Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Do You Need Hardwood Flooring Expansion Gaps?

Hardwood Flooring Expansion Gaps at walls (Wood Flooring Expansion Gaps | Expansion Gaps)|

All wood flooring needs to be able to expand and contract during seasonal relative humidity changes, so care must be given during the hardwood flooring installation to leave the proper 3/8 – 3/4 inch expansion gap around all fixed objects such as walls.

This expansion gap can be covered using the original baseboard or additional shoe molding (3/4 round molding).



You may get some resistance when explaining the need to use an expansion gap at the walls as some people feel there is no need to use one and just feel its fine to butt the flooring tight to the baseboard. In all my years of being in business inspecting flooring I have seen hundreds of jobs where the flooring has swelled against the wall with excess moisture and buckled off the floor during higher humidity levels that can occur during the year. Not leaving the proper expansion gap will most likly void any manufacturers warranty.


Tags: Expansion Gaps

Comments: 4

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  • Mike Ziegler

    Your pictures show that the expansion gap should be left between the side of wood plank and the wall. Should we also leave expansion gap between the end of plank and the wall?

  • It really depends on the specific construction of your floor boards, but typically it is recommended to leave an expansion gap at any point where the floor boards will come into contact with an unmovable object. It’s important to allow the floor to expand and contract in all directions to dispel the threat of buckling or major gapping.

  • Hi,

    I can understand expansion and buckling but why gaps would occur is expansion gap is not left?

  • Hi Satinder,

    With changes in moisture content in the atmosphere from season to season, wood boards will naturally expand and contract. When there’s less moisture in the air, the boards tend to shrink a little. This is when you may see gapping between boards. When there is more moisture in the air, the boards will take in a small amount and expand. The expansion gap (spacing) left at the walls of the room will allow for the boards to move a little. Restricting that movement could lead to buckling. The expansion gap around the room would have little impact on gaps between the boards.

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