vinyl flooring is not an expense but an investment in the longevity and beauty of your space.

5. Heavy Furniture and Sharp Objects

When I first installed my high-quality vinyl planks, I felt like I had conquered the world.

The gleaming surface under my feet was a testament to my learning curve and my commitment to quality.

I proudly arranged my furniture, totally oblivious to the potential risks they posed.

However, I soon noticed scratches and indentations that marred the pristine surface.

Heavy Furniture and Sharp Objects

Heavy furniture and sharp objects, like the legs of a sofa or a dropped kitchen knife, are often overlooked threats to vinyl plank flooring.

I remember how horrified I was when I first saw a deep scratch on my floor, the result of moving a heavy chair without proper protection.

The beauty of vinyl flooring lies in its smooth, uninterrupted surface – but a single scratch or indentation can disrupt this aesthetic appeal and even lead to more significant damage over time.

Protection from Furniture and Avoiding Punctures

From my experience, I’ve learned some effective ways to protect vinyl flooring.

Using felt pads or rubber caps on the legs of your furniture can prevent scratches and dents.

I’ve also become a firm believer in the value of area rugs, which can provide a layer of protection and also add aesthetic value to your room.

And remember, if you must move furniture, lift – don’t drag!

Maintenance Strategies to Prevent Damage

Routine maintenance can go a long way in preventing damage and prolonging the life of your vinyl flooring.

Regular sweeping and mopping can free the floor from abrasive dirt that can cause scratches.

For deeper cleaning, I use a vinyl floor-specific cleaner, which helps maintain the shine without causing harm.

If an accident does happen and your floor gets a dent or puncture, don’t panic.

Many minor imperfections can be repaired with a sealer or fill kit designed for vinyl flooring.

Trust me, with these strategies in place, your vinyl flooring will continue to look impressive for years.

6. Water and Moisture Exposure

Water is another silent enemy of vinyl plank flooring. If even a tiny amount of water seeps beneath the planks, it can cause them to swell and pop up, creating an unsightly bulge in your once-smooth floor.

I’ve experienced this myself. I left a window open during a rainstorm, and water got on my vinyl floor.

I didn’t think much of it then, but a week later, I noticed a couple of my planks were no longer flush with the rest of the floor.

Protecting Your Floor from Moisture

To prevent water damage, it’s crucial to take some preventive measures, especially in areas prone to moisture, like the kitchen or bathroom.

I use a quality waterproof sealant on the edges of my vinyl flooring in these areas. It creates a barrier that stops water from seeping underneath the planks.

Also, consider using water-absorbent mats near sinks, bathtubs, and doors that lead outside.

They can catch and hold water that might otherwise end up on your vinyl floor.

The Importance of Quick Action

Quick action is necessary in case of spills or flooding.

One time, my washing machine leaked and caused a small flood in my laundry room.

I was out then, but as soon as I came home and saw the water, I sprang into action.

The faster you can clean up water spills, the less chance they have to seep beneath your flooring and cause damage.

So, if a spill occurs, clean it up promptly and thoroughly. If you experience flooding, consider bringing in professionals to ensure your floor is completely dry and undamaged.


In reflecting on our journey through the vinyl flooring world, we’ve identified six main culprits that can cause planks to pop up: exposure to moisture, incorrectly installed underlayment, inadequate expansion gaps, rapid temperature changes, heavy furniture pressure, and low-quality adhesive.

Each of these factors can contribute to the dislodging of your vinyl planks, creating an uneven, unsightly surface.

Like when I left a window open during a rainstorm and consequently spent the next week fixing my warped floor, it’s clear that even the smallest oversight can have a huge impact.

Floors are the unsung heroes of our homes, bearing the brunt of our daily lives without much credit.

But, as I’ve realized, they require regular care to stay in top form.

A routine maintenance regime, like using a quality waterproof sealant or placing water-absorbent mats in moisture-prone areas, can go a long way in preventing damage.

Trust me, the few minutes you spend on these tasks can save you hours of repair work down the line.

Lastly, I want to stress the importance of prompt action. If you notice a potential issue, don’t wait for it to get worse before you address it.

I learned this the hard way when my washing machine leaked, causing a small flood in my laundry room.

I wasn’t home then, but as soon as I discovered the leak, I sprang into action.

The faster you attend to spills or potential moisture ingress, the less chance they have to wreak havoc on your beautiful vinyl floor.

So here’s to be vigilant and proactive – not only will you extend the life of your flooring, but you’ll also ensure it remains a beautiful feature of your home.


Hi! I’m Kobby, one of the co-owners of favoredstoneguides.com and the newest house owner in town. I’m a huge fan of most things natural. Over here on this site, I'm happy to share all the exciting hacks, tricks, and tips I have learned and continue to learn each day about taking care of natural stones.

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