There are many reasons that can affect the appeal of your wood floor, and one of them is gaps that may appear… the simple answer is yes, you can have gaps in your wood floor. However, the better question would be, “should you fill the gaps in your wood floor?”. In this article, I will cover “why gaps will appear in your wood floor” and “why filling them doesn’t always work“. I will also cover “What if the gaps are older and more permanent.”.
Here are some images from a recent job where we sanded and filled only:
Why gaps will appear in your wood floor:
There are a few reasons floorboards separate. Three of the ones I will cover are – incorrect fitting of the floor, incorrect or no acclimatizing of the floor before fitting and the fluctuation of moisture and temperature levels.
Incorrect fitting of the floor.
Correct floor installation is as important as choosing the right boards! Using a professional company that knows what they are doing is always recommended. If boards are not laid snuggly in the first place, they will very likely separate and make gaps after a short while… not what anyone wants in
the beautiful wood floor!
Incorrect or no acclimatizing of the floor before fitting.
The second reason gaps appear in your wood floor is that the boards have yet to acclimate before installation. You can do this by leaving the boards in the room for a couple of days to get used to the humidity or room temperature.
Don’t be fooled or put off this step… the boards need to get used to the environment they will live. They will contract and expand depending on the room’s conditions. They advise leaving a gap around the room of 10/15 millimetres. That way, the floor will be able to contract and expand all it likes without unsightly gaps or damage to your floor.
Fluctuation of the moisture and temperature levels.
Solid wood floors are a 100% natural product… Therefore, when you subject the individual boards to variations in temperature and moisture levels, they contract and expand.
In general, with high moisture content combined with high temperatures in the air, wooden floors will absorb the moisture from the air and expand. The floorboards will contract as the conditions change, with the air becoming less humid and temperatures decreasing. Both cause the gaps to become apparent in the winter and disappear in the summer.
Why filling them doesn’t always work:
If you own a house with gaps in your wood flooring, there isn’t much you can do about it unless you want to rip out the floor and put in a new one.
Wood filler is not a cure for your gaps, as your wood floor will continue to move throughout its lifetime. The filler will dry hard and look good at first… but when your floor expands in the more humid and warmer months, that wood filler will crack and look like kitty litter between the boards.
If your old wood floor has gaps, the best thing to do is leave them be. Filling will look worse when the wood filler cracks. In some cases, the floorboards will buckle in the summer and have no room to move when summer comes back.
What if the gaps are older and more permanent?
The old flooring can develop gaps that are generally permanent… even though they still may get slightly wider and narrower with humidity changes.
Check your floorboards during the humid season when the wood is at its largest. If you’re certain the gaps are the same size year-round, filling them is likely safe. It’s still best to do this during the humid season when the gaps are at their smallest.
Of course, this means you might see slight gaps appear when the wood shrinks again next winter, but this is better than a floor that buckles during the next humid season when the boards expand.
I hope that this blog post has been helpful to anyone with gaps in their wood floors. Remember, part of the charm of wood flooring is its imperfect natural look!
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Written by Tracey Gilbey, Marketing and Admin Coordinator at Art of Clean.
For further advice or information on our Carpet and Soft Furnishing care, please do not hesitate to contact the Art of Clean team on 01223 901551 in Cambridge. Our services include Carpet Cleaning, Upholstery Cleaning, oriental and area Rug Cleaning, Curtain Cleaning, Patio, and Driveway Pressure washing, Leather Cleaning, Stone and Tile Floor Cleaning, and Wood Floor Sanding and Restoration. We also supply new flooring and carpets through our sister company Art of Flooring. Farthings Cambridge provides our Dry-Cleaning service