13 Main Reasons Why Your Vinyl Plank Flooring is Separating

why is my vinyl plank flooring separating

Vinyl plank flooring, known for its durability, aesthetics, and ease of installation, has become a popular choice among homeowners.

However, a common issue that many encounter is the separation of vinyl planks, a problem that can compromise the functionality and aesthetic appeal of your floor.

Understanding its causes is crucial to prevention and effective resolution. In this article, we will delve into the nine leading reasons behind vinyl plank flooring separation, providing valuable insights to maintain the longevity and beauty of your floor.

Substandard Installation

1. Inadequate Acclimation Period

I remember once when I was in a hurry to get the floor installed for an upcoming family gathering.

Ignoring the manufacturer’s instructions, I skipped the acclimation period—the timeframe you should allow your vinyl planks to adjust to the temperature and humidity of the room before installation.

This haste returned to haunt me, as within weeks, I noticed gaps forming between the planks.

Always remember that vinyl is a material that expands and contracts with temperature changes.

Skipping acclimation can lead to vinyl plank flooring separation due to these fluctuations.

2. Incorrect Adhesive or Underlayment

In my early days of DIY flooring installation, I thought adhesive was just adhesive.

How wrong I was! I learned the hard way that using the wrong type of adhesive or underlayment can cause severe problems, with my floor starting to separate within just a few months.

The adhesive binds the planks to the subfloor, and the underlayment provides a smooth surface for installation.

Using an unsuitable adhesive or underlayment can compromise this bond and cause problems down the line.

3. Poor-quality Installation Workmanship

I’ve seen it all in my years of home renovations.

Among them was a floor install job where the installer failed to properly secure the edges of the planks—in his haste, he overlooked some areas and failed to apply adhesive uniformly.

Over time, the edges began to lift, causing the planks to separate.

This serves as a stark reminder: if the floor planks are not installed diligently and meticulously, you may end up with poor-quality workmanship leading to vinyl plank flooring separation.

Always double-check the work and ensure that the installation is carried out meticulously.

Subfloor Issues

Behind every well-laid vinyl floor is a solid, stable subfloor. Unfortunately, I discovered this vital information late in my DIY journey.

4. Uneven or Damaged Subfloor

There’s an old saying in the flooring world: “Your floor is only as good as your subfloor.”

I didn’t understand this until I installed vinyl plank over an uneven subfloor in my living room.

Despite the beauty of the newly installed vinyl, the unevenness beneath it started to show its ugly face.

I noticed the planks’ alignment was off, and some areas had noticeable bumps and dips.

This lesson was hard, but it taught me the importance of ensuring your subfloor is level and free from damage before starting any flooring installation.

5. Moisture Issues in the Subfloor

Here’s a story from one of my summer projects.

I decided to install vinyl plank flooring in my basement, completely overlooking the fact that basements are prone to moisture issues.

Within a few weeks, I noticed a puffiness under my vinyl planks.

The culprit? Moisture from the subfloor had seeped into the planks, leading to unsightly bulging.

I learned then that moisture and flooring don’t mix, and testing for moisture in your subfloor is a critical step you shouldn’t skip.

Importance of Proper Subfloor Preparation

I can’t stress enough how crucial proper subfloor preparation is. There was a time when my excitement to see my new vinyl floor made me rush the subfloor preparation.

I didn’t clean it thoroughly, and I left a few old adhesive residues and nails.

As you can guess, the outcome was not as I had hoped.

The planks started to separate and move, revealing the uneven surface underneath.

After this, I never skipped the process of cleaning, leveling, and priming the subfloor, ensuring that it was ready to provide a solid base for my new floor.

In conclusion, as I have learned, paying close attention to your subfloor condition and preparation can save you from many problems later, including the dreaded vinyl plank flooring separation.

Heavy Furniture and Foot Traffic

6. Furniture without Proper Protection

I vividly recall the first time I moved a heavy couch over my newly installed vinyl plank floor without any protectors under the legs.

To my dismay, it left noticeable scratches and scuffs on the otherwise smooth surface.

