Laminate flooring is joined together at the end of its edges by utilizing its custom tongue and groove system, a click-clock.
However, its lateral and longitudinal edges will start developing side gaps between laminate planks over time due to expansion and contraction. It results in unsightly gaps opening up, bubbling, and buckling, especially if you have interlocking laminate flooring.
If you spot side gaps in your laminate flooring, you should fix them immediately to enhance its aesthetic look and durability.
Fortunately, fixing side gaps in laminate flooring is a straightforward process that will not consume your precious time after reading this article. Before we mention some of the quick hacks, let’s look at what causes side gaps in laminate flooring.
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What Causes Side Gaps in Laminate Flooring?
Understanding the reason behind side gaps will help you make a more precise decision depending on the specific cause. As a result, you’ll be able to handle the issue more professionally and eliminate the need to spend much time thinking of the right approach.
For this reason, below are factors that trigger laminate flooring to start developing side gaps. They include:
Poor Installation of the Planks
The poor underlayment of the planks and the wrong adhesive can obstruct the laminate flooring interlocking system. Consequently, side gaps will start developing in your laminate flooring.
Even if you strictly adhere to the manufacturer’s installation instructions, an uneven subfloor can cause the laminate planks to separate laterally and longitudinally. It causes uneven layering of planks across the floor, resulting in open joints.
Open joints across the flooring lead to further damage because they cause chipping and delamination of the laminate flooring.
In most homes, side gaps in laminate flooring are caused by several factors. When it comes to environmental factors, we refer to changes in humidity and temperature. For instance, a temperature change can cause expansion and contraction of the laminate flooring.
Therefore, side gaps are created when temperatures drop, which leads to bubbling and buckling between the longitudinal and lateral ends of the laminate flooring.
Contrarily, humidity also weakens the adhesive used to glue down the laminate flooring on the subfloor. And, with time, it becomes loose, leading to the separation of the planks across the floor.
The impact of dragging heavy objects like furniture, refrigerators, and so on can cause side gaps in laminate flooring. That’s because the high impact pressure and the change in temperature and humidity combination loosen the edges of the laminate flooring over time.
How to Fix Side Gaps in Laminate Flooring?
With the reasons mentioned above, you can precisely determine the factor that has triggered side gaps in your laminate flooring. More importantly, we will guide you step-wisely on fixing gaps in laminate flooring depending on the method you see fit for your needs. They include;
Use Rubber-soled Shoes
The easiest solution for fixing small gaps between the edges of the planks. Wear your rubber-soled boot and start hitting the plank several times until the gap closes.
It is better to hit the problematic plank inwards in the same row while moving the neighboring planks away from the wall and towards the center. It is especially true if you are correcting more than one plank.
In this way, gaps are kept from widening across the floor.
Use a Floor Gap Fixer
Rubber floor fixers are tools that utilize the principle of rubber shoes. They consist of a rubber mallet and a sticky metal block. The adhesive rubber mallet taps the planks and closes the gap using the rubber mallet by pressing the block down on the plank’s surfaces.
Nevertheless, if you wish to utilize this tool effectively, you should follow these steps;
- Peel back the plastic covering to expose the rubber pad underneath. You will use it to grip the problematic planks while trying to push them back into place.
- Place the block 2.5 cm from the end of the problematic planks. Then, anchor the block with both hands while pressing firmly on the topside to secure the plank and prevent slipping during the repairs.
- Once the block is in place, please do not remove it because it weakens the adhesive pad’s hold.
- Due to the reasons mentioned above, start filling in the gaps as you move away from the walls and towards the center of the floor.
- Tapping the end of the block with a mallet and holding it steady with one hand close the gap. Then, move the problematic plank closer to the one it moved away from by giving a few hits from the furthest side. It could dislodge and damage the flooring if you hit the block too hard or forcefully. Repeat the procedure with any remaining gaps.
- After closing the gaps, remove the floor gap fixer by pulling it up from the floor.
Use Wood Glue
Wood glue will also effectively seal the gaps in laminate flooring because it is highly adhesive.
However, for the most effective result, you should opt for high-quality wood glue to spare yourself follow-up repairs in the future because it can hold the planks in place regardless of stress.
