5 Reasons Behind Vinyl Plank Flooring Cupping And How to Solve Them

Vinyl plank is a luxurious flooring solution for homeowners. It improves your house’s aesthetic like hardwood flooring at an astonishingly affordable price. However, the vinyl plank flooring system is not problem-free. Turns out,  discolorations, scratches, cracking, and cupping are the most common issues.

If you cannot control the temperature and moisture in the house, the vinyl plank flooring has a good chance of getting damaged. Unwanted situations such as curling, warping, and mold can occur due to installation-related failures as well.


What is Vinyl Plank?

You can skip this section if you’re already familiar with it and looking for solutions to flooring cupping.

Vinyl planks are a cheaper alternative to hardwood flooring. You can get a wide range of wood textures as well. Applying the floating floor system with the right size and shape of the planks lock them perfectly.

The material is durable, water-resistant, and easy to clean. It can last long with proper care. Simple vacuuming and wiping with mop or rag keeps it clean as new. You don’t need to polish it like the hardwood floors either.

Vinyl plank can be an excellent option if you’re looking for a less-to-spend and fancy flooring solution at the same time. However, it comes with certain drawbacks. You’ll learn about them in the next section.

What is Vinyl Plank Cupping?

Cupping is the most common problem of vinyl planks. After a certain period, the sides start to rise, making the board look like a cup or concave. This mainly occurs because of the temperature difference between the top and bottom of the board.

Vinyl Plank Flooring Cupping

It occurs because the material expands and shrinks with the change in moisture content. 

Sometimes the cupped floor problem is solved automatically when the temperature becomes normal as before. However, sometimes it becomes permanent and requires expert inspection.

5 Reasons for Vinyl Plank Flooring Cupping

Vinyl plank flooring cupping is the most common issue reported by most homeowners. Although the concern is severe, many are still unsure about the root causes. We’ve researched and pointed out the 5 most common reasons and proven ways to fix them.

1. Change of Seasons

One of the primary causes of cupping is the seasonal change. For example, summer produces more moisture in the environment. Floor beds get affected by the change in humidity. Moistures get accumulated under the plank floors, which results in cupping.

2. Faulty Plumbing and Leaks

Sometimes faulty plumbing can cause cupping issues. The floor usually fits tightly to each other like jigsaw puzzle pieces during fitting. If there is a leak or gap between floors, moisture can easily seep under the plank beds.

3. Wet Subfloor

When the moisture content is high in your room, there is a good chance of water seeping under the floor beds. Check your floors occasionally if you reside in a high humid area.

4. Liquid Spills

These floors are water-resistant, sometimes waterproof too. Yet, water can leak through the grout. If you leave the spilled liquid, it can seep and accumulate underneath the tiles. Thus cupping occurs.

5. Moisture Content

The right amount of moisture content is a must for installing the vinyl floors. Experts will take the moisture reading of your environment before installing the flooring. Low moisture content causes swelling of the boards. The boards turn into a concave shape if the moisture level is wrong when installed.

Solution to the Cupping Problem

Change in moisture, temperature, or leaking water can reportedly cause cupping.  A proper diagnosis is necessary to understand the correct origin. Let’s learn the best methods to prevent or cure the cupped floors:

  • Inspection of basements and subfloors before installing the planks.
  • Turning off the AC fans to avoid condensation.
  • Using dehumidifiers to control the humidity in humid areas.
  • Avoiding venting in the crawl spaces to prevent mold.

If you’re finding it difficult to get into the heart of the problem, get an expert opinion. Industry experts have years of experience to solve the issues.

What causes vinyl plank to Cup?

Heat, sunlight, and moisture are the primary causes of cupping. Variation in the temperature and moisture prompts expansion and contraction of the material. Thus, the plank floors start to cup.

How do you fix vinyl plank buckling?

You can fix buckling by repairing the defective pieces. Here are the steps to repair the buckling:

  • First, remove the buckled pieces gently.
  • Soften the adhesive with mineral spirit, and remove the residual glue.
  • Apply fresh adhesive to place the vinyl plank piece. Make sure the size matches perfectly.
  • Use weight or a roller to smoothen the piece with the rest.
  • Keep the weight for 12 to 24 hours until the adhesive dries completely.

What happens if you don’t acclimate vinyl plank flooring?

Acclimation is necessary for the fixation of the vinyl plank flooring. Your floor will deform due to expansion or shrinkage if you don’t acclimate it. Get the moisture and temperature readings and control them before fixing the flooring.

What are the disadvantages of vinyl plank flooring?

Luxury comes with a price. In the case of vinyl plank flooring, it’s cheaper than other materials. Hence, the price is its disadvantage. Cupping, discoloration, cracking, and scratches are the most common problems of this flooring system. Rough use or direct exposure to sunlight causes the material to get damaged soon.

How long should vinyl planks acclimate?

Acclimate the vinyl planks for 36 to 48 hours before installing the boards in the room. Acclimation is a must to avoid cupping or buckling later.

Final Thoughts

Vinyl planks are an excellent alternative to wood flooring. Your room’s aesthetic improves significantly with it. And it is durable at the same time. However, this cheap solution comes with some serious issues. Vinyl plank flooring cupping is the most common of all.

Understanding the cupping issues helps to prevent it at the very beginning. Even if your vinyl planks create cupped floors, you can fix them quickly. Keep the moisture, sunlight, and temperature in control. Also, perform regular cleaning to increase its longevity. Proper maintenance saves a lot of time and money, replacing the entire flooring.

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