When to be concerned about the gaps in your wooden floor
Good gaps, bad gaps
The expansion and contraction of any piece of wood is a natural process caused by variation in the moisture level. Gaps in wooden floors are normal and occur when wood loses its moisture content. Some floors have deliberate gaps for preferred aged aesthetics such as a rustic look chevron floor. Wood expands and contracts when it absorbs or releases moisture. This natural movement exists in all wooden floors. The real issue is how noticeable the gaps are, whether the gaps are small or large and where they are in the room. Several factors can affect this.
Gaps in wood floors are normal.
Gaps appear when wood loses its moisture content.
All wooden floors should have gaps to allow for the floor to move due to expansion and contraction. Otherwise tension accumulates as the boards push into each other causing the boards to be pushed upwards also known as buckling. All wooden floors have a small expansion gap around the perimeter and this is usually more than enough. But when we have larger surfaces such as over 100 sq m, perimeter expansion gaps are not enough and gaps have to be allowed within the surface of the floor. This is required for all solid wooden floors in large spaces but also for engineered wooden floors.
The real problem is how noticeable the gaps are.
Several factors can affect the size of gaps.
Significant gaps can occur in boards which are poorly fitted, not properly joined or of cheap quality. Parquet floors in particular can be very poorly fitted and this creates gaps in the floor. This is entirely preventable by choosing the right craftsman but is hard to later correct. Under floor heating is another common cause of gaps as the heating can cause the wood to dry and shrink creating gaps.
Significant gaps can occur in boards which are poor quality or poorly fitted.
Some gaps are entirely preventable by choosing the right craftsman.
If the subfloor is wet, moisture can rise into the wooden floor causing it to expand and potentially to warp and cup and therefore create gaps.
Pine floorboards tend to have larger gaps downstairs because on the ground floor the subfloor underneath causes a drought that brings and takes away moisture and this increases the gaps. Ought to avoid filling in these gaps as any further movement in the boards will be restricted and damage the boards.
Pine floorboards tend to have larger gaps downstairs.
Pine floorboards restored and painted.
The best wood to use to avoid gaps is exotic wood species such as Ipe or Sucupira. These wood species have a naturally high oil content and less water so the moisture absorption is restricted compared to English Oak for example. See the janka chart for more exotic wood examples.
Pine slivers are used to fill gaps between floorboards and give your floor a professional finish. ‘Slivering’ quickly and easily fills gaps between wooden boards with wedges of old reclaimed floorboard.
These gaps have been filled with slivers of wood.
Slivers are made from wedges of old reclaimed floorboard.
Contact Fin Wood to discuss avoiding unnecessary gaps in your wood floor project, especially if thinking of large boards or a parquet design.