Should I leave gaps between floorboards?

While there are thousands of different styles of flooring, the humble wooden floorboard is hard to beat. Beautiful floorboards can add a wow factor to any room. Consumers and installers may benefit from Floor Sanding professional advice on installing a new hardwood floor.

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Important Considerations When Installing Wood Flooring

How you install wood flooring can have a big effect on how nice it looks in the end, as well as how well it works and wears over time. To achieve the best results, make sure to consider the following main points when installing your wood floor.

Board-to-Board Gaps

When installing an acclimatised solid plank floor, there will almost always be some minor gaps (1mm or so) between boards. This is a natural characteristic of solid wood flooring, so don’t attempt to close the holes by clamping the boards together, as this can lead to future expansion issues. Owing to minor machining differences or inconsistent acclimatization, you can sometimes find a board with a larger than usual distance. Break it in half and use it to start or finish a row to solve this.

The Gap in Expansion

A 15mm expansion gap is expected across the entire perimeter of the room to accommodate natural expansion and contraction in wood flooring; this applies to both solid and engineered wood flooring and includes doorways, fireplaces, and any other “obstacles” adjacent to the floor. Pay special attention to door liners and plinth blocks, which must have an expansion gap cut into them or one left around them. Additional expansion of approximately 1mm (penny gap) per metre width would also need to be integrated uniformly across the floor for wood floors over 6m high.

Place wedges between the edge of the wood flooring and the wall as required to create an expansion gap. These are simple to make from flooring scraps. After the wedges have been removed and any adhesive has dried, you may either cover or fill the void (see below). Place a thin separator between the boards as you knock them together to create additional expansion across the concrete (approx every third board for wide boards and every fifth board for narrow ones).

Once you’ve finished laying the wood flooring, either install new skirting or add beading to existing skirting to fill the expansion gap (fig 1). When butting up against existing thresholds, fireplaces, quarry tiles, stone, or staircases, a neat finish can be achieved by filling the gap with cork strip. This method also works well when installing wood flooring against curved walls.

Thresholds and Floor Levels

You’ll need to install a threshold to keep the expansion distance at doorways. Where there is no difference in floor level between spaces, use a level threshold or T bar with half an expansion gap on either side of the fixing strip, or cut a level threshold board from the wood flooring and fit it with an expansion gap on either side with cork strip.

Using an adjusting threshold to accommodate the transition between rooms where the floor levels vary. We have regular changing thresholds for differences up to 15mm and can make custom ones to calculate greater differences. Standard thresholds should be set as shown in fig 2, with an expansion gap underneath. Made-to-measure thresholds up to 15mm should be installed with a cork strip on either side to maintain the expansion distance, as shown in fig 3. Thicker thresholds can be squared with a cork strip, as shown in fig 5, or stepped with the expansion distance underneath, as shown in fig 4.