Secondly, we recommend using a cotton swab or toothpick for scooping a globe of wood glue because it can easily reach down into the space. But for precision, using a disposable syringe would be the best solution.
Follow the guide below if you want the best outcome from using this method;
- Start by cleaning the gaps between the planks to remove dust and debris because wood glue sticks better to clean surfaces.
- Then scoop the glue with any of the aforementioned tools and apply the glue to the exposed gaps.
- Ensure you spread a thick layer of glue and aim at the interlocking grooves within the problematic plank as you move in series. More importantly, please don’t take too much time applying the wood glue because it dries quickly.
- Push the displaced planks together to close the gap by striking at an angle with a less forceful approach using the palm of your hand. You may consider using a floor gap fixer tool for better precision instead of your palm. Repeat this procedure with any remaining gaps.
- Once finished, wipe away the excess glue with a damp rag to clean up and remove residual glue to prevent discoloring the laminate floor.
Aside from wood glue, you can also use caulk or wood putty to fill the side gaps in laminate flooring. However, you will require additional equipment and 180-grit sandpaper to sand down the excess material because it takes much time to dry and the smoothest finish.
Use a Laminate Pull Bar
A laminate pull bar looks like a pry bar, but with one curved edge and the other edge with a broad curve. This tool is ideal for fixing lateral gaps along the entire length of the floor induced by extreme climatic conditions like high temperatures or dryness.
It provides a seamless and straightforward solution to this problem as it allows you to tap the end of each row to close all the gaps at once. It makes work easier instead of tapping individual planks together, which is also difficult and time-consuming in the long run.
To fix lateral gaps with laminate pull bar, simply;
- Remove the baseboard from one end of the room.
- Hook the pull bar over the edge of the plank.
- Tap the edge with a hammer.
- Then, move the entire row towards the opposite wall.
- Close all the gaps at once.
Replacing and Reinstalling the Laminate Flooring Planks
The methods mentioned above effectively fix side gaps caused by temperature changes and high impact from heavy objects. But they won’t work effectively fixing the side gaps induced by uneven subflooring, poor installation, and too much humidity.
It is, therefore, recommended to uninstall the whole laminate flooring, level the subfloor, install dehumidifiers and air conditioners to eliminate excess humidity, replace the damaged planks, and reinstall the flooring.
This method is time-consuming, cumbersome, and expensive. Still, the only reliable way to deal with longitudinal and lateral gaps is because it provides you with the opportunity to fix the initial professional hiccups in the subfloor that are causing gapping.
Tips to Prevent Gapping in Laminate Flooring
Acclimating the Laminate Planks for About 48-72 Hours
Acclimating the laminate planks for about 48-72 hours is a must-professional procedure you should consider before installing them on the subfloor. This procedure’s significance is allowing the planks to acclimate to indoor environmental factors and complications.
But ensure you allow them to sit undisturbed before installation. Hence, enhancing the plank’s resistance to temperature and humidity changes later.
Ensure the Subfloor is Leveled Before Installing the Flooring
Before installing the laminate flooring, we strongly advise you to use a spirit level to confirm if the subfloor is perfectly leveled. For a more accurate result, clean the surface up and look for rises and depressions at every 2-3 feet of the subfloor in all directions.
Please fix the subfloor before installing the laminate flooring in case of any depressions and rises.
Call in for a Professional Installation Service
If you are not knowledgeable enough to install laminate flooring, please contact a professional installation service. That’s because attempting to install laminate flooring with insufficient knowledge leaves room for error.
Calling for a professional installation service will eliminate installation errors. They will have the necessary tools, manpower, and expertise to get this job done faster and delivered with guaranteed satisfaction.
Prevent Excess Moisture
Because of humidity changes during winter, acclimatizing the laminate planks won’t be enough because excess humidity can cause gapping and lumping.
Therefore, install a dehumidifier or air conditioner after professional installation to drive out excess moisture or humidity.
Moreover, whenever there are accidental spills of water or any liquid on the laminate flooring, you should wipe it off immediately with a dry cloth or a vacuum cleaner before it takes impact.
Read More on Laminate Floors
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