You’ve been looking at your gorgeous laminate floors, and your view was interrupted by a huge gap you’ve never noticed before. Now that you’re in panic mode, you’re probably thinking about how to fix gaps in laminate flooring, and wondering if there is a solution for this problem. This flooring type isn’t immune to issues such as buckling, gaps, or chips, but yes; spacing between planks is fixable.
The good news is that you can solve the problem at home, without having to splurge a whole lot on installing new floors. But why do these spaces even appear? Is it something you did wrong, or something the professionals missed when installing it?
In this detailed guide, we’ll take you through the main reasons why gaps appear, how to prevent them, and two procedures you can use to bring back the glory to your beautiful laminate floors.
Why Are There Gaps In My Laminate Flooring?
- 1. Temperature Acclimatization
- 2. Improper Installation
- 3. Subfloors
- 4. Frequent Spills
- 5. Faulty Mechanism
It’s no secret that gaps can appear between adjacent laminate planks. Although this doesn’t sound like a big deal when you first see it, fixing the problem can be an investment. Why fix things when you can simply prevent them?
If you recently installed your first laminate floors and you’re not quite sure how to take care of them or how to prevent gaps, we’re here to help. Below you’ll find a list of mistakes you might be making that can lead to gaps between planks.
1. Temperature Acclimatization
If you decided on DIY installation, there might be one thing you’re missing. Did you know that according to recommendations you should leave the laminate planks in the room where they’ll be installed for at least a couple of days before completing the installation?
This will let them adapt to the inside temperatures, so the chances of gaps and bumps appearing will be much lower when you install them. Different rooms have different conditions, including temperature and humidity.
If you don’t let the planks adapt to the conditions at their intended destination, they can go through changes after the installation, and the final result will be spacing between the planks.
2. Improper Installation
It’s no secret that most homeowners opt for laminate floors because they’re so straightforward to install; however, if this is your first DIY installation experience, you have to take things seriously.
Improper installation is the number one reason for spacing between laminate planks, so if you’re not 100% sure you know what you’re doing, you should leave the job to professionals. Professional installers have done this many times before and know which tools to use, how to properly position the planks, the proper subfloor conditions, and much more.
Unlevel subfloors are another common reason why laminate planks can separate. If your subfloor isn’t level then chances are there will be gaps at some point, so if you’re planning on installing the floors yourself, you first have to check whether your subfloors are leveled before proceeding with the installation process.
4. Frequent Spills
Laminate floors are sensitive to moisture and liquid spills, so you shouldn’t wait when a spill happens. Instead, you should grab a cloth right away and take care of it.
If water or any kind of liquid manages to get in between or under the floorboards, it can cause irreparable damage.
5. Faulty Mechanism
The laminate you bought might have a faulty mechanism that will cause the planks to separate. The click-lock mechanism used to install most laminate flooring means that the planks have a tongue and a groove side. Once you place the tongue inside the groove, you should move the planks until they click.
In some cases, these grooves, latches, or hooks can be faulty, so even a professional won’t be able to install the planks properly.
How To Prevent Gaps In Laminate Flooring
If you read the previous section, you probably already know how you can prevent laminate separation; however, it’s our duty to highlight the most critical steps you need to take before installing laminate floors to avoid damage in terms of gaps and buckling. Here is a short recap of the things you can do to prevent gaps:
- Let the laminate planks sit in the room where they’ll be installed for at least two to three days. Although this flooring material adapts to temperature changes and allows expansion and contraction, it still first needs to be present in the room for a few days to reach an appropriate baseline state. The planks usually separate when the temperatures are lower than 60 degrees, and by placing them in the room, they’ll have the chance to adapt to the conditions.
- Check the condition of the laminate when you receive it and search for flaws. As we mentioned, there are cases when the click-lock mechanism is damaged, which will cause trouble during or after installation.
- Don’t hesitate to pay for professional help. Professionals know what they’re doing and can save you money in the long run. In addition, fixing the gaps can also be stressful for some people, and you might need to search for professional help after all, just for repairs.
- Improper installation can also lead to glue getting in the click-lock system, in which case gaps will very likely appear after some time. Educate yourself on how to position the planks and how to use laminate glue.
- Ensure that your subfloors are flat. Measure them every three feet, and fix all the imperfections. If the subfloor isn’t even, the planks will separate and you’ll notice gaps and buckling.
- Add a moisture barrier, especially if your subfloor is concrete. If a spill happens, don’t let it sit on the floors; instead, grab a towel and clean the planks until they’re dry.
How To Close Gaps In Laminate Flooring
The two most common ways to fix laminate gaps include using a gap fixer and a laminate gap filler. Both of the procedures are pretty simple and don’t require previous experience or expertise to use.
Laminate Floor Gap Fixer
Before we start explaining the step-by-step procedure of fixing gaps with a gap fixer, we have to talk about cleaning your laminate floors. Is this a smart idea, or should you skip it? While most people will say yes, definitely work on clean floors, that might not be the case in this situation.
Since you’ll be using a gap fixer with an adhesive part, it can get so tightly stuck to the laminate planks if the floors are clean that you’ll have difficulty removing it; therefore, after testing both alternatives, we recommend that you don’t clean the floors before you start working with this item.
Now let’s get to the main part:
1. Open The Gap Fixer
What is a gap fixer? A gap fixer is a tool that you will need to purchase separately; however, it is sold almost everywhere, so it’s not hard to find. It has a rectangular shape, and after you open it you’ll notice that it has an adhesive side that you need to place on the laminate planks to generate enough force to move them.
This adhesive side is protected with a covering that you need to remove right before you start trying to close the spacing. Since this is a heavy tool, together with the glue on its surface it will grip each plank and move it in the direction you want it to go.
