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5 Things You Should Do When Fixing Gaps in Hardwood Floors

Posted on May 11th, 2018 by

In San Diego, hardwood flooring is the ultimate choice in luxury flooring. Along with its beautiful appearance, hardwood flooring can increase your home’s value and last for many years to come. However, this doesn’t mean wood flooring isn’t without its drawbacks. As the temperature and humidity rises and falls in your home, gaps may appear in your hardwood flooring. These gaps are the result of the wood expanding and contracting as it absorbs and loses moisture. The good news is there are ways to fix the gaps and restore a seamless appearance to your floors. 

1. Don’t Ignore Gaps

It’s best to fix gaps as soon as they begin to appear rather than waiting for them to get so large or result in floor movement that requires extensive repairs. Not all plank gaps need attention, though. If the gap closes again when the wood expands during the summer, it’s considered normal and shouldn’t be filled. Otherwise, the wood will have no room for expansion when humidity levels increase. 

2. Use Rope for Wide Gaps

If the gaps in your floor are quite wide, the best and longest-lasting repair method uses rope or thin strips of wood (shims). Match the rope width to the size of the gap. You may need multiple widths of rope if you have several gaps in your floor. Next, scrape all of the debris between the planks with a putty knife and vacuum out the dust. If you want the rope to match your wood flooring, you’ll need to stain it first and allow it to dry. Apply an adhesive inside the gap and force the rope into the gap with the putty knife. Always do this repair during the summer when the humidity is at its highest because the gap will be at its smallest. This will also reduce the chances that the rope will be forced out of the gap when the wood expands.

3. Try Sawdust and Resin for Small Gaps

If the gaps are less than 5mm, you can make your own filler with sawdust and clear resin. Use sawdust of the same color as your hardwood flooring and mix it with clear resin filler to create a thick putty. Use a putty knife to fill the gaps, then sand to a smooth finish once it dries. The resin filler will eventually break down as your floor expands and contracts, but you can remove it again with a putty knife and create a new resin filler when needed.

4. Use a Wood Filler for Small Gaps

If you can’t find sawdust that’s a good match for your flooring, you can use a standard wood filler product. These fillers are designed to hide small holes in wood, but they can also be used to fill and disguise thin gaps. Choose a colored filler that best matches your flooring, or try a filler that can be stained to match your existing finish.

5. Expect Repeated Repairs

Wood flooring will always expand and contract unless you live in an area with mild climates without drastic changes in humidity. No matter which repair method you choose, keep in mind it’s unlikely to be permanent. Some methods, such as rope and wood shims, last longer. Using thin pieces of wood can even offer a semi-permanent solution because the wood will expand and contract with the surrounding flooring. Still, you should expect filler and putty products to eventually crumble, even if it takes several years. When this happens, you will need to carefully remove the filler with a putty knife and vacuum and reapply a new product.

Not all homeowners are capable of doing their own floor refinishing. San Diego residents can reach out to Unique Flooring for all their flooring needs. Stop by our showroom or give us a call at 760-945-0010 for a free quote.

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