What Causes Gaps Between Hardwood Flooring Boards?

February 9, 2016

There are several things that may affect the appeal of your hardwood floor and gaps caused by floorboards which have separated are definitely one of them. Nowadays, the market offers a broad range of products which will help you prevent it from happening, or if you’re already facing such a problem – you can also find preparations which can be used to fix it. In this article, we’d like to mention the reasons why floorboards separate and develop gaps, present you with the methods of avoiding it and give you some tips on the steps that need to be taken to resolve the problem if you’re struggling with it now.

There are several reasons why floorboards separate. These include among other things very high or low temperatures, significant temperature fluctuations as well as abrupt changes in moisture levels, which make the floor dry out and contract. Problems with gaps between individual boards may also be the consequence of improper acclimatisation of the floor before fitting. And finally, the most obvious cause is improper and unprofessional fitting.



Temperature and moisture level fluctuations


Hardwood floor is a 100% natural product. Therefore, the boards expand and contract when they are subjected to high variations of moisture and temperature levels. In general, due to very high temperatures combined with high moisture content in the air, wooden floors absorb the moisture from the air and tend to expand. As the ambient conditions change with temperatures going down and air becoming less humid, the floorboards contract.


If this has not been taken into account during the installation process and individual boards have been fitted really close to one another, the floorboards can get messy especially if you don’t do anything about it. Additionally, it may be the case that your floor absorbs moisture from a sub-floor which lacks sufficient damp proofing.

Boards which expand and contract excessively can cause unsightly gaps. It’s also possible that, due to the lack of sufficient space, they will bow or cup. However, you can avoid such problems by sticking to several tips to be used before and during the installation process.



Acclimation of floorboards


The second reason why boards separate and develop gaps is improper acclimation of the floor before the installation. In previous articles we have already stressed the importance of acclimation and have given you a handful of tips on how to do it right. Such a reaction of wood may be caused by unprofessional fitting, for instance if insufficient expansion gaps were left around the given interior and they do not allow slight movement of the floor.


Acclimation of wood flooring is a major point in the implementation of your flooring project. Hardwood floors always need to be acclimatised before fitting and there are no buts. To be concise, acclimation is about getting the wood ready for the new conditions that it will function in. If you do it well, the boards will not expand and contract excessively due to ambient conditions after fitting and you will avoid all the consequences of such a situation.

Having acclimatised the boards, you can move on to fitting. When laying the floor, remember to leave enough space allowing the floor to expand and contract freely depending on the conditions in the room. It is advisable to leave a gap of 10 to 15 millimetres all around the room. In this way your floor will be able to expand and contract and you’ll avoid damage and unsightly gaps.



Improper fitting


Proper floor installation is equally important as choosing the right boards or ensuring that they have acclimatised. Always use the services of professional flooring installers and refer for assistance in the case of any doubts. If the boards were not laid in such a way as to snugly fit their neighbouring board, they will most probably separate and develop gaps after some time.



There are several things you may do to prevent it from happening or to tighten up the contact of the boards after fitting. However, it’s always best to act in advance and pay particular attention to those issues during the installation process. Below, we’ve mentioned several corrective measures to be taken in the case of flooring separation.


Mon-Fri 8:00AM – 5:00PM
Saturday 10:00AM – 4:00PM
Sunday 11:00AM – 3:00PM
Call Us

Please fill in your details

  • Continue