Why You Have Gaps In Your Hardwood Or Hardwood Laminate Floor

Hardwood floors are beautiful and easy to clean, but you may end up with gap issues if you live in certain climates and are caught unprepared. Gaps can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to form. Major gaps may require your whole floor to be replaced, but if you catch gaps early, you can fix them yourself without having to tear all the wood up. If damage is minor, you can also modify your home's interior climate to help keep the gaps to a minimum.

Wood Floors

Humidity and Dry Weather

Despite the damage that water can do to wood floors, it's actually the lack of humidity that causes most gaps. During months of medium to high humidity -- typically summer months -- your wood panels expand slightly. You probably won't notice this as wood has some room to shift without buckling. However, when you turn your heater on during colder months, this sucks the humidity out of your house, and out of the wood itself. As a result, the wood contracts, revealing gaps. Minor problems can be fixed by adding in small wood shims, using wood floor filling or even rope stained to the same color as your floors. With major gaps all over your floors, you will probably be better off calling professional floor repair services or replacing the floors entirely.

Installation

Cheap installation jobs can leave your floors more prone to gaps. There are two main factors that need to go into installing new wood floors:

  1. Figuring out the average humidity level for your house's interior year round and installing while the humidity is at that level
  2. Letting the wood acclimate to your house's humidity levels before installing.

If your wood floors were installed during periods of high humidity, for example, they will already be in an expanded state, and will contract much more easily as soon as humidity levels drop. This can also happen when wood is not allowed to acclimate before installation, which will make them more likely to shift as the humidity levels change.

Buckling or Bowing

If your floors have gaps but are also bowing slightly or turning up at the edges, this is often a sign that there is a water problem underneath your floors. There may be a leak somewhere nearby; this is especially likely if the damage is only occurring in one place.

Wood Laminate Floors

Moisture Problems

Wood laminate floors aren't real wood floors, and as such don't react the same to similar conditions. With wood laminate floors, too much humidity can be the problem, not the solution. Wood laminate floors are better in low-humidity climates, so if you live in a high-humidity climate, you'll need to keep your indoor humidity low. While humidity won't make laminate floors gap as much, they will quickly start to buckle and bow, and the only way to fix this is to replace the affected areas.

Floating Floor Shifting

This type of flooring is often called a "floating floor" because it's not fastened down to the concrete below. Instead, there's usually a layer of moisture protection, and the flooring is installed using tongue and slot pieces that snap together. In order to prevent shifting, tabs are often placed in the floor to create stability. If these tabs were removed during installation for any reason, your floors may be more prone to moving, which can create gaps.

Luckily, this means that fixing the flooring requires only physically pushing the laminate slats back together. You can add tabs later to help stop them from moving again.

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