This incident was a stark reminder that the weight of furniture, especially when moved without proper protection, can cause significant damage to vinyl flooring.

7. The Stress of Heavy Foot Traffic

In my house, foot traffic is inevitable, especially when I’m hosting parties or get-togethers.

I noticed over time, areas with high foot traffic began showing signs of wear and tear, even faster than I anticipated.

The constant stress on the vinyl planks from heavy foot traffic was too much for my floor.

Strategies to Prevent Damage from These Factors

After those experiences, I made specific changes to prevent further damage.

For furniture, I invested in floor protectors for the legs of heavy items and ensured they were in place before moving anything.

This simple step has significantly reduced the number of scratches on my floor.

Regarding foot traffic, I started using runners and area rugs in high-traffic zones.

This not only added to the decor of my home but also provided an added layer of protection for my vinyl flooring.

Lastly, maintaining a regular cleaning schedule helped to keep the dirt and grit that could also contribute to wear and tear at bay.

Through trial and error, I’ve learned that a proactive approach is the best strategy to maintain the beauty and longevity of vinyl plank flooring.

Low-Quality or Aging Flooring Material

8. Deterioration of Vinyl Plank Quality

Like any other household item, my vinyl plank flooring was not immune to the effects of time.

I began to notice a gradual deterioration in the quality of the planks.

Tiny cracks and chips started to appear, especially in the areas that were most frequently used.

I remember walking to the kitchen one day and seeing a small chunk of the vinyl missing near the refrigerator – a spot subjected to daily use.

It felt like I was watching my beautiful floor slowly lose its charm.

The Impact of UV Exposure on Aging Flooring

I also discovered the hard way how sunlight can affect vinyl plank flooring.

My living room, flooded with natural light during the afternoons, was the worst hit.

Months of constant exposure to UV rays resulted in noticeable fading of the floor’s color.

It was contrastingly different from the hallway flooring that was relatively shielded from direct sunlight – a stark reminder of the damaging effects of UV exposure.

Regular Maintenance to Extend the Lifespan

Realizing that my flooring showed signs of age, I knew I needed to step up my maintenance game.

I followed my cleaning schedule religiously, ensuring the floor was swept and mopped regularly to prevent dirt buildup.

I even invested in a UV-protectant window film to minimize the fading caused by sunlight.

I took a bit of extra care, and I began to notice a change. The floor’s overall appearance improved, and the rate of deterioration slowed down.

It’s safe to say that regular upkeep has significantly extended the lifespan of my vinyl plank flooring.

Chemical Exposure

9. Harmful Cleaning Products

Many would be surprised to find out that a common enemy of vinyl floors lies right in our cleaning cupboards.

I remember one incident – I had just finished dinner and noticed a rather stubborn stain on the floor. Frustrated, I went for a powerful commercial cleaner I had under the sink.

Sure, the stain disappeared, but so did the beautiful sheen of the floor. I was devastated.

It was a harsh lesson on the effects of abrasive cleaners – they may promise to remove every last speck of dirt, but they can also strip away the protective layer of your vinyl flooring, causing it to look dull and worn out.

10. Damage from Spilled Chemicals

It’s not just the harsh cleaning products that pose a threat.

Ordinary household items can also inflict damage if they spill and are not cleaned up promptly.

I remember a time when I accidentally knocked over a bottle of nail polish on my bedroom floor.

I was so focused on saving my bedspread from the spill that I didn’t immediately clean it off the floor.

By the time I got to it, the polish had stained my lovely vinyl flooring.

It was an unfortunate accident that underscored how critical it is to act swiftly when it comes to spills.

Safe Cleaning Practices

After learning a few hard lessons, I’ve adopted a few safe cleaning practices that have made a world of difference.

Firstly, I now swear by using mild, pH-neutral cleaners that are specifically designed for vinyl flooring. They clean effectively without compromising the floor’s finish.

Secondly, for those unavoidable spills, I’ve learned to clean them up immediately. This has saved me from numerous potential stains.

