why does laminate flooring expand

Why Does Laminate Flooring Expand?

Why does laminate flooring expand? Laminate flooring is one of my favorite options to create a seamless, chic style in your home. But, it’s important to install and care for laminate floors properly, otherwise you can face problems like buckling. Laminate floors expand when temperatures fluctuate. So, your planks might need more space than you realise when you’re first installing them. In this guide, I’ll take a closer look at why laminate flooring expands, and what you can do to prevent any damage occurring in the future.


Why Does Laminate Flooring Expand?

The reason why laminate flooring expands is all because of fluctuating temperatures. A rise in temperature will cause your laminate flooring to expand, while a decrease in temperature will see your floorboards contract.

Some of the biggest issues that come with your laminate flooring expanding is separation between the boards, bubbling, and buckling. All these issues can ultimately damage your flooring, cause your floorboards to creak, and they could even become a safety hazard.

What to Do if You’re Installing Laminate Flooring

You need to consider laminate flooring’s tendency to contract and expand from the moment you bring it home. Incorrect installation can lead to the issues I mentioned above. So, if you’re installing laminate flooring in your home, there are two things you must do to help keep your floorboards in pristine condition.

Allow the Flooring to Acclimate

When you first bring your new laminate flooring home, you need to let it acclimate in the room where you will install it. For example, if you’re laminating the kitchen, then you need to bring all the floorboards into the kitchen and let them sit there for at least 2 to 3 days.

Proper acclimation of the flooring allows the boards to get used to the temperature and humidity of the room, limiting the amount of expansion and contraction once you properly install them. The next step applies to the actual installation of your laminate planks.

why does laminate flooring expand

Create an Expansion Gap

The first and possibly one of the most important steps when installing laminate flooring is to create an expansion gap around the perimeter of the floor. Temperature and humidity levels throughout your rooms will rise and fall, causing your floorboards to expand and contract. The expansion gap, which is usually a ¼ inch to ½ inch, will give the floorboards room to move, eliminating the common laminate floorboard buckling problem.

If you install laminate flooring without an expansion gap, your floorboards will push up against each other when they expand, forcing themselves upwards. In extreme cases of buckling, the click-and-lock installation system can become damaged, which could result in you having to replace the flooring entirely.

Longer Term Laminate Floor Care

In the same way your laminate flooring is affected by temperature and the moisture in the air, it is also affected by moisture touching its surface. If you spill water or any other beverage on your laminate floor, it is essential that you wipe it up immediately with a dry cloth or a paper towel. Moisture left alone on laminate floors can lead to warped planks.

Tips for Repairing Gaps in Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring naturally contracts and expands as temperatures change in your home. But, at times, this can cause gaps between the boards, which are problematic and unsightly. Here are a few things you can do to repair it.

Act Immediately

If you begin to notice gaps forming in your floorboards, act immediately to fix them. Leaving the repair process too long can cause your flooring to get worse, potentially damaging it beyond repair.

Repair it with Putty

For flooring with a handful of gaps, you can use a caulk putty or filler to completely close up the cracks. If your flooring has a considerable amount of damage, you may need to replace it entirely, as repairing it with putty won’t ever get it back to its original smooth finish.

Clean out the dirt, dust, and debris between the floorboards and apply enough filler or putty to overfill the gap. Once the putty is dry, smooth it out with a fine-grit sandpaper and add more putty if needed. To finish, simply apply a stain to the putty, so it blends in with the original flooring color.

Fill Wide Gaps with Strips of Wood

If the gaps in your laminate floorboards are too wide, then strips of wood can fill the void. Once the wood is in place, add glue, sand until smooth, and finish off with a stain so all your flooring matches.

Seek Help from a Professional

If you aren’t a DIYer or if you want the job done properly, then it is always best to seek help from a professional. A professional flooring contractor will be able to assess the damage and come up with a suitable plan of action to repair your laminate flooring to its once-former glory.

In Summary: Why Does Laminate Flooring Expand?

The rise and fall in temperature is what causes your flooring to expand and contract. Sadly, we can’t control the weather, so expansion in flooring, especially flooring that wasn’t properly installed, is a common problem that many homeowners face.

If you’re yet to install your laminate flooring, always allow time for acclimation, and remember to leave an expansion gap to prevent the problem from occurring in the first place.

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