Gaps in solid wood floor (laid in October 2010)

30 Dec 2010
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United Kingdom
I had a solid oak wood floor laid in October however over the last few weeks I have noticed that gaps have appeared in some places. The gaps are typically about 1mm wide but in a few spots are almost 2mm (a 10p coin won’t quite drop in) and there are one or two v big gaps of 4mm. The gaps are just as prevalent in ‘high’ traffic areas of my floor as they are in ‘low’ traffic areas. Given that wood shrinks in dryer conditions I am guessing that these gaps could well be related to having the heating turned on a lot more than normal over the last few weeks given the v cold weather as I didn’t notice any gapping before this cold spell started.

The wood floor is a walnut/coffee colour (lacquered finish) with bevelled edges and is approx 14-15mm wide tongue & groove boards installed floating by glueing (PVAC) along the whole groove length as was in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions (this was one of 3 options they gave to install, the other 2 being secret nail and glue to subfloor). The boards were also acclimatised pre installation in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions.

Would be grateful if anyone who knows more about this than me (not difficult!) could answer the following:

1) Are gaps of this size likely to be due to the heating and hence dryer air or indicative of a bigger problem? Should they disappear in spring/summer?

2) Would you normally get gapping if the tongue and grooves are glued as was done in my installation?

3) Because the tongue & groove is a light wood colour and you can see this in the bigger gaps then this makes the gaps more noticeable. For those gaps that are not covered by rugs/furniture I would appreciate any suggestions of how to best hide.....some thoughts I had myself were: (a) get v thin paintbrush and try and paint onto the light wood tongue and groove in the exposed gaps a walnut/coffee colour wood stain such that the gaps wouldn’t be as noticeable; (b) fill the gaps with wood filler, wood putty etc and stain with walnut/coffee colour (if so then what is best thing to use to fill them?). One concern I have with (b) is that when boards expand in summer then wood filler/putty/etc that has filled the gap might be squeezed out or cause boards to warp? So perhaps I should just fill the few v big gaps?

Many thanks in advance for any responses.
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heeelllooo and welcome jg999 :D :D :D

if you have a floating floor that has a 12mm expansion gap all round' what glue did you use and what did you glue on what surface ??
what underlay did you use and what sub floor [wood concrete jam sponge]??
Hi, glue was PVAC I recall; cannot remember exact make of underlay but since floor is floating (not glued or nailed to subfloor or underlay) I was under impression the type of underlay wouldn't be related to what is causing the gaps?
ok you dont say if the glue was recomended for the flooring or general glue
if properly glued you will not get gaps
you have a problem your methods or materials must be lacking as you have gaps
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Hi jg999
I'll reply with the same text as replied today to your email:

Thank you for your question. Indeed, noticing gaps in Winter, during the heating season when also the air-humidity outside is rather low, is perfectly normal. Even if the T&G's were glued properly (along the whole length of the groove, not just drips and drops).
How to glue T&G boards the correct way
Wood is strong and will find the weakest link in the bonding between the boards.

Best thing to do really is to try to increase the air humidity in your home (ceramic water containers on radiators or even moist t-towels draped over them). It's a natural process and the wood will expand back to its former size as soon as the normal humidity gets higher again.

Hope this helps
Thanks for the replies...

WoodYouLike: would my best bet therefore to not fill the gaps (even if upping the humidity doesn't completely close the bigger ones)....though if any of the bigger ones don't close up completely in summer then could be worthwhile to fill those ones? Presume my idea of 'painting' the tongue & groove showing in larger gaps with a walnut wood stain would be ok given the cosmetic benefits in this regard?

Many thanks
Give it some time. Doing nothing when it's "just" a natural cause is most often the best course of action.
You can always decide late Spring to stain the exposed T&G (but I doubt there will be many) as long as you realise there can be a bigger colour difference between the stain and the actual floor which might make the solution a worse option.

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