And lastly, I always dry the floor quickly after cleaning or spills, as standing water can seep into the seams and cause damage.

Since I’ve started following these practices, my vinyl floor has maintained its charm and longevity.

Water Damage

Water damage is another common issue that can wreak havoc on your vinyl flooring.

It can stem from various sources and, if left unattended, can cause significant damage.

11. Water Damage

I recall once returning from vacation to find that my washing machine had leaked while I was away.

This unfortunate incident resulted in a pool of standing water on my vinyl floor for far too long, causing the edges of the flooring to curl up.

It was a classic case of water damage, which can occur due to leaks, floods, or even high levels of humidity.

The Importance of Immediate Action

Having experienced this, I cannot stress enough the importance of immediate action when it comes to water exposure on your vinyl floor.

In the case of my washing machine leak, I realized that if I had acted sooner, the damage could have been significantly reduced.

Always remember, the faster you deal with the water, the lesser the damage to your floor.

Preventing Water Damage

After undergoing that regrettable experience, I started implementing strategies to prevent water damage.

One of these methods includes investing in a good quality door mat to capture any water that might be tracked in from outside, especially during wet weather.

I also decided to make it a habit to check my appliances regularly for any potential leaks.

Finally, I’ve committed to promptly addressing spills and not allowing any standing water to remain on the floor.

These measures have dramatically reduced my chances of experiencing water damage again.

12. Lack of Expansion Gaps

I must admit, when I first installed my vinyl flooring, I didn’t fully understand the importance of expansion gaps. But trust me, overlooking this can lead to some serious problems.

Expansion and Contraction

It might surprise you to know that your flooring “breathes”. I mean, it expands and contracts with changes in temperature and humidity.

I vividly remember a summer day when my floor started to buckle. It was because I hadn’t accounted for these changes, causing the planks to push against each other.

The Role of Expansion Gaps

Expansion gaps, as I learned the hard way, are essential parts of any flooring installation, providing the necessary “breathing space” for your floor.

They are effectively a buffer, allowing the floor to expand and contract without causing damage or distortion.

Proper Installation of Expansion Gaps

When I replaced my buckled floor, I made sure to consult a professional to understand the right process.

I was told that the expansion gaps should be at least 1/4 inch wide around the perimeter of the room.

This includes any vertical obstructions like fixtures, pipes, or pillars.

It’s not the most exciting part of the process, but trust me, taking the time to properly install expansion gaps will save you from potential flooring disasters down the line.

13. Temperature and Humidity Fluctuations

I remember when I decided to lay down vinyl plank flooring in my lake house during the winter.

Now, if you’ve experienced winter by a lake, you know how chilly it can get.

At the time, I didn’t consider the effect of extreme cold on the vinyl planks.

After installation, it looked perfect, but when the summer heat rolled in, the floor began to warp, and gaps appeared. It was a lesson learned.

Extreme temperature changes, without proper acclimation, can cause vinyl flooring to warp or shrink, leading to unsightly gaps and separation.

The Impact of High Humidity Levels

A few years back, I helped a friend install vinyl plank flooring in a beach house.

We were so fascinated by the sea view that we overlooked the high humidity.

Within weeks, the planks started to buckle, creating a wave-like effect on the floor.

The cause? The high humidity levels had caused the vinyl to expand.

So, it’s crucial to consider the humidity of your installation site.

High humidity levels can cause your vinyl flooring to expand, and when there’s no more room for expansion, buckling occurs.

Maintaining an Optimal Indoor Environment

The key to a long-lasting vinyl plank floor lies in maintaining an optimal indoor environment.

After my experiences with temperature and humidity blunders, I now keep the temperature and humidity levels in my house reasonably stable.

I use air conditioning or heating to regulate temperatures and a dehumidifier when the humidity level rises.

I’ve observed that keeping my home environment stable not only helps in maintaining my beautiful vinyl floors but also improves the overall comfort of my living space.

Therefore, it’s essential to maintain a consistent indoor temperature and humidity for the longevity of your vinyl plank flooring.


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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