Open the packaging, peel off the protective layer, and you’re ready to go.
2. Place The Gap Fixer On The First Plank
The way you position the fixer on the plank is really important. First of all, you should know that you’ll need to move around several planks in most cases, because gaps can appear anywhere, even in the middle of the room, and you’ll have to move each plank individually from the original gap to the closest wall.
If the space in your floor is close to the wall, you’ll be able to solve the problem much faster. Next, know where to place the tool. You should find the center of the plank and put the fixer at least 1 inch away from the edge of the plank.
Press the tool towards the plank’s surface, ensuring that it’s tightly bonded. Don’t remove and place the fixer multiple times on the same plank, because the adhesive can become weaker with each use.
3. Grab Your Mallet
Get your mallet and prepare to lightly tap the fixer to move the plank towards the gap. You should hit the side of the tool that’s further from the gap; however, you shouldn’t use excessive force because you’ll remove the fixer from the plank’s surface.
Hit the tool lightly several times until the plank is in its initial position, without any visible gaps with the one next to it. There will be a gap on the other side of the plank now, but you’ll fix that one too.
It’s recommended that you push the first plank toward the center of the room until the gap closes. Then move each remaining plank in the same direction until you eventually move the gap to the wall.
When you’re done with the first plank, remove the gap fixer and place it on the next plank. Repeat the same procedure on all the remaining laminate planks until you close all the gaps.
Laminate Floor Gap Filler
Are you wondering instead how to fill gaps in laminate flooring? The second way you can fix gaps is by filling them with wood glue or a laminate wood filler. Once again, the procedure is simple, and the main difference with the previous one we described is that you don’t have to purchase a separate tool to complete the project.
Before you start gluing the planks, you need to decide what type of glue to purchase. There are many types you can find in-store and online. The most important thing is that it’s from a reliable, high-quality brand.
1. Get Your Tools And Glue
The best thing about this procedure is that you don’t need to purchase special tools, like the laminate fixer. Instead, you can easily finish the job with the equipment and tools you already have at home.
You’ll need toothpicks or cotton swabs to start with; they’re the best tools to apply the glue because the process requires you to be very precise and avoid making mistakes when applying the filler. Of course, if you have a tiny syringe lying around your house, that will do the job too.
2. Clean The Tongues
Another step to complete before you really get to work is to clean the tongues. Chances are there will be dust, dirt, and debris on the locking pieces on the planks, and the glue won’t do its job if applied to a dirty surface. You can use a clean toothpick to clean each tongue.
Once you’re done, you can get a new toothpick, cotton swab, or syringe to apply the glue.
3. Apply The Glue
Grab your cotton swabs, syringes, or toothpicks, apply the glue on your chosen applicator, then use it to place the glue in the gaps between the planks to hold them together and prevent them from separating again.
Another tip we have to share is that you have to work fast once you apply the glue. These products are very adhesive, so you should be prepared to act fast; otherwise, you’ll be left with an even bigger mess than you started with.
If you’re unsure of how much glue you need to use, just add more. After you fill the gap and join the planks, you can remove the extra and clean the surface of the planks that got “stuck” with the extra glue. The essential part of this procedure is to add enough glue to cover the entire interlocking surface of both planks and glue them together very well.
4, Push The Planks Together
After the glue is on, you can start pushing the planks together. You’ll need to apply force with your hands to get the plank to move, or you can also get a gap fixer to do the job instead of you.
Yes, we already said that this tool isn’t necessary for this procedure; however, it will make things much easier if you combine the two options. Another option is to get a rectangular object and add double-sided adhesive tape to it instead of purchasing a new fixer tool.
If you choose to use a “helper tool” instead of just using your hands, place the object on the plank and hit it with a mallet to move the plank as we described in the previous section. This will move the plank in the desired direction and will help you do the job faster.
Similarly to the section above, you will then repeat these steps with each plank until you’ve reached the edge of your room where you can hide the gap beneath the trim. Again, you shouldn’t wait once you’ve started because wood glue tends to dry quickly and if it dries before the planks are joined, you’ll have to clean them and repeat the procedure all over again.
5. Remove The Extra Glue
If you applied more than was necessary, the glue will come out through the gaps. You need to have a damp cloth or piece of paper next to you so that you can remove it immediately. If you wait for the glue to dry, it can cause permanent damage and discolor your laminate floors.
Don’t even think about removing it with your hands, because it will take you days to clean them, and it can cause damage to your skin.
If you’ve been wondering how to fix side gaps on laminate flooring, the answer is simple. If there’s a small gap, you can cover it with the baseboards so that no one else will see it. However, if the gap is large, you might need to add a new laminate plank to fill it.
There are various reasons why gaps can appear in laminate flooring such as an uneven subfloor, moisture exposure, or not having adequate time acclimate to the room temperature before the installation.
Is there a sealant for laminate flooring?
Yes, the two most common sealants for laminate floors are silicone caulking and polyurethane coating. The sealant can be applied to an individual plank or entire floor using paintbrush or paint roller.
As you can already see, fixing gaps in laminate floors isn’t a laborious task and anyone can do it. The two most common ways include using a special tool called a gap fixer or a gap filler glue. These alternatives are helpful, fast, and suitable even for people who have no experience in fixing laminate floors.
Before you roll your sleeves up and get to work, we recommend that you figure out why spacing has appeared between the laminate planks in your home so that you don’t have to continuously repeat the process. There are many reasons, but the most common ones include improper installation, uneven subfloors, improper temperature adaptation, moisture exposure, etc.
If you have any comments or first-hand experiences with fixing gaps in laminate flooring, please post them below or share your pictures via our social media.Back to Top